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Posts Tagged ‘art’

OK, stupid title for a blog post (though a spin on a great tune), but it accurately describes our time in this state.  Our plan was to pause briefly in Gloucester to wait out a day of weather, then keep on moving.  We should know better than to think that our plans matter.

In a text exchange the night before we left Gloucester, a friend asked where we were headed the following day;  I replied “Plymouth-ish”.  The route into Plymouth Harbor is long and well off our track.  Our goal was to spend a night at anchor closer to the Cape Cod Canal so as to be able to time our transit through the canal.  In short, we had no intention of actually stopping in Plymouth.  If we manage to get off the dock tomorrow as is our current plan (there’s that word again!), we will have been here 15 days.  15. Days.

We were maybe 5 miles off of Scituate, MA, motoring in very light winds that were mostly directly behind us.  Shortly after 1pm, Mike called me to the cockpit.  We’d developed a horrible shudder.  Thinking we’d caught something on the drive leg or a rudder (think lobster buoy), we went through our usual routine of clearing them. Except that that didn’t resolve the shudder.  Some quick diagnostics let us know that we were fine in neutral, but with any kind of rpms, the shudder was back… pointing to a likely drive leg or transmission issue.  We shut the engine down and put the sails up in hopes of maintaining some steerage and kept creeping south, albeit slowly (remember the very light winds and mostly behind us). Eventually we called TowBoat US (think AAA for boats).  Shortly after 3:30pm, we were under tow by Captain Matt who could not have been more helpful.  We were on the dock  at Brewster Plymouth Marine by about 5:15pm that evening, Thursday.

While we were bobbing around under sail, we caught sight of the Lightship Nantucket, headed somewhere I haven’t been able to determine.  She’s now a museum ship, generally docked in Boston Harbor, one of only a couple of lightships able to move under her own power, so it was kind of a big deal to see her underway.  Find a bit more of her story here.  Our route in under tow would also take us past a couple more lighthouses.  Matt, our TowBoat US guy, would be less likely than Captain Mike to detour for closer photos, but nevertheless, I took photos.

With Cheshire safety tied up to the dock, and marina staff gone for the day, we headed to town to decompress.  On a tip from friends, we stopped into Dirty Water Distillery, followed by dinner at KKatie’s Burger Bar.

The good news was that the following morning we had our new bff/mechanic Colin on board and the problem diagnosed.  Turns out Mike was pretty close.  The Red Queen (our diesel engine) herself was fine, however our flex coupler, the complicated bit that connects the transmission and drive leg, had failed. Mind you, before today, I wasn’t even aware that we had a flex coupler;  diesel mechanics is definitely not my strong suit.  The bad news was that despite this quick diagnosis, we still had to order parts from Sillette in England, who, given the 5 hr time difference, by noon Friday our time were already closed for their 3-day summer bank holiday… translate we couldn’t even order parts until the following Tuesday, at 3am to be precise.

We spent a few days on the dock in a temporarily vacant slip during which Cheshire got some much needed spa time, having not been dockside with access to a hose since our last project stop in North Caroline a couple of months back.  I cleaned/waxed all of the nonskid, always a multi-day project, and the ground tackle (anchor, chain, etc.) got some love.  We did some playing as well though.  Saturday afternoon’s Plymouth Waterfront Festival was not as awesome as advertised, unless of course you’re interested in aluminum siding, tub inserts or really really bad arts & crap.  The afternoon was salvaged though when we found that a local-but-too-far-to-bike-to craft brewery,  Mayflower Brewing, had a pop-up beer garden at one of the local museums.  Come Monday when the slip holder was due back, the marina staff hip towed us out to the mooring field.  End of projects that require a hose and copious fresh water.

I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that Mike set an alarm for 3am Tuesday so he could be on the phone with Silette when they reopened after the holiday.  Parts were ordered.  Then it got hot.  Wicked hot.  We were thankful for breezes in the mooring field, but still found multiple reasons to be ashore for next few days. We did errands early, then hid out in the public library and restaurants until the evening time when it finally cooled a bit.  Dillon’s Local for beers/snack, then buck-a-shuck oysters at Surfside Smokehouse on site at marina were both quite good.  Wednesday we figured out the public bus system and caught a bus to a local mall which was perfectly awful.  I’ve never been a big mall person, but this one was bad.  The nearby Target however, our really goal, did not disappoint.  Ice cream from Peaceful Meadows back in Plymouth was a nice treat as well.

