Birthday on Block

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When I’m sixty-four.                                  64……                                                             Sixty-four………..

“When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?
If I’d been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four?”

Thanks goes out to the Beatles for immortalizing the 64-year landmark! Hard to believe, but there it is, staring me in the face. But that’s ok, really, because the alternative is, well, let’s not go there. And life is pretty darn good.

Celebrating this birthday began with a pre-birthday dinner made by my sons and their families.

Flowers from my Al. Help from Caleb with the birthday candles. Addie joins the fun.

Reading to little Addie, Caleb helps me blow out my candles, and a bouquet from my love.

 On my real birthdate, we did something that we have done two out of the past three years – head out to sea! The other two times were the first day of our big adventure to the Bahamas in 2013 and 2015 . This time we were just off to Block island! What a great week  and a great place to celebrate a birthday.

A birthday kiss, relaxing on the bow, water spray below the bow.

A birthday kiss, relaxing on the bow, water spray below the bow.

 It was a beautiful morning to go to Block and to begin testing my new camera (the old one died its third and last death). The camera decision was a difficult one that was ultimately made easier when I faced the fact that I am not going to be happy carrying a large camera around. Give me something that is easy to carry in a pocket or bag and fairly automatic. I opted for the SONY DX90V, with a 30x zoom.

As we approached Block, there were no whale sightings on this trip, but to the north we could see one of the BLock Island lighthouses.

As we approached Block, there were no whale sightings on this trip, but to the north we could see one of the Block Island lighthouses.

Salt Pond is nearly empty!! Hoorah!! Block is just too crowded during the summer season, so this post-Labor Day week should be very, very nice. And the weather is excellent.

Much less crowded here after Labor Day. Should be a very nice week.

Much less crowded here after Labor Day. Should be a very nice week.

Birthday dinner at Dead-Eye Dick's with an almost full moon shining above.

Birthday dinner at Dead-Eye Dick’s with an almost full moon shining above.

Al gave me a unique book by Susan Branch. Photos and artwork by Susan Branch are sprinkled throughout and the font style has a handwritten look. Definitely a book that needs to be a hardcover and not an ebook. The book was a really good choice for me. First, it is about Branch’s move to the Martha’s Vineyard  and her life there. Second, I have always wished to live on each New England island for one full year so that I could experience the seasons and feel like an inhabitant rather than a visitor. It’s just a dream, really a fantasy, but wouldn’t that be cool?

one of my birthday gifts was Susan Branch's "Martha's Vineyard of Dreams". What a neat book !

One of my birthday gifts was Susan Branch’s “Martha’s Vineyard  Isle of Dreams”. What a neat book ! The font is handwritten-like, and the text is peppered with photos and Branch’s watercolors. A beautiful book to hold and read. And keep.

We spent the first three days at Block on the SYC mooring and then anchored off by Breezy Point at the end of the week. Salt Pond was so much more peaceful in mid-September, a different place than July or August.

We spent the first three days on the SYC mooring and then anchored off by Breezy Point. Nothing like having your morning coffee on the back deck, looking out over the water. Ahhhhh

Ahhhhh. Nothing like having your morning coffee in the aft cockpit, looking out over the water.

To the beach! Block does have one of the loveliest beaches in New England. 

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A view towards Mansion Beach from our spot on Crescent Beach.

 Using my new camera to study the  waves – 

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Mary Jo and I wiggle our teal toes in the sand.

Mary Jo and I wiggle our teal toes in the sand.

Another flybridge dinner gathering with the crews of Jallao (Dean and Mary Jo) and Gale Warning (LeeAnn and Greg)

Another flybridge dinner gathering with the crews of Jallao (Dean and Mary Jo) and Gale Warning (LeeAnn and Greg)

Whether you are walking or kayaking around the island, the architecture is quintessential “Block.”

Three Block hotels - The Narragansett, the Surf Hotel, and The National.

Three Block hotels – The Narragansett, the Surf Hotel, and The National.

Weathered, but even lovelier than new.

Weathered, but even lovelier than new.

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Top – Built by The U.S. Weather Bureau of the Department of Agriculture in 1903, the stately building was an inn that now appears to be closed. Bottom – The Sullivan House, a favorite place for weddings, overlooks Salt Pond and the inner ponds.

We walked back from our trip to town along Corn Neck Road for a chance of view.

Al stood out on this wooden walkway that once went down to the beach.Hurricane Sandy destroyed it.

