Celebrating 25 Years, in Newport

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…..)

Newport Harbor Hotel and Marina as seen from the water, with the restaurant, SALT water. A great location.

Anthony picked us up at the dock in “Blossom,” Magnolia’s dinghy, for a ride out to Magnolia, anchored near Ida Lewis Yacht Club. 

Heading out to Magnolia
Annette and Anthony had prepared a brunch to begin our celebrations. Two quiches and fruit salad by Annette with cinnamon buns and sangria by Anthony. Sooo yummy!
Anthony and Al
Tim and Amanda
Annette and me

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.

Beautiful white sailboat
And a dark hulled one. See…. boats!

We all regrouped in the lobby of the hotel. Anthony, now chief photographer, snapped a few shots.

Sharing our wedding anniversaries.
The shawl is very special. I wove it last year from a pattern designed by Bonnie Tarses. She creates the warping pattern using the horoscope for a specific date with designated colors. I used our wedding date so it is unique for us. The hydrangeas were gathered at home.
On our walk from the hotel, we had to pass this car. Couldn’t resist the photo op.

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.

The building was constructed in 1930 and is now the only original structure on Market Street and one of the few still in use for its original purpose.

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.

You can’t see it in any photos, but around the very top of the room, just below the ceiling are these words: “They that go down to The Sea in ships and occupy their business in great waters; These men see the works of The Lord and His wonders in the deep. For He maketh the storms to cease so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they are at rest, and so he bringeth them unto their desired heaven.”

With hydrangeas from home and our original vows in hand, we pledged our love for each other again. 

In the name of God,
I, Michele/Alan, take thee, Alan/Michele
To be my beloved
To have you and hold you
To honor you, to treasure you
To be at your side in sorrow and joy
To love and cherish you always.
I promise you this
From my heart, with my soul
For all the days of my life
And if God wills
Beyond the walls of life
Beyond the bounds of time.
It feels really good to be able to stand there 25 years later and feel the same. No, feel more.
Group photo!
This large tiled design anchors the room in the center.
Shell tiles are scattered throughout the floor. The shell motif is repeated in needlepoint pillows on the benches along the rim of the chapel.
Had to get the kissing photo, no matter how old you are. This is the library next to the chapel. A room filled with nautical books, non-fiction and fiction, from floor to ceiling.

We strolled down Thames Street, slowly, in the heat, before our dinner reservation.

Tim and Amanda standing by “The Wave.”
This is a restaurant that knows how to provide entertainment for children while you eat.

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?

One of several buildings that now house IYRS.
In the entrance “lobby” is always a wooden boat and another hanging from the ceiling.

Visitors can walk up a staircase and view the students at work down below from a walkway.

A picture from the internet to show what the school looks like when in session.
Today was Saturday and crews were setting up for a gala event that evening.
Off in a side room was a lone student focused on his project, working away on a Saturday. Al engaged him in a little conversation about his boat and his future plans.
Works in progress
Leaving the first building through the back door leads you to the yard and the next big restoration project.
Old wooden catboats in need of restoration.

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.

Al and Tim study the progress.

Original items salvaged from the Coronet line the walkway.

Hanging blocks and tackles. The paper labels are faded and most can no longer be read.
A rope and wood ladder
A corner sink and knees. A knee is a curved piece of wood commonly used as a form of bracing in boat building.
Interesting, but none of us knew what this is.
Will this piano need a tuning, perhaps?
There were numerous chairs, doors, and dressers scattered among the nautical items.
My favorite – old deck prisms. A deck prism provides a safe source of natural sunlight to illuminate areas below decks. The flat top, which is actually the “bottom” in these photos was embedded flush in the deck with the point extending down below so that the light could be dispersed through the prism.

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.

Mama Luisa Ristorante Italiano is an authentic Italian restaurant in an old house on Thames Street.
We all had delicious pasta dishes that were well above the typical Italian-American restaurant fare.

What a wonderful and special day it was! The next morning began with a splash of saltwater —-

A saltwater theme for Sunday morning. The hotel pool is filled with saltwater, and we ate breakfast in the restaurant named “SALTwater.” 🙂 Just what this mermaid needed!

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.

Dean masterfully opens the Prosecco.
Chef Antonio at work again, preparing steaks for the grill.
Evening fishing off the jetty as seen from Magnolia, on the mooring.

The sun set on another lovely day. We are such fortunate people.

After 3 days of of intermittent and spontaneous celebration of our 25 years together, it is finally our real anniversary date, August 6th.
A charming flower arrangement by Mary Jo – thank you for such a beautiful start to our day.
1994 and 2019
25 wonderful and loving years together.

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