By mid-day Thursday we’d gotten notification that our parts had arrived.  We were thrilled to have them so quickly, only to be deflated again when the yard staff informed us that there was “no way” they’d get to us before the Labor Day/holiday weekend, and suggested we touch base the following Tuesday.  We consoled ourselves with a visit to Second Wind Brewing Co which was quite good, followed by a great meal at Thirty-Nine Court.

Our holiday weekend involved some windy weather, and a few more errands and smaller scale boat projects (including Mike’s replacing our inverter that also started misbehaving shortly before our arrival here).  We caught a concert at the Spire Performing Arts Center followed by beers at British Beer Co, had our best breakfast in Plymouth at Will & Co. and did a bit of touristing by bike.

Plymouth is actively engaged in a bit of sprucing up in anticipation of its 400th anniversary upcoming in 2020.  Consequently some parks, sites, etc. are fenced off while improvements are underway.  We of course saw Plymouth Rock, which was hard to photograph despite multiple visits… weird shadows, and is a bit over-rated imho.  There’s also some question as to whether this rock marks the real location of the Pilgrim’s landing.  Check out this link for the real story behind Plymouth Rock.

P1070808 Forefathers Monument + Mike

Forefathers Monument, Plymouth MA

A bit off the beaten tourist path but more impressive was the Forefathers Monument commemorating the Mayflower Pilgrims.  Completed in 1888/89, it stands at 81′ and is built of solid granite.  Years ago it apparently was much more prominent a feature overlooking Plymouth.  Today it’s surrounded by trees on mostly private property, so much so that despite its size, you don’t see it until you’re nearly on top of it.  For a bit more info and photos of this monument, check out this blog post. Note Mike in the photo for size reference.

Also worth a visit and unfortunately even more off the beaten path is Plymouth’s 9/11 Memorial.  It was started by a local businessman, a personally funded memorial in front of his produce store.  It’s grown to be a much bigger deal, now managed by the city,  featuring a piece of steel from the WTC, and several granite pillars bearing the names of every person who lost their life in the tragedy, reportedly the first 9/11 memorial to do so.  Other granite pieces feature powerful quotes by FDR and DQ, the latter of whom I’m fairly certain was the memorial’s originator, and another by R Giuliani (not pictured).  The light and polished granite made for interesting photographs.

If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships — the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace.  – FDR

Back downtown, tucked into an area called Brewster Gardens is a sculpture I found most captivating, the simply named Immigrant Monument, by artist Barney Zeitz.  I’ve read both that it was a tribute to the original Pilgrims, and alternately, as the inscription on the sculpture appears to indicate, to later immigrants to Plymouth.  Either way, it’s a beautiful piece, commissioned before and installed about a month after 9/11.  Take a look at the link above for a local news piece including some bits about the sculptor who travels from Martha’s Vineyard every couple of years to maintain/polish the piece. 

To the enduring memory of those immigrant settlers of Plymouth who as latter day pilgrims from many cultures and countries over the course of three centuries helped build upon these shores a robust and hospitable community.  At great personal sacrifice, they established new homes in a new world and by their hard work, enriched and transformed this town of their adoption. Precious to a grateful posterity is the remembrance of their lives and labors.  – inscription on Immigrant Monument, Plymouth MA

P1070830 Immigrant Monument, Plymouth MA

Immigrant Monument, Plymouth MA

Obviously there’s a lot more history to Plymouth that I won’t even begin to try and cover here, but the above were some of our highlights.

Tuesday morning, we were out on the mooring ball, enjoying a leisurely morning after a busy weekend,  finishing our coffee, when at 8:30am there came a knock on the hull.  We popped out to find a couple of the marina staff out to collect us for yet another tow into the dock.  Colin was ready to start our repair.  Later that day we encountered another delay when he found that the engine mounts were also trashed, which required another day of waiting for parts.  Wednesday morning we again got towed in a game of musical boats, this time to the fuel dock.  While Colin spent 2+ days on the engine, we finished some last minute chores… laundry, a hardware store run and some final provisioning, including a celebratory dinner out to a nicer-than-our-usual place called the Tasty… yummy Asian-inspired offerings.