Al stood out on this wooden walkway that once went down to the beach. Hurricane Sandy destroyed it.

The monument along the road.

The Block island Historical Society Monument (1942) monument along the road, above the sandy shore.

Kayaking is popular everywhere these days, including Block Island.

Kayaks available for rent or use at both ends of Salt Pond.

Kayaks are available for rent or use at both ends of Salt Pond.

Just had to take this photo - This one is for you, Dan!

A sign on the building near the kayak rentals.                                                                   Just had to take a photo – This one is for you, Dan. Coconuts ARE more dangerous than sharks!

We have been enjoying our kayaks more than ever this summer. They store very nicely up on the flybridge. We took ourselves on a 2-hour tour around Salt Pond and the inner ponds.

The Coast Guard station ahead. Near the rocky shoreline.

The Coast Guard station ahead. Near the rocky shoreline.

Al, kayaking under the low bridge into the pond and checking out a little path in the grass.

Al, kayaking under the low bridge into the pond and checking out a little path in the grass.

Kayaking gives you a close-up view of many things.

Close up looks at the wildlife, in the water, on the water, above the water.

A look at the wildlife, in the water, on the water, above the water.

A black lab swimming in the anchorage. Not so wild, but certainly in the water.

A black lab swimming to shore in the anchorage. Not so wild, but certainly in the water.

Kayaking gives you a close up look at many things, including other boats.

A canoe rests at the edge of the water, near two adirondack chairs.                             First time we have seen a keg used as a mooring ball.

Look at this! The Oliver Hazard Perry, training ship that we saw in Nantucket, slipped inland put of Block while we were there.

Look at this! The sailing vessel, Oliver Hazard Perry, the training ship that we saw in Nantucket. The ship slipped into Salt Pond at Block while we were there.

There is so much to look at and experience, even on simple beach walks. Another walk we enjoy here is out past the Coast Guard Station, along the channel and over to the outside western shore.

A walk past the Coast Guard station and the sandy beach along the channel, leads to the stone jetty.

A walk past the Coast Guard station and the sandy beach along the channel, leads to the stone jetty.

There are still remnants of the rusting iron connectors for the old deteriorated wooden wall. This channel entrance is a man-made, dredged cut through the narrow beach that transformed Salt Pond into "New Harbor."

There are still remnants of the rusting iron connectors for the old deteriorated wooden wall. This channel entrance is a man-made, dredged cut through the narrow beach that transformed Salt Pond into “New Harbor.”

There’s always something interesting to notice on the beach, to ponder and consider. Logs that roll upon the shore and settle in for the long haul, stone towers perched upon a log display stand, driftwood log that suggests the head of an ancient dinosaur.

Natural beach art

Al amuses himself with beach finds and creations.

Al amuses himself with beach finds and creations.

I climb upon a larger driftwood "sculpture."

I climb upon a larger driftwood “sculpture.”

White surf rolls in and over colorful polished stones in the sand.

White surf rolls in and over colorful polished stones in the sand. Wonderful sights and sounds.

 

The evenings were filled with delightful sights as the full moon approached.

September 13th

September 13th

September 15th, almost "full."

September 15th, almost “full.”

September 16th was the full moon and a "Harvest Moon."

September 16th was the full moon and a “Harvest Moon.” It didn’t paint our sky with orange and red hues, but it did put a sparkle on the water.

We left Block on Saturday morning, bright and early. That’s the way to visit Block Island, Monday through Friday,  🙂  to miss the crowds. Especially after Labor Day. We had a relaxing five days – that’s the way to celebrate a birthday!

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Interrupted by Hermine – Hurricane Party!

We weren’t the only boaters impacted by the threat of Hermine. For us, it was a fairly easy decision to cut the trip short and head home. For cruising friends who were far from their homeport, or who had no homeport, a tropical storm or hurricane can be much more than an inconvenience, large or small. Anthony and Annette on their Morgan 44, Magnolia, were in Onset, Massachusetts on the way south from Maine. During our weather consultations, we offered Shennecossett as a safe harbor for Magnolia to wait out the storm and our home for the crew.

There was a LOT of hyperbole from the weather gurus and lots of confusion about Hermine’s track as it stalled and shifted repeatedly.

The spaghetti models for Hermine's track up the coast, changing by the day.

The spaghetti models for Hermine’s track up the coast, changing by the day.

