This online document is a means of sharing the adventure of traveling on America's waterways with friends and family. Last Dance is continuing to take her crew to historical, natural, beautiful, and interesting places. Enjoy the ride.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Connecticut Revisited

Heading west on Long Island Sound a stop was made at Newport, Rhode Island.  While a tourist mecca, the town did not excite the Last Dance Crew.  So a photo of the Point Judith Lighthouse as the southern end of the bay passed by on the trip from Rhode Island to Connecticut is all that will be shared of this small state.  It is a beautiful and interesting lighthouse complex.

Mystic, CT

A stop in Mystic found fall beginning to show itself in the leaves around downtown.

An open private mooring was borrowed for a night's stay to avoid the very high New England dockage prices.  A trawler on a mooring nearby demonstrated again one of the interesting aspects of being around boats:  the architecture/design varies so drastically among boats; all beautiful in their own way.  This designer obviously believes in a narrow beam.

The major reason to revisit Mystic was to rendezvous with friends and fellow Gold Loopers, Bob and Lynda Krueger, who keep their boat, Erika Lin, in Mystic.  The crew has nicknamed this pair LyndaBob. Another delicious and different meal was shared at a local bed and breakfast with much-shared conversation.  Enjoying time with friends and family is one of the most appealing facets of cruising.

Leaving Mystic on a foggy morning, Last Dance passed the Mystic lighthouse among some heavy commercial traffic.

Connecticut River

Heading up the Connecticut River a Bald Eagle watched Last Dance as she passed one of the day marks indicating the channel in the river.  This eagle had borrowed an Osprey's nest to indulge in a fish it had caught.  Wildlife continues to be another facet that makes cruising so enjoyable.

Again, visiting friends was a major reason for making this stop.  Jean Quigley joined the crew for dinner aboard Last Dance, which concluded with Jean's peach pie.  Some of the best culinary delights occur aboard.

During the first visit to Jean's boat, Miss Ruby, photos were taken for inclusion in this blog to share the amazing boat they had built.  Link to that post is below.

Jean's pie came with a special message - look closely at the top crust.

After admiring the unique design, intricate details, and quality construction of Miss Ruby during our earlier visit, it was felt that this boat should be shared with a larger audience than the ones reading this blog.  PassagerMaker magazine, THE magazine for power cruising boats, often called "trawlers," was contacted by the Last Dance crew.  Photos and background story were submitted to encourage the editors to allow us to compose an article for publication.  They bought the idea.  When the good news was shared with Jean, she replied that she always wanted to write the story of Miss Ruby.  The photographer who does much of the work for the magazine has his office close by in Essex.  So a collaboration of Jean and the photographer developed the story, Labor of Love: Building Miss Ruby.  Not only did Miss Ruby become published, she made the cover.

Jean suggested a short trip up the river for a boat ride.  A ferry boat.  Not far from the marina, the state operates a ferry crossing the Connecticut River.

On the opposite bank of the river, a large stone building seems to rise above the trees.  This was our destination.

The stone building is known as the Gillette Castle, once the home of William Gillette.  He built this home in 1914, designing every intricate detail.  His fortune and fame came from being a successful actor, appearing on stage most often as Sherlock Holmes.  Gillette was also a playwright, inventor, and stage manager.

Gillette named the house the Seventh Sister, as it is built on the last hill of a series of hills along the river known as the Seven Sisters.  Gillette Castle is now a state park, allowing all to enjoy his unique genius expressed in the design and construction of his home.

The castle does not look as massive close up, and it is not a large house, particularly by the standards of the time.  The jagged stone faces do create an ominous look.

The main room is two stories tall, comprising much of the house.  Gillette's bedroom was up on the landing.  He installed a series of mirrors in the great room so that he could see into all the living areas from his bedroom.

All of the windows and doors are hand carved from oak.  The windows each have a locking mechanism that Gillette designed which locks them closed or in three different open positions.  Simple and effective.

He even designed custom light switches, again hand carved of oak.

Every interior door has a different design.  Each door has a wooden locking mechanism, again, every one with a different design.

Gillette collected artwork and built a room to house and properly display his collection.  Since he didn't want to leave his estate to someone who didn't understand or appreciate it, the estate became the property of the state, thus preserving the house and his art collection for all to enjoy.

At this time, transportation technology was progressing rapidly.  Gillette enjoyed and employed many forms of transportation at his estate. The Ner-a-Car fell into a unique category that met Gillette's fancy.

Gillette had a large boat to cruise the Connecticut River, which flows past the estate, and two small train systems to transport people around the property.  An interesting and accomplished man who left his history and legacy in solid rock.

Transportation history was further illustrated as an antique car rally was being held in the area and many of the participants decided to visit Gillette Castle at the same time as our visit.  Another impromptu car show on this journey.

Deep River, CT

Miss Ruby is berthed at a marina near the small town of Deep River.  In the search for small, local restaurants with interesting food, the Whistle Stop Restaurant was identified.  Deep River has a railroad museum, thus the name.

The Whistle Stop sure meets the "small" part of the parameters, with only a few bar stools for seating inside.  The majority of the seating is on the sidewalk in front and under a canopy in the back.  It also met the interesting and different food parameters.

