9:00 AM Thursday morning July 19, 2012
It’s a gorgeous summer morning. A line of thin feathery clouds mimic the coastline and once again we are blessed with zero to one foot seas. Even though the trip to Boston is only about 18 miles, I need to enter no less than 7 waypoints into the GPS in order to thread our way through the Boston Harbor Islands. Our first waypoint, the famous 1-4-3 or “I love you” lighthouse is in view as soon as we leave Scituate Harbor. This lighthouse marks the edge of some nasty rocks so we keep it well to port as we make a northwesterly turn toward Point Allerton and the Boston Harbor Islands beyond. I prefer entering Boston Harbor through The Narrows, a well-marked channel between Georges Island and Lovell Island, thus avoiding the high-speed ferries which can throw up a wicked wake. All the ferries usually use Nantasket Roads, a much wider channel through Quincy Bay well off to our port.
10:30AM Boston Harbor
It’s always so exciting coming into Boston Harbor. It’s just so visual! We are cruising down the channel called “President Roads,” motoring past Deer Island and the water treatment complex that looks like immense eggs. We pass Castle Island on our port, a centuries old fort and scenic park. Directly to starboard is Logan Airport. Huge jetliners are landing about every thirty seconds. As we pass by the main runway, one roars so close overhead that I swear I can read the writing on the tires
We continue past the Black Falcon Pier and the working part of the Harbor. Enormous cranes that look like Star Wars “Imperial Walkers” are unloading tractor-trailer sized containers from a large freighter. An orange and black Coast Guard RIB with a scary 50 millimeter machine gun mounted on its bow slinks ominously by. When the gleaming Boston skyline, with its stunning combination of old and new buildings, completely fills the view through our windshield, we start looking for the familiar triangular-shaped roofline of the Marriott hotel because The Boston Waterboat Marina is tucked discreetly behind it. “There! Over there,” I point and slowly glide Ginger Lee past the slips reserved for pleasure craft of over 100 feet long. One boat is so large it has a small car on it!
11:30 AM VHF Channel 9
“Waterboat Marina…Waterboat Marina… this is motor vessel Ginger Lee requesting slip assignment… over.” “Yes Ginger Lee…take slip 29 Captain… second fairway on your left…bow in… port side tie up…over.” “Good copy…Thank you sir…Ginger Lee out.”
Susan slips on her Sperrys and heads out to hang the fenders, grabbing two dock-lines on the way. There is not much room in this fairway so I have to come to a complete stop in front of the slip, then pivot the boat by shifting one engine into forward and the other into reverse. Ever so slowly I easy her in, staying well away from the beautiful 35 foot antique Wheeler sedan next to me. I am almost blinded by the perfect bowling alley aft deck! Susan hangs a fender on that side as well, just in case. A friendly guy in the sailboat on the other side came out to help with the bow line while the manager secures the stern and expertly sets up a spring line to keep the boat steady. “We’re in!” I kill the engines and thank the two men. The manager welcomes me with a handshake and produces a business card. “Here are the codes for the showers and the front gate.”
Ah! Shore power! Such a luxury when your boat usually lives on a mooring. I can use all the power I want without running down the batteries, and with the dockside water system, I can use all the water I want without emptying the tank. I hook up the 30 amp cable and the fresh water hose. Suddenly a water pipe blows out from under the galley sink, spraying water onto the parquet flooring. I quickly turn off the spigot. Luckily it was just a loose compression fitting and easily repaired.
I love this marina because it’s very close to everything I like in Boston. The North End, for instance, is a mere one block away. For those of you who don’t know, the North End has really good Italian food! I usually avoid the larger restaurants, preferring the smaller, five or six table ones, and there are many. I’ve never been disappointed! Just walking down Hanover or Salem Streets, with its old world Italian charm, is a memorable experience.
In the other direction, is the Rose Kennedy Greenway. This long, well-groomed grassy walkway used to be the infamous Southeast expressway, an elevated highway that cut through Boston. Outdated since the sixties, it became a horrible day long traffic jam, a cacophony of honking horns and revving engines spewing carbon monoxide and swear words into the atmosphere. Several years ago it was torn out like a bad tooth. The traffic now flows silently in a tunnel underneath thanks to the largest interstate highway project in America, nicknamed “The Big Dig.”
On the other side of the Rose Kennedy Greenway is the entrance to the Quincy Market, an indoor and outdoor mall built out of former warehouses. Lots of cobblestone and red brick with the historic Fanuel Hall at one end. It’s a bit touristy for my taste but still quite impressive. Let’s not forget the Harborwalk. It’s a stunningly scenic public walkway along the historic waterfront from Fort Point Channel to North Station.
