Sunday, 20 May
Time to connect up with our small cruise ship out of Pier #8:
After dropping off some things in the Kia (we did not need for the cruise), It was an easy walk with our bags from the hotel to the ship at Pier #8. Departure is scheduled for 1:30 PM.
This former Naval base is a sparkling example of re-purposing as many of the building / barracks that have been turned into condos and various office buildings (like for lawyers and a few shops). The former base hospital (still a hospital) is large and connected with walkways to the parking garage. We asked if there was a cafeteria in the hospital, and yes there is, but not open on Sunday, so we walked another block and had a bite to eat at Dunkin’ Donuts.
Once we got our bags close to the ship the crew took over and delivered such to our rooms. We entered our rooms (ours 213 / Kemps are in 211 thus we opened the divider wall giving us a long Balcony). This ship was built in 2018, thus everything is shiny new. Our cabin is notably bigger (about X2) then ones we have had on big cruise ships, with a nice Big King bed and all sorts of room to walk around. As you walk the ship there is this smell of New Car (UMMMMM nice). Going to give this accommodation a 4.9 hinge rating (scale of 0-5) mainly because of the ambiance of this overall experience. The staff is a bunch of friendly US young people. The ship has a free self-service laundry with soap pods and dryer softener sheets provided.
Rich and Tom went back over to The Destroyer they could not get on yesterday. This Destroyer was built on the West Coast but was updated / modernized at the Charleston Navy yard. All the upper decks were open for viewing along with the after most 5” 38 caliber gun turret, the ship has five of these turrets, along with a torpedo launching turret, rear rack modern depth charge rack and forward throw hedgehog launcher package.
There were no volunteer veteran guides on board today so access to the engine rooms (or anything below the main deck) was not open to the general public. Although it would have been great to visit these locations, Tom has been in a couple of WW II Japanese “tight” destroyer shipwreck engine rooms in Truck Lagoon, and in the Engine room of the destroyer Laffey in Charleston South Carolina.
Back on our Ship (capacity of 175 passengers) with only around 126 passengers on board for this cruise and a crew of 53, we set sail with sunny skies and 80 F temps (out over the water) during lunch. WOW what an exciting lunch with a great lobster Newburg (first time Tom recalls having such with large hunks of lobster in the Newberg).
It is all the wine or beer you want for lunch and dinner. All the snacks you want are complimentary along with a complimentary cocktails hour before dinner that last until the evening entertainment is over. We were already concerned with all the rich food & drink we have been in taking over the last two weeks, and now previewing the menu for the next 11 days he is really getting concerned about what the scale will tell him when we get home.
The cruise director(s) provided us with a detailed outline of our ports of call and excursions.
The ship is brand new 2018 and started its first cruise out of Lake George central Florida, up to Jacksonville Florida and up the inside waterways through Georgia / South Carolina / North Carolina and then out to the open ocean at Morehead City and terminating in Baltimore. Once the passengers left the ship at Baltimore, the crew sailed out into the open ocean up to Baltimore. Within their open ocean passage, they ran into some rough water.
As we head out into open water (after passing the dual lighthouses at Cape Ann) the coast drifted away off the Port side under blue skies and broken clouds as we headed to our first port of Portland Maine. The seas are relatively nice with 2-3 ft long rollers, but this new big (280 ft. long / 56 ft. wide American flagged) craft plowed north relatively easy.
Tonight’s dinner was MOST EXCELLENT. If this is an example for the rest of the trip we will have to give up eating for two weeks when we get back home. The open bar with top shelf liquors opened at 5:30, with dinner at 6:30 PM. The open bar stayed open until around 10:30 PM after the entertainment ended. Tom thought (was impressed) the open bar at the sub reunion was impressive, but this bar had 5X the verity of different boozes including Tom’s favorite Drambuie (a Scotch sweet liquor).
The entertainment was two guitar players / singers that hit upon all levels of country and folk music.
We arrived in Portland Maine at 10:30 PM.
Monday, 21 May
Wow after this morning’s breakfast Tom thinks he better shift back to yogurt only to save room for all the great lunches and dinners.
We went on a complimentary two-hour bus city tour.
We had visited Portland about 7 years ago and recall the 2# lobster dinner for Yvonne and the largest pile of deep fried belly clams that Tom had ever seen (UMMMMMMM GOOD) at the Portland Lobster company. Also, a recall of that trip was the metal sun art we purchased for our sun room.
The outside temp this morning is 68 F with bright sunny skies and no clouds. Projections is temps will reach 76 F today.
Bus stopped at two prime city overlooks, and the local tour guide did a great job of filling us with all sorts of facts:
• Our guide noted this is a most excellent time to visit Maine as there are fewer tourist and everything is so green & fresh.
• Summer there are a lot of young people visiting Portland.
• Yes, Marijuana is legal in Portland
• Peak tourist season is September through November where everyone wants to “see the colors”.
• She noted this was her first tour of the year.
• Average tide change is around 10 ft.
• There are large oil tanks that were built back in WW II (and since been replaced with new) that took on pipeline oil from Quebec and tanker ships would fill with such in Portland to take to Europe.
• The city has a population of around 60,000, and Maine was once part of Massachusetts back in 1635 but became Maine in 1820 as part of the Missouri compromise.
• All of Maine only has a population of around one million.
• Portland has an older population, thus there are fewer and fewer young people to take jobs, and thus outside European laborers are in abundance during the summer.