The Whistle Stop was celebrating October Fest with breakfast dishes filled with German delicacies.  The huge German breakfasts became the major meal of the day.  Another successful culinary delight search.

Hamburg Cove

To await a calm weather window to continue the journey west on Long Island Sound, Last Dance moored in the well-protected Hamburg Cove, off the Connecticut River, just south of Deep Creek.  There the crew was entertained by wildlife - swans sailing along the cove, gaining speed by raising their wings, using the wind to propel them across the water.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Massachusetts Revisited

One of the enjoyable aspects of cruising Maine is all of the wildlife that one is able to observe.  But, during our 3 months in Maine, we did not see a whale.  Leaving Maine waters on our retreat from the northern latitudes, as we entered Massachusetts waters, a whale came alongside Last Dance and crossed our stern.  They are amazing creatures.  Another wildlife species for the list.

Rockport, Mass

A long off-shore day ended at the small protected harbor of Rockport.  The tiny harbor is crowded, filled with mooring balls, most requiring boats to be moored fore and aft, so that no swing room is required.

Some claim that the most photographed spot in the state is this wall of old, wooden lobster buoys.  The building is located on an ancient stone wharf that juts out into the harbor.  The wharf does have room for about 3 boats to tie to the wall, providing an easier walk to town than a dinghy trip from a mooring.  The stern of Last Dance can be seen at the end of the wharf.  But, being tied to a rough rock wall in an area with 10 foot tides creates an impossible task of adjusting mooring lines and boarding the boat.  Lines required adjusting in the middle of the night.  This photo was taken near high tide.  When the boat was 10 feet lower, boarding was a challenge.

Rockport is a tourist town, complete with the requisite seafood restaurants and gift shops, though enough different and varied to be interesting.

There is more to Rockport than the tourist street along the waterfront.  The small town retains much of its historical buildings.

Rockport offers a protected harbor along the Atlantic Coast, where there are few, and some interesting spots ashore.

Leaving Rockport, the route south is around Cape Ann and past Thatcher and Milk Islands.  For some difficult to fathom the reason, the small island of Thatcher required the construction of two lighthouses, one near the east side and one near the west side.  DeFever 48 Whichaway leads the way down the coast of Massachusetts.

Onset, Mass

Onset is conveniently located at the end of the Cape Cod Canal next to Buzzards Bay.  Stopping here allows the cruiser to time the current through the canal, which can be quite rapid, or to hide from the often rough waters of Buzzards Bay.  While the town itself does not have much to offer, another colorful sunset was added to the collection at Onset.

New Bedford and Fairhaven, Mass

Buzzards Bay lived up to its reputation, getting rougher as the day progressed.  Plans changed and the port at New Bedford was chosen for a protected harbor for a couple days.  To isolate the harbor from the sometimes rough waters in the bay, a hurricane wall has been constructed across the mouth of the harbor.  The long wall serves as a breakwater at all times, and when the water gets particularly rough, there are gates that close the harbor completely.

Waterborne commerce has always been the major economic factor of New Bedford and Fairhaven, from the days of whaling ships to today's fishing fleet.  The harbor is home to hundreds of large fishing boats and the industries that support them.  The harbor is filled with these colorful and interesting boats.

The town of New Bedford is located on the west side of the harbor.  It boasts the whaling museum and has many monuments and much history of the whaling industry. This has made it the most famous of the two towns on the harbor.

New Bedford has interesting old architecture throughout the downtown area, which is thriving and filled with business and commerce.


The town of Fairhaven, located on the eastern shore of the harbor, held much more interest for the Last Dance crew.  Fairhaven was the home of Henry Huttleston Rogers, one of the lesser known of the Standard Oil barons.  He and his wife, Abigal, were very generous to their hometown.  Abigal donated the building above to the town, which still serves as the town hall.  It is an architectural marvel.

The town library is located across the street from the town hall.  It was built by Henry Rogers as a memorial to his daughter, Millicent.  Again, another architectural marvel.

Fairhaven High School, another building donated by Henry Huttleston Rogers.  Glen attended Hillsborough High School in Tampa, Florida. Hillsborough is a red brick and stone, gothic architecture building with stained glass windows and a clock tower.  Fairhaven, too, has an amazingly beautiful, historic building still housing its oldest high school, complete with a clock tower.

One of the benefits of cruising is finding the local restaurants with different and delicious foods to offer.  In Fairhaven, the small Elizabeth's Restaurant, located on a back street, has a reputation for outstanding food.  Chuck and Fabin, the Whichaway crew, and the Last Dance crew decided to add Elizabeth's to their culinary experiences.

A fun decor and lively atmosphere greeted the diners.  It was only a beginning to a great meal and great times shared.

A pear salad might be a common offering on a restaurant menu, but this pearl salad was anything but common.  The menu items all had a variety of ingredients, different from the traditional, and filled with flavor, texture, and color.

Many of the fishing boats in the harbor are scallop boats.  And, many of the dishes offered at Elizabeth's are scallop recipes.  A wide variety of scallop dishes, all delicious and more than could be sampled by the crews.  A good reason to plan a return trip.

Fairhaven: a visit unplanned, but thoroughly enjoyed on the revisit to Massachusetts.