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.

Vineyard Haven

Good weather is back! We departed Oak Bluffs with promise of a sunshine soon to come, although the winds were still brisk.

Oak Bluffs channel looking northward.

Our next, and last harbor on Martha’s Vineyard, was Vineyard Haven, just 3.6 nautical miles around the corner from Oak Bluffs.  Vineyard Haven has a year-round population of 2,000 people and is the main port of entry to Martha’s Vineyard. 

On our way into Vineyard Haven harbor we saw this sailboat washed up on the shore. We wondered if this had happened the day before. Word on the water is that a microburst hit the harbor with momentarily fierce winds. Glad we were in Oak Bluffs!

The area was called “Nobnocket” by the Wampanoag people and then “Homes Hole” by the 19th century. “Hole” meaning a sheltered inlet which it certainly can be in the right winds.  The village officially changed its name to Vineyard Haven in 1871. It is also in the Town of Tisbury. Sometimes I find the Vineyard Haven/Tisbury name a bit confusing because they are used interchangeably.

In the past, we never stayed in Vineyard Haven. (Oops, no, not true! We spent our honeymoon here at a bed and breakfast in 1994 during a brief boat-less period.) By boat we have stayed in other harbors and walked, biked, or bussed to Vineyard Haven. Last year we anchored overnight in Vineyard Haven Harbor and found it secure with easy access to the town.

Our anchor location. The red boat is Magnolia still settling on a spot.
A view of the ferry over Magnolia at anchor.

We anchored near the bridge that separates Lagoon Pond from the harbor. Lagoon Pond is a very sheltered anchorage that limits stays to 3 days. We explored it by dinghy and might try that someday in the future, especially if the wind is from the north.

Lagoon Pond Bridge
Nice to know
We looked closely at the marked bridge heights. At the right tide, we might be able to go through without waiting for an opening, with our little “mast” down. 14 feet where it opens, but 18 feet on the right.

Another of my favorite things to do on Martha’s Vineyard is the West Tisbury Farmers Market , on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. “Founded in 1974 by a ragtag group of hippies, yankees and retired English teachers, the West Tisbury Farmers Market is Martha’s Vineyard’s oldest, largest, and finest open air market. ” It was Wednesday morning and a bus ride was the mode of transportation for Annette and me.

Flower stalls overflowing with colors for the eyes and scents for the nose.
Annette is perfectly matched to these blooming blossoms – both are beautiful!
The old truck adds a nice touch to the display of locally grown produce.
Not just vegetables here, but also scents and oils.
Organic honey products
Look at this sweet Popsicle stall…. stand….. food van?

Thursday was a quieter day for us, but since it was our last day, Al and I went into Vineyard Haven for one last walk.

From our anchor location we dinghies in to the inner harbor, passing the jetty, with lobster pot buoys snuggled near it.
The inner mooring field
I don’t know anything about this boat and its floating dock, but I thought it was an unusual site for a mooring field.
To one side of the harbor is a dock for the American Cruise line ship with the Black Dog schooner before it.
One of the Black Dog Tall Ships going out for a 3-hour sail, either Alabama or Shenandoah.
One last ice cream for the trip! At Bernies which as very good ice cream. Some guys have a girl in every port. Al has ice cream in every port. That works for me. 😉
We pass the ferry dock when we headed back to the boat. Those ferries are BIG.
Back at anchor, mama duck and her little ones are hanging around looking for a hand out.
The water looked inviting again after the heat of the day on shore. Al made that floating tether for me so that I don’t get swept away by a current.
Amici and Gale Warning sent us pictures of this little beauty moored there at Block Island. Yes, that is our very own first Kindred Spirit, a Catalina 34. We loved that boat and are so happy that her next owners love her as much we did! We hope that someday we are in the same harbor at the same time.
Chef Antonio at work in the galley, carefully dressing the dough with delicious toppings.
Chef Antonio proudly displays his legendary pizza with flare. We love these onboard pizza parties!!

