Our 25th wedding anniversary is this month, August 6th. For many years our anniversary would fall during our summer cruising weeks and we would celebrate with dinner at a restaurant on Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Block Island or wherever we happened to be on that special date. This year, we weren’t able to make any special plans ahead of time because dates and commitments were changing at a quick pace over the past month. My sweet husband of 25 years decided to fulfill a dream I had and surprised me with a plan, conceived and executed in about 48 hours.
Why will it be a part of the blog?
#1 – Al introduced me to boating and it has been a big part of our marriage.
#2 – We will be celebrating in Newport, Rhode Island, home of the America’s Cup Sailing Race for over 50 years from 1930 to 1983 and a harbor filled with boats of all sizes and types.
#3 – We will be on a boat, briefly.
#4 – Nearly everything we do seems to be boat-related……………..
#5 – Because I want to record and remember it! Indulge me, please.
Al’s son, Tim, married his wife, Amanda, on our anniversary in 2011 so we share August 6th as a special day. They temporarily suspended their RV travels for the past 6 months and have been in Connecticut. We invited them to join us on our impulsive Newport trip. Magnolia was anchored in Newport Harbor so you can be sure we asked them to join us.
We checked into the Newport Harbor Inn and Marina (Note the word “marina” attached. I told you there were boats…..)
Anthony picked us up at the dock in “Blossom,” Magnolia’s dinghy, for a ride out to Magnolia, anchored near Ida Lewis Yacht Club.
After that delightful beginning, Anthony shuttled us back to the hotel so that we could freshen up for our ceremony. We are going to renew our vows.
We all regrouped in the lobby of the hotel. Anthony, now chief photographer, snapped a few shots.
Where were we going?
Years ago, on our first visit to Newport, we were walking about and exploring the harbor. Curious, we checked out a building called The Seamen’s Church Institute, a large brick, Georgian-styled building. The Institute was originally formed in 1919 to “provide work for the moral and mental improvement exclusively of all of those who are employed upon or in connection with the sea in any part of the world or upon the inland waters of the United States, including men in the service of the United States…”. To this day, the organization continues to offer services and support to those working on the waterfront, to visiting and local mariners, and to those in need in the community.
Inside of the Seaman’s Church Institute, on the top floor, is a tiny chapel, the “Chapel of the Sea.” It has become a tradition for us to stop in here whenever we are in Newport, for a little quiet repose in a chapel that feels as though it were made for us. The chapel was designed and painted by Durr Freedley, an artist living in Newport in the early 1900’s. The chapel’s artwork honors Christian saints associated with the sea. Whenever we visit I would think, what a perfect place to renew our vows……..and here we were.
With hydrangeas from home and our original vows in hand, we pledged our love for each other again.
We strolled down Thames Street, slowly, in the heat, before our dinner reservation.
Another place we repeatedly explore in Newport is IYRS, the International Yacht Restoration School. We first found it back in its early years, around 1995-1998. At that time, students were taught the craftsmanship and restoration skills necessary to preserve classic wooden boats. We have watched IYRS evolve and grow over the past 20 years into the post-secondary non-profit experiential learning institution that it is now. IYRS School of Technology & Trades offers four full-time, accredited programs: Boatbuilding & Restoration, Composites Technology, Digital Modeling & Fabrication, Marine Systems. Students range in age from 18-78. Don’t you love that?
Visitors can walk up a staircase and view the students at work down below from a walkway.
The BIG (and that is meant literally) restoration project acquired by IYRS is the 1885 133-foot luxury schooner yacht, Coronet. The Coronet is a rare survivor of that time, the Gilded Age. Most of her contemporaries have vanished due to sinking, grounding, neglect, or old age. Throughout her active lifetime, the various owners used the yacht for different purposes – pleasure cruising, scientific exploration, and prayer missions.
The Coronet. 133 feet in length, a beam of 27 feet, with a draft of 12 feet. She is known for five years of transatlantic racing and a circumnavigation of the globe. Coronet was one of the first US yachts to round Cape Horn.
The Coronet was brought to IYRS in 1995, which is around the time we first saw the yacht, before the restoration began. Back then she sat outdoors at a dock and we were able to go aboard and wander around at will. I wish I had photos from that! The real restoration work didn’t begin until 2006. IYRS now houses the Coronet in an enormous building. There is a balcony along the edge of the work area for viewing the progress.
Original items salvaged from the Coronet line the walkway.
After our meandering walk down Thames Street, we worked up an appetite and were ready for dinner when we reached our destination, Mamma Luisa’s.
What a wonderful and special day it was! The next morning began with a splash of saltwater —-
You would think there was enough celebrating, but we carried on for one more day. Back at Shennecossett Yacht Club, I kayaked with Mary Jo and Annette, and then had a nice dip in the water, which was much colder than expected!
We all gathered for another dinner on Magnolia who was now back on our mooring.
The sun set on another lovely day. We are such fortunate people.