IMG_5824 new flex coupler

new flex coupler

Finally, today we moved off the fuel dock, under our own power for the first time in more than two weeks… all the way to the marina’s face dock where we spent this evening  waiting out a nasty blow which thankfully brought some cooler temps.  Tomorrow we’ll be on the move again, keeping a close weather-eye on the storms brewing in the Atlantic.      And that’s as much of a plan as we have for now.  Stay tuned.

 

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We’ve seen these public art displays before in our travels… fiberglass creatures of some variety, sponsored by local businesses, painted by local artists, sometimes/sometimes not involving fundraising for local charities.  The turtles of Vero Beach and the pelicans of Pensacola come to mind from recent years.  Not to be confused with the lobsters of Maine, Plymouth had its own thing going on with these crustaceans.  We’d noticed a couple of them, then inquired at the Visitors Information Center where we were offered a Lobster Crawl map.  Turns out that Plymouth is the second biggest harvester of lobster in the state of Massachusetts behind Gloucester, hence their choice of creature.

The Plymouth Lobster Crawl boasts 29 5′ tall fiberglass lobsters (the blanks were produced in Nebraska, go figure), all sponsored by local businesses and painted by local artists.  When we realized that our brief stop in town would not be so brief, I joked to Mike that I’d just kill a day finding them all.  As it turned out, I didn’t dedicate a day and I only saw about 2/3 of them, but given my love for public art, it was a fun distraction.  Some of the names and themes are quite clever.

I present to you, (some of) the Lobsters of Plymouth.

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Because the weather was forecast to be a bit sketchy and the anchoring options limited, we opted to spring for an inner harbor mooring for the couple of nights we’d be in Gloucester.  Although there are a few spots that allowed for dinghy access, we got our money’s worth out of the launch service that was included in the mooring rental.

Although some cruisers pass through, the harbor serves a lot of locals, including fishermen who keep their boats here.  We met a lobsterman and his teen-aged son on the launch who were also on their way ashore after a day on the water.  I asked how their day fishing was and were treated to a great story, complete with video, of their having caught/released a huge 15# female lobster in one of their traps.  It was released because it was well over the size limit for what can be kept.  Amazingly though she was not “notched”.  (If a lobsterman traps an egg-bearing female lobster, he/she is required to cut a small triangular notch in its tail and return it to the water.  If she’s caught again, the notched tail flags her as a breeder, and she again must be released.  Smart way to protect the population. More here, including a photo of a notched tail for, those who are seriously interested.)  We agreed that this must have been one smart lobster to have eluded capture for so many years, to have grown that big.  The son was excited to share his video and both were impressed that we knew anything about lobstering.   We chatted ashore a bit and got some restaurant recommendations.

Our first stop was the Crow’s Nest bar, made famous by Sebastian Junger’s book and film, “The Perfect Storm”.  The bar is real and is a quintessential local watering hole even to this day.  The walls are lined with photos not only of the folks on which the book/movie were based, but also of the actors who portrayed them. While the film crew apparently frequented the place during filming, the ceiling of the place were deemed too low by the camera crew, so a mock-up was constructed in Hollywood.  We chatted with a few of the locals, one of whom told of her efforts to get on “Wicked Tuna“, a National Geographic reality TV series on the boats that fish out of Gloucester.  Not having a TV aboard, we were unfamiliar with the show, but based on “licensed product” for sale around town, it’s  apparently a pretty big deal.  Stone’s Pub for dinner was quite yummy.

The following day we did some touristing.  Walking along the north shore of Gloucester Harbor, it seemed appropriate that we had a bit of fog.  The Gloucester Fisherman’s Memorial, sometimes referred to as “Man at the Wheel” was impressive and sobering.  Artist Leonard F Craske completed the sculpture in 1925 for Gloucester’s 300th anniversary, and since then additions have been made to include the names of those lost at sea from 1716 – 2001, incl the captain and crew, 6 all told, of the Andrea Gail.

A bit further down and of more recent vintage is the Fishermen’s Wives Memorial, per their website “the memorial honors not only the faith, diligence, and fortitude of the wives of fishermen and mariners everywhere but also honors all women for their unselfish contribution to the well being of their families and their communities”.