The pizza party was a special event to get together with two other boats, Second Sally and Pegasus. Like Magnolia’s crew, Greg and Marie (Second Sally) and Rod and Mary (Pegasus) are live-aboard cruisers. Another great Magnolia party!

The guys, Rod, Anthony, Greg, and Al, enjoying the ambience of the cockpit.
The ladies, Annette, Mary, Marie, and Michele relaxing in the saloon.

And so our trip came to a close. I never tire of visiting these islands and their towns. Each one, from Nantucket to the Vineyard, has its own character and flavor to enjoy. Nantucket feels far away and has a sense of history with the cobblestone streets. Edgartown is classy and expensive like Nantucket, Oak Bluffs is known for “fun” and also history with the Trinity Park cottages; and Vineyard Haven is considered more of the business center although it also has a lovely main street of shops, homes with character, and several nice restaurants. I don’t think I could choose one place over the other; I love them all. We regretfully skipped Menemsha this year due to time and wind direction, but there’s alway another year around the bend!

A women’s rowing group was up bright and early that morning as Al cleaned off the anchor chain.
Before leaving Vineyard Haven, we passed by Magnolia to say good bye. What a fine time we had cruising together!
On our way, about 7:30 am
West Chop Light
Cuttyhunk in the distance.

We know we are close to home when we pass these three structures along the Rhode Island coast at Watch Hill.

The Ocean House, Watch Hill
Taylor Swift’s house in Watch Hill
The Watch Hill Coast Guard Station

Kindred Spirit averaged 8 knots for the 71 nautical miles over the 9-hour trip catching the current most of the way. Always nice when it works out that way. 😉

It was a good trip, to state the obvious.

Oak Bluffs

We left Edgartown on July 22nd under a shining sun but decided to tuck into Oak Bluffs, just 8 nautical miles away, for a day or two because the weather forecast was for stronger winds and rains. We haven’t stayed in Oak Bluffs for many years so it would be another “semi-new” experience on this trip.

The shoreline of Oak Bluffs is lined with old beach front homes.

We waited outside the channel to let a ferry pass and then followed it into the harbor.

Oak Bluffs is a tiny harbor with a lot of moorings, packed fairly close together. The rule is that there can be up to four boats on a mooring and not necessarily by choice. You are told that you may have to raft with other boats but should stick to the same size and type (sail to sail and power to power.) That day there were plenty of open moorings for Magnolia and Kindred Spiritto choose from. 

Inner harbor panorama (courtesy of A. Baker)
Rafting together makes communication much easier. And photos, too!

With the threat of bad weather, we wasted no time and dinghied the very short distance to the town dock. Walking up Circuit Avenue we took the side street into the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association (MVCMA)  in Trinity Park. It is one of my favorite places on the Vineyard and we wanted to show the cottages to Anthony and Annette. On our 2017 trip I wrote about Grand Illumination Night in mid-August which was spectacular. 

Walking around Trinity Park among the cottages one can’t help but feel how special the place is.

One cottage is designated as the museum and for a very small fee you can take a look inside. The cottages vary in size but since they were originally built upon the foundations of the tents that were first in place, most are very small. and very basic. HGTV should feature these first “tiny houses.”

We continued our walk around Oak Bluffs checking out shops while stretching our legs.

The captains are so very patient.
The Flying Houses Carousel is the nation’s oldest platform carousel. It has resided in Oak Bluffs since 1884. The hand-painted horses, housed in a big red barn, have been carefully preserved. Most of the original steeds still have horse-hair manes and tails.
We ate lunch in a place on the wharf and noticed The Vineyard Sound singing an impromptu mini-concert as an advertisement for that evening’s show in Oak Bluffs.
I guess no one is surprised that we took careful note of a promising ice cream store and headed back there after lunch.
Ben and Bill’s Emporium has chocolate on one side and ice cream on the other.
This is worth special mention! Ben and Bill’s has LOBSTER ice cream. Personally, I think that’s just wrong, even though I like both. Just not together.
“I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream” — a popular song in 1927. We aren’t screaming, but we were sure enjoying another ice cream.

