Yes I know, here it is mid-October and instead of writing about our current destinations, I’m still writing about what we did in the summer! Hopefully, more timely posts will be forthcoming as we get back into our motorhome travels.
Those of you who have followed our blog for the past few years know that we’ve spent most of our boating time docked in our slip, primarily because of items that needed to be repaired or replaced. We thought that maybe we would fare better during the summer of 2017 but this year we were once again confronted with more major repairs. Ah, yes, BOAT is an acronym for “Bring Out Another Thousand”!
Before we moved from the coach to the boat, in the midst of a 90 degree spell of hot and humid weather, our boat AC unit died. Oh drats, that sure puts a damper on moving aboard! In addition we really needed to replace our extremely uncomfortable mattress, install a second solar panel and replace a hydraulic pump which controls our trim tabs. Between these projects and the list Rob had for the new coach, it was a busy summer to say the least.
All was not lost however – our new mattress was installed on July 10th followed by the installation of a new AC unit on July 16th so we finally moved on board the end of July. And then there’s more good news – we were finally able to leave the dock on Monday, August 14th, headed to one of our favorite boating destinations, Newport, RI about 16 nautical miles south of our dock in East Greenwich. We were excited to be underway again. Well, I should clarify, two out of three of us were excited, Sparky not so much, moving vehicles and boats just aren’t his cup of tea! It would be a fairly short three night stay as our barrage of annual medical appointments began on Friday so we would have to head back on Thursday.
After topping off our water tanks, we were off! How great it was being out on Narragansett Bay again! In past years travel down Narragansett Bay involved a great deal of dodging lobster pot floats, but not this trip. Warmer waters the last few years have caused lobsters to migrate to the colder waters to the north, plus lobster shell disease has had a major impact on lobster industry in RI and nearby waters.
Within an hour, we arrived in Newport Harbor. There didn’t seem to be as many mega yachts in the harbor as past visits, but there were still quite a few. After settling onto a mooring assigned to us by Oldport Marine, we splashed the dinghy for our tour of the harbor, doing our usual oohing and aahing at each superyacht. Some we had seen before but others were new to us. Not to worry if you are visiting Newport by land, there’s plenty of opportunity to ogle at the yachts by taking a water shuttle, a harbor tour or by just walking along the waterfront but that will be the subject of another post.
In all her majestic glory at an end dock at the Newport Shipyard was the 300+ ft long, three masted sailing vessel, Athena, one of the world’s largest sailing vessels. Built in 2004 for Jim Clark, the Silicon Valley legend and founder of Netscape and WebMD, this yacht was put up for sale in 2015 for $95 million. For anyone interested, the price has been reduced from $95 million to a mere $59 million. Take a look at these photos! I tried waving at some of the crew in the hopes that they would invite us on board but no luck. Not sure if she is still available for charter – it’s only $500K per week!
A rather strange looking yacht docked at the Newport Yachting Center was Axis which was built by Damen in the Netherlands.This yacht is considered a “support yacht”, because of its open deck and huge crane, a helicopter, several tenders, a sub or any other toy can be hoisted and placed on the deck. Maybe very utilitarian but certainly not the prettiest yacht we’ve seen!
Sitting on a mooring outside the harbor was Vibrant Curiousity, a 280 foot superyacht, complete with helicopter, owned by German entrepreneur Reinhold Wurth, aka the “Screw King” (he made his fortune from selling screws, fittings and chemicals). He made headlines in 2009 during the recession for ordering a new $100 million megayacht at the same time he made his employees take pay cuts and reduce their hours. He recently gained notoriety again in the NY Post for anchoring his yacht right next to the Statue of Liberty, irritating tourists who couldn’t snap photos of Lady Liberty.
Speaking of the Newport Shipyard, from the dinghy, we sat fascinated watching the 157 foot, multi million dollar megayacht, Cocktails (formerly Chevy Toy) dangling over the asphalt and slowly being rolled towards the water on a gargantuan Travelift. It took awhile but eventually she was safely afloat again.
Bopping around in the dinghy gawking at all the yachts sure makes one hungry! Pulling up to the dinghy dock by the Newport Lobster Shack where you can buy a lobster dinner, lobster rolls, lobster cakes and lobster bisque, we thought we might pick up a couple of lobster rolls for supper. But we didn’t – we have been totally spoiled by the lobster rolls we had several times over the summer from Bon Bon Apetit on Route 2 in Exeter. Rolls stuffed with 4 oz. of lobster meat from the Narragansett Bay Lobster Co. either mixed with mayo (our usual choice), melted butter or melted butter with sherry for $15! The ones in Newport contained less meat and they were more expensive ($22).
In our usual quest for breakfast, the relatively new Meg’s Aussie Milk Bar (formerly Cafe Bellevue) caught our attention. Australian Milk Bars, similar to our American diners, enjoyed their heyday during the 1940’s – 1980’s. Cute place with all sorts of Australian memorabilia on the walls. Although they had the usual breakfast fare on their menu, there were a few Aussie items such as Vegemite on Toast, Aussie Eggs Benedict and Big Aussie Brekkie Roll (which is what Rob had) to name a few.
From there, it was a short walk to the Newport International Tennis Hall of Fame located in the Newport Casino, a National Historic Landmark that was first opened on July 26, 1880 as a social club for Newport’s turn of the century summer elite. Despite its name, the Casino is not, and never was, a gambling facility but does have its roots in a story about a bet. Not only are there the infamous tennis courts but there is a museum, the historical grounds, the Information Research Center and the Casino Theater. Since we are not tennis aficionados, we skipped the museum (admission $15) but thoroughly enjoyed walking around the grounds (free), stopping several times to watch some of the amateurs practice on the various courts.
Continuing on Bellevue Ave, we walked by a few of the Newport Mansions, stopping along the way to read the historical plaques, until we turned onto Victoria Ave which eventually brought us out to the Cliff Walk by the Breakers Mansion. Although there were quite a few people on the walk, it didn’t detract from how breathtaking it was especially on such a beautiful day. Eventually hot and with tired feet from our multi-mile walk we turned back. Taking Ruggles Ave back to the main road so we could catch one of the trolleys back to town. Although we had to wait for a while for the trolley, it was well worth the $2 per person fare to ride comfortably back to town and the waterfront.
A visit to Newport isn’t complete, at least for us, without stopping in at the International IYRS (International Yacht Restoration School), a technology and trade school located on Thames Street. There are a myriad of boat building/design programs offered here for students but our primary fascination is with the restoration of the Coronet, a 131 foot Schooner Yacht which was first launched in 1885. She has been at IRYS being restored since 1995. During previous visits, most of the fun of visiting here was watching the students, using nothing but hand tools, working on her but unfortunately, school was not in session during this visit. For details of the restoration, check out their blog site. Well worth a visit and it’s free!
What else did we do? Nothing, just lots of yacht gawking, relaxing and watching beautiful sunsets each night. Before we knew it, it was Thursday and time to head back. Another few weeks filled with lots of medical appointments, then it would be time to hit the road!