Marblehead to Annisquam!

Marblehead, MA (Saturday, 7/1)
We got lucky!  We secured reservations on one of only 2 town mooring buoys in Marblehead, a place we both have wanted to go to for a while.  It is home of the Boston Yacht Club (one of the oldest in the country) and a huge sailing location. Since it is only 13 miles from Boston, it was an easy cruise and so we said good-bye to Boston and the Constitution marina. We had fun here and we were very happy that our unintended stop worked out so well.

Leaving Boston

It was an uneventful cruise to up the coast and when we rounded the point and entered into Marblehead Harbor.

Marblehead Light

Almost instantly we were amazed at how crowded the place was.  By far this was the most crowded mooring field we have ever seen. The boats are really close together and navigating around them to find the open mooring ball we were assigned was challenging.  We managed to locate it and luckily it was not too far from the dinghy dock on the western shore of the harbor, so getting to shore would be a breeze.

Marblehead Harbor

Also near shore was a park (Croker Park) located on a hill that overlooks the harbor.  We could see a tent and hear music performing and later learned that this was the weekend of the “Marblehead Festival of Arts” and the music venue was this park.  Wondering just how loud the music would be at bedtime, we were now wondering if we were lucky or if we would we regret this location.  We had flashbacks to our month in Key Largo when our boat was 100’ from the loud restaurant and bar near our dock.

Crocker Park & Harbor Masters office

We ate lunch and then launched the dinghy to go to the harbormaster’s office and check in.  It took us awhile to find him as we learned the Harbormaster here is also the Harbor Patrol (i.e. water police) and they were out patrolling the harbor.

Dockmaster Office

Eventually, we were able to check in and then went for a walk to explore the area.  We walked around the neighborhood near the waterfront area, then up through Crocker Park where we learned about the festival.

Festival Bandstand

Then we walked by the Boston Yacht Club and through the historic homes area where there are many (restored) homes that were built in the mid and late 1700’s.

Boston Yacht Club

At Boston Yacht Club

At Boston Yacht Club

House from 1767

HIstoric District Homes

We continued our adventure down Washington Street and to Washington Square, where we discovered the “art” part of the festival.  It was very interesting but small so it didn’t take long for us to get through it.

Art Festival in Washington Square

So, we continued on our walk and discovered “Schubies” – a local market with a huge deli, housewares and cooking store.  This was a foodie paradise and we spent lots of time here tasting samples and discovering new things (gadgets) that we really didn’t need.


After this we walked around the other shops in the area, and then headed back towards the boat, taking a different way. This alternate route took us past more historic homes and down to the handful of waterfront shops and restaurants that were very touristy.

Washington Street

We were trying to figure out what to do for dinner, and whether to go to mass now or in the morning.  The church was back in the direction we had spent all day exploring and we didn’t feel like walking back there. Plus, it was hot!  We opted for a cool drink aboard the boat.

On the way back we ran into the dockmaster and he suggested “Maddies Sail Loft” for dinner, a place we had walked past on our way back from downtown today. He also asked if we had gone to see the “Spirit of 1776” – A famous painting that is housed in “Abbot Hall”, which we had unknowingly walked right by when visiting the art festival. We made a note of it and decided to try and hit it on the way back from church tomorrow.

We headed back to the boat for refreshments and noticed a boat on the mooring behind us was a Gold Looper that we had seen before. We were unable to remember when we saw “Adirondack”, and we made an attempt to go by and talk to them, but they were not on the boat and we didn’t get to talk with them.

Gold Looper Adirondack

In the evening we took the dinghy back to shore for dinner at Maddie’s Sail Loft as suggested. When we walked up the stairs and entered the place (via the bar) we saw their t-shirts for purchase. On the back of the shirt is a list of the “Top 10 Sailing Bars in the World”, of which Maddie’s was one.  The funny part was we had been to 4 others of these on the list. I am not sure what that says about us!

T-Shirt at Maddies Sail Loft

We had a good meal and when we left the place was packed.  So, we were fortunate we had arrived early.  We walked back through the waterfront park before heading back to the boat for the night.  Expecting to be hearing the music festival all night long, we were pleasantly surprised when it stopped at 9:00 pm, allowing us to get a good night’s rest.

Annisquam (Sunday, 7/2)
Much to Mark’s chagrin we had to wake early and head back to shore for a 7:30 am mass at (surprise) “Our Lady Star of the Sea”.  It is a beautiful church with a large pipe organ in the balcony and lovely stained glass windows.

Our Lady Star of the Sea

Inside Our Lady Star of the Sea

Inside Our Lady Star of the Sea

After church we stopped at Java Sun Coffee Roasters to get coffee for Denise (and breakfast muffins), preventing us from having to run the generator on the boat.