The rain began after lunch and continued on and off for the rest of Monday.

Rafting makes consultation on boat projects so much easier. During a break in the showers, Al and Anthony work on updating wiring (or something like that.)

Tuesday brought more rain and the predicted higher winds. When we awoke we discovered we were very close to a smaller power boat on a nearby mooring. OB’s mooring field is a tight one. The rule is “no more than 4 boats on a mooring” and I cannot even imagine that! Hopefully only for boats under 20 feet.

Over a period of an hour, that mooring ball shifted from near Magnolia’s transom to pour transom and between us.
Al watches the rain from the comfort of our aft cockpit.
A strong gust of 40 knots gave the floating platform and attached dinghy a”lift.”

A look at the radar indicated there would be a short break in the morning showers. The guys went into town for much needed haircuts, taking a chance on Benito’s Barber Shop.

Benito’s Barber Shop
I made him promise to take photos for the blog.
White caps inside and outside the harbor.

There was another break in the rain late in the afternoon, so we all got off the boats for a walk.

Ocean Park is a large public space in the center of Oak Bluffs near the waterfront.
The homes surrounding it are Victorian style late 1800’s, like Trinity Park but much larger.
Annette and me in Ocean Park.
Al and I are dressed to fit in with the flower gardens. Thanks, Anthony, I really like this photo.
Al found another garden display — an old VW beetle.

It might have been a rainy two days here in Oak Bluffs but we still enjoyed our stay. Vineyard Haven tomorrow.

An after dinner game of Qwirkle!

Back to the Vineyard – Edgartown, with a Splash of Vineyard Haven

We left Nantucket later in the morning on July 18, allowing the fog to lift. It was an overcast and dreary morning.

Sharing the channel with a ferry leaving Nantucket
Twenty-six nautical miles under a gray sky and periods of rain. Magnolia is barely visible in the distance behind us.

Edgartown is always a stop on our travels out this way. Nice harbor, beautiful architecture of a classic New England whaling town, steeped in history and now tourism. 😉 I’ve written about our stays here in 2016 and 2017 so once again I will try not to be overly repetitious. It’s getting harder because we have our favorite things that we enjoy doing over and over.

The Edgartown mooring field stretches from the entrance to the harbor after the Chappaquidiick Ferry crossing all the way to the beginning of Katama Bay, out of sight in this photo.
We were assigned Mooring #62 which was farther out in the field than we like, but Magnolia was only one ball away. As you can see, the weather improved dramatically.

We already had plans for our first evening in Edgartown, continuing a tradition Al and I began many years ago – a Vineyard Sound concert. “Vineyard Sound” is an all-male acapella college group that began in 1992 as a group of ten friends from Connecticut College, Skidmore College and Wesleyan University who all loved music and the island. 

This group is special to me. I first heard them back in 1993 when they sang at Silas Deane Middle School in Wethersfield where I was then teaching 7thgrade mathematics. Two of the founding members had attended the middle school so they did a concert there for the kids. When we honeymooned on Martha’s Vineyard in 1994, we looked them up and have tried to catch a concert every time we have been here since then. Naturally the members change over the years, but I must admit, with chagrin, that I was caught off guard when I realized the current singers were not even alive when we heard the first Vineyard Sound concerts back in 1993. Feeling old……………

They perform 5 evenings per week in various locations around the island so we were able to see their Thursday evening Edgartown concert at the Federated Church.

Waiting for the concert to begin in the Federated Church.

All of us thoroughly enjoyed the concert. The songs were a nice mix of old and current, appealing to everyone. And afterwards we stopped at Scoops for ice cream……….. Yikes! No pictures???? Have to take my word for this.

On Friday morning, we played the “Dockwa game” for a mooring again. Now that you need to go through Dockwa for a mooring reservation in Edgartown, you can only get one night at a time. Once you are there, you spend each morning requesting anther night, sometimes in person and sometimes on the VHF. It is interesting to listen to the VHF as people call in to request another night’s stay. Sometimes they get one and sometimes they don’t. I haven’t quite figured out the why’s for that although I have theories.