• A lot of New Englanders like to retire or have summer homes in Portland because housing is less expensive and there are good health care services.
• Really nice Condos go for about $700,000.
• City has lots of free community garden areas to grow fruits and vegetables.
• The town burnt four times = Two by the Indians, once by the British, and one in 1866 when some fireworks down at the docks got carried away.
• The poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow resided in Portland.
• Gas is at $2.89 a gallon.
• We can see Mount Washington with its snow-covered cap in the distance.
• Beautiful story book homes are everywhere.
• Lobster industry is at around 500 million dollars a year, with a great majority of the sales to China.
• The Catholic faith is the predominate religion, as many ancestors that came to Maine were French Canadians.
• Main is the largest exporter of Blueberries in the US.
• Lobster meat itself (out of the crustacean body) today is going at $7.99 a pound, last winter it was going for $60 a pound.
• The city of Portland, Oregon was named after Portland, Maine.
• In 1820, Maine became a state with Portland as its capital. In 1832, the capital was moved north to Augusta. In 1851, Maine led the nation by passing the first state law prohibiting the sale of alcohol except for "medicinal, mechanical or manufacturing purposes." The law subsequently became known as the Maine law, as 18 states quickly followed. On June 2, 1855, the Portland Rum Riot occurred.
• In 1853, upon completion of the Grand Trunk Railway to Montreal, Portland became the primary ice-free winter seaport for Canadian exports. The Portland Company manufactured more than 600 19th-century steam locomotives. Portland became a 20th-century rail hub as five additional rail lines merged into Portland Terminal Company in 1911. Following nationalization of the Grand Trunk system in 1923, Canadian export traffic was diverted from Portland to Halifax, Nova Scotia, resulting in marked local economic decline. In the 20th century, icebreakers later enabled ships to reach Montreal in winter, drastically reducing Portland's role as a winter port for Canada.
• On June 26, 1863, a Confederate raiding party led by Captain Charles Read entered the harbor at Portland and the Battle of Portland Harbor ensued, one of the northernmost battles of the Civil War.
We stopped at Ft. Williams Park to view the most photographed lighthouse in the US = Portland Head Light, and yes “it was a sight to see”. The light was commissioned by President George Washington. As you look out from the light to the east the next land is Portugal.
There is a memorial to Navy Sub Chaser USS Eagle (PE 56), which was sunk by a U- Boat U853, nine miles off the light in April 1945.
Back to the ship for lunch (we are docked) ---- My word = never had a toasted cheese sandwich stuffed with pulled pork = wow yummy!
The four of us went walking into town (5 minutes away). Stopped at the Three Dollar Dewey’s bar for a little beverage. Reason for stopping is the story of the place = Back many years ago, there was a very large military and merchant marine society in this town with a number of pleasure locations (whore houses) and mounted outside was a sign = $1 “for a lookie”, $2 “for a touchy and $3 “for a Dewey”.
Walked around a number of blocks down town for a little shopping.
Time for the Open Bar and then dinner, as we sail out of Portland at 7 PM. Entertainment tonight was one fantastic banjo player.
Tuesday, 22 May
Bar Harbor ME
Arrive 7 AM
We tendered in on an easy to get on and off ships tender (capacity 50) = Easy 10 minute trip.
We are booked for a tour of the Acadia National Park (the highest point on the coast of the eastern United States, as a side tour offered by the ship. The following are some of Tom’s notes from the tour guide bus driver:
The town of Bar Harbor has a population of around 5,250 and is a most popular tourist region. There was a catastrophic fire that started in the dump and spread across most of the island in 1947, destroying most of the homes of the super-affluent elite and a majority of the trees on the island.
The town of Bar Harbor was founded on the northeast shore of Mount Desert Island (some call it desert island), which the Wabanaki Indians knew as Pemetic, meaning "range of mountains" or "mountains seen at a distance."
The Indians fished, hunted and gathered berries, clams, and other shellfish in the area. The Indians called the island clam-gathering place or clambake place, leaving behind great piles of shells as evidence of this abundance. In fact, when we viewed the beaches on our tour the guide noted the sand was a result of hundreds of years of the Indians fishing, and the resulting clam shells breakup over the years.
The island was discovered in 1604 by the French explorer Samuel de Champlain as a result of running his ship aground on a rock ledge just off Otter Cliffs. Champlain named the island Isles des Monts Deserts, meaning "island of barren mountains"—now called Mount Desert Island, the largest in Maine.
Many artist of the early 1800’s brought back paintings of the landscape of the island, thus inspiring, sportsmen and "rusticators" to come and build cottages & hotels on the island.
By 1880, there were 30 hotels, and the town was renamed Eden. Tourists were arriving by train and ferry to Gilded Age resorts that would rival Newport, Rhode Island.
The rich and famous tried to outdo each other with entertaining and estates, often hiring landscape gardener and landscape architects. In 1918, Eden was renamed Bar Harbor, after the sand and gravel bar, visible at low tide. These bars lead across to local small Islands at the rear of the harbor. The Name Bar Harbor became synonymous with elite wealth, and for example was the birthplace of vice-president Nelson Rockefeller on July 8, 1908.
Bar Harbor was used for naval target practice during WWII with submarines firing live torpedoes at Porcupine Island as a practice target. Some of the torpedoes that failed to explode were still being discovered into 1990.
