Dering Harbor – Shelter Island, NY (Wednesday, 6/21)
We left the dock at Greenport right after Mark finished his client conference call at 9:00 and immediately went to the pump-out station. We were anticipating being on a mooring for the next few nights and wanted to start with an empty tank. We had also topped off the water tanks to ensure we had plenty of water onboard for cooking, but also for showers. It is amazing what you take for granted when you can’t just turn a faucet and magically the water appears. When you live on a boat (even part-time), you have to become your own utility company and make sure you have plenty of water, electricity (battery) and the sewage system is good “to go”.
After the pump out we cruised the 2 miles across the Peconic River to Dering Harbor and grabbed the mooring ball we had reserved in advance. This requires a little skill to master the art of picking up the pendant (if there is one) to catch the line, and then securing your boat’s bridle system to the ball.
Mark was responsible for this part while Denise drove the boat; aiming perfectly and not too fast or slow to make the pickup. Unfortunately, it took two attempts because the current pulled us just a bit too far from the ball on the first attempt. But we nailed it the second time around.
After securing the mooring ball, we ate lunch, did a few things on the boat, and then went on a dinghy ride to the “town” area on this part of Shelter Island. Once on shore, the first thing we had to do was check in and pay our mooring fees. We went to “Jack’s Marine” (who owns the mooring field) which is a True Value store, but also sells all kinds of other things. Here they have paints, hardware, toys, housewares, boat spare parts and many other things; you name it, they have it.
We walked around briefly to the 3 other places that make up this “village”, including a beach shop where we purchased t-shirts. Afterwards we took the dinghy around the harbor to see some of the other boats, as well as the sights on shore.
We had been in touch with Bruce (“Shenanigans”) who has a car on the island. He agreed to give us a quick tour of Shelter Island. So at 4:00 we met back at the dinghy dock on shore, and then we walked to his car at the end of the “village”; about 400 yards away. This is not a big place!
Bruce took us all around the north and western part of Shelter Island, including through some of the inland villages and the Shelter Island Country Club where we were able to shoot some pictures.
He told us that this club is open to the public and they have no irrigation, so in August the fairways turn brown and the rocks are exposed, making for an interesting bounce on the ball. As we were leaving the course, we spotted two deer; a doe and her young fawn, but they moved too swiftly to capture a picture.
From there he took us by the north ferry dock (that comes from Greenport), on the western shore. The commercial vehicles were already all in queue to get off the island after a day at work. People in the “trades” cannot afford to live on Shelter Island, so they are forced to commute here daily via the ferry. At the end of the day they queue up to get back off the island, along with departing tourists and the usual commercial traffic.
From there he took us along the beach road past where Itzhak Perlman has a music training center (The Perlman Music Program) where young musicians of rare and special talent are welcomed into a richly supportive musical community. The center provides intensive summer (and other) musical training programs for students ages 12 and up. Who knew this was here?
Continuing through the middle of the island we drove on beautiful tree canopied roads that were hilly in parts, but flat in others. We ended up back north of Dering Harbor and then over to Little Ram Island where we were able to see Coecles Harbor; a place we had also considered visiting. It sits in around a natural preserve, and while beautiful we are not interested in visiting this part of the island by boat. We were also able to see across the bay to the southern fork of Long Island and Bruce suggested we should definitely visit that part, especially Montauk if time permits. We agreed and have decided to come back that way, since it is a short hop from Block Island.
Unfortunately, it was time for Bruce to take us back to Dering harbor. He had out-of-town guests who rented a house on the island and he needed to get back to them. We thanked him for his generosity and shared wealth of knowledge about the area. We learned a lot and now know we have to hit a few other places on the way back home (like Sag Harbor).
Shelter Island looks very much like parts of Maine and New Hampshire, and even the homes have that New England look to them. We can see why many people like this area as it is really pretty and has a lot to offer, either by car (via the ferry) or by boat.
We made our way back to the boat via the dinghy and prepared a dinner of leftovers. We watched the sun set over the harbor and heard the cannon shot from the Shelter Island Yacht Club to mark the occasion.
