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Madcap Sailing
Lazy Days
Beth - high 20's inland, cool on the water
25/07/2008/9:58 pm, Gloucester, MA

We finally dragged ourselves out of Boston on Friday, sailed about 3 knots per hour for a few hours and zigzagged our way among the lobster pots to a new port just up the coast.

On Wednesday, Jim went to see the JFK Museum - and he loved it too - while I took myself off to the Public Gardens to visit the ducklings (made famous in Robert McClosky's "Make Way for Ducklings", a well loved children's story set right here. On my way back to the dock, I discovered a real farmers' market by City Hall. Local vendors sell their produce here on Mondays and Wednesdays, so I was finally able to stock up with salad greens and peppers and patty pan squashes and bright red tomatoes. Apples are just starting and I got some of those too.

We had intended to leave on Thursday, but oh how it rained. Visibility was poor, and winds ranged 15 - 20 knots with higher gusts. Even if the wind was OK, we'd have gotten just soaked out there so it was a pretty easy decision to stay put. We managed to make a run ashore to get groceries, but we spent pretty much the whole day and evening curled up with our books while we listened to the raindrops beating over our heads.

By Friday morning, things looked much brighter, so Jim bailed out the dinghy... and bailed ... and pumped ... more than any other time on this trip. After a stop at Mystic Marina down on Pier 1 we were topped up with diesel ($4.29) and had the head pumped out and were ready to go. The water there has a lot of sediment so we didn't fill the tank.

On Cousin Russ' recommendation, we sailed to Gloucester MA from Boston instead of making a longer trip. Because we didn't have many miles to make, we lazed about on the water - making 2.5 to 4 knots for a couple of hours. That is a luxury we rarely allow ourselves, but it was most pleasant to roll back the bimini, bask in the sun and just listen to the waves swoosh by.

At one point, Jim heard a new sound and leaped up shouting "A Whale! A Whale!" Sure enough, we watched several of them (or maybe it was just one or two?) gracefully surface and dive over the next few miles. They were far enough off that we aren't really sure what they were but we're thinking perhaps Fin Whales. They were dark, long and had dorsal fins. We've been hoping to see Right Whales, but these definitely had dorsal fins so we'll keep looking for the Rights. The Coast Guard frequently reports sightings and we always laugh to hear them say at the end of the report, "Mariners should be advised that whales may not remain at reported location."

Russ gave us good advice - Gloucester is a really pretty and active city - very much a working seaport that is big enough to handle lots of pleasure boats too. The large harbour gradually narrows and splits into two arms, making lots of space for the huge fishing boats, large whale watching tour boats, and lots of pleasure boats too. The city maintains a number of moorings, but we spent so many nights on a mooring in Boston that we chose to anchor in the designated area in the Inner Harbour. There was very little wind or current so although we were in 25 feet of water at high tide (there is a 9 ft tidal range here), our 100 feet of chain held us well. After taking a long walk all through the city, we walked out along the seawall to see the Fishermen's Memorial. This was the homeport for the fishermen who were lost at sea in "The Perfect Storm" as well as over 5000 others since they have been keeping records, and their names are inscribed there with so many others. We could see family names repeated from year to year as son followed father and grandfather. A man we spoke to said there have been 6 boats lost this year already, although the hands have been saved. Going out there to earn a living from the sea no matter what the weather is far different from what we cruisers experience.

We decided to take advantage of the opportunity for seafood so we dinghied over to Rocky Neck and ate at the Mad Fish Grill. It was innovative and tasty - I had tuna and Jim had crab stuffed haddock - both artfully presented, fresh and delicious - although not as good as our dinners at Rabia's in Boston.

We're off again on Saturday - possibly to Isles of Shoals - another spot we have not yet visited, with hopes of more whale sightings and a peaceful anchorage.

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Parks and Neighbourhoods
Beth - 28C and hardly any wind in here
22/07/2008/7:26 am, Boston

The solo keeper of the boat has been doing well!

I've developed a routine here in Boston; I get up and make my coffee, go to work on my morning's chores and then in early afternoon I dinghy ashore and go somewhere. Back onboard in the evenings, I eat a light dinner, sip a glass of wine and sit in the cockpit watching the lights of the harbour. It is only after dark that things calm down a bit and there aren't as many rock'n roll wakes coming through the mooring field from the many tour boats and ferries passing by. It's a nice life!

Jim always said he enjoyed his interludes alone on Madcap and I agree with him. Neither of us has ever been anxious about being on our own and it has never even occurred to me to be nervous. If I had to do it all the time, I'd have to go looking for someone to talk with, but he comes back tonight so we'll probably both be talking nonstop!

I'm really impressed with the water parks here. Both in the one downtown near the aquarium and in the large park in the North End there are great jet fountains that always have children - big and little - playing in them. None of this "Stay out of the Fountain" stuff around here. Because of the tunnel taking through-traffic down under the city, they've been able to make great open expanses of people-space. That's in contrast to the narrow and curvy streets leading away from the water. Once through the maze to the Commons, the space opens up wide again and once more, there are people playing and walking and sitting on benches.

I strolled through Beacon Hill on Monday, pausing in front of #10 Louisburg Square - once the home of Louisa May Alcott (Little Women) and wondering which front door belongs to John Kerry, a current resident in this elegant little square. The gas lights and occasional cobblestone streets recall the days when famous literary and high society figures lived here, and it still looks to be a well-heeled neighbourhood. According to the brochure I picked up, the largest age group living in Beacon Hill is 25-29, average family size is 2.42 people and price per square footage ranges from $500. per sq.ft. to over $3000. per sq.ft.

