44 Portland, ME to Bristol, RI


A cell phone call to the locktender confirmed we were on the wrong side of the Erie Canal. I fired up the laptop, called up the map, and turned on the handheld GPS. In minutes our position came up on the map and we could easily pick a route around. Ruth drove, I navigated providing instructions on what to do as we reached each intersection. A short time later we were walking out Lock 7’s jetty. For us it was a unique occasion. Just about a year ago we had been tied up at this same lock cruising with Samum. Now were again in this beautiful spot to meet up with cruising friends again.

Ahead was the trawler At Ease. Aboard were Celina and Jim. We’d last seen them in Washington DC in June. Then we received their e-mail indicating they’d be somewhere on the Erie Canal just as we were heading for Rochester. Our return e-mail had not gone through and they did not know we were coming. Two hours earlier we didn’t know where they were on the canal. As we traveled I began calling canal locks and soon tracked them down. We knocked on the hull, called out hello and achieved complete surprise. We received a joyous welcome and had a wonderful time swapping notes about mutual adventures and plans. It felt good being back on the canal again, if only as visitors and guests on At Ease for the night. Made us itchy for our return visit to the Great Lakes next year.

New York was green, bright and lush. Rains had prevented the dried burned out look of late August from appearing. We took advantage and poked down into the southern tier of NY into the rolling green hills far from the city with Cindy and Mike. They hope to find a home or land to build on down in that area some day. We stopped at Pollywog Holler, a unique romantic place to stay. Cindy and Mike had stayed there once in an authentic teepee out in the woods. Another site had a tiny cabin just big enough for a bed and wood fired stove. Oil lamps provided light. Woodland paths and streams, mixed with a unique collection of sculptures fill the woods. Each of the 5 or 6 cabins were different and each had its own private location in the woods.

Since our last visit, Debbie and Jeff had just taken possession of their new house and are still moving in. The normal jumble of boxes to be unpacked still lingered, but the house is quickly becoming a home. We had an informal house warming party there and had a wonderful time.

We’d had a wonderful time, even the dentist appointment, purpose of the trip, wasn’t bad. However, getting back home to Tranquility was wonderful. It felt good to be home.

Early the next morning we left Portland heading south in company with Caribbean Soul. We worked our timing out to pick up ports we’d passed on the way up.

We pulled into York, walked the quiet streets admiring the homes. In the library a colorful poster for the Maine Museum caught Richard’s eye. He asked the librarian where the museum was located. She didn’t know and couldn’t find it in her Maine references. A teen sitting at the computer heard our discussion and searched the Internet. Museum construction is scheduled to start in 200: ah technology.

The York nature trail crosses the remainder of a dam where a mill powered by tidal currents once stood. A tiny suspension bridge spanned the opening where the mill wheel used to be. A movement in the swift current caught my eye and I watched more intently. Suddenly a crab went flying by, cart wheeling in the swift current. Other crabs followed. I couldn’t help but wonder if they were victims caught in the 7-8 knot current or just out for a crab thrill ride to be repeated when the current reversed.

We timed our passage up the Piscataqua River perfectly, coming in at slack current. Hit it wrong and our 6 knot boat would be bucking a 5 knot or higher current. On the left was Portsmouth New Hampshire. On the right were Maine and the Portsmouth Navy Yard. The Yard is still open and its factory whistle, a reminder from a bygone era, signaled when work was to start and stop. We pulled up at the town dock and discovered yet another coastal city that has rebuilt its downtown area and is thriving. Riding the tourist trolley we learned some of the city history. Later that evening, we walked the town with a tour guide who has us a colorful description about what the town was like in the early days. Most impressive that evening were the people sitting around Market Square enjoying coffee while listening to street performers.

Labor Day was at hand. For many it’s a time to be out on the water for the last fun of the season. For us it was time to find a quiet spot and hunker down. We crossed the river, ducked behind the Navy Yard island and spent two nights in Kittery with Caribbean Soul while everyone else got in their last holiday weekend.

