After spending two splendid days on Block Island, we released the mooring ball around 8:30 on Wednesday morning and exited the harbor. Our twenty-four nautical mile passage would take us up the west side of the island past the North Light. We would then curl around the north reef and head in a northeasterly direction toward the mainland of Rhode Island. The morning was gorgeous and we were enjoying a pleasant morning on the waters of the Atlantic. Seas were a foot or less. But, then… we encountered a first for Beatitude — fog! At 10:20 a.m., we entered into a New England fog bank which severely reduced our visibility to less than a quarter mile. I quickly activated our radar, which complemented our AIS. Although we were hyper-vigilant in peering through the fog, my AIS and radar were spectacular. I “saw” all vessels great and small electronically long before I achieved direct visualization. I could even pick up small 15 foot recreational boats. I’m thankful for my electronics.
After about 45 minutes the fog burned off, and visibility was restored just as we approached the Narragansett Bay. We motored past Hammersmith Farm, the childhood home of Jackie Kennedy, and the place where John F. Kennedy and Jackie held their wedding reception. Soon, we were rounding the corner past Fort Adams and into Newport Harbor. Upon entering, we had difficulty finding an open mooring. The Newport Boat Show is taking place in a couple of weeks. Already, moorings are being taken up in preparation for the show. We were finally able to find one after some time. We wished to stay for two nights, but only one was guaranteed. We took it. Once we moored in the city, which rivals Fort Lauderdale as the yachting capital of the world, we ate lunch and did a little cleaning. We then dinghied into the free dinghy dock at Bowen’s Wharf, taking two bags of laundry with us. We carried our laundry one block to the Seamen’s Church Institute, which was founded in 1919 to provide services and provide care for the seamen who enter the harbor. Among other things, this means laundry facilities. About 3:50 we loaded the two machines with laundry and went upstairs, at which time we were notified that the whole building closes at 4:00. We could not finish our laundry. We decided to leave it in the machine overnight and return at 7 a.m. the next day when it opens to finish. Oh, well!
After laundry, we walked around town for a little bit and had dinner at the Black Pearl, which dates back to the 1920s, first as a sail loft and then as a restaurant. We both enjoyed delicious burgers and then walked around the wharf area for a little while longer. We then savored a relaxing evening on board, surrounded with hundreds of other yachts in this very busy harbor.
On Thursday, we dutifully showed up at the Seamens Church Institute to finish our laundry. All went well, and we were back aboard with our clothes by 8:30. After a quick freshening up, we left Beatitude at 9 a.m., not to return until 8:30 p.m. Our day was packed with activities!
We first walked to the Newport Visitor’s Center, at which we received maps and information about sightseeing and transportation. From there, we walked up to the White Horse Tavern, one of the oldest tavern buildings in the U.S., constructed prior to 1673. Among many others, George Washington once spent a night here. Our next stop, a few blocks away was the oldest synagogue building in the U.S., the Touro Synagogue, built in 1763. The congregation, which began with fifteen Spanish Jewish families, arrived in 1658.
We then walked past Trinity Church on Queen Anne Square, founded in 1698 (the current building dates to 1725-26). Notable past parishioners include Cornelius Vanderbilt II, George Berkely, John Jacob Astor VI, Gilbert Stuart, and many more. A few more blocks away stands St. Mary’s Church, a brownstone Gothic Revival church built in 1848-52. In 1953, Senator John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier were married here. After a visit to the church, we walked a block back towards the harbor and had a good lunch at the Red Parrot, a former meat packing house built in 1898.
Once our bellies were full, we walked several blocks up the hill to visit the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum. I was once an avid tennis player (since medical school I have only played sparingly). Cindy used to play a bit, also. I love the game, so I was very excited to visit the hall of fame! It was a wonderful experience. There were artifacts telling the history of the game, as well as the room for inductees. There are a number of grass courts at the facility which are open to the public. I wish I could’ve played! You may wonder why the Tennis Hall of Fame is in Newport. The reason is that this is the location where the first edition of what is now the U. S. Open was played.
Afterwards, we hopped onto the town trolley to take a ride out to the mansions. Newport contains several mansions from the “gilded age.” The area was the resort of choice where the rich and famous would spend ten weeks of their summer each year. These “summer houses” were amazing. We visited two of the six, The Breakers, home to the Vanderbilts, and Rosecliff. What grand opulence!
When we could hardly walk another step, we took the trolley back into town to meet with some new friends, Bruce and Rhonda, and John. When we first pulled into Newport Harbor, Bruce hailed me on the radio. He and Rhonda are living aboard and cruising on a Lagoon 420. This is the first actively cruising couple we’ve met who are on a boat like ours. We met at Busker’s Irish Pub for dinner and drinks, over which we shared stories and experiences on our Lagoons. It was great fun. John, their close friend who is sailing solo on a 40’ monohull, also had dinner with us. We are so glad to have met them all and look forward to meeting up with them at some faraway destination in the future.
We dinghied back to Beatitude in the dark to prepare for our last night in Newport. Tomorrow, we are off to Martha’s Vineyard.