Thursday, September 6, 2012

The End

Hamburg Cove, Connecticut River

It's time to say good-bye, for now.

Beth and Pat stay in touch with the office

After the skies cleared yesterday we left the dock in Essex and meandered a short way up the Connecticut River to Hamburg Cove, a lovely spot with plenty of mooring balls.

Richard and I have spent every night aboard Bel Sito since August 12 and it is now September 6. Turkey Point, MD; Cape May, Atlantic City and Sandy Hook,  New Jersey; Manhattan, Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson, New York; Mystic, Connecticut; Block Island, Rhode Island; Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, Massachusetts, then back down to Essex and finally, Mystic, Connecticut where Bel Sito will rest for several days before Andy brings her home.

We could go on. And on. And on.

Pat and I have been counting the hours until our arrival in Mystic because Richard promised to get us all the oysters we could eat during the Oyster Club Happy Hour. Captains' Treat.

Pat won, consuming five dozen. I was a close second with four.

We've witnessed a months worth of sunsets on the water and navigated a couple dozen new channels. We've had relatively calm seas and virtually no weather or boat dramas.

Bel Sito has traveled over 500 miles this trip and she's says she's just getting started.

We're listening.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Unexpected Surprise (guess that's redundant, huh?)

Essex, Connecticut

Cruising doesn't change you. It reveals you.*

The weather on this 25-day journey had been Chamber-of-Commerce perfect until we reached Essex. Fortunately, with radar at the touch of an iPhone, we had a good idea what to expect and that's why we picked this port. So the crew is having a couple of peaceful land days and Beth, in particular, made a huge discovery.

Traveling by boat  means the cruiser is dependent on foot once ashore.  The scope of the exploration territory is limited but one has a more in-depth view of things so you notice stuff you'd miss otherwise.

For example, the houses around downtown Essex have name plates naming the homes' first owner.

Friend and blog reader Marty Petty had encouraged us to stop in Essex, and we're grateful for the suggestion. She had been publisher of the Hartford Courant back in the day, and we've become pals since we first discovered we were Florida neighbors. Her husband, Mark Petty,  is a renowned photographer who shot a wedding on the Hepburn estate and the famous actress actually appeared straight from the garden.

Of Mice and Beth

But the happiest tourist to Essex in our group of four is Beth.

For years, she has been collecting mice. Not just any mice, but mice that cost more than an iPod Nano. She has so many of these things that her husband, Pat, built display cases that take up much of their second bedroom wall space.  We could retire on what these things are fetching on EBay these days.

As she walked down the main drag of Essex Beth spotted a faded circular sticker on the window of Gracie's Corner, a sprawling variety store with everything from magnetic bracelets to an entire section dedicated to pets.

And, drum roll, Wee Forest Folk, started by Annette Petersen in 1972  and now carried on by her sonWilly and daughter Donna Petersen (who know a good schtick when they see it).

Wee Forest Folk pieces are first created then the original is cast into white ware. There is a booklet describing the process, but for those of you hankering to know more about these collectables:

Turns out, Beth grew up in Concord, MA where founding mouse-maker Annette began the cottage industry. Beth was a high school classmate of Donna Petersen, Annette's daughter.

Beth has been collecting the Wee Forest Folk ever since she first discovered them in 1973.

I've not been much of a collector of small ceramic things or anything other than technology gadgets (so I have no room to talk about obsessive compulsive behavior) but I must admit, upon close examination of these little things, it is impressive to see the amount of detail in the little critters.

Photo from the company website

You know you're a cruiser....

You know you're a cruising woman when you have your hair cut so short you don't need a hairdryer.


* A tip of the visor to Michelle Obama for her line from her convention speech last night (The presidency doesn't change you; it reveals you). It's great to have XM radio on board and be able to listen to unfiltered audio of the proceedings on the POTUS station.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Change of Plans

The Connecticut River

As I said to a pal who has been following Bel Sito's progress on Marine Traffic  (an app that tracks vessels with AIS systems installed) in answer to his question as to what the heck we were doing in Essex, Ct:

Cruisers plan, but that's often all it ends up being. 

The plan for today was to go to Sag Harbor, until the 'committee' met to go over weather conditions etc. It was then decided we'd be better off sticking close to our ultimate destination (for this week anyway) which is our old marina in Mystic. That's where we will leave the boat for an indeterminate amount of time while we all go back into the real world for awhile. We'll come back toward the end of Sept. and bring her back down. Or have Andy bring her back down. All up in the air. 

