Before we had friends we had cousins. Both our parents had siblings living near us when we were young. Early family photographs show us celebrating various Thanksgivings and summer vacations with assorted Sullivan, Susen and Laschever cousins.
A number of our closest cousins have settled along our summer cruising grounds. Elizabeth Jean brought us to them and they, in turn, brought tales of growing up together as well as updates of their full lives. A strong chin, winking eye, copper hair, or keen wit poignantly remind us of our parents’ closest siblings and our earliest years.
Despite sage counsel from Steve Sands, who helped outfit Elizabeth Jean for our journey, we did not run our Espar heater for the three years we were in the tropics. The idea of adding more heat to our cabin was logical, just not reasonable. So, as September turned to October we arrived in Rhode Island to replace the heater, dead from neglect. Our Rhode Island stay allowed us to explore two of sailing’s touchstones: Newport and Bristol. Newport, one-time home to the America’s Cup, lived up to its reputation as American aristocracy’s play ground. Bristol’s Herreshoff Museum offered its abundance of vintage wooden boats designed by America’s premier designer Nathaniel Herreshoff.
An albatross-eyed view of Newport’s extravant estates.
Newport’s cliff trail divides the rugged coast from many estate’s ocean views. A sunset saunter along the trail revealed a glimpse of the life style of the extremely rich and famous.
Up Narragansett Bay from Newport, the Herreshoff museum documents the Herreshoff brother’s prolific production. Over 2,000 of Herreshoff”s designs survive, including Reliance, the 1903 America’s Cup winner. The video that tells the brother’s story is well worth the time.
Reliance and Shamrock.
By late September we had reached Vineyard Haven, after visits in Massachusetts to Gloucester, Marblehead, Boston, Provincetown, and an anchorage near Woods Hole. The Vineyard’s collision of harbor and shore was gentler than Styron suggests, although the town was decidedly briny. We rendezvoused with our friends from Tandemeer, a vessel we first met in Grand Cayman, that delivers medical and school supplies in Haiti and other Caribbean countries. With Anne and Sequoia, Tandemeer’s crew, we sampled the freshest lobster rolls while giant soap bubbles danced hauntingly along the water as sun set on our anchorage at Menemsha.
Sunset at Marblehead.
The monument in Provincetown celebrates the Pilgrim’s arrival in Massachusetts. After learning of the sandy soils poor quality, the Pilgrims moved on to Plymouth.
Gay Head light house.
Vintage wooden crafts studded the mooring field in Vineyard Haven.
A soap bubble diverts the eye from Elizabeth Jean anchored at Menemsha.
The bubble meister.
Elizabeth Jean‘s anchor light pierces the twilight as calm descends on the anchorage.
Fog shrouded Gloucester, the storied fishing community, as Elizabeth Jean cautiously probed the harbor entrance after a long day moving south from our anchorage on the Piscataqua River (the boundary between Maine and New Hampshire). Our spirits had ebbed after leaving Maine. We had not yet found a goal to replace the Big U and our adventure, therefore, felt somewhat adrift. As the morning sun warmed Elizabeth Jean‘s cockpit, our new best friend Bill Rand pulled aside Elizabeth Jean. His guided harbor tour refreshed our appetite for further exploration.
The Fishermen’s Memorial lists the vessels and their crews who have gone down to the sea and not returned. Included is the Andrea Gail lost in the 1991 storm described by Sebastian Junger in The Perfect Storm.
Bill Rand, a boyhood friend of our Seattle friend Brad Bagshaw generously spent the morning showing us the Gloucester waterfront. His kindness jump started our energy for the trip south.
Bill and Brad learned to race at the Eastern Point Yacht Club of which Bill is now Rear Commodore. The Club’s lawn looks out on the vessels large and small.
The Fishermen’s Wives Memorial. Women now participate in the fisheries. Among them, Linda Greenlaw, Captain of the Hannah Boden, who was in contact with Andrea Gail before she went down.
Our east coast sojourn has been rich with visits with old friends. Perhaps the oldest was Eric’s friend from elementary school, the first who lived beyond Eric’s street. Stopping at his home on the way home from elementary school became a ritual, made sweet by the Entenmann’s pastries that his mother stocked. Eulalie reconnected with her best friend from high school, who fondly recalls night time rendezvous after Eulalie climbed out of her bedroom window. Long walks and highly personal talks typified time with these friends from our youths. For Eric, there were marathon tennis games. Eulalie honed her racing skills on Long Island with her friend. These visits provided a window into these friends’ adult lives, familes, and accomplishments. Poignantly, these visits also reaquainted us with our more youthful, unformed selves.