Everyone at Shennecossett prepared their boats for high winds and rains. Magnolia arrived  and slipped into the dock next to us.

Hello, Magnolia!

Hello, Magnolia!

Kindred Spirit and Magnolia, dock neighbors.

Kindred Spirit and Magnolia, dock neighbors under dark skies.

The four of us loaded up our car and headed for our house to have a “hurricane party.” Everything possible had been done for the boats and we were ready to hunker down and wait it out, on land.

Anthony and Annette prepare a delicious dinner for us all. How often do you have guest like that??

Anthony and Annette prepare a delicious dinner for us all. How often do you have guests  like that??

While we ate and drank and enjoyed visiting with dear friends, we also kept an eye on the weather forecasts. It’s a necessary obsession for boaters, you just keep watching and listening. Sunday morning dawned, and ………….. wait a minute……….. the sun is shining……no rain….. no wind……?  Let’s check that forecast again. Hermine was one fickle storm. It was out there, but not as soon or nearly as close as predicted. New plans – let’s take Anthony and Annette on a tour! Why not Gillette Castle on the Connecticut River.? Although we pass it by boat when we traverse north and south on the river, we haven’t toured the castle itself in years and years (maybe an elementary school field trip?)

Tourist time! The four of us with Gillette Castle

Tourist time! The four of us with Gillette Castle.

Gillette Castle was the home of William Gillette (1853-1937), actor, playwright,stage manager,  who is best remembered for portraying Sherlock Holmes on stage and in a 1916 silent film. It is Gillette who transformed  Sherlock’s appearance into the universally recognizable deerstalker cap and curved pipe stem. He is also credited with the catchphrase “Oh this is elementary, my dear fellow,” (which later morphed into “Elementary, my dear Watson”).

As "Watsons" ourselves, we couldn't help but feel ak kinship with the line.

As “Watsons” ourselves, we couldn’t help but feel a kinship with the line, “Elementary, my dear Watson.”

Gillette named his castle, Seventh Sister, building it from local fieldstone supported on a steel frame over a five-year span (1914-19) by a crew of 20 men. Gillette designed the entire structure himself, including the 47 individually designed doors, with unusal doorknobs and puzzle locks.

Without a doubt, Gillette Castle (aka Seventh Sister) is one unique home.

Without a doubt, Gillette Castle (aka Seventh Sister) is one unique home. My finger is pointing  at a series of wooden switches for lighting.

Strained glass fixtures and windows throughout the castle.

Stained glass fixtures and windows throughout the castle.

The castle’s rear, overlooking the river.  Even the window awnings are made from the stone.

A view of th driver from the castle patio. That's where we usually are.

A view of the river and the boats from the castle’s patio.

We enjoyed our tour and a picnic lunch on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. The water called to us and the river said come take a ride! So off we went to ride the Chester-Hadlyme ferry across the river, no bridges for us.

The Chester-Hadlyme Ferry - "over the river......."

The Chester-Hadlyme Ferry – “over the river…….”

We are all happy whenever we are on the water.

We are all happy whenever we are on the water.

One last look back at Gillette Castle high atop the hill.

One last look back at Gillette Castle high atop the hill.

The hurricane party continued into the evening with a dinner at Amici’s land home. Ted and Sally invited the four of us to enjoy their company and a delicious meal. on dirt or on the water, it’s great camaraderie.

Dinner at Sally and Ted's.

Dinner at Sally and Ted’s.

One last stop at West Marine for their bottom paint sale. Thinking ahead. Magnolia’s bottom will be blue, Kindred Spirit‘s will be green. Don’t mix the cans up, guys! Or… we could have matching striped bottoms???

The guys and their bottom paint.

The guys and their bottom paint.

So what ever happened with Hermine?? The tropical storm did not impact us very much after all, here in Connecticut. That is a very good outcome. No regrets about taking precautions and being safe. If we had been out on the water, the conditions would have been uncomfortable at best and very likely risky. The best outcome for us was getting to spend time with Anthony and Annette before they continue southward. We sure are going to miss them this winter.

 

 

 

Off to the Islands – Nantucket, Interrupted

When we leave Lake Tashmoo, we usually head north and east around West Chop and East Chop on either side of Vineyard Haven harbor, dodging the big ferries as we cross.

West Chop

West Chop

West Chop Lighthouse 1838

West Chop Lighthouse 1838

Dodging ferries as we pass by the Vineyard Haven harbor entrance.