Boston, MA (Thursday, 6/22)
We went to bed with plans of leaving in the morning to go to Cuttyhunk, MA which is in the Elizabeth Islands at the tip of Buzzards Bay. From there we planned to cruise north stopping in Plymouth or Situate and get to Boston by Saturday. Unfortunately, the weather had other plans. We had checked the forecast for two days out earlier in the day and it looked ok for Thursday and Friday, but iffy for Saturday. But when Mark checked the update at midnight; it was not looking good for Friday.
The sun was up at 4:45 am and so was Denise, with Mark rising at 6:00 am (ah the Summer Solstice) we looked at the weather and shelved going to Cuttyhunk. While Thursday was going to be a good day, Friday was going to be windy and Saturday was going to be awful. While we could still easily get to Cuttyhunk, we may not be able to leave there when planned. We knew we needed to get north of the Cape Cod Canal today or we may get stuck and not make it to Boston for Sunday. So at 6:30 a.m. we left the mooring at Dering Harbor.
We cruised out of the area and into Block Island Sound under almost perfect conditions; light wind and 1 -2 foot swells with long periods in between. As we made our way east and got closer to Block Island, we encountered some areas where the currents created quite a chop on the water, especially when mixed with the wakes of passing sports fishing boats or other cruising yachts. Denise was really glad we came through here on a “good” day as we have heard stories about how rough this open water can be, even though the coastlines of Rhode Island and Massachusetts are well within sight the whole way. It was also helpful that it was still early in the morning as the winds had not yet started for the day.
We were going to need fuel before getting into Boston, and Mark had researched a place in New Bedford, MA that we could get a sufficient amount that would get us to Gloucester where it is significantly cheaper. However, it would be a 7-mile diversion up the Acushnet River off of Buzzards Bay – meaning a 15 mile round-trip excursion. We had considered this as a stopping point early in our planning as there are two cities here; New Bedford, and Fairhaven on the other side of the river and both are behind a very large hurricane breakwater that protects the harbor. There is a very large fleet of commercial fishing boats that line both sides of the harbor, and there are working yards and marinas all around.
We arrived at Sea Fuels Marine and took on 100 gallons from a very customer-service oriented young man. He was great in helping us tie to the rough dock designed to handle large commercial boats, and was efficient at handling the fueling. In no time at all we were back on our way and out into the river.
As we cruised through Buzzards Bay we passed the Elizabeth Islands (and Cuttyhunk) and eventually Woods Hole to our right (starboard side) in the distance. Here the Bay is at its widest, but begins to narrow as we continued northeast. Then Buzzards Bay turns into the Hog Island Channel and the community of Onset on the Left (port side), until it eventually ends into the Cape Code Canal.
From at least 5 miles before you come to the Canal you can see the railway lift bridge which is just inside of the Cape Cod Canal. At the entrance to the canal is the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and their training vessel the “Kennedy” which is also visible from afar. But before you get there you have to get through some swirly water.
The Cape Cod Canal can have currents that can run as fast as 5 knots, and when there is a tide that conflicts with the direction of the wind it can get really rough in this area. Ideally we would have liked to have arrived at slack tide or with a tide flooding to the Cape Cod Bay, but we were too early for that and had to fight the remnants of an outgoing tide working against us.
Once in the canal we passed beautiful homes and scenery along the way, as well as a walking trail that lines many parts of both sides.
We went under two bridges; the Bourne Bridge and the Sagamore Bridges, and passed other boats of all types along the way. Fortunately, we did not encounter any barges or commercial traffic.
Throughout the day we had been calculating and estimating where we should end the day. We had earmarked Plymouth and Scituate as possible stops but both left us with still needing to get to Boston under not so perfect conditions tomorrow. We had decided to wait until we were through the Canal and assess the situation then. Since it was still early enough in the day, we had plenty of daylight left, and we had near perfect conditions on the Cape Cod Bay, we decided to press on to Boston. In the meantime we had called the Constitution Marina in Boston where we had reservations starting on Saturday and confirmed they could accept us a few days early. So we pressed on!
It really was a spectacular day on the water and there were a few pleasure boats that we either passed, or they passed us. The Cape Cod Bay turned into the Massachusetts Bay and it was mostly flat seas with little waves. We were cruising a few miles off the coast of the mainland, and yet we could see Provincetown on the tip of Cape Cod, nearly 15 miles away.
