Sunday, August 22, 2010

Isles of Shoals

About six miles off of the Maine/New Hampshire coast lie the Isles of Shoals.  Highly convenient after our visit to Portsmouth.  We visited Appledore Island, which has a marine lab where they do research and conduct summer courses.  Call them on channel 80 before you dinghy over so they can meet you at the dock and give you a map and island information.  There were lots of nesting gulls here, rocky shores, and local history in the form of a garden with the same species of plants originally used by the poet Celia Thaxton in her garden on the island, as well as a quiet little graveyard.  Star Island is home to the Oceanic Hotel, an old-fashioned kind of place with communal dining and set times during the day when guests can shower (island water conservation is much like boat water conservation – there’s only so much in storage), and a wide porch with rocking chairs, a perfect place to look out over the water and eat an ice cream cone (yes, we did).  Finally there was Smuttynose Island, a small island with only two homes on it currently, though there used to be a brewery, bakery, distillery, and industries.  These islands have a history that appeals to Anne’s sense of the macabre: the ghost of Blackbeard’s abandoned wife (his 15th) apparently roams here, and there have been several murders involving Indian attacks, mysterious nighttime excursions by rowboat from Portsmouth, and hatchets.  Look them up!  Oh yes, and it’s also quite beautiful, with great sunsets.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Chris on the brick streets of Portsmouth
After recouping a few days post-convention on the Merrimac River, we went north to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to visit with Dianne and Ellen. Portsmouth is a beautiful city on the Piscataqua River, with lots of historic buildings and a lively atmosphere. Prescott Park, right on the waterfront, has beautiful gardens planted and maintained by UNH, and there was an outdoor show – Peter Pan – playing to a crowd of appreciative kids and their parents. Overlooking the river is Fort McClary, where we were serenaded by musket and cannon fire.  And see the large building that looks like it might be a grand hotel?  Well, it actually was a naval prison.  We finished the day with a sampling of Ellen’s home-brewed beer flavored with yarrow from their garden. Delicious!
Chris, Dianne, and Ellen in the Prescott Park gardens

Fort Clary cannon fire

Old naval prison


We took some time off from the boat to head down to Raleigh, NC, for a science fiction/fantasy convention.  Chris was on some interesting panels: Are Cloning Kosher? (about cloning animals for food), A Day in the Life of a Writer, Men Who Write Feminist Fiction: Can They Pull It Off? (Chris doesn’t write feminist characters per se, just strong female characters), and Revise Revise Revise, to name a few.  Some of his fellow panelists were the authors Joe Haldeman, Eric Flint, Jack McDevitt, and Jana Oliver, so he was in august company (pardon the pun!).  Here he is on the Revise Revise Revise panel.  He also met up with the balloon man, who can make just about anything with balloons, including this cheese hat in honor of Chris’ audiobook, Cheese Runners.  We left Mr Mac on the Merrimac River in the care of our friends Gary and Alex – thanks, guys!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Picture Yourself...

…in this little boat, along with five or six other people, no cabin, no engine, no cooking facilities, no creature comforts at all! Perhaps I’m spoiled, but I like my own boat, thank you very much! We spied two of these boats over several days in the vicinity of Penobscot Bay. One finally anchored close enough so we could see what it was: Outward Bound. We thought we were inconvenienced when we had to close our hatches as the rain started, but these folks had nothing but a tarp overhead. So these people were paying for the discomfort. But they sounded like they were having a good time, and that’s all that matters.

Meeting Southern Friends in the North

We met lots of people in the Bahamas, and some we just clicked with and wanted to see again.  We got our wish in Maine with a few people.  We met up with Tom and Vicky from the sailboat Osprey in Pulpit Harbor on the island of North Haven in Penobscot Bay.  They’re moving to Maine for a few years, and were taking one last week of cruising before starting work.  A week later we met up with Alan and Susie from the sailboat Joyous.  Alan has lived in Wolf Neck for 38 years, on a beautiful property that overlooks the Herraseeket River in Casco Bay.  We had a great time with both visits, and hope to see them all again out on the water.

Camden, Maine

Camden was another pretty little waterfront town we visited. Lots of beautiful boats in the harbor, including several windjammers that we had already seen cruising around at the anchorages. There was little room to anchor here, so we picked up a mooring, which we don’t do often. Happily, we were able to take the Wayfarer Marine courtesy car for a couple of hours to do some shopping and see Rockport Harbor just down the coast.