Muffin from Java Sun Coffee Roasters

We were not in too much of a hurry to get underway as there was fog in the harbor, we were timing the tides for Gloucester, and we only had a short distance to travel for the day.

Morning fog in Marblehead

Given that, we decided to walk back to the boat via the route that would take us past Abbot Hall.  Although officially the museum didn’t open until later, we managed to sneak into the building when one of the art festival volunteers left the door ajar just as we were approaching the building.  We acted like we knew exactly what we were doing and went inside.  (Easier to ask forgiveness then permission…)

Once inside the building we discovered we were unable to get inside the room where the “Spirit of 1776” is housed, but we were able to see it through the glass doors.  We walked around the rest of Abbot Hall and then decided it was time to leave – before we got arrested for trespassing!

Abbot Hall

Abbot Hall Plaque

“Spirit of 1776”

Once back at the boat, we noticed the fog had lifted and we made plans to leave.  Of course some lobsterman placed a pot right near where we would have otherwise maneuvered!  We wanted to see more of the eastern shore of the harbor, so we cruised around for about 15 minutes, checking out the other yacht clubs and mansions.

Here are some other pictures from Marblehead:

IO at Marblehead mooring

Marblehead homes from the water

Eastern Shore – Marblehead Harbor

Once out of the harbor we made a direct course heading for the entrance to Gloucester harbor, passing Baker Island and other rock outcroppings and small islands.  We entered Gloucester Harbor staying closer to the western-most shore which allowed us to see Hammond Castle and some of the homes that are on the hills.

Leaving Marblehead – looking North

Hammond Castle Museum

Gloucester Light

Downtown Gloucester

As we were not staying in Gloucester, we did not go to the inner harbor located on our right (starboard), but rather headed towards the waterfront walkway.  Here is where the Beauport hotel is a key landmark to the east, and the famous Gloucester Lobsterman Memorial was dead ahead of us.

Beauport Hotel – Gloucester

Tavern on the Harbor in Gloucester

Lobsterman Memorial

After requesting an opening we turned into the narrow opening of the Blyman Bridge and entered the Annisquam River.  As luck would have it, there were a few other SPOREs ahead of us and kicking up the waves, making it a nail-biting passage.

Blyman Bridge – Entrance to Annisquam River

Annisquam River

We got through without incident and then proceeded through the shallow and narrow turns all along the Annisquam River.  We took this route so that we would not have to go around Cape Ann, and because we had reservations for a mooring ball at the Annisquam Yacht Club on the river.  We were here visiting Orlando friends who have a (summer) house in Annisquam and we had been in touch regarding our afternoon/evening activities.

After picking up the mooring ball and eating lunch, we took the dinghy to the shore that is just under the house owned by our friends Liz and Mark (and son William) Zeitler.  We were met at the dock by Liz with a big hug and her warm smile.  What a welcoming!

We walked up the hill and got a tour of her barn-turned house that had been in her family for generations.  It is not glamorous by any means, but it homey and has an awesome view of Ipswich Bay and the Annisquam River.

Liz’s Place

Liz’s Barn

We met the company they had visiting; friends Randy & Sarah with their son Brian, and fellow-FSU alumni Hillary & Scott.  They all made us feel very welcome and we enjoyed getting to know them a bit.

We went for a walk to a vista to see the Annisquam Lighthouse and then climbed up to where Squam Rock was.  This is a rock that everyone tries to go up, but there is little room to get a running start which is required to get high enough on the slippery surface to gain footing and grab onto a crevice. William made numerous attempts, but was not successful.  On the other hand, Scott was able to make it on his first attempt, which is one more than Mark, Denise or any of the over 30-crowd made.

At Annisquam Lighthouse

Squam Rock

Scott is King of the Mountain

After our walk we determined it would be better if the dinghy was on the other side of the inlet near the yacht club docks.  This would make it easier to get back to the mooring in the dark, and we wouldn’t have so far to go.  Feeling adventurous Mark moved the dinghy by himself through the inlet, and Denise & Liz took the car down the hill to meet him.  Liz then gave us a mini-tour of Annisquam and then we went back to the house for happy hour.

Annisquam Library & town buildings

In the meantime Mark Z. had been preparing a feast for us. He is an awesome cook and served a terrific dinner of lobster and corn. It was so delicious!

Mark Z.

Table is set for the feast

At Liz’s in Annisquam

After dinner we went outside to watch the awesome sunset and to see the fireworks across the bay.

Gathering at the Barn

Liz’s dog Skye

Sunset at Annisquam

Sunset over Ipswitch Bay

We stayed until we could no longer keep our eyes open, then Liz drove us back down the hill to the yacht club to get our dinghy so we could go back to the boat.  We thanked her for her wonderful hospitality and we promised to connect when we are back home. It had been a terrific day and we were beat!


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