Soon we approached the entrance into the Boston area, but first we had to negotiate past numerous islands of rocks. While the channel is well marked, it is narrow in some places and the rocks make it quite intimidating. There were also a handful of other boats (sail and power) that were in the channel or trying to cross the channel, making it a bit stressful.
Finally we passed through the numerous small islands and entered into Boston Harbor. To our right was Logan Airport and to the left was downtown. Here the boat traffic was much heavier and we had to negotiate around ferries, party boats, water taxis and other pleasure boats. It was just like NYC harbor all over again.
We cruised through the downtown area and made a left turn up the Charles River to Constitution Marina. We were assigned the end spot on the transient dock where Mark did an awesome job of backing the boat in front of a large power boat. The dockhands were there to help guide us in, tie our lines and hook up our power. We were very grateful for their assistance as we were quite tired. We had traveled 165 nautical miles; our second longest day on the water since we acquired our Island Office.
In addition to being tired, we were hungry. After checking in at the office we took showers and walked the half mile to The Warren Tavern for some good pub food that someone else cooked and cleaned up the dishes. The pub was founded in 1780 – kind of young by Boston standards – and still has all the earmarks of an old building from the 1700’s. The food was your typical pub fare and delicious and filled us up. Once back on the boat, it didn’t take long for us to call it a day; we were exhausted as it had been a long, but fun day.
Boston, MA (Friday, 6/23)
Happy to be tied to a dock and have shore power, we earmarked today to be a “work” day. We both had some catch up work to do, emails, and office duties to do for the business. Then there was the domestic work which needed to be done. Denise did laundry and cleaned the inside of the boat, while Mark scrubbed the salt off the outside of the boat.
We also spent some time researching what we wanted to do in Boston over the weekend. While Denise would be here all week, Mark would not and we wanted to make sure he got to see some of the sights as well. It was a pretty uneventful day, but we got a lot accomplished and felt good about our weekend plans.
In the evening we went for a walk around the entire 250-slip marina. Since we were in the “transient dock” section we have limited visibility to some of the other boats, so we wanted to see more. We meandered up and down the piers and met some of the locals who had come down to their boats for the weekend. The marina was hopping as the season was in full swing and they were all out having cocktails or bar-b-queuing their dinners. We also encountered another Back Cove owner and stopped to talk with him for a while. We compared notes and shared ideas about things to do on our respective vessels.
Eventually we made our way to the other side of the marina where they have house boats that you can stay on. Yes, this marina has a “Bed and Boat” program where you can rent a boat to stay on just like a hotel. Some are house boats, and others are sailboats, and they seemed to be quite booked up. This is a good thing to know if you ever want to visit Boston and can’t get a hotel room.
After our walk we went back to the boat and called it a day. We felt good about what we had accomplished and had a plan for the weekend.
Boston, MA (Saturday, 6/24)
We knew we had to do some provisioning for the boat and Boston afforded us plenty of resources, so today was errand day. It started with a walk to the CVS, nearly ½ mile from the marina. This also gave us a chance to get the lay of the area around the marina, which is mostly residential with the exception of a Residence Inn right next door.
There is also an office building of some kind across the street and the Naval Ship Yard (which houses the US Constitution) about a block away. Oh yes, in the backyard of all this is the Bunker Hill Monument. Not a bad sight when you wake up every morning.
After we returned from our walk we hailed an Uber cab to take us to a nearby shopping area that included a Target and a Costco. It was only 5 miles away, but too far and dangerous for us to ride on our collapsible bikes. Plus, there was no way for us to carry all our purchases back to the boat. So after Costco, we used our iPhone app and requested an Uber cab. This was the first time we had to wait a while (15 minutes) for an Uber driver, but eventually one showed up and delivered us back to the boat.
When we returned to the marina, we found the dockhands were in the process of repositioning our boat further down the dock to enable room for a bigger boat at the T-head. Originally we were on the very end with the bow sticking out a bit. However, a new boat would be coming in where the previous Burger yacht was and it needed more space. So, the dockmaster and dockhands waited for us to get our purchases on board, then along with our assistance they untied our lines, electricity and water hookup. They pulled our boat about 50 feet down the dock and hooked it all back up as if we had been there all along.
