Monday, October 14, 2013

Rockport in the Rain

Lee wants one more cruise on the sailboat before we take it out the water for the winter, so in between our trips to Minneapolis and Missouri we decide to sail up to Rockport Massachusetts, a little tourist town on Cape Ann. Wednesday is a beautiful sunny day. We take our time and get to the boat early in the afternoon, with enough time to load up the boat, motor over to Beverly to fill up on diesel, take the dogs for a walk, and go out to dinner in Salem, Ma. Although Halloween is a month away, the town is already gearing up for their biggest holiday of the year. They milk being the site of the infamous Salem Witch trials for all it's worth, never mind that this occurred over 300 years ago. But we won't be anywhere near Salem on October 31st, so we don't mind the occasional costumed bunny or pirate for now, and the dogs don't notice a thing.

This is our 3rd time going to 62 Wine Bar for dinner and once again we have an excellent meal. This time we try a couple of the starters, fried cauliflower and bruschetta; the arugula salad, and a couple of the specials, a lamb ragu for Lee and lasagna for me. It's so nice to find a consistently good restaurant, and it's only a couple of blocks from the marina too.

Thursday is another beautiful sunny day. After an easy run and breakfast at a nearby coffee shop we're ready to head out. The only problem is there is absolutely no wind AT ALL, so we end up motoring to Rockport. We even put up the sails but it's more for forms sake than anything else and we never bother to turn off the motor.

Rockport's harbor is really, REALLY small. It looks like a miniature harbor, for dolls maybe, and is very picturesque. I would be totally enamored if it wasn't so narrow and shallow, and it didn't happen to be low tide as well. The Harbormaster wants us to tie up to a little floating dock, instead of picking up a mooring ball, so we have to scramble to put up the fenders and the dock lines. I look apprehensively at this bouncing platform that I will now be expected to jump upon to tie up the boat. Suddenly I realize that the Harbormaster is coming to my rescue. He zips over to the dock in his boat, ties up, and nimbly catches the dock line I gratefully hand to him as we near the dock. Saved!

We grab the dogs and head out for a look at the town. Rockport is very cute, and full of tourists, much more so than any other place we have been so far except Plymouth. I wonder if this is the early contingent of the leaf peepers. The leaves are just starting to turn along the New England coast however, so they may be disappointed.

In the morning we wake to still clear skies, but we can see rain clouds moving in. There is plenty of time for a short run, shower and breakfast, however. There is only a 20% chance of rain so we should be fine, right? Uh no. By late morning it is raining hard. We had toyed with the idea of just motoring around in the boat, since there was still no wind, but now we decide to ditch that idea and just hang out in Rockport for the day.

One of the nice things about being stuck on a boat can be the enforced idleness. I read, relax, snack and catch up on my blogging (or try to anyway). My tired marathon muscles don't mind the enforced inactivity at all. My training plan has lots of rest days built in but sometimes I end up spending those days cleaning house or gardening. Here on the boat I'm doing some much needed resting and my body appreciates it.

In the afternoon the rain lets up for a bit and we take a walk to the other end of Rockport. We walk down a little street that leads to some nice views of the harbor. The tides here seem very extreme. From what we've heard this is what the ports in Maine can be like, showing a difference of 10 feet or more between high and low tide. The change here seems to be a good 8 feet. It's kind of astonishing that the water level can change so much over 12 hours.

That evening we leave our guard Westies on the boat and try out a Yelp-recommended restaurant called My Place. Very good, a bit pricey, and kind of French. I have swordfish that is just melt in your mouth, Lee chooses a slightly spicy fisherman's stew. This restaurant is now Nill-recommended as well!

I liked Rockport, but there were an awful lot of tourists there. I imagine mid-summer is very congested, and the chances of getting a transient mooring would be virtually nil. But for an early fall midweek destination it works out just great.

Saturday morning it's time to head back to Salem. The rain has stopped but the ocean looks like glass and there still is absolutely no wind. The one good thing about this is that without the complication of wind I manage to bring the boat up to our mooring ball without incident. It's good to have my last attempt of the year be successful, even though by spring I will probably have to learn how all over again.

We have to take the sails down before we drive home, so that the marina can take the boat out of the water sometime in the next couple of weeks. I thought it was going to be a big hassle but we work pretty well together and get the job done fairly quickly. It's also time to haul the dingy back home on its little trailer. On the way home the leaves seem to have suddenly turned all sorts of colors. Fall is here!

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