Dodging ferries as we pass by the Vineyard Haven harbor entrance.

East Chop

East Chop

Zoomed view of the East Chop Light, 1875

Zoomed view of the East Chop Light, 1875

West and East Chop Lights are so similar, I wasn’t sure which was which when I reviewed the photos. I could only identify them by the order in which they were taken (going west to east) and by zooming in on the windows which are slightly different.

Sometimes we stop in Oak Bluffs first and sometimes we head to Edgartown first. Every town on Martha’s Vineyard has its own flavor and charm, which is what makes it a great island. But the morning was calm and lovely, so we made one of those impulsive Watson decisions and decided to save the rest of Martha’s Vineyard for the return voyage. We have plenty of time; we are retired! The sea conditions were just right, so why not go straight to Nantucket now?? 31 nautical miles, which only took us 5 hours, and we were there.

What a gorgeous morning! Great to be on the water. :-)

What a gorgeous morning! Great to be on the water. 🙂

Entering Nantucket harbor is always exhilarating.

First you are greeted by Brant Point Light, proudly standing watch at the edge of the harbor. First erected in 1746, it is America’s second oldest lighthouse. But, the current building is the tenth structure to sit there, so I don’t see how it could actually be “the second oldest.” That location for a lighthouse may be, but not that particular building. Brant Point is only 26 feet tall, making it the shortest lighthouse in all of New England. Its red light flashes every four seconds, and is visible ten miles out, so size doesn’t matter.

Brant Point Light

Brant Point Light

Brant Point Light. Don’t recall seeing the flag on the lighthouse before.

Brant Point Light. Don’t recall seeing the flag on the lighthouse before.

One look at our chartplotter and all we saw were AIS icons in the harbor, mostly at the docks. The “big boys” are out here.

AIS in Nantucket harbor

AIS’s are abundant  in Nantucket harbor

And there they are, lined up at the docks. They are BIG. Really big.

And there they are, lined up at the docks. They are BIG. Really big.

It's not all big motor yachts out here. As we maneuvered through the harbor, these little racers wherein their way out for a day of competition.

It’s not all big motor yachts out here. As we maneuvered through the harbor, these little racers wherein their way out for a day of competition.

There are 125 rental moorings in the harbor here……. for $65 per night. Naturally we choose to anchor just beyond the moorings. This year we sought a new location on the other side of the shallowed area in the harbor. Perfect! It’s still a 3/4 nm ride in the dinghy to the town dinghy docks, but that $65 per night goes a long way towards eating out! Interestingly, most people don’t seem to feel comfortable anchoring here. Are we brave, foolish, or just thrifty?? Don’t answer that.

Yellow arrow points to us. Hmm, maybe I shouldn't publicize our little spot?

Yellow arrow points to us. Hmm, maybe I shouldn’t publicize our little spot?

Nantucket is full of history, sea stories, and old New England charm. We love strolling around the streets.

The shining steeple of the Congregational Church can be seen from out in the harbor.

The shining steeple of the Congregational Church can be seen from out in the harbor.

In olden days, Nantucket was a very muddy mess where refuse and water puddled in the sandy clay streets when it rained. By the mid 1800’s, cobblestones were used to pave the streets and were a real sign of progress. There are differing stories about where the cobblestones originated. The popular hypothesis is that the cobblestones were ballast from the ships that had taken goods across to Europe.  A much more interesting story than just buying them from somewhere on the East coast.

Streets of cobblestones and sidewalks of brick.

Streets of cobblestones and sidewalks of brick.

Nantucket, seen as the center of the world.

Nantucket, seen as the center of the world.

I could wander these streets forever.

Main Street, Nantucket

Main Street, Nantucket

Nantucket streets img_6710 img_6709 brick sidewalks

Every island seems to have a wonderful independent book store, full of charm and books. Nantucket Bookworks is one of these.

Every island seems to have a wonderful independent book store, full of charm and books. Nantucket Bookworks is one of these.

We found a new sweet little bake shop to visit for a rest and sustenance. ;-)

We found a new sweet little bake shop to visit for a rest and sustenance. 😉

When we weren’t roaming around the streets of Nantucket,  we would spend a few hours on the beach.  Jetties Beach is an easy dinghy ride just outside the harbor.

Sitting on Jetties Beach - warm sun, warm water.

Sitting on Jetties Beach – warm sun, warm water.

From the beach we watched the Oliver Hazard Perry enter the channel.