Our big event(s) for this Friday was to take a bus to Vineyard Haven using the MVTA, Martha’s Vineyard Transit Authority. It’s a great system for getting around the island. An all-day pass is $5 for senior citizens. Isn’t it nice to be that old?

The wheels on the bus go round and round…… (You need grandchildren to understand that and sing along.)
On our walk we passed this house – can you see all of the blue bottles and glassware in the windows?

Why did we leave Edgartown and head to Vineyard Haven? Because Friday nights are lobster roll night at the Grace Episcopal Church. Dan Pashman’s Sporkful podcast about these lobster rolls was very motivating. This would be a first for us and Anthony and Annette were all in, too. If you are near Vineyard Haven on a Friday evening in the summer, we highly recommend going to Grace Episcopal Church.

Grace Episcopal Church, Vineyard Haven
It’s a pretty simple operation and runs very smoothly due to years of practice.
The “Grace Episcopal Lobster Crew” – check out that lobster hat!
For $20 you get a lobster roll with so much lobster meat it was enough to share, a drink and chips.
Annette and Anthony enjoying their lobster rolls. Sorry about the photo, Annette, but it definitely shows you were digging into that lobster roll!
We ate our meal outside on a pretty picnic table under a tree.

We had tickets for a 7:30 pm movie and had time to squander with a walk around Vineyard Haven. Our walk brought us to the Black Dog Tavern, another must-do tourist thing to share with the crew of Magnolia .

Black Dog Tavern where we had drinks and shared appetizers. A backwards dinner, but still tasted delicious. 😉
Al and Anthony stroll the dock at the Black Dog Wharf.
Maiden is the documentary film about 24-year old Tracy Edwards who led the first all-female crew in the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989, a grueling yachting competition that covers 33,000 miles and lasts nine months. It was EXCELLENT!!

Weather dictates boating travels and activities. Saturday and Sunday were just too hot to do anything on shore. The heat wave that arrived on the east coast affected the islands as well as the mainland. At 90 degrees, this became one of our quieter stays in Edgartown. We mostly stayed on the boats, reading, blogging, and weaving, and swimming off the boat.

Weaving in the shade of the aft cockpit.
Annette and I tried to get in the water in nearly every harbor. The water temperature was in the mid-70’s and felt so refreshing.
LOOK AT THAT!! It was so hot, even Anthony took a dip. Al took the photo but was also in the water to cool off.
A grilled swordfish dinner with chilled side salads was a fitting feast to the hot day.
A cooling dinghy ride to tour the harbor just before sunset.

Sunday was our last day in Edgartown so we dragged Anthony and Annette along to share another of our MV traditions – breakfast at Among the Flowers. (hmmm…. food sure seems to be a major part of our boating.)

Among the Flowers Cafe
Another delicious breakfast there.

Sunday became another lazy day on the boats, which was just fine because it was another hot one. Our Edgartown buddy, Mike, stopped by to say hi and give us a pump out. Mike runs the pump-out boat during the day and the launch in the evening, and he never fails to visit for a spell. Now pump-outs may not be a pleasant topic for a blog, but it is certainly a necessary and vital part of boating. Pump-out boats = clean harbors!!!

Mike at work and visiting with Al.
Sunday, July 21st, was National Iced Cream Day!! WooHOO! Just happened to have two little pints in our boat freezer………….

Monday morning began with a very early stop at Edgartown’s water dock before departing for the next harbor. We do love that water dock – so easy to refill the tanks.

Magnolia enjoyed the ease of the water dock (…and they have a water maker.)
A picnic table is provided for those sit-down moments while you wait for the tanks to fill.
The Edgartown Yacht Club with new cedar siding – looking good!
The EYC figurehead
Church steeples of Edgartown
Magnolia leaving Edgartown.
Edgartown Lighthouse – And so, we say good bye to Edgartown for this year.