During this process we met Bob (“Travail”) who was on the boat now right behind us on the dock. He is from New Hampshire and was on his boat visiting. He has 3 daughters and one of them (Lauren) who lives in Boston was staying with him on the boat. He had the boat in Boston (down from NH) for the next several weeks and was very helpful in sharing information about the area. However, we couldn’t talk very long as we had to get moving. We had a baseball game to go to.
Our adventures for the day continued with an Uber cab ride to Fenway Park and to watch the Boston Red Sox play the California Angels. Since Denise was a big fan of the Angels when she lived in Southern California, and her family has always been big Red Sox fans, this was a “Bucket List” item we could not pass up.
We arrived in time to grab some (not so healthy but delicious) food at the park and get to our seats for the “first pitch” and the National Anthem. We had pretty good seats in the next to the last row on the first level, between home plate and first base so we were not in the hot sun or in the way of a fly ball that could hit us.
The game was exciting from about the 4th inning and we enjoyed all the trivia and entertainment offered, including singing Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” – a now-famous tradition at Fenway Park. It got particularly exciting when the team manager was evicted from the game after a controversial call on the pitcher, that got disputed and tempers flared. In the 7th inning the Angels got some hits, but the Red Sox could not answer back and the Angels won the game. We were a little disappointed, but ok because we had a great time. A quick Uber ride back to the marina and we climbed into bed after another very full day on this adventure.
Boston, MA (Sunday, 6/25)
As much as we wanted to sleep in this morning, we had lots planned for the day so we had to get on with it. We started with church at St. Mary & St. Catherine of Siena, a combined parish the result of Catholic Church closings here over the last decade. It was a beautiful old church and was the closest one yet to our marina; less than ½ mile away.
After church we played “tourist” for the day. It started with us catching the “Trolley Tours” hop on/hop off trolley bus which we were able to pick up right near the marina. This is the same company that also does the ones in St. Augustine and a few other cities in the US. Although there were numerous stops around the city of Boston, we stayed on for most of the way. We wanted to get a feel for where things are in this city that we had driven through so many times, but never really visited. It was great fun to ride past MIT and the Charles River, around Copley Square, near Prudential Plaza and by Fenway Park. We covered a few other historic areas and neighborhoods, learning the history and hearing of the famous people who lived there.
Around lunch time we got off at Quincy Market and spent some time walking around seeing all the numerous shops and food stalls. Eventually we settled on one that offered a clam chowder lobster roll combination with a drink. This tourist-priced meal cost us $40, but was delicious and we enjoyed it.
After lunch we walked around the area and then walked to Faneuil Hall. We arrived in time to listen to the 15 minute lecture about its use as one of the first places where ideas for independence from Great Britain were formed. Here was the site of several speeches by Samuel Adams, James Otis, and others. The hall is still in use today for town business, and in fact right after the lecture there was to be a city maintenance meeting and they were setting up for it.
We walked back to the wharf area and investigated taking the harbor tour that was included in our Trolley Tours ticket, but there was a 45 minute wait for it. Since it was hot and getting late, we opted not to do this and instead went back to pick up the next Trolley Tour. By now the area was really crowded and there was a wait for the trolley. It was really hot outside and they passed out paper fans for people to use to try and keep cool. We were thinking a covered awning would have been a better investment.
Finally the next trolley came and we got on and finished the last few stops. We got off where we started by the marina, which was also right at the Navy Yard where the USS Constitution was in dry dock for rehabilitation. “Old Ironsides” was open for tours, so we decided to see this magnificent ship that withstood cannon fire and still stands today.
We walked back to our boat to get out of the heat, have some adult beverages, and eat dinner on board.
After dinner we explored the park on the other side of the highway next to the Residence Inn. There is a walkway that runs the perimeter of the water around our marina, under the Charlestown Bridge, and along the Charles River. Denise wanted to understand how the path leads to stairs that can take you to the bridge as a possible walking/running route. To our surprise, on the other side of the Charlestown Bridge there is an entire lock system that allows boaters to traverse from the Boston Harbor to the Charles River. From our marina we had seen boaters stop just before going under the US1 Bridge but never knew why they were stopping; now we know they were waiting on the locks.