My favourite place so far, is the North End. I love wandering there - stopping to buy more shrimp at Mercato del Mare, and have a pastry at the Modern Pastry Shop, and generally mingling with the families and folks on their way home from work. I don't know the facts and figures for this area, but it strikes me as a mix of young and old, families and singles. There are a number of festivals coming up and signs are everywhere, along with lights being strung across the streets and along the sidewalks. Wish we could stay...

I've worked on the stainless, and done a lot of sorting out of the "stuff" that filled our aft cabin, and cleaned up the insides of the boat.

The weather has stayed overcast, not as hot but still heavy and threatening rain.

.... Jim got back on Tuesday afternoon after a fine time in Ottawa. His work related discussions went well so now he is back on board and ready to cruise for another 2 months. He's been dining well there and came back with reports of fine meals so we headed out to find another one!

We went to Rabia's on Salem Street for dinner (North End of course) and had spectacular meals - mussels, clams, calamari, shrimp cooked in garlic wine sauce over risotto for me, and salmon and scallops baked in cream sauce and served over spinach linguine and little green peas for Jim. Both were perfectly prepared, the service was good and the atmosphere lively Italian. It's on our Must Visit list

We decided to stay here another day to give the man time to relax a little before we move north again. I'll go off to see the ducklings in the park and he'll visit the JFK museum and then if the weather report is good, we'll head out on Thursday - Isles of Shoals if the wind is right, or a spot on the coast if we need more protection.

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A Little Work - A Little Play
Beth - 30C, hazy, humid
20/07/2008/8:27 am, Boston

Before Jim left for Ottawa we spent a little time browsing around Boston, and I've done some more of it each day after I knocked something off my to-do list.

On Thursday, we strolled along Salem St in the North End - an area we enjoyed when we were here in the fall. It's the Italian section, and we loved the narrow street, the alleys, the fire-stairs zigzagging down the sides of the brick buildings, the window boxes and little shops. At Mercato del Mare, we bought two halibut steaks and a half-pound of shrimp. This was the first halibut we've had in some time, and the lady said our little pieces came from a 135 pounder! They were wonderfully fresh and Jim BBQ'd them perfectly - just nicely seared on the outside and still moist inside. A squeeze of lemon, some pepper and they were ready to eat along with grilled potatoes and a broccoli salad. I sautéed the shrimp in olive oil and garlic with a splash of white wine another night - juicy and tender and oh so good - and all for me because Jim was gone!

The so-called farmers market I went to on Friday was a disappointment; there wasn't a single local vendor. All the veggies came out of the same boxes I could have found in the grocery stores. I'm missing the magnificent veggies Tina and I bought from Jodi in Fernandina Beach. Grumble, grumble.

I must say, the Americans know how to do memorials. Another stroll Jim and I took was through the Holocaust Memorial. It is a deceptively simple memorial - designed to be walked through - consisting of a series of tall glass towers inscribed with thousands of tattoo numbers overlaid with short statements from survivors. A time-line of events is inscribed on one wall, and along the walkways are other statements of fact that made us pause. It is a moving walk, and extremely well designed with visual and kinesthetic layers to it. What's more, it is right in the touristy area - just down the way from the fountains with children playing - where families can walk together and talk about that part of our world history.

In the other direction from the dinghy dock, another plaza has statements from immigrants inscribed in the paving stones, and over at the new North End Park, panels detailing the history of the area circle the gardens. Last year when we followed the Freedom Trail through this area we visited more tributes to those who lived and worked here.

I took the subway out to the JFK Museum on Sunday afternoon, and it's a winner. For starters, it's an absolutely gorgeous granite and glass building on a beautiful piece of waterfront over in South Boston. Designed by I.M.Pei, the proportions and vistas seem just right. At the end we emerged into a glorious high atrium - all glass and girders and views of the water and the sky.

I had forgotten that he served only three short years; I'd forgotten that he insisted on desegregation of schools and backed it up with action, and that, along with his sister Eunice, he had done so much for the good of mentally challenged and mentally ill people; I'd forgotten that he pushed ahead the space exploration program and I didn't ever know that he initiated the Peace Corps or the Special Olympics.

There are many displays of letters to and from the President, video footage and audio recordings of his life leading up to his presidency and the highlights of his term in office.
At the end, we turned a corner, walked between black walls and came to the TV screens where we saw Walter Cronkite announcing the shooting in Dallas that finished his presidency. It didn't finish his legacy.

Reviewing the life and work of this man reinforced my belief that you don't have to be perfect to be great. It's kind of like a multifaceted gemstone - even if one facet is scratched, the stone still sparkles.

On my way back to the harbour, I took a walk through the Granary Cemetery and found among all the illustrious ones, an intriguing little headstone inscribed to the "Elizabeth Hurd, amiable and virtuous comfort to John Hurd." It was a nice variation from "wife of" and it made me chuckle.

When I haven't been out exploring, I've been doing some badly needed boat chores. I scraped the brightwork and put on a fresh coat of cetol. It certainly isn't a perfect job, and will need to be redone later, but I just couldn't stand to see all the bare bits on the rub rails. Madcap is such a beautiful boat and she was looking pretty sad. I also sprayed lemon juice over the ICW moustache and it cleaned it up pretty well. The cockpit is shiny again, and in another 24 hours the stainless will be too.

I thought we might get the storm that I heard the Coast Guard warning about on Saturday night - with gusts up above 30 knots and hail - so I double secured everything, took the flags down and reviewed our "what to do if" procedures, but it passed us by completely. We haven't had even enough wind to run the wind generator so I've had to turn on the engine for an hour each morning. We did get a good soaking rain on Sunday afternoon, and another one during the night; back in the days when I had a garden, I'd have been delighted!

In the meantime, Jim is having an excellent time in Ottawa - visiting with old friends, seeing our boys and meeting with his boss to come up with a plan for some meaningful work next year!

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