At our furthest flung, we arrived at the sizable Stage Fort Park where Tablet Rock has a plaque commemorating the landing of the first settlers in 1623, the 2nd permanent settlement of the early Puritans in the New World, though there is some question as to the truth of this claim.  Causeway Restaurant , recommended by the lobsterman we’d met the previous day, made for a filling lunch, which was followed by a walk back into town and a stretch at the lovely public library.  I managed to squeeze in a long walk to the grocery and back to a launch pick-up, arriving back to the boat just ahead of what looked like a nasty storm that never amounted to much.

And of course there were lighthouses, from the water on both our way in and again at our departure, the twin Thatcher Island Lights, Eastern Point Light and a bit deeper into the harbor, Ten Pound Island Light.

 

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After a weekend of Gam events in Rockland, come Monday morning, with the fridge, fuel tanks and water tanks all full, we headed out to explore the Mount Desert Island region. Here we encountered more lobster buoys than we’d seen earlier.  It looked like party-colored confetti scattered on the surface of the water… but more on that in a subsequent post.   Deer Island Thorofare Light aka Marks Light was a new-to-us lighthouse along this route.  Mackerel Cove off Swan’s Island was a lovely spot to spend an evening; we even met another Gemini there.

We headed north through Southwest Harbor, passing  Bass Head Light and Bear Island Light, along the way making our way up Somes Sound, the cleft in the middle of Mount Desert Island, the heart of Acadia National Park.  Previously described as a fjord, the only one on the US East Coast, it’s recently been downgraded to a fjard.  Go figure.  Either way, it was quite pretty.  Anchoring is free here, but there’s a steep fee for dinghy access.  On the upside, there is fairly easy access to the Island Explorer, the extensive and free shuttle bus system that operates in the National Park.  If it weren’t the height of the busy season, we might have stayed longer, basing here to do some exploring.  We did walk into Town Hill,  had a few good beers and some mediocre BBQ at Atlantic Brewing Co. followed by a short hike about the nearby Blue Horizons Preserve, before catching the shuttle bus back.  Later came dinner aboard with some cruising friends, Dawn & Paul aboard s/v BuBu3 with whom we’ve been hopscotching.  They left the following morning; we opted to stay put for another day, knocked out some boat chores and spent a few hours at the delightful local Somesville Library (summer hours aka July & August:  Mon 1-4, Wed 1-6, Sat 9-2).

Our next stop was Islesford/Little Cranberry Island, an authentic fishing village for sure. Ashore we took a short hike about town and out to the Station.  Formerly a US Coast Guard Life Saving Station, it’s now a vacation rental property.  This 4-bedroom “cottage” sits on 8-acres and can be yours for $4,000/week in the high season.  See link above for interior photos;  mine are below, one distant from the beach and another from the water as we departed the following day.  Little Cranberry is also quite the artists’ haven.  We poked around in a couple of galleries.  Matt Brown (woodblock artist) and Mark Howard (water color) were a couple of our favorites.  As rumored, the mosquitos were quite aggressive on the island.  We test-drove a new-to-us insect repellant (Repel Lemon Eucalyptus) that proved quite effective.  Over morning coffee in the cockpit, we also had an opportunity to chat with a couple of guys who were moving a ginormous granite-based mooring ball for a customer who just bought a ginormous sport-fisher and wanted his ball moved to the outer part of the harbor; quite friendly guys and a fascinating process.  Check out the size of that chunk of granite in the photo below.

In Frenchboro/Long Island we caught up with the crew of BuBu3 again, hooking up for an afternoon of hiking together and later dinner aboard Cheshire complete with blueberry pie from Lunt’s Dockside Deli.   As recently as the year 2000, much of this island was up for sale/at risk for development.  Enter the Maine Coast Heritage Trust who in partnership with others, acquired about 1,000 acres or 2/3 of the island, an area now known as  Frenchboro Preserve.  It’s a spectacular place… largely fishing community, plus a small library and museum, with miles of beautiful hiking trails and lots of opportunity for berry-foraging.  Mike and I stayed on an extra day after BuBu’s departure, took longer hike about Frenchboro Preserve, gathered berries, had a late lobster roll snack, a later lobster dinner, and more blueberry pie, all from Lunt’s.

Our next stop was Blue Hill, with some views of Blue Hill Bay Light along the way, where we again caught up with the crew of BuBu3… we’ll just call them our advance scouting team.

