Saturday, July 4, 2015

Port of Call: Newport, Rhode Island

Hope y'all had a happy Fourth of July!

Chattanooga's Fourth of July Pops on the River concert on the waterfront is quite decent. However. the heavy rain this morning and the weather forecast of 100% chance of thunderstorm might have steered people (us included) away from the celebration. It was just as well 'cos our marina usually has a good fireworks display. It's the one thing it does well. Did we luck out on the weather! It was bright and dry from the afternoon to evening. All the usual suspects gathered around to watch the fireworks. An hour later, it rained.

Having previously lived in Boston, we've had many unforgettable Fourth of July celebrations in the New England area. Several years ago, I wrote an article about a fourth of July experience for the now shuttered Associated Content website. Here's the article, complete with pictures and videos:

One of my most memorable fourth of July celebration is of the time when a bunch of us boaters (okay, seven gas-guzzling powerboats. This was 1999, when fuel prices were quite normal) decided to cruise to Newport, Rhode Island to see the fireworks. This same group had gone to Portsmouth, New Hampshire for the celebration the year before, and had such a good time that they decided to make it an annual event. We chose Newport because it is the yachting capital, and most of us hadn’t cruised that area before.
Newport Waterfront
When we cast off from our marina in Marina Bay, it was so foggy we could hardly see the boat in front of us. Thank God for radar! Fortunately, the fog lifted as the morning wore on. We arrived at our first stop, Kingman Marine, without incident. After we docked and cleaned up, we got together to discuss our plans for the next day, July 4th. We learned that the weather was going to deteriorate later in the night, with strong winds of 20 to 25 knots, not a good day to be out on the water. We decided to play by ear and wait. Next day, the winds were blowing so hard that even Newport had to postpone the fireworks! We stayed put and spent the day biking around the marina and trading boating stories with our friends.
Biking at Kingman Marine
The weather calmed down the following day. We took off for our final destination - Newport Harbor Marina. Located next to Bowens Wharf, the marina is a stone’s throw to all the action of Newport - unique gift shops, galleries, restaurants, eateries and bars along and off the waterfront. A church with a white steeple, a familiar sight in New England, is a mere two blocks away from the marina. Newport is a hot spot for college kids, much to our surprise. The streets were congested with these young people and loud music wafted from their cars. Two hours wait for a table at restaurants seemed to be the norm. We didn't mind. We were on island time, and it was 5 o'clock somewhere.
Bowens Wharf
It's party time! Sitting on the dock next to the old Mai Thai
One day, we went biking on the famous Cliff's walk, a public walking path that hugs the ocean and the cottages, er, mansions of the gilded age. What a magnificent view of the ocean!
The Breakers (taken in April 2011)
Cliff Walk
After three days of partying, we split with our friends and left Newport for some serious R&R. We had taken up on our sailboater friends’ invitation to join them at Hadley Harbor, near Woods Hole. As we approached the entrance, we radioed Joe, and he came out on his dinghy to lead us in to the anchorage. His boat Tokalon was on a mooring.
Joie de Vie, Tokalon, Mai Thai at Hadley Harbor
We tied up to her starboard side. On the port side was his friends Adrien and Nina's sailboat Joie de Vie. Joe introduced us to his dad and seven-year old granddaughter Jessica.

Dinghying around Hadley Harbor
Later, we rode the dinghy to a beach for a swim and searched for quahogs (called hard-shell clams in other parts of the United States). The water was amazingly warm. After exploring the various islands, we returned with at least a dozen of our prized quahogs. Joe had found a couple dozens earlier, so he proceeded to shuck them. Eaten raw, these shellfish make delectable appetizers. You cannot get them any fresher than this. Life indeed is good.
tied up at Vineyard Haven, Martha's Vineyard
After appetizers and cocktails, we swam and canoed around the boat for a little while before sitting down to a delicious dinner - more quahogs, steamed this time, shrimp, kielbasa, among others. We topped off the evening with a boat ride across the sound to Vineyard Haven for ice cream. And Jessica thought we were kidding!

Alas, we missed the fireworks, but this is one Independence Day celebration we will never forget.

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Now You See It, Now You Don't Port of Call: Marco Island, Florida Fourth of July on the Charles River with the Boston Pops