We are fully in “Savor Every Moment” mode! We are currently in the Great Salt Pond on Block Island, just coming from Nantucket. A week from now, we will be picking up our mooring in Keyport Harbor. We’ve all done a fantastic job staying away from “what’s next-itis;” so except for the kids starting camp, we’ll figure it out what July 2nd will look like when we get there : )
Our trip north from Annapolis was uneventful – but weather did impact our progress a bit. First, an offshore trip to Block Island would have delayed us at least a week. We needed a solid day and half window, with time for the seas to settle down – it just wasn’t going to happen… so up the Jersey Coast we went and through the Long Island Sound.
First stop, after the Chesapeake-Delaware Canal was Cape May. There were not many pictures from this run simply because there was nothing to see, except fog… and lots of it. We left the narrow canal with a close loud horn coming our way… a friendly wave from the Coast Guard (and being able to see the colors of their eyes) as we passed put us into thicker fog in the Delaware River – the major shipping channel to Philadelphia. We stayed out of the shipping lane with our radar working overtime, but between Tali and Becky looking out, and Captain’s head down on the chart and radar, it was a long, but uneventful passage.
Being at Cape May was a bit of a weird feeling… close to home, but not quite. We did the tourist thing, walked around downtown, continued our fudge sampling, went to the zoo, and the Wildwood boardwalk. It was just enough of a reminder, that we’re coming back a little different than we left – Wildwood may be just a little over the top ; )
“Watch the Tram Car Please…”
From Cape May, we did the 8 hour jump up to Atlantic City, anchored and prepared for our long trip the next day. When people travel down the ICW each year from north of the Chesapeake, there is one mandatory offshore passage, and that is from Atlantic City to Sandy Hook. It’s a good 12 hour day with minimal places to pull in if the weather goes south – so a window is important. We had ours and, while the normal stop is Atlantic Highlands, that was waaaayyyyy too close to home, so we opted to continue north and spend the night in Sheepshead Bay. Glad we did – stocked up on fresh meat at the local butcher, and found a nice spot for a weekend getaway (and some great Italian food) when we’re back home.
Atlantic City from Ocean… of course the conversation went to challenges the city is having. Reading up on it, looks like two casinos/hotels will be reopening this season. Good news!
It was a bit chilly heading up the coast, but Savy kept Chris company at the helm.
The trip up the East River never gets old!!!
We spent the night anchored in Northport, NY, then crossed the sound and anchored in Westport, CT and finally tied up to the dock at the Mystic Seaport. We affectionately call it Disney World for Sailors!!!!
Intermezzo in the background… kind of funny to look at her with vessels that were built when fiberglass didn’t exist.
As luck would have it, we arrived on the closing day of the Sea Shanty Festival. This will be on our list of future trips, whether by boat or car. The great thing about staying at the Museum, is that you have access to it before and after it closes to the public. The exhibits on Whaling (including having the last remaining Whaling Ship afloat) and the Vikings were standouts. As you’d expect, having traveled up the coast, the sea is the source of livelihood for all of these towns. Entering New England, however, transitioned from coastal fishing, clams, crabs, oysters; or even canyon fishing with Tuna and Swordfish, to Whaling… less about feeding a population, and more about driving (and lubricating) the engines of the early US economy. The stop at Mystic gave us a great preparation for what we’d learn in Nantucket about the industry. There is something about actually exploring the ship itself, that brings the history to life.
Chris… “Really, the crowd is singing 4 part harmony? We are at seaport museum surrounded by old wooden sailboats? Does it get any better???
Smiling kids, but the background has an original replica of a Viking Ship used in the 700s. We both missed the Viking story during our history class, but what a fascinating culture. They were using a predecessor to the sextant to navigate further than others had before. Their ship construction allowed them to build lighter, shallower, and faster ships. This particular ship sailed on her own keel across the Atlantic and will be traveling the coast… We didn’t get our fill of the whole story, so we have been binge watching “Vikings” on Amazon Prime (originally aired on the History Channel). Definitely nice to be in the land of unlimited data ; )
Postcard #1 from our dock…
Postcard #2 on our way out.
