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September 13, 2013

6

In and Out of Newport, Rhode Island

by frankandems

After passing through the Cape Cod Canal and anchoring in the harbor at Onset, Mass., we were off to an early start to make our trip to Newport. There is some back and forth about which is the bigger sailing/boating center: Newport or Annapolis. At great risk, that will be commented on later.

Coffee and an early morning start to Newport

Coffee and an early morning start to Newport

We arrived in Newport right at the start of the Labor Day Weekend. We generally try to avoid the popular places on holidays, but we needed to get moving towards NJ and the wind forecast was the major driver in our choice of destination, plus we really wanted to see Newport! So holiday or not, we decided to go for it. It was a fun weekend with lots of boat “eye candy” to observe. It also turned into quite a social weekend with other cruisers.

First of all, Newport Harbor is HUGE! And even before getting completely into the harbor, we started to get a flavor of Newport from the boats in the area and the mansions on the shore. Newport was a big hangout for the Vanderbilts and other families of that ilk and there are a number of historic mansions that are open for public tours. Although we did not do any of the tours, we did pass them as we came in to the harbor.

A gorgeous 12 meter sailing vessel . . . the classic that was raced in the America's Cup in the past.

A gorgeous 12 meter sailing vessel . . . the classic that was raced in the America’s Cup in the past.

Two of the mansions of Newport.

A fine example of the mansions of Newport.

Another major landmark at the entrance to the harbor is Fort Adams. The fort is now a state park that hosts the famous Newport Jazz Festival among many other major festivals. But the fort has an interesting history. The first version was built in 1799 and was used during the War of 1812. After that war, it was decided that a newer and larger fort was needed and the “new and improved” Fort Adams was built (completed) in 1857. The fort served in five major wars: Mexican-American, the Civil War, Spanish-American, WWI and WWII – but it never fired an angry shot.

I found it particularly interesting (because of our affiliation to Annapolis) that, during the Civil War, the War Department was concerned about the political sympathies of Marylanders, so the Naval Academy was relocated to Fort Adams from Annapolis for a period of time until after the war. In 1976 the fort was declared a National Historic Landmark and in 2012 the park was the official venue for the America’s Cup World Series. We passed the fort a number of times. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

Historic Fort Adams in Newport

The historic and stately Fort Adams in Newport

We spent a good part of the weekend just walking all over town and seeing the sights. Here are a few of our stops along the way . . .

Downtown Newport

Downtown Newport

A classic intersection

A classic intersection

We enjoyed visiting the Tennis Hall of Fame

We enjoyed visiting the Tennis Hall of Fame

Tennis anyone? There is a club and courts at the Hall of Fame

Tennis anyone? There is a club and courts at the Hall of Fame

One of the displays at the Tennis Hall of Fame

One of the displays at the Tennis Hall of Fame. By the way – Chris Evert has little teeny feet! We didn’t see her feet; just her shoes.

We made a visit to the International Yacht Restoration School (IYRS). There are all types of old wooden boats throughout the facility that are being worked on, but the MAJOR project housed at the school is the restoration of the old wooden sailing schooner Coronet.  The Coronet was originally built in 1885. At 131 feet, it is one of the oldest and largest schooner yachts in the world. She had an auspicious career as a transatlantic racer and global cruiser. In 1905, a religious organization called “The Kingdom” purchased the ship for $10,000 and took it around the world on prayer missions. The Kingdom owned the boat until 1995 when the IYRS acquired her and began a complete restoration of the vessel. Walking around the “bones” and looking at every article that was taken out of the boat, carefully cataloged and hung nearby is breathtaking. I can’t even imagine how many years this project will take, but we’ll be interested to see the final product when it’s finished!

The Coronet under restoration

Here is the giant fishbone that is the Coronet right now.

Here is the giant fishbone that is the Coronet right now.

We continued our walk around town hitting one or two shops. Frank was on a mission to get a better wet suit option for colder temperatures (following our trip to Maine!). Here he is trying on a hooded wetsuit vest . . . I felt compelled to snap a shot. I know . . . nice of me.

The Irish Spiderman . . .

The Irish Spiderman . . .

Then we walked around the docks and boat yards. Oh my goodness . . . the boats, the size of the boats, the size of the boat lifts!

Compare boat size to me and the Smart Car parked beside it. That's a whole lotta boat!

Compare boat size to me and the Smart Car parked beside it. That’s a whole lotta boat!

