SOUTHBOUND LUNACY 2023: Phase One; Portsmouth NH to Newport RI


Oct. 26/2023:  Rather than shoot from Portsmouth to Newport all in one go, as has been my past practice when heading south for the winter, I wanted this year to make a little cruise of it and see some sights along the way. After 10 days at the Wentworth Marina seeing to this and that, I struck out solo on October 18 at midday in windless conditions and motored first to Rockport MA, not very far south at the end of Cape Ann, and anchored off the beach outside the tiny Old Harbor Yacht Club basin (see photo up top). After visiting with an old friend here, I had a quiet night aboard with a fine view of the backside of the Shalin Liu Performance Center.

The splendid performance center, as viewed from Lunacy, with a performance in progress


Leaving Rockport the next morning, I had a mild to moderate southwest breeze to lean against as I sailed my way down to the Boston Harbor islands. I’ve always been curious about this little archipelago, and though I’ve sailed in New England waters much of my adult life, I have never visited there. Given the increasing breeze, still southwest, I decided the best place to park was on the northwest shore of Peddocks Island, where I picked up a mooring (with an extremely slimy pennant!) in Perry Cove.

This surely is NOT a quiet place to enjoy a sunset. I sat agog in the cockpit, watching a steady line of planes landing at Logan Airport just four miles away, all much closer together than seemed safe from a distance. Meanwhile, another line of planes was taking off, just as close together, screaming by directly overhead. Eventually, however, the planes stopped flying and I had a quiet night’s rest.

Next morning I went ashore to explore.

Lunacy moored at Peddocks Island with the Boston skyline in the background


One of several small cottages on the island that are still inhabited, mostly in the summer. In the past there was a grand hotel on the island to receive visitors and also a makeshift community of Portuguese fishermen


A helpful sign behind the beach where I landed. The ferry lands at the old fort on the other side of the island


A hawk hunting for worms on the grounds of Fort Andrews, at the north end of the island


The chapel at Fort Andrews, built during World War II, is still well maintained. During the war, Italian prisoners captured in North Africa were housed on the grounds and seem to have lived fairly well. They worked in the port of Boston during the day, loading munitions on to ships bound for Europe, were allowed to guard themselves while on the island, and on weekends got to go on leave in the North End, where some romanced and eventually married Italian-American women they met


An over-grown mortar battery. These must have been very big mortars!


A tree stump made into a throne


From Peddocks I sailed deeper into the harbor that afternoon and took a slip at Constitution Marina for a few days. My wife Clare stayed aboard the first night after landing at Logan, I went home to Portsmouth with her the following evening to receive dinner guests, then returned to continue the cruise the day after that.

Lunacy in the marina, with a fine view of the new Charlestown Bridge under construction. I used to drive down from Portsmouth and cross the old bridge, which was much less arty and more prosaic, every weekday to go to work at SAIL’s old office in the North End. A lot has changed since then! Clare and I had a lot of fun poking around both sides of the river


Seen in the North End: the Sacred Alley of the Saints


Seen in Charlestown just as I was leaving the marina: USS Constitution being extracted from her berth by a tug for her annual about face


From Boston I made a beeline, first under power, then under sail, for the Cape Cod Canal. Carrying on with my great string of perfect timings from last fall, I arrived at the east entrance at Sandwich just as the current turned in my favor.

I reached the west end of the canal just as the sun was setting. As soon as I was through, I hooked a quick left and had an anchor down in Phinney’s Harbor off Monument Beach just as the night closed in


Next day I had an easy sail in a rising southwest breeze and made it to Newport by mid-afternoon. I was surprised to see this monstrous thing parked across the bay in Jamestown. I’m told it’s a device for planting more giant windmills off Block Island


Now I’m waiting for two crew to join me here and watching Hurricane Tammy on weather charts circling about just off Bermuda. With any luck she will lose steam and peter off to the east, and I will sail out of here on Saturday with the combined NARC and Salty Dawg rallies. Fingers crossed.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I originally wrote and planned to publish this on October 26, as shown in the dateline leading the first paragraph up top. For some reason, however, I could not properly access WaveTrain’s back end with my portable laptop computer while in Newport, hence this late publication. I will follow up with a description of the rest of Lunacy‘s transit south ASAP. Cheers!

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