Once again we saw the Isles of Shoals as we headed out to sea. The rain was steady, but did not affect visibility. We hoped it would clear as the day wore on, and that the sun would work its way through the clouds. There was a mild wind coming from the west. Two hours into our trip the wind continued to increase in intensity. The water was choppy but it was still early so we continued to be hopeful for improved conditions. After another couple of hours the wind had increased again and so had the waves. By now they reached heights of six to eight feet and growing. By noon time a serious change of course was in order. We decided to head closer to shore to try and mitigate the deteriorating conditions. We were now south of Boston Harbor. Our thinking was that closer to shore there would be less “fetch”. I had learned that fetch is the area of open water over which the wind has to gather strength.
It wasn’t long before we realized it was time to find a place to pull in for the day. Fortunately we weren’t far from Plymouth, Massachusetts. I looked through the cruising guideto see our options. There was the Plymouth Yacht Club, a marina and the town’s mooring field, all very promising. We traveled close to shore until we reached Plymouth Harbor. Upon entering the harbor, the waves died down. Duxbury Pier Lighthouse greeted us and I began to see lighthouses in a whole new way. Instead of being a pretty landmark, it was a sign of safety. With the aid of the lighthouse and the channel markers we worked our way to the marina. Tim radioed for a slip. None were available. Next try was the town’s harbor master for a mooring. That yielded a positive result and so we were safe for the night.
It was a brisk 40° out but the sun had finally made an appearance. Next on the agenda was getting Tigger to shore. That meant using Rose, the dinghy. We carefully lowered it into the water, keeping it attached to Little Prince with the davits on the swim platform. Once it was in the water it was time to set up the outboard motor. Tim lifted it off its mount and onto Rose. He adjusted the controls, put it in neutral and gave it a pull, nothing. A few more tries netted the same result. It was time to look at the manual. Being the proper quartermaster, I was able to retri
eve it right away. Tim was in the dinghy (still attached to Little Prince) and I was on the deck, manual in hand, and reading instructions when the Harbor Master came by.
“I see you with the motor and your wife with the manual and I’m thinking this could get ugly. Let us know if you need a ride to shore.”With that, off he went.
Our destination for the night was Portsmouth Yacht Club on the Piscataqua River, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The river is the borderline between Maine and New Hampshire. While we hadn’t been here by boat, it was familiar territory by land. Portsmouth is where Tim and I first met. The whole online dating experience is a subject for another day but meeting someone in person after many email exchanges is a big step in the process. And bearing in mind that I hadn’t dated for 35 years, it was also a big step in my process. I found myself asking my son Mike for dating advice. To which he flippantly replied, “I don’t know what old people do”. Regardless, I met Tim at Popovers, a great cafe in downtown Portsmouth. He was standing out front waiting for me to arrive. When I saw him at a distance, I thought I hope that’s him; part of the mystery of online dating is wondering just how old the photograph they post is. His was current, and he looked nice. So here we were 5 years later back in Portsmouth on the Piscataqua River.
Whenever I’ve been downtown Portsmouth, I always feels as though I’ve been transported back in time. It seems almost everything is made of brick, that is except for the church. The gleaming white steeple of the North Church pierces the sky with a demanding call for attention. Looking up at the connected buildings along Ceres St. I almost expect to see Dick Van Dyke dancing to the chimney sweep song in Mary Poppins. Along the waterfront a row of restaurants look out to Old Harbour and the red tug boats that are always docked there. If you find yourself taking a step down into one of these shops or restaurants you are more likely than not going to see stone foundations and hand hewn beams supporting them. We would not be getting downtown this trip but it was nice to know we weren’t far away.