There are four towns on the island and a total of 10,000 population with ½ of that number living in Bar Harbor. The population on the island jumps to around 35,000 in the peak tourist season of late summer / fall.
The tour director for our bus trip around the town and through the massive area of the Arcadia National Park (on the east side of the island), provided us with some facts:
• Many influential people have called Bar Harbor home for at least part of the year. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., son of John D. Rockefeller of Standard Oil Co., donated about one-third of the land (which eventually became Acadia National Park in 1919 (First national park East of the Mississippi.
• Rockefeller initially built carriage roads all over the island connected by stone bridges. These roads are now used for horses / hiking / biking. Independently there are over 150 miles of hiking paths in the park (THIS IS A BIG PLACE)
• J. P. Morgan owned a house that is adjacent to Bar Harbor.
• Cornelius Vanderbilt built cottages in Bar Harbor.
• The Astor family owned hotels and cottages in Bar Harbor and the surrounding areas.
• William Howard Taft used to enjoy games of golf in Bar Harbor (eight oldest golf cores in the country).
• The co-founder and CEO of Burt's Bees, Roxanne Quimby, has a home near Bar Harbor and is seen frequenting the downtown area.
• The star and creator of the TV show Martha Stewart has also been known to frequent Mount Desert Island and been seen in Bar Harbor.
• Besides ferry service there is only one road (bridge) on and off the island, connecting it with HW 1.
• Biggest employer on the island is the Jackson Labs, which specializes in genetic research.
The drive through the Acadia park is fantastic. There is a shortcut two-way road to allow you to make some shortcuts, but the majority of the roads are one way only but of two lane design (allows for parking in the right lane).
We went up Cadillac mountain, and at 1,500 ft. , it offers a fantastic view. The mountain top is famous with tourists as the first bit of US soil to be touched by the morning sun.
Stopped at thunder hole down from Cadillac where waves cashing in from the ocean enter a narrow channel and break with some THUNDERING sounds into a dead-end passage. They say when the surf gets really strong the crashing ends up with 40 ft. high water gazers.
Returned out of the park after three stops after driving through the valley between two other mountains next to Cadillac. Here we went past lakes that were created by big beaver dams.
Opinion = driving through this area on our own, we would never have picked up on half of the information / stories out of the standard park brochure as compared to what the tour bus driver related to us (Tom noted the same observation as when he went through Yellowstone).
Tuesday, 23 May
Arrive 10 AM
Oh, what a beautiful port with all of its’s tall ships schooners (tall ship capital of Maine). WOW it is starting to be hard to pick the most photogenic port as everyone so far has their special charm.
After breakfast we went via the ship’s launch on an easy 1-mile ride (about 15 minutes) into town on Penobscot Bay. The skies are a bright blue with air temps around 68F.
The town is full of quaint shops (with great deals). As we were walking the street a local lady came up to Tom and commented on his submarine memorial shirt from the Wisconsin Maritime Museum and identified that her husband was in the Navy for 26 years and had been on a number of submarines, and then she started to offer all sorts of the towns historical information. She then offered to take us to the top of Mt. Battie which overlooks the town (no charge as she loves to share her town with visitors), so the four of us got into her car and we went up to Mount Battie Camden Hills State Park, where we received a most spectacular view of the city / harbor / Bay from the stone tower at its top. The air was so clear you could see Mount Cadillac 75 miles away.
At this point is a 26 ft. tower (exact replica of the stone tower in Newport Road Island). The car ride up the 1.6-mile road is the way to go although you can climb the mountain from the town on one of the parks 25 miles of hiking trails. This is a must see point if you ever make it to Camden Maine. Our resident guide noted as you drive up HW 1 along the Maine coast you usually never see the water unless you go off the road to visit some of the shore towns (like those we have visited on the cost trip by boat), with the exception (as example) of Camden where you come close to a beautiful town on Penobscot Bay.
She drove around town and pointed out some of its history, such as the old woolen mills which use to be the towns #1 employer. Interesting is that the mill has now been turned into condos, and the mill power wheel that use to run the facility in its beginning now stands idle along the fast-moving river from the mountain that empties clear water into the bay.
After our free guide tour she dropped us back in town where we bid her a “Thank You”. Wow the people in Maine are SOOO friendly.
So far on this cruse we have had wonderful views of uninhabited islands, coastal mountains, Lighthouses and beautiful homes. Our stops in Maine have all been towns and ports of true jewels of this state! When we drove Route (HW 1) up into Canada seven years back, we saw very little of the coast north of Portland.
We pulled up the anchor and headed the short distance (one hour by boat) to Rockland Maine at 5:30 PM, while we sat down to a lobster dinner. OMG! A full Maine lobster to tackle was a little overwhelming! We had a lot of laughs at the table as all of us struggled to get the taste morsels out of those shells!
Entertainment tonight was a fantastic guitar player by the name of Tom Dyhrberg. He played songs from the 60s and popular American music that we could sing along to, and a few songs from local, Maine artists.
The City of Rockland has 8,000 residents There is about a mile-long granite breakwater that protects Rockland Harbor and lighthouse that appears to make it an ideal power boat and sailing harbor.
Report # 7
Thursday, 24 May
Looked out this morning over Rockland harbor and that mile-long breakwater out to the lighthouse it looked a lot longer today then on our arrival last night.
Skies are clear with lots of sun and only a slight wisp of a small cloud in the distance. Morning temp is around 63F.
