Antares Tribe

Monday, February 23, 2015

New England into the Chesapeake

Calypso and Maite sliding through the C & D Canal
Calypso rafting on the Tuschick's mooring ball in Block Island
We turned to head home from Plymouth in early September. Our path took us south out of Plymouth Harbor, direct to the Cape Cod Canal. The sun set on us as we pulled into an anchorage in Cuttyhunk before reaching Block Island the next afternoon. Beth Tuschick was gracious enough to allow us to raft up to her boat on mooring ball in Block Island harbor allowing us to explore for about 3-4 days. Thanks Beth! The island is perfectly positioned half way between the eastern end of Long Island and Nantucket. They both are visible from the southern light house on Block Island. Most of our time was spent eating and riding bikes.
Approaching the southern light house by bicycle

  The tour from the harbor to the north light house then back to the south light house then home was perhaps about 15 miles. 

Maite, Tyler and Nala leisurely 
lunch on  Block Island
We sat and enjoyed a leisurely dinner in town that Sunday afternoon, we could overhear all the mainlanders that had come over on the ferry for the weekend scurrying back to the boat in time to get home for work Monday morning. How good it felt to sit on that sunny porch on Block Island and read, sip on a beer and realize we had nowhere we had to hurry off to. I think the concept of retirement is dawning upon us...slowly. 
Back to the bikes heading home.

a little fetch before lunch in the ferry terminal bay

The Griswald Inn Essex Connecticut

Essex Connecticut is a beautiful quaint town on the north shore of the Long Island Sound. As a "Pratt" I was truly amazed. There were more Pratts in this little town than in the rest of the country I think. When we made reservations for dinner at the "Gris" (Griswold Inn) they hostess remarked "Pratt...ah that's a good Essex name!" There were only two doctors named Pratt in Memphis and only one other in my high school in Los Angeles. Mayors, ship captains, and house after house built by my ancestors. The high school, the main street and numerous historical buildings all carried the name. The Pratts of Boston and Plymouth spread rapidly apparently. So many more people to research and learn about! 

one of the main streets in Essex
the Essex Historical Society was headquartered
in the "Pratt House"
Essex Train Station
Maite and Ed in front of Engine #2
Essex Dinner Train
 A very complete maritime museum near the water, depicts the shipbuilding heritage of Essex. Essex also boasts of a 1920s style dinner train that takes you up the Connecticut River while providing a gourmet dinner in 1920s luxury. I would not miss this if you have time.
Maite on the Essex Dinner Train

After Essex, we pushed to get to Baltimore in time for the 200th anniversary celebration of the writing of the Star Spangled Banner by Sir Francis Scott Key. It was worth every gallon of diesel we burned. We passed down the East River and this time, timed our currents perfectly, moving  about 14 knots and passing most of the cars balled up in Manhattan traffic. 

Ed, Maite Lorraine and Harry supper in Sandy Hook 
We spent two days in Sandy Hook visiting friends then took off down the Jersey shore. Unfortunately, it was headwinds and head seas and after a day we decided to tuck into Atlantic City for the night before continuing on to Cape May. From Cape May we spun around and up the Delaware sound to the C & D Canal that joins the Delaware River with the Chesapeake. It was a full day motoring from Cape May to the Baltimore inner harbor, and we pulled in about 10 pm anchoring about 25 yards from one of the fireworks barges set for the big celebration.

Fell's Point Baltimore, MD Center of 18th century
Chesapeake ship building and general debotchery.
Maite with Eric and Carla (Live Wide).
They let us use their dock for weeks. Thanks guys!
The Baltimore inner harbor is a crazy amalgam of history and present day. Some of the bars and eating establishments have been open since the Clipper days of the late 18th century. One of our favorites was "The Horse You Came In On". The back door entrance was the "The Horse You Rode Out On".

Baltimore Clipper
The inner harbor is protected by Ft McHenry, famous for repelling the English attack on Baltimore during the War of 1812. Turns out it really wasn’t the fort that repelled the attack, but the regular citizenry of Baltimore who, after hearing of what had happened in Washington marched out, entrenched and engaged the British southeast of town thwarting their advance. The shelling of Ft. McHenry was largely for show.
Panorama of the interior of Fort McHenry 

View of Ft. McHenry as the British Saw It
An interesting side note regarded the Key family. Francis Scott Key an able lawyer, who watched the shelling from an American Frigate after negotiating for the release of an American physician taken prisoner during the British attack on Washington. It was then he wrote the poem "The Star Spangled Banner" and recommended that it be set to the tune of an old English drinking song that had been put to lyrics countless times before.
Baltimore Fireworks (the best ever!)

