This year my birthday eve included cataract surgery combined with a suddenly dysfunctional refrigerator in the house. The cataract surgery went fine but living out of coolers and searching for a new refrigerator under pressure was not that much fun. To improve my mood Al took me out to dinner and to the movies to see Downton Abbey. THAT was fun.
The bigger celebration was delayed until the weekend. A boating day with my sons and their families. We rarely, if ever, have the opportunity to take the kids out on the boat. But when it is Nana’s birthday, everyone steps up to make her day special. 😉
It was a day of wonderful pandemonium!!
Shennecossett Yacht Club added a playscape to the grounds this year. All I can say is — “THANK YOU!!!!” It was perfect for these three cousins, aged 5, 3, and 2.75 years.
We were here for a boating day, so off to Kindred Spirit we went for a ride over to New London. It wasn’t the best weather, but at least it was not raining. Before the day became overcast and windy, we had a little sunshine for our ride.
After we anchored, Papa took the cousins out for a dinghy ride, with assistance from Adam.
The flybridge was another favorite spot.
Even the inside of the boat was fascinating to these three.
On the return trip, Captain Papa and Caleb at the helm.
Back at the club for a picnic dinner. And more playtime, of course.
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.
Good weather is back! We departed Oak Bluffs with promise of a sunshine soon to come, although the winds were still brisk.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (SecondSally) and Rod and Mary (Pegasus) are live-aboard cruisers. Another great Magnolia party!
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!
We know we are close to home when we pass these three structures along the Rhode Island coast at Watch Hill.
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. 😉
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.
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.
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.
We continued our walk around Oak Bluffs checking out shops while stretching our legs.
The rain began after lunch and continued on and off for the rest of Monday.
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.
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.
There was another break in the rain late in the afternoon, so we all got off the boats for a walk.
It might have been a rainy two days here in Oak Bluffs but we still enjoyed our stay. Vineyard Haven tomorrow.