Our tender ashore was a short 8-minute boat trip, where we picked up our Lobstering and Lighthouse tour / cruise on a lobster boat out of all places = Camden where we were yesterday. Camden is only about 8 miles away by road, so our bus tour guide offered lots of information:
• Rock Port is between Candem and Rockland, thus all three towns share an almost common single city environment (sort of like Two Rivers and Manitowoc back in Wisconsin).
• Gas is running at $2.99 a gallon
• Rock Port is home to that famous harbor seal that was on the news a few years back (local raised him from a pup).
• Rockport is historically known for harvesting Ice from the local ponds for ice boxes way back when, Ship building, Lime production (kilns that heated the limestone from quarries to make lime for concrete mix) and this is where the movie Paton Place was filmed.
• Tourist book one day or one week or two-week trips on sailing schooners that go up and down the coast.
We pulled into the dock area very close to where our ship anchored yesterday and got on board the lobster tug “Lovely Lady”, which took us out into the harbor and pulled up three of their lobster pots while giving us the “how to” things are done in Lobster fishing / trapping:
• Commercial fisherman are licensed to put out / set 800 cages per ship’s captain, but private individuals or tourist attraction boats can only put out 10 traps.
• The modern traps are made of metal (wood was used years ago) and are of rather intricate construction, with multi labyrinth sections (chambers) to trap the little buggers.
• New Traps cost about $100 + a marker buoy and rope, which is also necessary.
• On our way out to the traps we came across two bald eagles, one Osprey and four harbor seals.
• Of the three traps we pulled up (and rebated) the first two only had crabs and small Elvis eels (Elvis eels go for $2,000 a pound = they are shipped live to China where the Chinese put them in their rice pond farms to eat up some invasive critters that attack the rice. Once the eels get big there is also a big market for them as food (supposedly very tasty) = we recall seeing all forms of eels in the markets of China when we were over there two years ago.
• Young lobsters molt (shed their outer exterior skeleton) about 25 times in their first year of life, and then on average once a year after that.
• Lobsters live out in deep ocean water and come inshore to shed their external skeleton. They come Inshore (around 29 ft. depth) because it is full of rocks where they can hide until the molt and thus in a location when they are a little safer until there new soft shells harden.
• Lobstermen have a special gauge (about 8” long) to measure between one of the eye sockets and the back of the back shell where the tail starts. It usually takes around 7 years to reach keeper size bugs.
• If a female with eggs is found they notch the tail and must throw it back.
• If a female with a notch cut in the tail and no eggs is found in the trap, they must throw her back (reason being the notch is a proof of breeding quality).
• Our third trap had 8 lobsters, but all were undersized and had to be thrown back.
• Harbor seals are called “Sea Dogs”.
• There is one factory in Rockport that provides a lot of employment. It processes seaweed to make Caridean. Coro dean (? If this is the right spelling) is used in cosmetics and as a food additive.
Yesterday a local resident (Pat Brouchard ) in Cadmium spotted Tom’s shirt displaying Submarine history. She stopped to talk to us noting her husband was on submarines, and that she was a lifetime Camden resident. She went on to give us a rundown on the town’s history / features and then took us in a ride in her car (no charge) showing us all the highlights of the city. Unfortunately, Yvonne’s cell phone was left on the back seat of the SUV seat as the lady dropped us off at the dock area.
Realizing we were missing the phone, Barb had been telling her daughter about it and Angie suggested using the Samsung 6 phone APP of “Find my phone”, and sure enough Yvonne was able to locate the lady’s house via a map on her I- Pad. After accessing her account, she clicked on “find my mobile” and a google map appeared with the location of the phone!! Wow this is a very neat feature!!!!!!!!!
We stopped at the Rockland Chamber of Commerce and one of the ladies (Elizabeth) drove us to the house (at no cost) where the app said the phone was. The lady was not at home, but the car was there and sure enough the phone was on the back seat of the unlocked car. No doubt, we felt kind of weird just taking it without telling her, but after all, apparently, she didn’t know it was there and we had no way of contacting her!
This event / scenario was like a mix environment of the amazing race and a scavenger hunt!!!! Wow there were four happy faces within this successful scenario.
Back at the town we thanked Elizabeth and went off joining everyone else off the ship attending a lobster boil lunch put on by the ship. The location under sunny skies at Sharps Point was under a large tent where big pots (covered by seaweed) being heated by wood fires cooked up the lobster and corn. The location is right next to the fantastic the Sail, Power & Steam museum.
The guy running the museum was an X ship’s captain retired – HE NOTED = He had failed at retirement = Became so involved with running the museum and finding this and that item to add to his collection!
Yesterday on the ship there was an OK lobster night, but this Boil on shore put on by the town’s people outdid the ship’s effort. We do not know if it was the most perfect day under blue skies, in a large tent, with five folk singers keeping us entertained with their songs, or the mussels and corn that went along with “ALL THE LOBSTER and Fixings you can eat” but the product was totally delicious. Tom had never had mussels before and was amazed at their great taste.
Departed Rockland at 5:00 PM and headed to Boothbay Harbor and ----- oh my-gosh Dinner was a gigantic Clam Cake and most succulent rib eye steak (smothered in sautéed onions).