Blue Angels over Ft. McHenry
Two  generations later at the outbreak of the Civil War, Sir Francis Scott Key’s grandson, Francis Key Howard was still living in Baltimore. He was a well respected journalist, newspaper editor and southern sympathizer.  Howard later became the namesake of Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (F. Scott Fitzgerald).

1861 Baltimore largely sympathized with the South and when war broke out Ft. McHenry turned its guns on the city of Baltimore itself to keep it in Union hands. Southern “sympathizers” such as Francis Key Howard were imprisoned in Ft. McHenry assuring that Baltimore stayed within the Union. In a display within the fort's museum, Howard's letters written during captivity juxtaposed his grandfather’s words written in 1814 during the attack upon the fort flying the "stars and stripes", proclaiming freedom for all, with his own sense of betrayal and loss of liberty at the hands of the same government under the same flag within the same fort in 1861. 

From Baltimore it was an easy 2 hour motor past Ft. McHenry to Eric Maynard’s beautiful home and dock from where we prepared Calypso for the Annapolis show.

We had one final side trip before the boat show to the Gettysburg Battlefield, the grand daddy of all civil war historic sites. I had read extensively about the battle and had my own ideas as to how and why it went down as it did, but to see it with your own eyes gives one a whole new understanding and appreciation for the ingenuity, heroism and suffering on both sides of that conflict. 
View from the Little Round Top facing Gettysburg

Northern extreme of Pickett's Charge as seen from the Union lines.

Tree line from which Pickett launched his charge. (The battlefield is out of view to the left)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

New England

Calypso docked forward of Two Fish in Judith Point
Newport Harbor, passing tall ship
I am trying desperately to catch up our blog. We are currently in Key Biscayne after the Miami show. Hopefully, I will have a few days to cover the rest of our journey north last August and September before the Annapolis show. 

From the Worlds Fair Marina we had an easterly overnight sail through the Long Island Sound two rendezvous with Two Fish hull 4444 (sounds a bit redundant doesn't it?), and her owners, Gail and Jason at Judith's Point Marina. All kidding aside, Gail and Jason have always been so willing to help and share what they learn to the rest of our sailing community. There doesn't seem to be a single challenge they don't seem to conquer with flying colors. They deserve many Kudos, Maite and I say thank you! They were heading south after sailing as far north as Portland, Maine. After a nice visit, Maite had to attend a funeral in New Orleans so we motored up to  Providence RI to get close to easy air travel. We then sailed south and east spending a few days in Newport, RI. Newport was the playground of the rich and famous of New York and Boston at the turn of the 20th century. Their "vacation cottages" were astounding. 
Vanderbilt Summer "Cottage"
Newport Harbor

Two days later we pulled anchor and headed due east for the Cape Cod Canal, passing Nantucket and
Martha's Vineyard to Plymouth, Massachusetts. The east end of the Long Island sound can get choppy and windy quickly, so be prepared!

Dinner time on Calypso


I rarely get more attention than at dinner time. A favorite perch of our dogs is the top of the galley steps. From here they can see every move and properly supervise the preparation of their dinners (and ours). One of the primary A/C outlets is a foot off the floor at this location so that makes it THE prime real estate on board for our pups. 

Plymouth Mainstreet today
Plymouth Mainstreet 1627
Plymouth holds special meaning to me as I have always traced my lineage back to three members of the Mayflower Expedition (Isaac, Mary and Remember Allerton). It is not an easy harbor to enter, with shallows everywhere. As long as the markers are followed it is easy enough in daylight. The path is circuitous entering north of town then abruptly turning south, following a peninsula for several miles before turning back toward shore. The Mayflower never had the luxury of a dredged channel and had to stay several miles off shore.

