Anchored in Maine

Trip Start Jun 22, 2007
Trip End Sep 25, 2007

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Flag of United States  , New Hampshire
Friday, August 10, 2007

After the tense start in Marblehead, we ended with two great days there.  The first morning after out fog experience, we good weather.  When we woke up we could actually see boats!  Indeed, we were told there were moorings for 2000 boats in the harbor. 

Later that day we walked up to Ft Sewall to "see the wall" that greeted us through the fog.  Ft Sewall is one of the oldest forts in America going back to the revolution and you can walk out right to the top of the 75' cliff (Sue says 100- I say 50 so we compromised at 75').  When we looked down and saw the red buoy we turned near the afternoon before.  We were not as close to the cliff as it appeared from the wheelhouse....perhaps 250'...and we were in deep water.  It was a very starteling event, but not anywhere near a disaster.  Moreover it was a proof statement that the visibility that afternoon was more like 5 boat lengths not 500' as I had previously assumed.  We learn and we go forward.  And, to those of you who ask...we are not giving up.  As I said, we learn and we go forward.

Our visit to Marblehead was terrific.  On the fist day, we walked Marblehead and were totally wowed and the number of colonial homes still intact.  Having spent a great deal of my adult life in the south, I had not expected to see so many homes over 200 years old.  There was no General Sherman here...the British we more kind.  Many of the homes displayed signs stating who built the original building and what his occupation was.  For example, you might see "1787- built for John Butler, Carpenter". 

We were on a mooring ball from the Boston Yacht club so we were able to enjoy getting a launch into town and also use of the bar/restaurant.  BYC goes back over 100 years and members include Ted Hood and (it appears) Joshua Slocum.  For those of you who are not boaters, Slocum was the first man to single hand around the world around 1895 or so.  This was a really amazing event.  And, the club proudly displays the actual ships wheel from his ship "Spray".  Grabbing the wheel was quite a thrill.

Near Marblehead is the town of Salem MA, famous for the witch trials and puritans of the 1600s.  We had planned to leave Marblehead and continue our trek to Maine.  In the morning of our second day, we talked it over and decided to take advantage of the perfect weather for another day in this great place.  The  weather was supposed to turn wet and cloudy the next day so we chose to travel that day.  Unlike the sail boats we see out who don bright yellow "foulies" and shiver in the cockpit, we stay warm and dry in the "Forty"..bare feet are the rule in any weather.  

Salem is only a few miles from Marblehead and has its own harbor.  We didn't want to lose our great tie at BYC and hence choose not to move First Forty.  We looked for a way to get over to Salem.  We found public transportation absent so we opted to drop the dink and go the 5 miles over with the outboard. We had not taken the dink into open water before, but winds appeared light so off we went.   We have a 9 foot, hard body dink called a RIB- rigid inflatable boat which we call "Little Forty".  The dink carries a 15hp o/b which should be able to get us over there fast.   Until we got to Annapolis, our o/b was under-performing.  We took the engine in and had the carb cleaned out and it was the best repair we had done based on the cost.  The engine now runs great.  So off we went.

Before long, we had the dink in the water and were making our way out of harbor...picking our way past small and large yachts of all kinds.  Then I opened it up and "little forty" rose up and started to plane.  I think the little guy can likely go 10-12 kts and in a half hour we were over at Salem.  We found a very congenial harbor master at a local marina who let us tie up without charge plus he gave us an introduction to the city.  The weather was great...maybe 65 under bright warm sun.  This is what we would call "football weather" when I grew up in the Ohio: warm sun and cool air.   We thought about our friends Lavonne and Al back in the desert where it was many 105.   What a change.  We wished they were with us to share a great day like this.

The highlight of the day was the world renowned "Peabody Essex museum" in Salem.  This turned out to be perhaps the most beautifully presented museum we have ever seen.  Highlights included a 200 year old Chinese home moved and reconstructed in the museum from China and an amazing collection of nautical art from New England.  Again, we wore out before we could really take the whole place in.

Salem is great but much more commercialized than Marblehead.  This is totally due to the history of colonial witchcraft.  You can see any number of witch museums, ghost tours and kids with witch hats on youngsters everywhere.  But its not hard to look above this noise and see a great colonial city. We westerners are not accustomed to such view of history and its a great place to visit.

By 530 we had made a much needed stop at a brew pub called "Boston Beer Factory".  We had found one of these watering holes in Boston and were glad to enjoy it here too.  Of course all the beers had locally significant names....I looked for "Salem Witches Brew", but was happy to see that they did not stoop to this level of silliness.    I had a good Belgian style beer and Sue enjoyed an IPA. 

Soon we were back in the dink and skimming over the flat water.  We were back on the boat, hoisted "little forty" and were enjoying dinner.  Later, we took the launch into BYC for another brew.  We were happy to meet another boating couple and swap stories.

A perfect day was had.

Yesterday the weather was cloudy and slightly wet.  We made an uneventful transit of about 50 miles and entered Portsmouth harbor at 1500.  By the time we had done some work on the boat the skies cleared and perfect weather returned.  We had not expected to find an anchorage but were rewarded by a perfect location just outside the mooring field.  This is the stuff of memory...views of two beautiful lighthouses under powder blue sky with temps in the 60s.    

And, our anchorage was on the Maine side of the river.  We had arrived in Maine.  It made us think of buying the boat in St Petersburg FL in June 06.  We now have 3100 miles under the keel!

Somehow we know that good lies ahead...perhaps the best is yet to come.  We heard the weather forecast and all we hear is perfect wx for the next week. 
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