From Mystic, it was time to stop at our all time favorite spots (without the pressure of a ‘week’s vacation). Cuttyhunk, the southern most of the Elizabeth Islands, was our first stop. We were about 2 weeks early, so we had the harbor practically to ourselves. The first day, the weather was rainy and cool – perfect day to rest and relax on the boat… the next day we went out to walk the island.
Step 1: Call Cuttyhunk Raw Bar on channel 68
Step 2 – Enjoy freshly shucked clams, cheese and crackers, and a nice Rose from our favorite vineyard (yes Chris’ Dad made a trip down to Cape May to deliver some essentials)
Step 3 – Take dinghy into Lobster Shack for your freshly caught and steamed lobsters… And that’s a Lobster Bake, boat-style in Cuttyhunk.
It’s not just about the food… it is a truly beautiful place.
From Cuttyhunk, it was up to Nantucket. This time, we were not focused on the restaurants, or the Nantucket ‘scene.’ We have now spent almost 8 months exploring islands and island life – we wanted to understand more about this one. We started, as we usually do, at the museum (which here includes 7 sites). It did not take long to see that Nantucket was different than the other islands that dot the New England coast. Yes there was the Native American influence, there was also the Quaker influence – those ‘escaping’ the Puritans on the mainland, but Nantucket had Whaling. Nantucketers traveled the world in search of Whales crossing Cape Horn into the Pacific stopping at the Azores, and the Cape Verde Islands, diversifying the culture. Also, as you’d imagine, these whaling trips were multi-year, so when all of the whalers (who were mostly men, some spouses and children traveled), were out whaling, who was running Nantucket – the women. Add that to their Quaker foundations of equality, and you have a sub-culture that was truly diverse while much of the country was still actively involved in slavery, and women’s rights were not on the radar. (For the record, this is a blog, so these are generalizations, not a well researched sociology thesis — it just sets the stage for the next phase)
Girls are all set… Great time at the Shipwreck Museum
Fast forward, petroleum is discovered in Pennsylvania, and the Whaling industry dies almost overnight. The Whalers take their ships and move west for the gold rush – at the same time, 1/3rd of the city burns as part of a devastating fire. The island re-builds, but it enters a dark period, until folks realize that they have a beautiful island with a strong history… time to embark on tourism. Nantucket has been a tourist destination for over 100 years, and they are very good at it. That tourist destination is what ends up on magazine covers, photographs, clothing styles, etc… It is a true Island Camelot. But what goes on behind the scenes with the Nantucketers – those that live through the cold, snowy, storm-ridden winters. I would call them Pragmatists – they do what needs to be done and they do it from a place steeped in the island’s history.
Chris was reading the high school newspaper at the coffee shop one morning and stumbled on the Editor’s note. She talked about a rather popular sailing regatta that the island hosts the week before we got there – Fugawi Race Week. Her comments were not focused on the behavior of the sailors (who get very rowdy and drink too much), it was not focused on what they wore (looked like magazine cover models); it was focused on her review of the list of yachts entered and their captains… she asked the question, why there weren’t more women skippering boats. In one 300-500 word Op Ed, she supported, respected, and valued the folks that summer on Nantucket each year and at the same time challenged what the island could do to change it. Sounds like an op ed that could have been written in the 1800s when, Nantucket Native, Maria Mitchell discovered her Comet, but was challenged because she was a female astronomer… the first female astronomer. I wonder why Nantucket is the fastest growing county in Massachusetts…
Nantucket is an ever-changing island with each winter storm or hurricane, the coastline changes and the sand shoals shift. It is not about global warming, it is simply about the fact that falling water levels created Nantucket, and rising water levels will change it. This lighthouse was moved back from the eroding cliffs.
We took a great “flip-flop” hike through the backyards of the beautiful homes along the Eastern shore… while a little weird walking through people’s backyards, the trail is a deeded easement that continues to honored and maintained.
We stayed in Nantucket for a week, enjoyed the ice cream and fudge a little too much and headed to Block Island. We left in pea soup fog (we’re getting used to that now), but arrived to a beautiful sunset in the Great Salt Pond. We’ll be here for a week, and then start our way home with a July 1st targeted arrival. Camps start and Chris really does need to start looking for what he’s going to do next : )
See you all very soon…