And when you have to get a really big boat out of the water, you need a really big lift!

And when you have to get a really big boat out of the water, you need a really big lift!

One example of the eye candy . . .

One example of the eye candy . . .

And then as we were driving the dinghy around the docks, Frank spotted this vessel. A fishing boat from Cape May!! Frank worked for a Captain who now owns this fleet of boats. We never could find anyone on it to talk to.

And then as we were driving the dinghy around the docks, Frank spotted this vessel that he recognized – a fishing boat from Cape May!! Frank worked for a Captain whose son owns this boat. We never could find anyone on it to talk to. They were parked for the weekend and the crew had gone ashore. Too bad.

On Sunday there was a Wooden Boat Regatta. The festivities began with a boat parade around the harbor. We had a front row seat for it in our cockpit!

Wooden Boat Regatta Parade

Wooden Boat Regatta Parade

Also on the agenda for Sunday . . . the ever dreaded trip to the laundry. Ugh. But wait! There is a pretty new Mariners Facility in Newport right off of one of the piers . . . it is the lower level of an old church and it has brand new laundry/shower/lounge facilities. It was SPOTLESS. And more amazing than that, it was EMPTY!!!!! Oh yeah, baby – had the whole laundry to myself! I was so excited, I had to take a picture.

Laundry in the Mariners Facility - 5 Stars!

Laundry in the Mariners Facility – 5 Stars!

In our travels to the pier, we ran into another couple who we had met twice and had drinks with once in Maine!! Also that morning, we heard a dinghy approach the boat and a voice call out, “Ahoy Eleanor Q!” It was a man from a boat that we hear on the “nets” on the radio every morning. He recognized our boat name from the net and thought he’d stop and say hello! Long story short, a cocktail party was born for that evening and our new friends from Exuberant and Kabria joined us and shared snacks, beverages and good company!

New Friends come aboard

New Friends come aboard

Great camaraderie in the cruising community!

Great camaraderie in the cruising community!

So after a pleasant couple of days in cloudy Newport, we planned our getaway for Monday morning. We arose at one of those hours that I don’t particularly care for and set off for our next port . . . but not so fast. As we pulled out of the harbor and said goodbye to Fort Adams,  we noticed light gray smoke mixed in the engine exhaust. That is never a good thing. We slowed down and pondered our next move. Do we keep going? Do we turn around? We let the engine run for a while longer and Frank did some initial trouble shooting. After weighing the options, the smart decision was to return to Newport. There are few places that have more services for boaters in the world . . . so why would we not figure out the problem there. So back we went past Fort Adams (again) and dropped the anchor. I think Fort Adams was smirking. Argh! The captain/chief engineer set to doing some more troubleshooting. We thought we found the problem . . . and thought we had solved it, but by the time that was accomplished, it was too late to catch the favorable current that day. Okay – let’s stay put and enjoy a quiet afternoon on the boat, which we did.

The next morning – again at an obscene time of day – we set off again. We passed the very smug Fort Adams, waved goodbye and went on our way . . . for a minute . . . when the smoke reappeared. NOOOOOO!!!! We turned around, flipped the bird at Fort Adams (which I now think was laughing at us), and came back to anchor again.( Okay, I didn’t really flip it the bird, but I thought about it.) Certain we were going to need a mechanic, we left messages all over the place and waited for the return calls to come. Meanwhile, the trusty captain/chief engineer went at it again. And God bless him, he found the rest of the problem in fairly short order and we were off!! We looked at Fort Adams with mistrust and bid it goodbye a final time.  Just for spite, the fog set in right about at that moment. I think the fort had something to do with it.

For those who might be saying, “Yeah, but what was the problem????” … let’s just say that the air filter looked like it came out of a coal mine in West Virginia and I could have made a lovely salad with the stuff that came out of the engine strainer. The engine was being deprived of air and water and it was not very pleased about it. We had checked the strainers not long before, but we must have made a wrong turn and driven through a swamp at some point along the way. Anyway, all was well.

And for those who want to know, and I hate to say it because we love Annapolis and that has been our home port . . . but as far as which city is the sailing capital? Newport is Annapolis on steroids. Don’t hate me, Annapolis.