The entertainment tonight was our ship’s resident historian talking light Houses on the Main coast and Great Lakes. Turns out his Great Grandfather was a light house keeper on the Greatlakes and Maine, so he put on a story from his grandfather’s perspective. Bottom line outline is the responsibility of the keeper was to WRITE EVERYTHING down in GREAT DETAIL within the station log, keep an immaculately clean station (subject to inspector WHITE and BLACK glove inspections) and go out to help those in distress on the water --- But with an understanding YOU MAY NOT BE COMMING BACK!!!
FRIDAY, 25 May
Days get ever so better, with warm weather (around 78 F) and slight overcast conditions.
We decided not to go on the botanical garden tour (only tour offered by the ship), but rather walk the town, and try to get a cab or UBER car to the Maine Museum in Kennebeck River (about one hour away). No luck on UBER or any cab availability, as it appears the services of such most likely do not get going until mid-summer. Soooo we just walked around the city and stopped into 101 high end junk shops and artist studios.
Some interesting points that may prove of interest to you:
• This part of Maine is known as Cape Newago, where the English established an early seasonal fishing camp.
• The settlement was attacked and burned twice during King Philip's and King William's War’s in 1686, and then abandon.
• In 1730, the superintendent and governor of the Territory of Sagadahock, laid out a new town, named Townsend. Despite predations during the French and Indian Wars, and robberies during the Revolutionary War by marauding British sailors, the settlement was successful, not least because of its large, deep and protected harbor.
• Renamed Boothbay in 1842, the harbor developed into a fishing center. In bad weather, the bay can hold at time between 400 and 500 vessels, seeking shelter. By 1881, it had a fishery and fish oil company, an ice company, two marine railways, a fertilizer manufacturer, and a factory for canning lobsters.
• The shipyard at Boothbay Harbor built minesweepers for the United States Navy during World War II and into the 1950s.
• Some location filming for the 1956 movie version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel, notably the "June Is Bustin' Out All Over" sequence, was done here.
• Each summer, Boothbay Harbor draws crowds of tourists. Attractions include the state aquarium, art galleries, restaurants, boat tours to coastal islands and whale watching.
Departed 6 PM for Gloucester Massachusetts arriving around 3 AM (So long Maine).
Tonight we had some great entertainment with the Davidson County Trio playing / singing “rockability” music of Johnny Cash, Elvis & Jerry Lee Lewis.
Saturday, 26 May
Another great day with air temps at 80 F and clear skies. This is the start of the Memorial Day weekend and the locals tell us we will expect to see a lot more people than normal. With Tom’s look around, we see a very nice environment with nothing like what we would expect to see let’s say up in Door County on a summer day.
The Town is very easy to walk around, and the museum and shore walk are both very close to the center of town and our ship dock; but we decided to take a bus tour, so as to get the scoop from a tour guide on this place and most important to get out to East Gloucester, which would have been a LONG walk before our sailing at 12:30 PM:
• Gloucester is just a few miles from Boston, and is famed as America's original seaport and the oldest working art colony in North America. The town’s picturesque waterfront has drawn fishermen, artists, and visitors for over four hundred years.
• Rockport and Gloucester are basically one big island, with over 60 miles of coastline.
• This is a big commercial fighting town, with large ice storage warehouses that supply the ice for the fishing fleet.
• Lots of Harding and Black and white sea gulls. Harding’s are a lot bigger then the gulls we see in the summer back in Wisconsin.
• Gas is running at $2.95
• There are two tides of about 8 ft. (up / down / up down) every 25 hours.
• The homes going out to East Gloucester are all cottage like, but once you get along the water you start to see mighty big ones that start at around one million and upwards to 10 million dollars.
• The area has some nice sandy beaches.
• Off the beach you see a strange sight with a small island with two lighthouses. On average most lighthouses mark the entrance to ports, with the rest marking hazardous areas. Yes, this small island is a sailing hazard, but it was fitted with two lighthouses to help mariners mark due North or south, as when you align both lights in front of one another you can verify or adjust your on-board compass against the magnetic interferences at this point of the earth (well that is Tom’s opinion and he is sticking with it).
• There are three BIG wind turbines at a high point above the town. There was opposition to them as they did not quite fit in with the environment of a historical sailing past, but conservationist won out and the windmills were justified as providing the power to run municipal services.
• We viewed an 1849 Marine Railway (Oldest still operating in the US) designed to pull ships up out of the water for repair / servicing.
• Wale pods (groups) spotted off the entrance to Gloucester at times have been so thick, that cruise ships have had to cancel coming into port.
• The famous “Man at the wheel” bronze statue is truly something to see, thus we all took turns taking our picture with him.
• The plaque along the statue noted in remembrance that around 5,368 sailors (fisherman) have lost their livers off this coast, along with >1000 ships of which 265 went down with all hands.
• The Movie Perfect Storm was shot here with the land scenes shot in and around the museum waterfront.
• The heritage population of the town is mixed but with the strongest group being Italians.
• Each year there is a special contest where an Italian flag is placed on a greased poll out in the water, with the first person that can get to the top and retrieve the flag; being rewarded with free drinks in all the towns bars for one full year.
Another great lunch on the ship = toasted cheese sandwich with lobster for Tom.
Set sail at 12:30 for New Port for an arrival of about 10:30 PM.
Report # 8
We sailed down the seven-mile-long canal constructed in 1901 thus bypassing the actual Cape Cod Hook as a shortcut to Newport. Tom had been out to the end of Cape Cod several years ago and Tom & Yvonne got up to the base of the area forming the hook of Cape Cod, but neither of us had an idea of this shortcut canal for ships and boats (something like the canal at Sturgeon Bay bypassing the Deaths Door) existed. The beaches and walkways along the canal were very populated with people waving at our big ship.
