25 July 2008 | Gloucester, MA
Beth - high 20's inland, cool on the water
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.