The challenge with visiting Blue Hill by boat is that the tides are wicked high and there is no water at the town dinghy dock except for a couple of hours either side of high tide.  Alternately there is a rock scramble used by a number of lobster fisherman who also use the harbor.  We experienced both; photos below.  High tide at the town landing was in our favor for our first evening in town; we shared beers/pub food at Deepwater Brewing Co.  Tides were equally cooperative the following evening when we met up again for carry-out pizza from Merrill & Hinckley followed by an awesome performance by a regionally  famous community steel pan drum band,  Flash in the Pans. What awesome energy with multi-age generations represented.  They play around the region, but in their home of Blue Hill, it’s a serious street dance.  While in the area we also explored a bit of town including the local library and the Jud Hartmann Gallery where we spent a delightful stretch of time chatting with Jud himself.  Our last morning in town included breakfast at Harbor House where blueberry pancakes fueled my (Lori’s) climb of Blue Hill proper.  A quick dip in the chilly waters of Maine (photo proof below) and we were on our way again.

The next couple of days would take us on through Eggemoggin Reach, including a nice view of Pumpkin Island Light, (now privately owned but nicely restored), followed by  couple of nights boat camping in peaceful but more crowded than we anticipated Pulpit Harbor.

We’d pause for another couple of days in Rockland to visit with new cruising friends Keith and Nicki, collect a bit more mail (most importantly our absentee ballots), re-provision, do laundry, refuel, and top off water in preparation for our slow wander back south/west again, our summer in Maine too quickly coming to an end.

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The area known as Maine’s MidCoast could keep a cruiser busy for a long while.  Different than the defined bays that are Casco to the southwest and Penobscot to the northeast, the so-called MidCoast is characterized by rivers and narrow bays alternating with long finger peninsulas that run down to the sea. There are a few places to cut through, and in these spots as well as running the rivers, the tides and currents are worthy of respect.

Along our first morning run in this region, we passed a couple of lighthouses.  There are so many lights up here, and while we’ll not see them all, the Captain is very cooperative in allowing for detours along the way to catch views and photos of some I deem more worthy.  Along this morning’s route at the mouth of the Kennebec River, Pond Island Light (pictured left) is a simple tower, all other structures having been razed some years ago.  Some lamented the loss of history, but with the Coast Guard transfer of the property to US Fish and Wildlife, and with the help of the National Audubon Society , a tern colony was re-established.  The link above has details; it’s quite an interesting story.  Unfortunately some great horned owls have shown interest in the restoration as well… too bad for the terns.  A bit later on our route along the western shore of Southport Island is Hendricks Head Light.  It’s now privately owned and not open to the public, but has been nicely restored and is quite pretty from the water.

Our first pause in this area would be Mill Cove off of the Sheepscot River.  More of a working harbor than a cruiser  hotspot, it made my radar for a couple of reasons.  One was the nearby Trevett Country Store, included on a list I found of “20 Lobster Rolls Worth Going to Maine For”.  When in Rome, you know, and in fact the lobster roll did not disappoint, nor did Mike’s haddock.  A leg-stretching walk along the nearby Gregory Hiking Trail was a nice follow-up.

The second reason to stop here was for bicycle access to the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden.  We actually biked into Boothbay first to catch what proved to be a nice farmers market where we picked up a few things, none terribly perishable, then pedaled back to the botanical garden.  It’s a beautiful place, a nice combination of more cultivated/manicured areas balanced with trails that meander through more natural stretches, with several interesting sculptures scattered about, including a couple of kinetic sculptures.  The kid-friendly fairy house section made me smile, and the serene Meditation Garden featuring local granite was of course a highlight for me.  At days end we pedaled back into Boothbay to check out the Boothbay Brewery.  They apparently once had a restaurant onsite… not this season, and the hotdog stand outside was a poor substitute.  Their hours are quite limited and the beers not to our liking anyway; not sure this place will make it long, at least as a tasting room/venue.  We’ll see.  We also concluded that our belt-driven circus-bear folding bikes that are great in the flatlands of Florida and most of the coastal areas we visit, but leave a bit to be desired along the coast of Maine.  We’re definitely missing having some gears.