Entertainment tonight was three guys on instruments and two singers. The music = 80’s Mo town and thus not quite to Tom’s liking / interest. The beat was OK, but it was hard to understand the words, and the group did not appear to be well organized!
Newport RI arriving at 10:00 PM
Sunday, 27 May
Yvonne & Tom were here in Newport about 7 years ago twice. Once where we visited the Breakers mansion (one of the Vanderbilt’s turn of the century 70 room (65,000 ft2) “summer cottage” and then again, a couple of days later when Bud & Joann gave us an excellent driving tour from Boston down to Newport (Bud is a former college history teacher, thus filling us up with excellent historical references) followed by a great champagne sail around the harbor of Newport. On that sail we came close to Fort Adams, and Tom’s interest really peaked with a water only view.
Today we are docked at the foot of the fort (one block away) and our complimentary tour starts at 10 AM and went on for close to two hours where our great guide (Greg) took us all over this gigantic fort. WOW it is a big place!
From our great tour guide:
• The fort is built on a peninsula sticking out into the bay at the entrance to the city of New Port.
• Newport, RI boasts one of the finest natural harbors in the world.
• Town’s population is around 25,000
• Back at the beginning of the last century; Newport was considered the upper-class society’s getaway from New York in the hot summer
• Fort Adams was one of several forts between Maine and Florida ordered to be built after the British burnt the Whitehouse in 1814 (as part of the US & Brittan’s war of 1812).
• Why such a BIG fort (the parade ground in the middle is 6.5 acres)? = At the time Newport was the 5th biggest settlement along the coast, and thus was considered an important point to defend as the British navy used it both in 1776 & 1779, thus it was considered an easy back door port for a land invasion of Boston = should such occur at a future date.
• The construction of the fort started in 1824 and was not completed until 1857 (33 years).
• Building the forts left a tremendous manpower shortage everywhere, so the government imported 400 Irish laborers, with the understanding that they would also gain American citizenship.
• The area was more Protestant and Puritans, so when the Irish with their families showed up, it strongly shifted the ethnic balance in the area toward Catholicism.
• Fort Adams was designed by a French Engineer who incorporated the most leading edge defensive designs learned from the past.
• This fort never was involved with a physical attack on it; thus, the US Parks system will not classify it a National Park, rather it is designated a State Park.
• This Fort is so big the Newport Jazz festival is held on its grounds.
• The fort was armed with hundreds of 24 and 32-pound cannons (the weight designation is the weight of the cannon ball).
• Each cannon had an 8-man crew that were expected to be able to fire and reload within 30 seconds.
• There are smoke chimneys above each enclosed gun battery to allow the smoke from the firing of the cannons to vent upward out of the space.
• There is a small island (Goat Island) east of the fort where women built torpedoes for the Navy during WWII.
• Beyond the massive walls of the main fort, there are all sorts of labyrinth passage ways on the land side that presented killing fields to attackers.
• There are 23 major and minor personal narrow tunnels under the walls connecting these killing fields and listing post. Solders were expected to be able to travel (know from memory) all these passages in the dark.
• In the initial building of the Fort the tunnel areas were dug first (thinking / planning ahead) then enclosed within vaulted, brick walls and overheads, followed by the forts walls over them.
• Some killing field structures outside the main fort are connected to the main fort by 8 ft. tall underground tunnels (8 ft to allow a soldier to run down the tunnel with his tall rifle to a gun slot).
• Beyond the 8 ft tunnels there are connecting 5 ft. hi tunnels that acted as “listening post” to detect enemy action trying to tunnel in and under the fort walls to blow them up. These shorter tunnels were also available to plant explosives under enemy positions outside the wall (a mind field).
• As part of the tour we went down (they gave each of us large beam lights to carry) many of these 8’ and 5’ tunnels = we are now qualified Fort Adams Tunnel Rats.
• During the civil war the fort was upgraded on the ocean side with bigger guns.
• At the beginning of the civil war and because Annapolis was in Maryland (unknown if the state would go north or south), it was decided that the US Naval academy should move to Fort Adams until the end of the war.
• During WW1 & WW II large costal guns were installed in batteries internal & external to the fort, and the fort itself upgraded to accommodate solders in enclosures once used for the old black powder cannons. At this time the fort became an army luxury billet for the military with many of the former cannon battery areas turned into new purpose locations like two lane bowling alleys / basketball court / recreation rooms. They even developed a baseball diamond and football field on the old parade grounds.
• In 1954 the army abandoned the fort and turned it over to the Navy which had built a base outside the old fort area. The Navy wanted to tear down the fort and use the millions of tons of brick and granite stone to be used as seawall material. The state stepped in and said no (thank goodness); that they were willing to take over the fort as a state park.
• For years before the state could do anything with the land, the fort was left abandon, with locals coming in to salvage anything they wanted, additionally Newport kids would come in and have parties or vandalize the facility. The state stepped in after some kids were injured and installed gates to keep everyone out, and finally started to clean up and better manage this historic location.
• Interesting feature around the openings of all the gun barrel openings in the forts walls = they used brick, as such would be turned into power dust if hit with a cannon shot from the outside and thus not injure the gun crew inside verses if the granite wall of the fort would go right up to the opening = if hit by shot would turn into rock shrapnel and thus injure the gun crew.