Plymouth Tour (learning the native perspective)
I was a bit let down to learn that there are over 60 million people in the United States who claim to be descendants of the original Mayflower group even though half of them died the first winter. We had the distinct pleasure of a city tour provided by one of the remaining Wampanoag Tribe members and his 10-year-old nephew. Their slant on the first few years after the Pilgrims landed and the continuing politics between those of European dissent and the remaining native Americans tribes is a real eye opener. We followed up the tour with a trip to the Plymouth Plantation, a village reenactment complete with actors depicting the state of Plymouth in 1627, along side an authentic Wampanoag village of the same time period. For those that still believe that the history they were taught in school was unbiased or non politicized, I urge you to learn your history by traveling to the sites. There is nothing like it.
Allerton House left Pratt House mid photo

Ed Pratt with his ancestor Phineas Pratt (Plymouth Colony)
While at the Plymouth Plantation I was directed to the house of my ancestor Isaac Allerton and his second wife and two children. Surprisingly, another ancestor of mine Phineas Pratt was busy making mud plasters in the house next door.  They would dig a big hole and mix equal parts straw and mud with water and pack it between sticks stacked between the framing timbers of their homes. He didn't look anything like me, although he thought he was better looking. We also toured the Plymouth graveyard and went aboard a 1955 era Mayflower II replica that was sailed from Devon England in 1957. At 106 feet LOA and 25 foot beam she just barely wider than Calypso though 2 ½ times the length. After a tour below decks we realized how really good we have it with Calypso.

Maite and Ed aboard Mayflower II top deck amidships. Calypso in the background
Plymouth will be commemorating the 400-year anniversary of the Mayflower landing in 2020. They are already hard at work preparing. It promises to be an event!

I was amazed to find that there really was no first Thanksgiving, just an uneasy coexistence between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag... a mutual defense pact that was entered into because the Pilgrims had guns and the local Wampanoag had been decimated by small pox in 1615 (brought among them by European hunters). The Plymouth Wampanoag village was completely wiped out several years before the Mayflower arrived and the other neighboring Wampanoag tribes had there numbers so diminished that they could not defend themselves against neighboring tribes. 

Protective enclosure for Plymouth Rock 
Remaining Major Fragment of Plymouth Rock 

The story goes that the Pilgrims were celebrating the harvest of their crops by shooting off their guns, and the Wampanoag braves came running as per the mutual defense pact. When they learned there was no war, and only an after harvest feast, they asked to stay but were turned away for lack of food. The braves went into the forest and returned shortly with a dozen deer to feed themselves and provide for the feast. William Bradford, the leader of the Pilgrims and "Massasoit" the chief of the Wampanoag enjoyed a mutual respect that maintained the peace, which ended when they passed on leaving leadership to their sons. In the end the youngest son of Massasoit attempted to lead an Indian revolt against all Massachusetts colonies (as it turns out with good reason). This King Phillip War was brought to a close in 1672 when he was hunted down, beheaded and his head placed on a spike that remained in the Plymouth town square for 25 years. So much for good relations with the neighbors!
What no first Thanksgiving? 
Thanksgiving was actually an invention of Abraham Lincoln when, near the end of the Civil War, he felt that a holiday was needed to bring families back together. The current date of the third Thursday in November was actually set by FDR in order to lengthen the Christmas buying season between Thanksgiving and Christmas thereby boosting the economy. Man, no Santa Claus, no Easter Bunny, and now no Thanksgiving turkey. What is up with that!

Next post we will cover Block Island, Essex, Sandy Hook and on to Baltimore. See ya!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Florida to New York

On with the next chapters! After we made landfall in Stuart last June we had some warranty work done and then motored home to St. Augustine in time for the 4th of July at the Lion's Gate Bridge. As we headed north from Florida to New York we said good bye to Ben who flew up to New York to start his acting internship on Broadway.

Lion's Head Bridge Downtown St. Augustine
During the first leg of our passage north we saw an aspect of Florida I had not ever appreciated. So much of the east coast is swamp… miles and miles of undeveloped swamp around the intercostal waterway. We stayed overnight in Cocoa Beach, Anthony Nelson, no Roger Healey, no Dr. Bellows and certainly no Jeannie. 50 years too late. All we found was a bunch of little shrimpy things that climbed into our depth sounder/knot meter and clogged it up. A quick brush up and we were on our way.

Ed, Maite, Karen, Jeff, Jeff's shirt, Aubrey and Hampton
We had a great 4th of July in St. Augustine with Maite’s brother Goar, his wife Kellie and there kids Tori and Vonn then headed for Charleston. 