The big excitement of the day was making it through 'the race', so called because the current races in and out of Long Island Sound whooshing back and forth in four-hour increments. It's a race.

Busted for going too fast in a 'no-wake' zone!


There's a phenomenon of the waterways that is the stuff of water-rage, something akin to road rage in a car. Only on the water, the boater who has been cut off or almost swamped by a bigger boat speeding by and coming close enough to create a big, rolling, wave aimed right at the broad side of the smaller vessel, is truly rage inducing. And  victims  often take to the VHF radio airwaves saying things they probably wouldn't say to the offender  face to face. 

Little Bel Sito gets her share of wakes, as she cruises between 7-10 kts and bigger boats often go roaring by. 

There seemed to be a bunch of these yo-yos today and so one of most gratifying shots of the day was of this guy getting busted. Hooray.

Essex, Connecticut

This is Katherine Hepburn's former estate. It's for sale. 

We're having a lovely time in old Essex, all nested into an actual slip with electricity and water. We read various restaurant reviews on Trip Advisor and ended up at a great old place called The Griswold (locals call it 'the Griz').

Richard, me, Beth and Pat

That's all for now. Might not blog tomorrow because we're going to PROBABLY be here another day. I'll do laundry. How boring is that?

You know you're a cruiser when you get excited about a nearby coin-operated laundry facility.

Here Come the Brides

Nantucket wedding

Here Come the Brides

Nantucket is a bucket list destination, a wedding destination and the ultimate destination for the worlds' elite. 

We were there for a destination wedding, and to the surprise of the bride and bride, apparently so did just about everyone they invited. We partied on the beach at sunset Thursday night, dined at one of Nantucket's finest restaurants Friday night, attended the wedding in  Nantucket's St. Paul's church and celebrated Melissa and Josie's  marriage at the most beautiful country club setting I have ever seen. Every detail was simply stunning. 

For those who God has joined together, let no man put asunder. 

I've attended commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples before but am thrilled to have lived to see the day when two people in love, committed to a life together, can be joined in holy matrimony if they so choose. 

Sitting in the pew, I thought about my grandfather and great grandfather, neither of whom I met. They were both Episcopal priests and my grandfather was rector of a church in Fitzburg, MA. He was on a committee that re-wrote the Common Book of Prayer and as family legend goes, it was my grandmother who insisted they remove the 'thou shalt obey' clause in the wedding ceremony. Surely, something so commonplace today  must have been quite radical at the time.

I would like to think they would be on the right side of this transformational time today, too.


The wedding and reception were the exclamation point of an incredible visit to Nantucket. We had time each day to explore the island and take in its personality. The downtown roads are still cobblestone and the homes and buildings ALL wear a gray-shingled uniform.  Even the local  pet hospital is a rambling, beautiful structure befitting animals of the extremely wealthy. As charming as Nantucket is, it is that very seaside character that draws extreme wealth. Do a Google search about Nantucket and you'll find stories upon stories of the monied names who summer here. If we lived here we'd be in the 1% on the bottom rung of the ladder. There was a 200' boat so big in the harbor that in addition to being tied to a dock it also had two huge anchors set ahead. Before the yacht moves, a diver is hired to go down and make sure the anchor chain doesn't get cross-wise or otherwise tangled.

There's much to appreciate about the island's charms, of course. The beaches, charming shops, dunes. I was also taken by the window boxes full of flowers and greenery on many of the downtown homes.

Nantucket Pet Hospital

Here we are at the wedding reception. That's the Atlantic Ocean off in the distance:

We were joined by our buddies Beth and Pat, who are now on board and great crew. There's an additional peace-of-mind that takes place when an extra couple sets of experienced hands are on board.

Weather is predicted to take a turn here by tomorrow so we got out of Nantucket early yesterday morning and made a long day run back to Block Island. We head to Sag Harbor this morning. Strike that. Guess we are heading to the Connecticut River.

The Surf Side Hotel, Block Island

I'm having a hard time getting a strong enough wireless signal to upload pictures...(takes over 10 minutes a photo!). When we get a faster one I'll upload some more pix. 

You know you're a cruiser when you don't know what day it is.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Nantucket Nuptials

Reflections will come tomorrow morning. This was one of the most deeply touching experiences of all time.

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