We were up and moving early the following morning, the Captain having perfectly timed our passage through Townsend Gut, eastbound and through the Southport Island Bridge, the first we’ve seen in awhile.  True to form, the bridge tenders of Maine are less than chatty.  Still, they get it done.  We also saw some early risers collecting seaweed from their boats. And of course there were waterfowl.

After a brief pause in Boothbay Harbor for fuel and water, we headed down around and up the Damariscotta River.  Along the way we passed a couple more lighthouses. Burnt Island Light was constructed on land already mostly cleared thanks to sheep farmers who regularly set fires to improve grazing; there are in fact several islands bearing the same name in the state, but only one lighthouse.  A bit further on was Ram Island Light.  I read that there are 21 Ram Islands in Maine.  Apparently sheep and ram were a thing in years past.  Unrelated to lighthouses, but I can also tell you that there are numerous places named for seals as well… Seal Bay, Seal Cove, etc.

In fact, our goal for today’s run was a Seal Cove where we in fact found seals.  We stayed for a night before moving around to nearby Long Cove which also had seals.  We’d seen a few swimming during our time in Maine, but this was the first we’d seen them hauled out on rock ledges as is their habit.  I was amused to listen to their barking which I like almost as much as listening to dolphin breathe when we’re in waters further south.

P1070035 hanging out in Seal CoveP1070046P1070044

After a couple of days of hanging with the seals, we were underway again, this time on a mission to see puffins.  First though, there was Pemaquid Point Light.  This light is a special one, and in fact is open to the public.  Alas, a land-based visit this pass was not on our itinerary.  The folks clustered on the lower rocks are gathered in “the spot” for the official shot of the tower reflected in a tide pool, which I only learned of some time after our road trip through the area in 2012.  Blog post and photos sans tide pool here.

P1070056 Pemaquid Point Light ME

Our next port of call would be Port Clyde, but with the Captain’s blessing, our route would take us there via Eastern Egg Rock.  EER is a 7-acre treeless piece of rock, dirt and grasses on the way to nowhere in Muscongus Bay, home to the Audubon Puffin Project.  It’s claim to fame is being home to the world’s first restored seabird colony.  The link above has some interesting details about the restoration, including the living conditions of the few researchers who live on the island during nesting season.  For the truly geeky, check out this blog by the Maine Coastal Islands NWR researchers, the folks who live and work on some of these islands during nesting season .  On the day of our motor-by, it was overcast, but fairly calm.  Photos are passable but… Puffins! Click on the photos for a larger view if you’re so inclined.

 

We arrived in Port Clyde (apparently mostly owned by Linda Bean of LL Bean fame) to pick up a mooring from Port Clyde General Store, catching a quick shot of Marshall Point Light from the water on our way in.  Always challenging to be on the bow ready to deploy the anchor when a photo op arises.  Squirrel!

P1070095 Marshall Point Light ME, from the water

After a late morning arrival, we walked to Marshall Point Light where we toured the small but nicely done museum housed in the Keepers Quarters and took a few more photos.  Some will recognize this light from Tom Hanks’ film “Forrest Gump”; Gump runs out to the tower during a scene on his cross country run.  Apparently quite a big deal here. I just think it’s a pretty and very photogenic light.  Apparently the movie-makers thought the same.

Wandering back into Port Clyde, we paused to check out a few art galleries, one featuring the well-known Wyeth family and another the lesser-known but quite accomplished Barbara Prey.  She does some interesting Maine landscapes, and some commissioned pieces for NASA but I was particularly captivated by the story of a recent commissioned piece for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA).  Wow!  Of course being in Maine and not Boston, we didn’t see this piece in person, but the story is impressive.  Mass MoCA has apparently undergone an expansion, and Prey was commissioned to do a huge watercolor depicting the pre-renovation of the previous industrial space, currently housed in that very space.  I absolutely love seeing older structures re-purposed, but seeing depictions of the old together the new together is extraordinary.  Oh a whole different level of art… we found a puffin sculpture at water’s edge.

The following morning we were ashore again for a bite of breakfast at the dockside coffee shop, Squid Ink, followed by a much needed haircut for yours truly.  Not so long after, we departed in fog after disentangling a lobster pot from our starboard rudder that had managed to get twisted up while we were on a mooring ball.  Not kidding.   We dodge them on the water and they attack us in a mooring field.  Foggy shots of Marshall Point Light followed.