Left to Right: Ed and Maite Pratt, Karen and Jeff Woodman

Replica of Civil War Cannon Ft. Sumpter                    
After a very easy overnight sail we were there and docked at the Patriot's Point Marina, right next to the USS Yorktown. We had a truly wonderful time with all the Woodman clan (Jeff, Karen, Aubrey and Hampton) before heading north. We had a spirited bowling competition amongst the six of us and if memory serves me correctly the winner was Jeff's shirt. It out shown us all!

We got to tour the Selden factory and learned about the new top down furling spinnaker. (More to come!)

Ruin of Ft. Sumpter
We also spent several days working on the boat with Jeff, exploring the town of Charleston and its highlights. We visited Ft. Sumpter where the Civil War began. Not too much left these days I'm afraid. The north gave up leaving the structure fairly intact when the Confederates from the town of Charleston took possession. However, when the north returned a few years later they blasted the poor fort to bits.

Our goal was to reach New York City in time to see our son Ben in his end of summer Broadway Cabaret August 14.We headed up the Intercostal past Georgetown and found some of the most unspoiled beautiful marshland you could imagine. We had some unfortunate mechanical problems with the port drive shaft falling off just aft of the transmission. I was able to jury rig it together and it was on with one engine to Myrtle Beach.  We spent a night in Myrtle Beach and found the nuts/washers to fix the problem temporarily at Lowe's. Then on to Southport, North Carolina where we had dinner with our good friends Martin Tate and Claire.

S/V Calypso and Echo (formerly Bare Feet and Good Trade)
The next morning we were off to Beaufort, North Carolina where we stayed one night just south of town and left before sun up. About 8 am we got word of a tornado passing right through the marina we had just exited south of Beaufort. Woah! On we went across the Pamlico Sound, Alligator River (spending one night on the hook), Abermarle Sound, and up the Virginia Cut. We arrived in Portsmouth, Virginia south of Norfolk at dusk. There sitting next to us was Barefeet which became Good Trade which was now Echo. We got to meet her new owners, Jeff and Mary Pernick although only for a few hours. Jeff was so gracious in helping me trace down our bad Rogue Booster connections. One more gremlin exposed! All those little things that don't quite work right, that no one else notices or appreciates, but keep coming back to haunt you...we call gremlins.

Approaching the Statue of Liberty from the south.
We met up with our daughter Meredith there and sailed outside around the Chesapeake and Jersey shore arriving about three days later in New York Harbor. We motored past Sandy Hook into the outer harbor, sliding under the Verrazano Bridge into the inner harbor, past the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the New York skyline, ducking the yellow Staten Island Ferries that seemed to be moving at about 50 knots and into our marina at Liberty Landing. We arrived with a day to spare as the rest of our family; eldest son Greg and my mother Sue arrived and moved aboard anxious to see the sights.

Manhattan Skyline from the south
Passing the Statue of Liberty
The process of getting over to the city was actually harder than it might seem. Getting back, particularly late at night was even worse. It took on average about two hours to go boat to Broadway and at night three hours to get back. We became very familiar with the ferry, subway system, PATH trains over to the Hoboken Station, and the New Jersey light rail that got us back to or at least walking distance of Liberty Landing marina.

We had a full week to see Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the 911 Museum (a must!) and several Broadway shows including If/Then, Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, Avenue Q, and Once.

New Jersey and Manhattan Night
 Skyline from Calypso

Greg, Grandma Sue, Meredith at Liberty Landing Restaurant

Sue looking over Manhattan and Liberty Landing
from the Empire State Building
Meredith and Grandma at the
Statue of Liberty

Maite, Greg Meredith and Grandma Sue prepare for the Cabaret

2014 Circle on the Square Cabaret Group
Ben and a proud Mom

The Cabaret, the summer's final exam, featured the singing, dancing and comedic talents of an amazingly talented group of kids, all working to perfect their craft and get that big break that would propel them to the next level. 

Number "1" Mets fan
The saucer on the left was the getaway space ship in MIB
Mets vs. Cubs
When our New York week had come to an end, Mom and Meredith headed for home, while Greg, Maite and I repositioned Calypso up the East River to the World's Fair Marina next to Mets Stadium and the US Open Tennis Center. If you ever take that route make sure you hit the tides right. We were 2-3 kts going north and about 12 kts coming home as we learned our lesson the hard way. We got Ben and Greg packed off to LaGuardia then Maite and I headed to New England after taking in a Mets game and a nice long walk around the Tennis Center and World's Fair Grounds. For those that don't know this is where they filmed the final scene of Men In Black where the King Roach met his end. Next is New England and back to Baltimore!