Newport……Take two

We haven’t often retraced our steps but today we arrived back in Newport, Rhode Island. It’s where Grace made landfall in the States from Bermuda before we sailed off towards Maine. That was back in June this year and it’s now a month till Christmas Day. We motored into the anchorage / mooring area. Last time it was absolutely rammed with hundreds of boats. This time we are the only boat here. Pick your spot.

If we venture any further towards New York, we will be sailing off the page. Our paper charts run out here. UPS has a package waiting for us to collect on Monday with what’s required. Unfortunately it’s not like buying a 2017 Road Atlas from Esso for £2.99. We have all the charts stored electronically on a chip which we use with the chart plotter (think SAT NAV if you don’t know what a chart plotter is) but we like to have paper ones too in case the electronic gremlins decide to play naughty games. And paper charts are easier for planning purposes too as you get the big picture rather than something screen size. We don’t have a 60” flat screen on the boat.

Yesterday was a top day. We spent it on Martha’s Vineyard. I don’t know how or why the island got it’s name. Was there a Martha or even a vineyard? Come on Bro, you can look that up for me or maybe some else knows? Lisa feel free to contribute, we know you’ve visited previously.

A college friend of mine lives on the island. She acted as guide, chauffeur and chef. We spent a happy and easy few hours in her company having brunch, driving rounds the island, taking a hike through Memensha Woods then back to meet her 5 dogs in Oaks Bluff. It’s a stunning place and Sally said we’d seen it at its best in the bright early winter sunshine without thousands of tourists who flood the island during the summer months. I secretly love the idea of turning up to visit people by boat.

So Christmas is a month away. Last year we were at sea for Christmas somewhere between the Canaries and Cape Verde Islands. I recall having had a real pasting for two days with grotty weather and grim winds, a double g is not good, thinking this is not what I signed up for. Christmas Day was the first time we were able to sit at the table and eat something without the plate behaving like a grasshopper on speed. Not sure where we’ll be this year.


Plymouth, Massachusetts


Off we went into the local yacht club here in Plymouth, Massachusetts for an evening beverage. We were warmly welcomed (that’s 4 w’s in a row, not deliberate alliteration) and left feeling like we’d been ‘the turn’, having become the focus of the conversation for those sat at the bar. Once again we experienced kind people who offered lifts for shopping and local useful advice on heading south.

It would have been difficult not to notice the number of layers we were wearing. New England is pretty much closed for boaters now….log fires and snuggling up for winter are higher up the priority list. We sapped up the heat in the building.

It’s been a big weekend here in town. Plymouth throws a big parade each year to celebrate the Pilgrims arriving in 1620. Floats, speeches, marching bands, people in historic dress, the whole nine yards. The opening addresses provided several ‘big wigs’ a captive audience, allowing them to enjoy the sound of their own voices for slightly / definitely too long . There’s a job there for an Event Management Company to advise leaving the audience wanting more not less.

Relative Bobby, my dad’s cousin came to visit on Saturday afternoon till Sunday lunchtime. He didn’t really want to leave boat life behind as he drove off without his phone and had to turn round after a few miles then try to break into the security conscious marina to find us again. Well that was my interpretation…he could have just been forgetful. The word he used to describe us was ‘mad’. I took that as a compliment.

Bobby brought gifts. HP sauce, genuine maple syrup and a bottle of single malt whiskey. Dave’s eyes lit up at the sight of item number three. Great pressies…..thank you. The only other occasion where Bobby and I have met was back in 1986, the year I finished college and worked summer camp in the states. He was working at West Point, the massive military academy. We reminisced a little, swapped current stories and spent time just shooting the breeze.

He’s a microbiologist now. He offered to explain to us the bugs that live in steak if you choose to eat it rare, as we do. We declined his offer. He eats his meat very well done.



Back to our floating home…

There was a package left for us at the harbourmasters office in Gloucester. We nearly didn’t get it. He radioed us up just as we were leaving so we motored past the dock and he handed it over.

All it said was ‘Dave and Helen S/V Grace of Longstone’. Inside were treasures. Two sachets of hot chocolate, some diddy marshmallows (s’mores), two tots of Jack Daniels, a dvd of Cool Runnings and a sailing book to read. Plus a card from our buddies Brian and Steph…..the words of which I’ve photographed above. How lovely!

We got back to Massachusetts on what was reported (allegedly) as the coldest November day in 100 years. Whether this was true or not, it was flipping brass monkey weather made colder by the wind chill. We stayed at Paul’s house for a couple of nights. Grace without a functioning heater was not too inviting a prospect. Dave went to bed in his hat one night when we did get back onto the boat. He knows how to look sexy in bed!

It was a wrench to leave Gloucester. Paul had been a superstar going above and beyond. He tells a great story and his buddies were fun too. We’d walked the coast, eaten pizza together, visited hardware stores and sat up shooting the breeze.

Today we’re in Plymouth, where the Pilgrims landed absorbing a bit of history. We’ll be here for a few days. It’s a big weekend in town…..a procession with floats, a food festival, bands and general celebrations. We are having a little bit of work done on the boat and the weather doesn’t look too chipper so we plan to make the most of whats on offer here.

Also I’ve just come off the phone to a distant relative, Bobby who is coming to visit. I’m not sure exactly how we are related, I’m not too good at that lineage stuff but it’ll be great to meet up and maybe work out exactly what the family connection is.

What’s in your pants sir?

We’re at Gatwick airport waiting for our flight back to the states. We have splashed the cash and are in one of the lounges away from the hustle bustle madness of the main airport. Doesn’t take much to make me feel special… a free newspaper, a cuppa with a selection of nibbly nibbles.

I’m reading the Times and there’s an article about a drunk teenager who was arrested by police. They noticed he had ….and I quote….’a considerable bulge’ in his trousers. When questioned he stated he had a snake in his pants. Turned out to be a baby royal python. Mind boggling. Apparently it’s a non venomous constrictor. Does that fact make me feel any different, of course not!

Snakes are on my list of unpleasant things which also includes celery, food of the devil, and hot air hand dryers that have been installed too high in public washrooms so you have to hold your hands up rather than down, consequently water runs down your arms towards your elbows. Sloppy design, poor installation, a lack of thought whatever, they annoy me intensely.

Rant over. I have just checked the marine forecast for the sea area including Gloucester, Massachusetts. It’s gonna be breezy for the next 36 hours.

S winds 10 to 15 kt, becoming SW 20 to 25 kt with gusts up to 30 kt after midnight. Seas 4 to 7 ft. FRI NW winds 25 to 30 kt with gusts up to 40 kt. Seas 7 to 10 ft. FRI NIGHT NW winds 25 to 30 kt, diminishing to 20 to 25 kt after midnight. Seas 7 to 10 ft.

Temperature wise they are forecasting minus three at night. And with the wind in the north it’ll no doubt feel very chilly. The boat has been closed up for about 7 weeks without heat or ventilation. Anyone want to swap places? I envisage getting back onto the boat, putting more clothes on and going to bed.

It has felt tough and tearful saying goodbye to people: my dad, Dave’s Mum, Chris, Becca’s partner plus everyone else (you know who you are). The life we have currently chosen means we are away from people we care about. We are both thankful that our families are supportive of what we are doing and even though living on a boat and sailing around is well beyond their experience, and probably desire (!), they understand or tolerate our desire to explore a bit of the world!