 

On to Penobscot Bay…

 

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From Oriental NC we made our way north, boat-camping our way up.  Although we love the Dismal Swamp Canal, for this run we opted for the more time-efficient Virginia Cut route.  We paused for an afternoon on the Great Bridge Free Dock so that we could make a provisioning run. (We’d provisioned up before leaving Oriental, but the grocery there is a small one, and we missed some things.)  In Chesapeake, we were disappointed to find that the very nice Farm Fresh grocery that was walking distance from the dock is no more; renovations are underway for a Kroger to open in its place.  I do hate to see the Mom & Pop and even regional chains get squeezed out.  Speaking of squeezed, we had some company on the dock, though only one of the boats pictured (the one forward of our Cheshire) actually spent the night.  It’s a bit unusual to see vessels of this size ($$$) on a free dock forgoing power and water.

20180608 Cheshire on the dock, Great Bridge, VA

Cheshire sandwich, Great Bridge Free Dock

We’d hoped to pass through the Portsmouth/Norfolk VA area and head offshore without much delay, but Mother Nature wasn’t having it.  The local weather was lovely, but further north we’d have run into some snotty stuff.  We opted to wait for a better window.  Turns out we had plenty to entertain us while we waited; it was Norfolk HarborFest week-end.  We’d missed the Parade of Sail the previous day, but what a treat to watch a great fireworks show while relaxing on our bow.  Of course we had plenty of company.  Hospital Point is a popular anchorage for cruisers moving north and south, but for this occasion it was jammed with all variety of floating stock.  Mike counted 150 boats. (There were exactly 6 one week later/this afternoon when we departed.)  It was a calm evening or some of these floating messes could have been hazardous in such tight quarters.

Our few days of waiting for weather spilled into a few more days of waiting for mail.  These days we receive very little via snail mail, but when our credit union unexpectedly issued new debit/chip cards, we decided to wait long enough to collect them. Fortunately there is plenty to keep us occupied in the area.  The Portsmouth/Norfolk area has plenty of ginormous vessels… tugs, barges, cargo ships, military vessels, a couple of which are now museums.  We decided to check them out.

We’d seen the Lightship Portsmouth a couple of years back, but with very limited open hours, we didn’t get an opportunity to tour the inside.  This time our timing was better.  Built in 1915, this vessel is over 100 years old, and the docent who gave us our tour isn’t far behind.   Find a bit more history here on the Lighthouse Friends page for this light.

IMG_5355 Lightship Portsmouth

Lightship Portsmouth

 

Elsewhere in Portsmouth, we had a great meal and some interesting local beers at Gosport Tavern, followed by a leisurely stroll around the historic district, very quiet on the Sunday evening we visited.  We were less impressed a few days later with Legend Depot Brewing.  This is a second location for a craft brewer who started in Richmond VA.  To be honest though, the food and beers weren’t bad; our bartender just couldn’t be bothered.

IMG_5358 I've Been Kissed, Portsmouth VA

I’ve Been Kissed!

The real highlight of our stop in the area though was our visit to the USS Wisconsin, a Navy battleship affectionately known as Wisky.  It’s always impressive to cruise through Norfolk, home of the Norfolk Naval Ship Yard where the Navy’s largest vessels are born/built, remodeled and repaired.  How appropriate then that the Wisconsin, said to be one of the largest and last battleships built by the US Navy, came to rest here to serve out the remainder of its life as a museum ship.

It’s been relatively recently that the ship came to be part of Nauticus, a science center and maritime museum.  It’s one of the more accessible military vessels we’ve toured, yet there are huge sections that they haven’t even opened yet to the public.  We enjoyed wandering about on our own, but also sprung for one of the behind the scenes tours, the guided Command and Control tour which just sounded more interesting to us than touring the recently opened Engine Room.  This mighty vessel served during WW2, the Korean War as well as Desert Storm.  (Option to click on the photos below for a larger view.)

IMG_5362 Battleship Wisconsin

big guns, Battleship Wisconsin

After hours aboard the ship, we pedaled about the Ghent neighborhood of Norfolk for some exercise and errands.   Mr Shawarma was a yummy casual Mediteranean place where we grabbed some lunch.  We were also successful in getting Mike’s phone fixed, picked up our mail and wrapped up afternoon sampling some more local brews at O’Connor Brewing Company.  A quick stop at Harris Teater (awsome grocery store we don’t find often enough) and we were back aboard Cheshire.

