Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Boston : Tea Parties, Irish Pubs and a place where everyone knows your name.
9th –19th September
Leaving the Isle of Shoals, our last stop in Maine, we had a magical sail under full main and screecher in a lively breeze for the 47 mile trip down to Boston. It wasn’t long before that big city feeling came creeping up on us again. Sports fishing boats roared past at high speeds with little regard for those who were hit by their wake, and the dull drone  of aircraft criss-crossing the skies could be heard overhead.                                                                                             
Sailing into Boston harbour was pretty neat. It was Sunday  and the approaches were busy with cruising and racing boats, all focused on the same narrow entrance to the harbour proper. Reaching along at 12 knots was fun as we passed everything sailing around us, but as the main channel looked a bit tricky we doused  the sails and  motored into the anchorage.

The route in took us directly beneath the flight path for Boston’s Logan airport, and being jet junkies, we thought this was pretty cool as a procession of aircraft buzzed overhead. We anchored alongside the Hyatt hotel, across the bay from downtown Boston, a brisk 5 minute dingy ride away.
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    IMG_6379 Knowing people who live in the city you are visiting always makes the experience just that little bit more special. Boston saw us  greeted with a reunion of past friends from both our cruising world and from our former working days. After a quick phone call to say hi, Gerry Colleary and his wife Linda were soon at the nearest dock and ferried aboard for some welcoming drinks, it was great to see them after around 9 years. Gerry was kind enough to offer the use of his car for a few days, and this proved to be a real boon as getting around some big cities is not always easy. And as an added bonus, we got to spend a wonderful night staying at Gerry and Linda’s beautiful home. What a treat that was.
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Our arrival on the Sunday coincided with a couple of very significant events, one very sad and one quiet the opposite. Both were very emotional in their own way. It was the 10th anniversary of the 911 tragedies in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.The memorial services were very formal and extremely moving. We still have vivid memories of the incredible  television  footage of the twin towers on that fateful day and as we watched the services on our TV on the boat, it was impossible not get a tear in the eye as our thoughts went out to those family members who  lost loved ones.The contrast to those feelings was to see our Aussie girl Sam Stosur claim her first major title against Serena Williams in the US Women’s Open Tennis Championship in a tense and controversial match. Sam is the only Aussie woman to win this event after Margret Court won back in 1979. We cheered and yelled like crazy towards the end of the match and those in the anchorage must have thought we’d gone nuts! Sam did us proud that day and in the spirit of true Aussie sportsmanship we raised  our Boxing Kangaroo flag and flew it from high up on our mast.
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Boston is a very historic American city, famous for the Boston Tea Party and the centre of rebellious activity with mother England over excessive taxes. What followed was a war with England that the poms ultimately lost, maybe they should have reconsidered the taxes and made a deal. In any event the geneses of a new nation was born that cherished independence and the freedom it brought, traits that are really entrenched in today’s American culture. Boston is very much a university town, there are lots of students everywhere and they come from all over the globe to gain a higher education. Both Harvard and MIT, amongst others, are located here.
We found that a  great way to see the city and take in the sights was by donning the joggers, hitting the pavements and strolling what is known as The Freedom Trail .The walk starts at the Boston Common, a beautiful leafy park and takes you past all the heritage sights, cemeteries and the gold domed State House as well as the winding back streets where any number of thirst quenching pubs can be found. Winding it’s way past Faneuil Hall, the Boston public market place since the colonial days, Paul Reveres’ home and the hunger inducing Italian restaurant district, you eventually cross the  busy bridge that brings you to the Naval shipyards at Charleston.
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The oldest US Navy warship still in commission, the USS Constitution, nicknamed “Old Ironsides” because of the thickness of her hull and being near impenetrable to the enemies cannonballs,  is stationed here along with quite a good museum. Wondering through the various decks and hearing the ships’ history from a very informative young naval lady was extremely interesting, and when you take in the size of the ship, the battles encountered and the fact she has does not have engine, you gain a level of respect for the seaman who served on her. In contrast to the 200 year old USS Constitutions, stands the relatively new age WW11 destroyer the Cassin Young, which served in the Central Pacific during the mid 1940’s. She was retired from the fleet in 1960 and has since then be restored to her former glory and open to the public since the 80’s.
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Boston has a very Irish feel to it and a goodly number of Irish establishments attest to the volume of it’s early  immigrants. The footpaths are usually brick paved, not concrete, as are many of the buildings. So you get an impression of a really big town at times with an almost comfy feel to it. Along the foreshore there are many apartment developments using old warehouses, so it looks very authentic and has a ton of character. We were lucky enough to catch up with some cruising buddies from the Mediterranean, Chris and Erin off “Barefeet,” who live in one such apartment building. They invited us and some other cruising friends, Deb and Terry off  “Wings” over to watch a game of Monday night American football and eat take-out Chinese food. Now how American is that!  It was really fun, the game takes a while to get used to it, but it is quite entertaining at times, and sometimes actually very exciting. Chris and Erin also played tour guides for a day when we had Gerry’s car, it was terrific to have their local knowledge. Among the places we visited was  the town of Gloucester, home of the original Perfect Storm incident and catalyst for the Hollywood movie.
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A pretty famous landmark and one that we just couldn’t miss was  the Cheers bar up on Beacon St, not to be confused with the imitation Cheers bar down by the waterfront. Remember the TV series with Sam Malone, Carla, Woody, Norm, Cliff and Frasier?  This  place really brought back some good memories. So there we were sitting around the famous bar where “everyone knows your name”, well sort of, shooting the breeze with whoever was nearby. We also bought a special  souvenir T- Shirt for our mate Steve back home in Oz who is a real Cheers fanatic. It was a great way to while away a couple of hours and we highly recommend it  if you have the opportunity.
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Another road trip we did while we had the use of Gerry’s car saw us heading over to the Cape Cod area. The Kennedy dynasty had their base not far away, in Hyannis Port, so we hopped in the car  and drove down there, nice place with lots of JFK memorabilia. He is still idolised in these parts. The JFK museum  there gave us a better insight into his character and achievements, it was good to take it all in.

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So after spending a week or so in the  funky little city  of Boston it was time to say goodbye to our friends and  this part of New England and hop on down the waterways back to Long Island Sound, where we would  pick up the places that we missed on our way north a few few months earlier.
Cruising Notes: Formalities: call CBP as per the Maine ph number. Anchorage & Dinghy docks. We anchored along side the Hyatt Hotel in 30ft mud. There is a water taxi service from the Hyatt dock across to town for $16 return. We however, used the “Waterside Marina” dinghy dock. The gate is unlocked during daylight hours, after hours the code was 1011, but that may change. The marina has mooring balls available for rent along with laundry and shower facilities. Supermarkets : Most are out of town and you will need a car, but Zip Cars and push bikes can be rented by the hour or half hour check with the tourist bureau.

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