In addition to the locks, there is a large park area south of the bridge and all along the Charles River. We took it only so far but it appeared to go at least to the next bridge – the new I93 Bridge that we have driven over many times before.
It was a great discovery and a great way to end our day weekend in Boston.
Boston, MA (Monday, 6/26)
Today Mark had to leave to go see a client in North Carolina. So we were both up very early so he could get a cab to go to the airport. Logan airport is so close and we can see the planes land and take off from the marina. But we were told that he should allow one hour to get there as the rush hour traffic is so bad. He took a cab and it took only 20 minutes, but it was better to be safe then miss his flight.
All day Denise kept to the boat. She worked on office related matters, did a little work for the clients, read hundreds of emails that had been in queue, and did a little planning for upcoming ports of call. It was some much needed quiet time and the day flew by.
Boston, MA (Tuesday 6/27)
Denise started the day with a 4-mile run down the path near the locks. She discovered that the park and route continued all along the Charles River, past MIT and further then she would run. There was one place along the way where she had to cross an intersection, but with a pedestrian crosswalk and several other runners also waiting, it was not a big deal.
After the run it was another day of sticking close to the boat and doing some reading. The Waterway Guide we have includes places to go in Maine and there was much to learn. So she read about the numerous places to go, and identified possible routes to take to get there.
Also during the day Denise talked with her Boston friend Nancy Lively; they had been trying to find a way to connect during the week, but it doesn’t look like she will get a chance to see her. She will try and connect with us when we come back down the coast on the way home.
Rain threatened all day with overcast skies and no sun, but it was muggy and required the air conditioners; Denise felt like she was back in Florida. All around us it was raining, but our marina seemed to escape any of it. However in the evening it poured, with lots of thunder, lightning and wind. It was quite spooky for Denise, especially being alone on a boat, but it died down in time for her to get a good night’s rest.
Boston, MA (Wednesday, 6/28)
The day was started with a little more office work for the embroidery business, but quickly moved into an adventure. After completing her chores, Denise used the path and stairs to the Charlestown Bridge and walked across the river to the Boston Public Market, about 1 mile from the boat.
Here she found a place that any “foodie” would love. Located near one of the big subway (called the “T”) and bus terminals in downtown Boston, it is full of vendors selling all types of fresh food items. Everything from hydroponically grown and shipped lettuces, to cheeses, sausages, fresh produce, honey, and of course seafood. After walking around and exploring, she purchased some fresh cheese, and knew she had to eat lunch here. She scoured each vendor and decided on seafood ordering a delicious smoked salmon burrito. The thing was so huge she could only eat half and took the rest home for dinner.
After the Public Market she walked back to the boat to store the purchases and decided to see what groceries she could get at the Whole Foods near the marina (by the CVS). However, this was not a successful trip. When home, we only shop at Whole Foods for certain items (usually produce) because of how ridiculously overpriced the most basic items are. Today’s experience was no exception and left her longing for a real grocery store where a bottle of diet tonic water doesn’t cost $4. How “organic” can diet tonic water be anyway? Oh how we really miss Publix!
This then became her mission to find a decent grocery store (thank you Google maps for locating a “Stop N Shop”), and develop a scheme for how to get to the closest one (3.5 miles away).
Boston, MA (Thursday, 6/29)
In the morning, Denise headed out to accomplish what she had planned the night before. Her mission was to get in a run, sightsee, and get to the “Stop N Shop”. First she ran the ½ mile to Bunker Hill to see the monument and the park around it. Since it is visible from the marina and part of the Freedom Trail, it was easy to get to.
Then she took off to go to the store. Most of the area was residential streets initially, but then she came into a traffic circle that was very busy with cars and trucks. She managed to get through successfully due to the kindness of a semi-truck driver who let her cross in front of his truck in a turning lane as there was no cross walk. Then she ran through another neighborhood until finally she reached the store.
Once through the doors it felt like grocery heaven. She could find all the products she was used to seeing and found more reasonably priced items, including diet tonic (2 for $1). Loaded with now bags full of groceries she took Uber back to the boat and spent a half hour trying to find places to stow all the items.
In the afternoon there was work to be done for a client, and a conference call with them.