We had changed our minds about our next stop several times due to conditions. We wanted to end up at Fishers Island, but severe storms were coming through the area. We kept a close check on the radar map as we traveled and opted to stop in Point Judith, RI instead. We beat the storms there and got ourselves anchored and settled. A little while later, who comes on the radio but our new friends from Kabria! They were on their way to Block Island when they diverted due to the same storm system . . . and ended up in Port Judith right next to us! It was nice for each of us to know we had a watchful neighbor in place before the system came through. Although it wasn’t quite as  bad as predicted, the storm still packed a bit of a punch and left behind about 4 inches of rain that evening. At one point the lightning was getting pretty intense and the winds were picking up when Frank donned the dreaded yellow foul weather gear. The yellow stuff (as I mentioned in a previous post) means things have the potential to get ugly.

Frank in his foul weather gear.

Frank in his foul weather gear.

Although we have great confidence in our anchor, if the wind really starts to howl, there is the potential for needing to go up top to start the engine and take some pressure off of the anchor. He just wanted to be ready. And it was the first time that he said, “Ems, put your rubber sole shoes on and don’t touch anything metal.” Comforting words to say the least. Although boats are designed to be able to handle a lightning strike, you really don’t want to find out. It was then that I really thought about the fact that we’re sitting in the middle of a body of water with a 57′ mast sticking straight up. (Kind of made me think of the time I was sitting in a pedicure chair in the front window of a salon during a thunderstorm with foils in my hair and my feet soaking in a electric jet tub. I only wished I had brought a golf club with me to hold up at that moment. But I digress.)  As a precaution, we also unplugged all of our electronics. Happily, the storm came and went with a bunch of noise but without incident otherwise. I did email one of my sisters during this episode while I was feeling a little nervous, saying, “There aren’t enough potato chips for this . . . “

And then we had the calm AFTER the storm . . . an eventful day was over, we were safe, and all was well.

Sunset after the storm. All's well that ends well.

Sunset after the storm. All’s well that ends well.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Caroline
    Sep 13 2013

    Most excellent blog entry. You really must plan to take in a mansion or two next time you’re in Newport. And it’s probably a good thing that you guys changed the Eleanor Q’s registration from Annapolis to NJ as you have now shown your cards in declaring Annapolis an inferior (ok slightly inferior) sailing mecca vis a vis Newport. Happy sailing!

    Reply
    • Sep 14 2013

      Correction . . . we are still registered in Annapolis!!! There was no need to reregister the boat in NJ. It will never live in NJ for any extended period of time. And the hailing port on the back of the boat is most assuredly still Annapolis. Except that they may throw us out now.

      Reply
  2. gwynmichel@aol.com
    Sep 14 2013

    Glad you survived the storm! Parts of NJ were not quite so lucky – but you’ve already heard about that, I’m sure.

    LOVE your posts! Happy sailing!

    Reply
  3. Donna & Rich
    Sep 14 2013

    Keep those great stories comin’! Love that image of you sitting in the front window of the salon, Mary Marie. :}

    Reply
  4. Harold Elmore
    Sep 18 2013

    Thanks, Mary Marie, for your continued sharing with us. I am learning history and, of course, geography from your postings and about Franks mechanical skills.

    Sylvia was on a 275 passenger sail ship from Dublin to Portsmouth with eight days of traveling with stops in Ireland, Wales, an island and towns in England. After four days in London, she and three of her four sisters returned to Dulles last Thursday. She is not the sailor like you.

    All good wishes for continued safety and enjoyable days on the Eleanor Q. Harold

    *From:* Voyages of the Eleanor Q [mailto:comment-reply@wordpress.com] *Sent:* Friday, September 13, 2013 10:18 PM *To:* elmore_h@wvwc.edu *Subject:* [New post] In and Out of Newport, Rhode Island

    frankandems posted: “After passing through the Cape Cod Canal and anchoring in the harbor at Onset, Mass., we were off to an early start to make our trip to Newport. There is some back and forth about which is the bigger sailing/boating center: Newport or Annapolis. At great “

    Reply
  5. Loretta and Jim Elliott
    Sep 18 2013

    Once again, thanks for sharing the adventure with us. Sounds like we need to get our butts up to Newport someday too! All of these blogs are making me homesick for Plan Sea, but being up here in our mountain cabin ain’t too shabby either! No mention of ice cream here, I guess that doesn’t go with shopping for wetsuits and wearing foul weather gear! Keep ’em coming, we’re loving them. Have you given any thought to submitting your travel blogs to one of the cruising magazines??? Fair winds. Loretta and Jim s/v Plan Sea

    Reply

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