While sitting on the beach, we watched the Oliver Hazard Perry enter the channel.

The Oliver Hazard Perry, a tall ship, arrived in Nantucket. The Perry is a three-masted, square-rigged sailing vessel, measuring 207 feet long. She is the largest privately owned tall ship and civilian sail training vessel in the United States. It took 8 years to build her, finishing with a maiden voyage to Portland, Maine in 2015 for the Tall Ships Festival. The ship is a “good will ambassador” for Rhode Island as well as a “floating classroom”.

Back in the harbor, we had an amazing view of the Oliver Hazard Perry as the crew put the seals away. What a job! High up there int he rigging, hanging and working. Talk about training!

Back in the harbor, we had an amazing view of the Oliver Hazard Perry as the crew put the seals away. What a job! High up there in the rigging, hanging and working. Talk about training!

If you love looking at boats, Nantucket has a ginormous variety, sail and power. I could fill blog post after post with just photos of the boats out there. But I won’t 😉 Except for these two —

This is a "then and now" photo. Looking through our older photos of Nantucket trips, I found the top photo and matched it the bottom that I took this year. IT's amusing to see that I photographed, unknowingly, so many years apart. It hasn't sunk in spite of its name.

This is a “then and now” photo. Looking through our older photos of Nantucket trips, I found the top photo and matched it the bottom that I took this year. It’s amusing to see that I photographed it, unknowingly, so many years apart. It hasn’t sunk yet,in spite of its name, but it is looking more worn.

This is the Nantucket pump-out boat. Events pump-out boat is classy with a clever name. Haha.

This is the Nantucket pump-out boat. Even the pump-out boat is classy with a clever name. Haha.

Our anniversary always fell during our summer sailing trips around the southern New England islands, so we decided to revive that little tradition of a nice dinner out on an island.  Nantucket has Incredible restaurants that can compete with the best metropolitan ones. We still reminisce about an anniversary dinner we had here at The Boarding House. Although we were 14 days late, it was still August, so we chose The Pearl, sister restaurant to The Boarding House. I’ll be honest, it was the kind of meal you only do on very special occasions, if you know what I mean.

Dressed up ("boating dress") for our anniversary.

Dressed up (“boating dress”) for our anniversary.

The Pearl - "current coastal cuisine showcasing seasonal shellfish and seafood, produce from Island farmers and heritage meats"

The Pearl – “current coastal cuisine showcasing seasonal shellfish and seafood, produce from Island farmers and heritage meats”

We shared the Wok-fired lobster because it was two tails and two claws, plenty for two!

We shared the appetizer and the wok-fired lobster because it was two tails and two claws, plenty for two! Confession – we did not share our desserts!

Our time on Nantucket was interrupted, and we had not explored so many of our favorite places such as ‘Sconset, Surfside Beach, The Whaling Museum, Cisco Brewery, Head of the Harbor, and more. We had been watching the weather forecasts for several days, hoping against hope that Hermine, the tropical storm, would not come too close. By August 30th, it was apparent that it would be foolish to ignore her. We have spent enough time on boats and on the water to know that you don’t fool with Mother Nature. We were close enough to our homeport to get back there safely, well ahead of Hermine.

The wind forecasts

The wind forecasts. Every day the forecasts  shifted some, but seemed to be consistently worrisome for our waters.

We departed Nantucket on Wednesday, August 31st and made it to Cuttyhunk, 44 nautical miles, 6+ hours. Dropped the hook and spent the night, leaving very early the next morning, in the rain.

Good bye, Nantucket.

Good bye, Nantucket.

On September 1st we traveled another 48 nautical miles and reached Napatree, Rhode Island and meet Mary Jo and Dean. The weather was still good enough to stay out a little longer, if we were close to home.

September 1st and it is time for my "Teal Toes" for Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. Haven't missed a year yet.

September 1st and it is time for my “Teal Toes” for Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. Haven’t missed a year yet.

Before ending our 3-4 week trip, we squeezed in some more good times with Mary Jo and Dean.

Fun on the flybridge (Dean's new selfie stick)

Fun on the flybridge (Dean’s new selfie stick)

Always beautiful at Watch Hill and Napatree.

Watch Hill

colorful sunset WH2

There was so much more we planned to do on this trip before it was interrupted by Hermine. We thought we had a couple more weeks for time in Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Aquinnah, Menemsha, Cuttyhunk……… Oh well, perhaps next year.