Many years ago, Rob’s brother, Dave, and his wife, Nancy, who live in Albany, NY bought a vacation condo in Rockport, MA where they (and their two kids) often spend the weekend as well as extended vacation time. What a great surprise to learn that the weekend during our stay in Gloucester would coincide with their plans to be at their condo! Plans were quickly made to meet them at noon at Captain Solomon Jacobs Park on Harbor Loop on Saturday, the day before our departure.
Travelling by RV, our vehicle is always available to us for sightseeing, running errands, just taking a drive or any other activity but obviously not the case when travelling by boat. We are not aware of a way to tow a car with a boat! :>)
Not being long term cruisers, this was a major adjustment for us to switch our mode of transportation from our wheels to our feet. Although there was a grocery store within a mile of the harbor, the thoughts of lugging bags of groceries, hiking back to the dock, then waiting for a pick up by the launch wasn’t exactly appealing. In the future, we’ll have to get used to this. Not on this trip though, thanks to Nancy and Dave, who with no prompting from us, immediately offered to take us to a local grocery store. We went to Market Basket, a few miles away, so we could stock up on supplies. Awesome!
Once that task was finished, our next destination was a visit to their condo in Rockport which we had never seen before. Their lovely, cozy and beautifully decorated condo is a perfect size and in a perfect location, close enough for them to enjoy all that Rockport has to offer but far enough away from the mayhem created by the crowds of this very popular tourist destination especially during summer weekends!
At Dave’s suggestion, we went for a stroll. As we headed a few blocks towards the town pier known as T-Wharf, the first image in the harbor to greet us was the iconic red fishing shack. Known as Motif #1, it was originally built in 1840 but destroyed during the Blizzard of 1978. An exact replica was constructed that same year. It is considered to be the most painted and photographed building in America and the symbol of Rockport although one wonders how they know that. Read about why it is called Motif #1 in this article or watch the video below produced by the Chronicle TV Show (one of our favorite shows back home) on WCVB in Boston.
Continuing our stroll, we headed to Bearskin Neck where quaint little studios, shops, and restaurants lined the narrow streets of this bustling artist colony. Always fun window shopping. Being a Saturday, it was very busy!
There are three popular theories as to why it is called Bearskin Neck. The most popular is that it received its name from a fisherman who saw a bearskin that Ebenezer Babson left on the rocks to dry. Seeing his nephew getting attacked by the bear, Ebenezer intervened, luring the bear into the water. Although he had no gun, he ended up besting the bear with his trusty fishing knife. The scene of the struggle is depicted in the sign that hangs prominently over the Pewter Shop.
During past visits to Rockport, we pretty much kept to the main streets but this time thanks to Dave, we were guided to some less traveled paths away from the busy shopping area which gave us an opportunity to see some of the boat anchorages away from the main harbor.
As we headed back towards the condo, we passed by the Rockport Congregational Church which was founded back in 1755 (85 years before the town was founded) and is the oldest institution in Rockport. Dubbed the “Old Sloop” by fishermen and sailors, the steeple has guided mariners into Rockport harbor for many centuries. However, it’s probably the most well known because of its role in the War of 1812 when the British fleet threatened the waterfront and surrounding area when it entered the harbor. The Congregational Church bell rang to warn the town of the invasion. In response, a British barge fired at the Congregational Church bell to try to silence it but ended up hitting the steeple instead, where the cannonball became lodged. Ironically, the cannon recoiled and launched itself thru the bottom of the ship! The barge sank, and the crew was captured as they swam ashore. Never realized that Rockport was involved in the War of 1812!
In the photo below, the black circular spot is where the cannonball became lodged. Realize though that what visitors are seeing is not the real cannonball, it is only a wooden ball painted black and glued onto a piece of siding. The real cannonball is kept under lock and key and only brought our on special occasions. What an interesting tidbit of the town’s history!
By the time we returned to the condo, we all were hungry. Dave and Nancy had suggested that we have dinner at Passports on Main Street in Gloucester so that was the next stop on our agenda. Cute place! Based on Nancy’s recommendation, we both had Sister’s Haddock, a local fillet with a hazelnut crust, pan roasted with lemon wine butter served over mashed potatoes and asparagus. Delicious!
It was getting late by the time we finished dinner – time to catch the launch and return to the boat. What an enjoyable visit and a wonderful day!
Although both Dave and Nancy were anxious to see the latest addition to the family, the waters in the harbor were a little rough the day (Saturday) we met them and went grocery shopping. Since Nancy has a tendency to get seasick, everyone decided it wouldn’t be a good idea to visit the boat then. However, the next day, on Sunday morning, the harbor was much calmer so they decided to return to Gloucester and catch the launch to our boat for a quick visit before we departed. They loved the boat. Since we had some time, we took them for a short ride towards the entrance of the harbor which they thoroughly enjoyed. Eventually we returned to the harbor where we were able to maneuver the boat close enough to a dock, allowing them to jump off.
After our goodbyes, it was time to begin the next leg of our adventure!