We found a mooring at the Annisquam Yacht Club and their launch service took us ashore. We discovered a community snuggled in rugged forested rocky hills. For us, it made for interesting walking. We even found the Squam Rock, which if you are ambitious; you can just manage to climb on all fours. We enjoyed watching a mom and dad teach their kids to make the perilous climb and chuckled when mom laughed and said that when she was younger she could climb with a beer in one hand.

The next morning as we walked, we encountered the stone cutter at work. He was carefully measuring to make an angle cut for a no motor rock wall. We watched for 20 minutes and left while he was still working with his cold chisel and hammer to make the cut.

We stopped to enjoy Marblehead a second time. As we were going ashore at the Corinthian Yacht Club the launch driver mentioned that Dennis Conner was in town for the Etchel Worlds. Sure enough as we headed up the dock, there was Dennis with a sail bag in one hand and brief case in the other. We learned he had come to town with two hulls and four masts and now was in the process of tuning and practicing.

Caribbean Soul headed for Boston to pick up friends. We started toward Provincetown, didn’t like the wind and ended up going through the Cape Cod Canal and anchoring out. It was a treat to swing at anchor without having to interact with people. We spend a wonderful evening just sitting in the cockpit and watching the sun set.

We headed for Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard. There we caught up with Judee and Tom on Cheshire Cat. We hadn’t seen them since parting company after going through the Dismal Swamp together in early May. We had a fun reunion and spent time filling one another in on items that we hadn’t covered in our e-mails. You have to work hard when meeting people who read your e-mail journals. You have to remember not to repeat stories you’ve told in the journals.

We explored a cross section of Martha’s Vineyard and got a feel for its many flavors. Edgartown on Saturday was jammed even though it was after season. It was a study in white and black. White houses with black shutters. Most houses were old and elegant. We took the bus to Oak Bluffs and walked through the Methodist campground. What had once been a church campground has evolved into an encampment of small tightly spaced homes competing to display pure whimsy. Gingerbread, bright colors, interesting shapes, unique names and decorations overwhelm the eye. We had a grand time walking through these unique homes.

We walked a nature trail with Judee and Tom. It was evident that someone had partied recently and trashed the place. We were disgusted and did our part to clean up. As we walked the trail we picked up beer bottles and cans. Near the start of the trail we found two empty 12 pack boxes. I think Tom and I raised some eyebrows as we walked out along the streets early Sunday morning. Some of the people returning from church looked at us a little funny as we walked along carrying our 12 pack boxes. We dumped them as soon as we found a trash container.

Oh my god. We’ve realized we’re part of the reason why there are so many T-shirt shops. We ended up taking advantage of the 50% off sales and bought two new T-shirts. Of course, for us, T-shirts and shorts are about all we wear now. Most importantly for us, it’s a souvenir we use all the time and it fits on the boat.

Our final sampling of Martha’s Vineyard was to cross over to Chappaquiddick Island and walk along the road in its woodsy setting. We headed out to the Mytoi Gardens and then walked a little further to the famous dike bridge. I doubt Ted Kennedy was happy to see it rebuilt and opened again. As we started back we noticed an interesting event at Mytoi Gardens. There was a line up of 4WD vehicles to use the air hose provided to blow tires (softened to provide traction on sand) back up.

We crossed back over toward Newport in great winds. A nice sail and even an impromptu race with an Islander 36. Traded places a few times and came out about even. We were faster on a beat and they were faster on a reach. We felt great since they had more sail up. Our race ended when we went looking for an anchorage in the Sakonet River. They headed on to Newport.

A sheltered cove in the Sakonet River provided a great anchorage. The next morning we motored up the river to Bristol and spent the afternoon exploring the Herreshoff Museum and America’s Cup Hall of Fame. Was fun seeing some of the old classic wood boats. The feel of history was heightened as we walked along a tree-shaded street enjoying classic houses. At times it seemed like going back in a time warp to the 1800’s. Only the modern cars distorted the illusion and feeling.

The night has gotten very rough on the mooring. A front is coming through and we are up to 2-3 foot waves in the mooring field. It will be a rough night sleeping. Tomorrow we head for Newport and the boat show.


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