Today we took care of some chores, including our first attempt at rebuilding a winch.  I’m pleased to say that no parts escaped overboard during this process.  We moved up to the Hampton area where we topped off fuel and made ready for an offshore run we’ll make starting tomorrow.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

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As much as we love St Augustine, as the temperatures started to drop, we knew it was time to go.  It took us three days to motor from St Augustine to Vero Beach, thanks in part  to some favorable currents, at which point we decided it was warm enough to pause for a few days… which turned into nearly three weeks.  Yep, that’s how we roll.

We arrived a week ahead of Christmas and decided to stick around for the holiday potluck.  It was our first Christmas dinner served buffet style in a laundry room, no joke. Washers (mains and sides) on one side, dryers (apps and desserts) on the other.  Unlike our Thanksgiving potluck of the previous month, the weather was quite cooperative and a good time was had by all.

KL 26047037_1996776693672230_1738670633594429960_nA few days later, some former co-workers of Mike’s came to visit, and unfortunately brought some cooler weather with them.  Nevertheless, we managed to show them some of our favorite Vero spots.  The Indian River Citrus Museum never disappoints… solid Florida kitsch and some interesting history of the Florida citrus industry.

Of course a return visit to McKee Botanical Garden was in order.  They were gearing up for a lighted holiday event later in the evening which we didn’t stick around for, but a special exhibit entitled “It’s a Jungle Out There” featuring the sculptures of a collection of artists in Nairobi, Kenya was particularly captivating.  I quote from their brochure…

“Using reclaimed materials discarded from the car industry and other sources, a group of 19 African artists, ranging in age from 22 to 42 years old, created this collection for McKee.  Head artist Moses Ochieng is committed to training young artists and giving them a lifelong creative skill.  The artists are recruited from disadvantaged, impoverished backgrounds, providing them with employment and apprenticeships to empower them to be self-sustaining, productive members of their communities.  As paid apprentices, these young artists are taught valuable skills such as design, metal cutting, welding, painting and molding.  Most of the artists come from the Luo community and are known for their metal works, while a few are from the Kamba community known for their carving skills.”

I’d (mistakenly) opted not to bring my good camera, so the following  (numerous) shots are taken with my i-phone.

Elsewhere in the garden, we found mistletoe and pink flamingos in their holiday finery.

LS_20171229_144525 Orchard Island Brewery, Vero Beach FLAfter wandering the garden, we took a break beachside at Orchid Island Brewery which was much better than Mike and I recalled from a previous scouting visit… where we enjoyed some tasty bites and drinkable beers.  Later we headed back into town (taking advantage of friends with cars) for dinner at the ever so trendy Southern Social which was as good as we remembered it being from a previous visit.

While we’d hoped to visit the beachside Farmers Market the following morning, the weather was definitely not cooperative.  It was perfect however for a wander through the always impressive Vero Beach Museum of Art.  Not by accident, we caught the final day of a special exhibition, a Maurice Sendak Memorial Exhibition which was quite nice and very kid-friendly, even for grown-up kids.

I was captivated by another piece in the museum’s permanent collection that I’d somehow missed (or perhaps not adequately appreciated) at our previous visits, composed completely from wooden chopsticks and plastic forks.  The artist is Columbian, Federico Uribe, and this piece is titled Oriente-Poniente, which translates “east-west”.

The blue skies cooperated for yet another photo of a perennial favorite in the sculpture garden, a piece titled “Yorkshire Soul 3” by Spanish sculptor, Jaume Plensa.

LS_20171230_121659 Yorkshire Soul III, Jaume Plensa, artist

We spent a good part of the afternoon checking out a new-to-us spot called The Crab Stop which was quite yummy, followed by a bit more visiting back aboard our Cheshire.

LS_20171230_135617 garlic crabs, Crab Stop

Visitors gone, Mike and I tucked in for a quiet New Years Eve which involved dinner, a shared bottle of Prosecco and an early bedtime.  It was a far cry from the NYE parties we hosted in our previous life, but it suits our current lifestyle quite nicely.

And then there was weather…

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