Oh dear, is it January already? Is 2020 finally over? Thank goodness! Apparently I lost track of time because here I am shivering in the cold (despite being in the south) writing very belatedly about our very warm boating adventures of last summer, a time which seems like decades ago. Perhaps I should use the pandemic as an excuse? With staying socially isolated, eliminating any thoughts of sightseeing in public places, nervous to even go to a grocery store and totally avoiding dining in restaurants, for sure there was plenty of time to document our summer experiences, wasn’t there? Oh yes, there definitely was but somehow amidst the stress of this horrific, very contagious virus, listening to the daily stories of sick and dying people across the globe, my heart and my mind couldn’t seem to focus on writing about anything, even creating a shopping list for curbside pickup seemed like a major effort. Instead our focus was on staying healthy and safe.
So anyway, back to last spring….
Arriving back in RI was exciting for us. First and foremost was that we were at “home” in known territory, parked in a spot where we would be for the next six months. If either one of us caught the nasty bug, we knew all of the medical facilities in the area and we wouldn’t have to worry about moving the coach to another site or campground. Unlike New York which at the time was the epicenter of the pandemic, the spread of the virus was relatively low due to the exemplary efforts of Governor Gina Raimondo. It was about this time that New Yorkers were being banned from other New England states, RI included. Signs were posted along the RI highways that anyone entering RI from NY had to check in with the National Guard at a check point (usually a rest area) to provide contact information and pledge to quarantine for two weeks. Different times for sure.
Once we settled in at our usual spot at Sun Valley in East Greenwich, we were ready for a change of pace, after all, spring meant that boating season was just around the corner. But although we were eager to start prepping the boat for launch, as you can see from the photo below, it was still just too cold.
But fortunately It didn’t take long for the cold to be replaced with warmer temps, perfect for prepping the boat for launch.
Time for waxing the hull, painting the trim tabs and props (after scraping off the barnacles). Fortunately the bottom paint was in good condition so it didn’t need painting. On May 8th, we splashed. Woo hoo, let the summer begin!
Over the winter, we had watched major construction changes happening at our yacht club with progress being streamed via a webcam mounted on the upper deck of the clubhouse. On our first venture to the club, it was exciting to see the end result. The remaining three docks (A, B, and C) were replaced, the main bulkhead (retaining wall) was rebuilt, the upper deck was expanded and beautiful new decking was installed on both the upper deck and lower decks which was bordered by a new walkway of individual pavers, some pavers engraved with members names. A new firepit and new deck furniture completed the finishing touches. Awesome!
No longer on the road, we settled into a routine where each day seemed like a monotonous repeat of the previous day, week after week. Socializing was limited to a few distant conversations with Rob’s aunt and uncle who parked their coach near us at Sun Valley. No invite to enjoy a day on the boat was extended to my brother and sister-in-law who live in NH and no spontaneous get togethers with friends at the club. Occasional excursions would include a few very early morning trips to my favorite grocery store, Dave’s Market, where masking and customer limits were enforced, an occasional curbside pickup at Walmart and a few trips to shop at BJ’s Wholesale Club during early morning senior hours. It was definitely a different summer.
And for us, the bad news was that there was no dining out at any of our favorite restaurants. Our dining
out in was limited to just a few curbside pick ups of pizza at our favorite pizza joint, Uncle Tony’s Restaurant or Fish & Chips from Gel’s Kitchen. Fortunately we could satisfy our other cravings for local seafood with the purchase of lobsters, steamers and stuffed quahogs from our local stores.
About a month after launch, we gathered up half (or so it seemed) of the contents of the coach and moved on board the boat. As much as we love our RV lifestyle, it sure was nice to be on the water again.
In terms of Covid, following the state’s and CDC guidelines, the Yacht Club had cancelled all upcoming events, shut down the bar and other parts of the club and issued strict mandates regarding masks, social distancing, etc. to it’s membership when walking around the grounds or even when entertaining on their own boats. Although some people might read this and think we were a little paranoid, all of these mandates were OK with us since we are members of the vulnerable seniors group and have a few health risks which could make us more susceptible to severe complications from the virus.
It quickly became apparent though, much to the chagrin of those like us who believe and practice the guidelines to ensure our safety and good health as well as the health of others, that none of those mandates could or would be enforced. Unfortunately, the owners of some other boats on our dock, very seldom wore masks or practiced social distancing. Our dock on Friday and Saturday nights became the meeting place for friends, relatives and other club members – it was party time as non mask wearing people would line both sides of the dock, drinking, talking loudly and having a good time. Although that behavior was never a problem for us in the past, this year certainly felt very different as we tried to protect our own health. We were safe while aboard the boat, but since the docks are only about six feet wide, it was impossible for us or anyone else to pass by them while practicing social distancing. As a result, we were basically forced to plan our day around the times when we expected those members to not be there. Even our trash runs to the head of the dock had to be carefully planned to avoid possible exposure!