The girls caught an UBER car ride to go the short distance into Newport and Rich and Tom went on a walk around the other side of the fort on a 2.2 Mile path around the peninsula on the navy base side to see some of the WW 1 & 2-gun batteries. We came across one Grand home labeled “The Eisenhower House”. This was President Eisenhower’s summer white house. All the old navy housing in the park have been turned into low cost condos for military retirees, and if they cannot get retirees to rent the units, they are open to the public to rent (no big thrills here and the units rent for around $2,800 a month (our guide for the tour lived in one of these units).
Because of our location, the ship’s tender was made available to us to “go into town (Newport) for sightseeing and shopping” but because of the rain drizzle, and rough water that showed up in the afternoon, they canceled that option.
Rich and Tom arrived back at the ship just in time to get onto the bridge tour by the captain:
• For insurance purposes there are no tours of the engine room, but there is a video display of the engine room up on the bridge.
• On a normal underway watch there are two people on the bridge, no one in the engine room and there is a third person on patrol as the fire / below decks watch.
• Ship has two (direct drive to the shifts / 6 ft tall propellers) diesel engines, and three diesel engines driving the electrical generators. There is a large backup Koehler generator topside over the bridge.
• Ships max speed is around 13 knots (15 MPH).
• There are three electric thrusters in the hull (two forward and one aft). When they run the thrusters, they dedicate one of the diesel generators to their operation.
• The owner of American Cruise Line is a former aviator, and directed the bridge lay- out (controls & visual displays) of their fleet of all their big ships to have similar controls / lay out as fleet captains / crews easily move from ship to ship to work.
• Ship carries enough fuel on board to make it across the Atlantic.
• All the water on board is via Reverse Osmosis units.
Tonight, was the Captain’s dinner, preceded again (as always) with an open bar (every night) with enough high octane refreshments to float the ship.
Entertainment tonight was the Don Pride Duo who presented an excellent mix of Jazz, country, Rock Roll and 60’s&70’ Music. These guys played and sung with words you could easily understand!
Most of our entertainers had a base guitar player in the group.
We sailed for Martha’s Vineyard MA at 2:30 AM.
Monday, 28 May
As we dock in Vineyard Haven Harbor in the town of Tisbury, we viewed the charm of this seaside village island and two beautiful anchored black dog two mast brig tall ships (Shenandoah & Alabama) swinging at their moorings right next to us.
Went ashore and ran into all sorts of Black Dog shops / taverns / eateries. Story of the Black dog is = back about 40 years ago the individual that had built the Shenandoah (about 50 years ago) was friends with one of the ferry boat captains, and the ferry boat captain came across two puppies, giving one (a black pup) to the Shenandoah’s owner.
The Shenandoah’s owner would take tourists out on sailing trips and always took the black dog with him, as the dog took to life on the boat like a duck to water. The owner of the Shenandoah opened a bar and restaurant naming both “the black dog”. The waitresses at both locations would wear T shirts with the name Black Dog and a representation of the dog on the back; with the patrons literally tried to purchase the shirts off their backs thus ---- AHHA the guy running the tavern figured out what an opportunity to sell “stuff / souvenirs”.
We walked up the hill about 5 blocks out of town to John’s fish market / Sandy’s fish & chips deli; qualified by locals as “having the best clams on the island”. The four of us shared an order of clam chowder (5X better than any chowder we have tasted so far on this trip) and belly clam strips (nothing like the meager strips you get back in the Midwest.
We went on a Lighthouse & Cottages Tour of the entire island:
• During the 18th and 19th-centuries, Martha's Vineyard was a hub for merchant ships carrying exotic cargo from the far corners of the world.
• The 10 x 10 (100 square mile) island is about 5 miles off the mainland.
• The island is one of the most popular vacation spots in New England, comprised of six distinct towns.
• Our trip around the island visited the towns of Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven, Chappaquiddick and West Tisbury.
• Each town has their own grade school, but there is only one high school on the island.
• Behind Las Vegas Nevada, Martha’s Vineyard is #2 for destination weddings.
• There is only one NATIONAL commercial fast food shop on the island = Dairy Queen.
• There are about 20,000 full year residents. The population soars to around 150,000 residents in the summer with an additional one million nonresident visitors through the year.
• Trash processing cost residents $5 per bag.
• A lot of the historical first residences to the island came from Portugal.
• A lot of the movie Jaws was shot along the beach of Oak Bluff. The guide noted Spielberg started filming in April and it was COLD. Movie shooting did not end until December. The mechanical shark did not work very well, and Spielberg noted he never wanted to come back to the vineyard again.
• The bridge at Chappaquiddick is no more as so many people wanted bits & pieces & parts of it, that the town had to replace it with a new one.
• Going through Ocean Bluff was very interesting as the area was originally a large Methodism revival tent city community that turned into small houses (gingerbread houses) that over time replaced the field of tents used by the revelers.
We all went on a tour of the ships galley (kitchen) = Wow what a tight space.
Wow people (onboard friends and crew members we have made strong contact with) are starting to get a little upset that our cruise is starting to wind down. As Yvonne puts it “strangers are just friends you have not met yet”!!!
We sailed at 5 PM and headed back into Buzzards Bay towards the Cape Cod Canal.