Late in the afternoon, Bob (“Travail”) invited Denise to join him and his daughter Lauren (and two of her friends) for dinner. They were going to get pizza at a well-known pizza place that was on the other side of the bridge in the area of Boston known as the North End.
We left the marina walking under the bridge and towards the locks but took a pedestrian path that passes along the back of the locks that we didn’t even know was there. This way negates the need to use the stairs and cross the river via the bridge. It was a great discovery as it saves time and is safer. But what is also cool is there is a set of “chimes” (called the “Charlestown Bells”) that you can ring along the fence of the walkway. I am sure most people walk this path every day and don’t even know it exists as it looks like it is part of the railing. However, when you walk by if you push the levers the chimes are struck making a sound like hand bells.
We continued our walk until we had arrived at “Regina Pizzeria” a very small, but famous pizza joint. Even though we arrived at 5:30 pm, we still had to wait in line to get a seat. But it was worth the wait as the pizza was really good and by the time we got in the line behind us was quite long. We ate, drank some beer and got to know each other a little bit. It is always fun to listen to young people and hear what they are talking about; their jobs, dating, hopes for the future.
After dinner, Bob, Lauren and Denise walked further into “Little Italy” where Bob insisted on treating me to Vittoria’s and a 3-dessert special: spumoni, Sambuca, and a cappuccino to top off the evening. No calories there!
We walked back to the marina via the same pathway we used to go to the North End and we were treated to an awesome sunset along the way.
It had been a fun adventure, all the while Denise was learning from a “local” about the places we passed for the best of everything Boston’s North End had to offer.
Boston, MA (Friday, 6/30)
Mark was supposed to leave North Carolina on an early morning flight and arrive in Boston by noon. From there we were going to explore other parts of Boston in the afternoon. Unfortunately, his flight was delayed out of NC due to a broken plane and he was not able to get to Boston until late in the afternoon.
So, Denise went exploring on her own. She walked to the “T” station near the TD Garden at the end of the pathway near the locks, playing the Charlestown Bells when she came to them (of course). Then she took the “T” to Boston Commons and walked along Boylston Street to see the sights.
From there she continued to Copley Square where they were having a farmer’s market and to see the Boston Marathon Finish Line.
Her goal was to see if she could buy some Boston Marathon memorabilia (Like a “Boston Strong” shirt) at “Run Base”, the official store for the marathon. But, she could find nothing that warranted a purchase and moved on to the Prudential Plaza across the street.
It was really quite hot outside so she stayed inside walking back through the shopping complex and up through Lord & Taylor instead of on the street. Eventually she returned to Copley Square and walked around the farmers market before heading back down to the “T” station. From there it was a quick trip to the North station near the TD Garden where she passed the Bobby Orr statue.
All week long we had been looking at the Converse Headquarters, and knew there was a Converse store at the base of the building, not far off the pathway. So on the way back to the boat she decided to see what they offered in the store.
Their selection of apparel was very limited to a handful of t-shirts, but their shoe selection was extensive. But the really cool thing was they offered the ability to print any image on certain model shoes, and they will do it while you wait. The also offer the opportunity for you to custom make your own shoes from a large selection of fabrics, patterns and styles. These are cut in the store, but shipped off for assembly elsewhere, and then they are shipped to you some 4 or 6 weeks later. It was fascinating to learn about all this from Converse. Since it has been years since I have worn their shoes, I had no knowledge of even what styles they offer today, so it was a huge learning experience.
After leaving the Converse store, it was a short bell-chiming walk back by the locks to the marina and in time for Mark’s arrival.
It was good for Mark to be back home on our tiny house on the water but we didn’t waste any time before heading out to dinner. We decided to go to Giacomo’s; a place Denise had been too years ago with Boston friend Nancy and remembered how good it was.
There is always a line and so we left early to try and stymie the wait. However when we arrived a line had already formed.
This place is small but the tables turn fast as they waste no time in getting your order and your food. It was as delicious as remembered, and we had leftovers to take with us back to the boat.
Along the way back to the boat it started to drizzle a bit, so we HAD to dart into the 24 hour bakery and pick up a few cookies and sweets to take back with us. Then it was back down the path around the locks, once again chiming the Charlestown Bells one last time before we head north.
Tomorrow is Saturday and we will leave Boston and head north to Marblehead.