But all was not lost – we had an escape. Each week as the weekend approached, our mooring further down the cove beckoned to us. Just about every weekend, we ventured out so we could bask in peace, quiet and solitude for as long as we wanted!How nice it was relaxing by ourselves with no risk of exposure to the virus, watching fish jumping trying to avoid larger fish in pursuit of a tasty meal, or the cormorants diving for fish then when sated balancing on moorings with outstretched wings.
And ospreys soaring in the breezes, often perching at the top of a nearby sailboat mast with a fish in its talons. On many occasions we observed an Osprey catching a fish right next to our boat! It’s interesting how they always carry the fish with the head facing forward to reduce drag.
Couple all that with the gorgeous sunsets and moonlit skies.
It’s at moments like these that we realize how very, very lucky we have been compared to so many others in the country and across the world. Obviously life is stressful for everyone dealing with the pandemic but we (and our families) have so far stayed healthy, have not had to worry about losing our jobs, have not been at risk of losing our home and have been able to put food on the table. Occasionally our peace was interrupted by the booms of fireworks and sparklers set off by local quahoggers who keep their skiffs at nearby dockage along the shoreline, celebrations at a 4th of July house party on shore, or the noisy whir of jet skiers flying by ignoring the no wake zone. Rob was practically deputized by the Harbormaster as he would send in videos of speeders and other violations.
One day we heard the disturbing sound of a dog barking and howling continuously for an entire day and night. Concerned, we dawned our investigative hats, jumped into our dinghy and quickly discovered which boat the dog was on. The pup seemed to be alone and the boat looked a mess so Rob took a video of the boat and the dog, sent it to the Harbor Master who later explained he stopped by to investigate, had taken the dog and fed it food and lots of water, then notified the local police department of the situation. The last update we received was that the police were “looking for the owner and they had lots of questions for him”. Not sure what, if any, the repercussions were for the owner but we didn’t hear any more barking from the poor neglected pooch.
Meanwhile back at the dock…
Many of us have used or at least heard the phrase “put a bug in someone’s ear”. Little did I know that would literally happen to me on a warm, calm July evening when both of us were quietly reading in the cockpit. Suddenly my serenity snapped when I felt something crawling in my ear. “A bug just flew into my ear” I started screaming at Rob “Get it out, get it out. It hurts, it hurts.” Rob quickly grabbed a flashlight, looked in my ear but couldn’t see anything, it had apparently crawled fairly far into my ear canal.
On one beautiful fall day we drove to Jamestown which is situated almost entirely on Conanicut Island, the second largest island in Narragansett Bay. Although Jamestown has a very nice harbor and marina, a few shops and restaurants, our favorite spot is outside the town – the 51 acre Fort Wetherill State Park, a former coastal defense battery and training camp situated upon 100 foot high granite cliffs across the water from Fort Adams State Park in Newport. Known for its spectacular view of Newport Harbor and the East Passage of Narragansett Bay, Fort Wetherill has been a popular site for viewing the numerous Tall Ship Events and America’s Cup Races.
Leaving Fort Wetherill, it was a short drive to another one of our favorites on the island, Beavertail State Park.
After all this sightseeing, we were hungry. We both had a hankering for one of the signature meals of Rhode Island – clam cakes and chowder. Several of the better known restaurants that offer this specialty were already closed for the season so our choices were limited. After much deliberation, we decided to try George’s of Galilee in Galilee, RI which is located adjacent to the breachway at Galilee and Salty Brine State Beach.
Once there, we found a parking space and walked over to the take out window and placed our order for a half dozen clam cakes and RI clear broth chowder. Despite all the great things we had heard about George’s over the years, we were quite disappointed (Rob wrote a review in Google Maps). The clam cakes were large, dry, doughy and tasteless with very few clams. The chowder was bland with mostly potatoes and very few clams. As we ate from the car parked on the edge of the Breachway, we were able to watch the boats sailing by which was the highlight of the trip. Guess we won’t be going back there any time soon. Flo’s Clam Shack in Newport has far superior clamcakes.
Of course, it wasn’t just a summer of relaxing and playing, the spring, summer and fall were filled with the usual assortment of projects, a few on our Entegra, one on our Honda Odyssey and several on the boat. More about that in our next post!