We expect to arrive in Provincetown MA around 11:00 PM.
No musical entertainment tonight, rather we had a lecture on the Revolutionary War, which Tom appreciated but no new news on the subject that Tom was not already aware of.
Tuesday, 29 May
We went on the towns Trolley Tour:
• The morning temp started at 72 F and climbed to 77 F (under clear skies) through the day.
• This town is like a mix of Door County and Key West Florida but MUCH BIGGER.
• The base of the cape was formed by a glacier around 18,000 years ago and the hook sand dunes formed over time.
• There is a large gay community on the cape, which seems well respected by most.
• Population in the off season runs around 3,000 (a rather ghost town) and goes up to around 60,000
• Flowers are exploding (in peak color) everywhere.
• The Pilgrims in the Mayflower originally landed on Cape Cod, and found it covered with trees, but little fresh water or game. This is where they settled for a while and drew up their Compact (Constitution of Government) while they were anchored off Cape Cod and before they sailed on to Plymouth on the other side of the cape.
• Early inhabitants cut down all the trees and let their sheep & Cattle strip all the grasses, thus, the area stayed rather barren until Cape Cod National Seashore park was developed on the coast side facing the mainland.
• Today with managed planting the evergreens are back, and hardwoods are starting to flourish.
• Over 3000 ships have been lost over the past 300 years off the cape.
• Piracy off the cape was a very serious problem. One local group called the MOON CUSSERS would extinguish Lighthouses and set up false beacons, causing ships to run aground and then attack the vessel and rob it. They were called Moon Cussers because they would cuss the moon as it would lighten the seas and passing ships would not be fooled by the false lights.
• There is a historical road here = Route 6 which is the first transcontinental road going West 3,205 miles to the West Coast.
• This area in Tom’s opinion is a more interesting place to visit then Martha’s Vineyard or other South Carolina beaches we have visited. Again, we are not here when Thousands of tourists come in the peak summer. Tom’s opinion is you do not need a room on the beach but rather any hotel (and there are a number of them in town) would do and you can easily hike the town and parks or better yet rent a bicycle with free helmet (cost = 24 hr.=$23, whole week =$65 and enjoy!
Trying to plan ahead and balance our already booked OAT trip in Feb 2019 to the Amazon, Machu Picchu & the Galapagos ---- We (and Rich & Barb) booked an 8-day cruise with American Cruise Line for 5 October 2019 on the Columbia & Snake River between Spokane and Astoria. By booking onboard we (total for the two of us) saved $2,131 (if we later booked on line the only “special” savings promotion would have been $800 total for booking 9 months or more in advance).
Boston MA arrive 10:30 PM
Wednesday, 30 May
Disembark 8:00 AM
Sure, hard saying goodbye to a lot of new friends and the great staff of this ship.
Sone observations about the American Cruise Line Constitution from Tom’s bias opinion
• You can order ½ portions for a meal.
• The staterooms are large.
• Ship is a nice brand-new shinny ship.
• Very friendly crew.
• Large launch that was used at two of our stops (where we did not tie up to a dock); was easy to get in and out of.
• Ship has an open (free) bar every evening offering top self-liquor.
• Cabins have very large comfortable king beds.
• Rooms have large 42 “flat screen TV’s, with a wide selection of channels.
• GPS display on the TV of ships position is very informative.
• We were able to open the divider wall on the balcony between our two rooms.
• Housekeeping staff kept everything neat and clean while being almost invisible.
• Ship has free self-service laundry with free soap and dryer softener sheets.
• All tips are included in the price.
• Very good entertainment each night.
• Each port fit our interest.
• Complimentary tours were excellent.
• The few Extra cost optional tours were relatively inexpensive.
• This was a great time of the year to do this trip, as all the foliage was spring fresh / green and there were no summer crowds.
• The entire crew are all US and thus ENGLISH is well used.
Things the ship could improve on (suggestions):
• Bathroom door needs a bumper, so it does not bang (damage) against the outer door.
• Do not serve the ships lobster feast the day before the FANTASTIC shore Lobster Lunch.
• The bathroom could be 1” wider (comment is from Tom who is into Human factors engineering).
• Live or soft background music would have been nice during the evening meal.
• Some of the soups could have been hotter.
• The chef needs to improve the New England Clam chowder to something like what we on our own experienced when we had lunch ashore on Martha’s Vineyard at Sandy’s fish & Chips = More cream base!
The crew on board that really made the trip:
• Dining Room = Corry / Rachael / Kara / Brandy --- All most excellent and FUN!!!
• Cruise Directors = Hannah / Kayla / Brittany --- Always kept us yellow bumble bee coat people going and feeling like friends.
• Hotel Manager = Nick --- Very knowledgeable
We easily took our bags to the parking garage ($10 a day with the discount for staying at the Constitution Inn before the cruise.
On the road by 8 AM
Driving West on the toll road HW 90
Nice well-maintained road.
Gas in Mass = $3.18
Gas in NY = $3.08
Very Picturesque going through the East End Of NY.
Land sort of flattened out in the East end of NY.
East NY has farmers already taking off the first crop of hay + corn is starting to come up.
Pulled in west of Buffalo at a Hampton Inn (Buffalo South). Hotel is about 15 years old and is well maintained, giving it a 4.2 hinge rating (scale of 0-5).
Outside temp 93 F under clear skies.
We hiked about a mile to an Irish restaurant for a great meal.