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September 28, 1999, Dockside at the Mystic Seaport Museum, CT
Mystic Seaport Museum. This is a special place for anyone interested in the sea. Maybe even for anyone not particularly interested in the sea. Here is a fully restored whaling ship, a restored grand banks fishing schooner, a steam driven ferry boat and a collection of sailing and motorized boats that is beyond my description. They are in the water fully rigged. You can climb on them from deck to keel and stem to stern. Crews climb the rig and drop, raise and furl square sails to show how it was done. Houses and storefronts saved from the 19th century shipbuilding era have been restored and moved to the museum property. They're assembled to resemble a typical New England shipbuilding town. Trees and cobblestone streets surround a chronometer and sextant shop, a barrel maker, a maker of masthoops and the shop of every sort of craftsman that was needed for ship construction. There's wooden shipbuilding underway in a shed where "Amistad", full size, is under construction, being planked and decked. You can try your hand at tamping some caulking into hull planks, or you can sign up for a course in one of many aspects of boat building. In another section there's beautifully crafted ship models and artwork, much of which is for sale. A very complete bookstore is included, of course. So here we are anchored right inside this perfect place with the right to view the museum at our leisure. Several museum staff members have come over to look at "Silver Heels", which is in some ways an example of an old coastal schooner. If it didn't snow in the winter and if the river didn't ice over in the winter, I could stay here for ever. There's no way to stay here though, this is museum dedicated waterfront. It's a museum courtesy that allows transient boaters to tie up for a few days.
Yesterday was beautiful as we walked around the museum village through the trees shedding their colorful fall leaves. But, today it's raining heavily. In some ways I like the rain; it washes the dried salt crystals from the boat's decks and painted or varnished surfaces. We're snug inside the cabin. "Silver Heels" is alongside a dock with two other cruising boats. Yesterday we sunned and talked to each other while walking around the dock. Today I haven't seen anyone outside. Thunderstorms and winds gusting to 50 mph are predicted for this afternoon. That's what we got in Salem with tropical storm Floyd. We'll be here until Saturday. I've hired a captain to take the boat down the New Jersey coast. Ellen and I will meet the boat in Chesapeake City and resume our cruise. I hired a captain because I'm tired, and every inch of this coast is new to me. Each day involves researching the area that we'll traverse, selecting a suitable harbor and a bad weather alternate, plotting course lines, programming the GPS and leaving at sunrise. Experienced cruisers in this area don't do all this preparation. They know the area, maybe like I know San Francisco Bay and the delta. Some cruisers head outside and take a two or three day trip direct down to Cape May. Ellen and I don't have the energy or strength to do that with this boat. The next four legs are tougher, longer and we're shorthanded. "Silver Heels" is a big, little schooner. We've been repairing the boat, preparing the boat and cruising the boat for three months now. We've spent one night ashore during that time.. We'll go ashore for awhile, return to the boat and enjoy the "fine fall weather cruising" on Chesapeake Bay. Interestingly, some cruising boaters enjoy this trek down the coast in the fall to flee the harsh New England winters, a trip that can be nearly 1,500 miles long. They winter over in some southern state like Georgia or South Carolina and then move north in the spring to get away from the hot, humid southern climate. I don't like being on the move that much. I'd like to be in just one place for a year. That's difficult on the East Coast.
Someone told me that generally New Englanders were scotch and watched their every penny. Now I've found that their desire for maximum value has passed to their barbers. I've had two haircuts in New England. If you believe that the shorter the haircut the better the value, this is your place. My first haircut was in Ellsworth, Maine. We borrowed Rich's truck, which happened to be running nicely, and drove to Ellsworth's barber who had a typical small store front shop in a strip mall. He asked as I got into the chair, "Just a regular haircut?" I answered, "Yes", remembering what was "regularly" done for a haircut back home with the barber I had seen for many years. When he was done, I took a look and immediately noted how much my ears stuck out. He left a little on the top, but it was cut close and straight up on the sides and back. It was so short that I couldn't pick up a hair between by thumb and fingertip. What a value for $7. That haircut, done in early July, lasted three months. It's now late September. I'm in Niantic, CT, and I stop (with the help of a local "Silver Heels" admirer and his car) in at a local barber shop. Interestingly, it was very similar to the one in Ellsworth. A small portable radio on the shelf was playing some 1940's music that I think was "In the Mood" by Glenn Miller. Barber says, "How do you want it cut?" Remembering that I can't easily get to a barber now but also remembering the Ellsworth experience, I answer, "Moderately short." I got the same thing! A little tuft remained on the top, but it was straight up on the back and sides, and my ears were very noticeable again. I don't quite know how to solve this problem as I can't get in for a quick trip to the barber every three weeks. Probably, as we move south to Georgia or South Carolina the barbers' standards will be more to my liking.
October 5, 1999
We have spent the last four days touring Philadelphia. Lots of history here. We touched the "crack in the Liberty Bell" which is, we learned, a "gap" in the Liberty Bell which resulted from the crack in the Liberty Bell. Betcha didn't know that! And, we toured Independence Hall, saw the place where the Declaration of Independence was adopted and the Constitution signed. We looked at Benjamin Franklin's house and Betsy Ross' house, had a beer at an Irish pub and sat out more rain and a thunderstorm. Where is the warm weather? We're tired of this tourism and and want to get on with the boat's cruise.
While we were touring Philadelphia, I noted an advertisement describing a restored four masted barque that participated in the great grain races to southern Australia. The ship's name was "Moshulu", and she's about 400 feet long. Some time ago I bought a book for my father for Father's Day. When my father saw the book, he immediately said, "That was Leslie's ship." Now, Leslie Vick was an uncle that I never met. He went to sea in the 1920's aboard the "Moshulu" as an AB (able bodied seaman). Later, after attending the California Maritime Academy, he became the youngest captain in the Matson Lines at age 27. I wanted to walk the decks of that ship! Ellen and I went aboard the "Moshulu." I was fascinated - and somewhat emotional - looking up the masts, hanging over the rail and walking the decks where my uncle had been as sea 80 years before. The photos describe the ship much better than I can.
Tomorrow we'll go aboard "Silver Heels" again and continue our cruise down the Chesapeake. The weather is clearing and the sun is out. I'd like to stop in Annapolis, MD and go to the boat show. Then we'll continue down to Norfolk, VA.
With our best regards, Terry and Ellen
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