Friday morning July 20 2012
This morning is chilly enough to require sweatshirts. Quite a treat for July in Boston. The clouds are battling the Sun, and for now, are winning. We are giving Ginger Lee a good scrubbing with a sudsy eco-friendly boat wash. Something we don’t often do, simply because we prefer the privacy of moorings and anchorages over slips. The accent stripe below the port side salon window is looking a bit faded so I mask it off and repaint it with black topside paint. “Please don’t rain for at least an hour.” I appeal to the rain gods with fingers crossed.
Time for a dinghy ride! I fire up the Honda 9.9 outboard and we cruise ol’ Salty slowly around all the neighboring marinas, checking out the sights and the boats. We give awards for boat names in several categories such as; most imaginative, most boring, most fitting, and my personal favorite; most ridiculous.
We end up in the Historic Fort Point Channel, the waterway that separates South Boston from Downtown Boston. It’s probably most famous for The Boston Tea Party that happened in 1773. I only know this because there is a replica ship floating here, with tours, a museum, and of course, a gift shop. But after a visit to my friend Wikipedia, I learned that in the 1830’s it was also a hot-spot for wool and other fabrics. The Boston Wharf Company built a bunch of lofts, eventually abandoning them when the company went belly up. Artists took over the abandoned lofts, and now it’s a huge artist community.
We follow the channel as it curves around under the Post Office and through the South Station train yard. A grizzled, unshaven engineer, sitting in a smokey, idling Amtrak engine, seems surprised to see us and I wonder if maybe we are not supposed to be here, but there are no signs warning us to keep out so we continue on, using the boat hook as a depth sounder. Ducking way down we clear one last bridge before the channel abruptly ends in a trash strewn lagoon. For all its history, three-quarters of it is not very scenic. I understand much of it was filled in years ago to build the Southeast Expressway.
Now that I know the channel is plenty deep, and we are the only ones in it, I turn my baseball cap backwards and open the throttle, quickly bringing Salty up on plane. We do the return trip at full speed, zooming through the curves and under the bridges.
The Barking Crab restaurant looms ahead to starboard. “Hungry?” I ask. “Yup.” Came the expected answer. Can’t go boating in Boston without a stop at The Barking Crab! I pull Salty alongside their large dock and tie her to a cleat. We find two empty stools at the bar and order drinks. I love the food here and they make a world-class Bloody Mary. It’s extremely casual and filled with what can only be described as “nautical clutter.” One side, open to the water, faces an aging and historic swing bridge, and to my surprise, it starts to open to let a sailboat pass. “Jeez! I didn’t think that thing actually worked,” I say. The friendly bartender informs us that it opens two or three times daily.
Susan orders the bucket o’ shrimp, and I go for the fried cod sandwich with extra tartar sauce. If you don’t mind picnic tables and plastic forks, pull your boat up to their dock and give this place a shot.
Nighttime in Boston
Maybe it’s the city atmosphere, or maybe it’s the coolish weather that made this day one so busy and full of activity. So much to see and do. No time to be lazy like we usually are. We walked for hours through this wonderful place and ended the evening having dinner at Legal Seafood with our good friends Danny and Janice. Bedtime couldn’t come fast enough!
Saturday morning July 21 2012
I’m manning my usual post on the aft-deck awaiting the sunrise. Darkness turns to purpleness and soon the sun punches in for its usual shift. “Well done Mister Sun. One of your finest!” I applaud. I hear Susan moving about the salon. She joins me clutching her favorite extra large coffee mug. ” Good morning. Did I wake you?” I ask. She’s never been a late sleeper, but I always try to be quiet in the morning so I don’t wake her. This morning we plan on cruising to Provincetown, a place we have never been to by boat. It’s kind of exciting, doing something new, not knowing what to expect.
After coffee we busy ourselves with our usual departure routines. Pollux, our port side engine, is not turning over.(Yes we name our engines! FYI, Castor is the starboard engine.) I check the 30 amp breaker but it is still closed. Then I check the battery selector switches and they are both properly set. I hit the starter again…nothing. The voltage meter reads 12.5 volts, more than enough. Susan, standing on the finger dock waiting to release the bow line, looks up in concern. “What’s up?” she asks. “Pollux won’t turn over” I answer. “I’ll have to take a look. Help me with the couch will ya please?” We slide the heavy sleeper couch to the other side of the salon to access the engine hatch. With volt meter in hand I climb down and start probing the starter connections. “Give it a try will ya hon?”…Susan turns the switch…still nothing but the meter swings to 12 volts DC…”She’s got voltage,” I say, talking myself through the evaluation process. I lay a screwdriver across the solenoid terminals expecting the starter to jump…still nothing. “Whatta ya think?” Susan asks, “It’s either a bad starter or bad wiring to the starter. I’m thinking we could take her home on one engine or try to find a starter here in Boston.” I say wiping the grease off my hands, reviewing the options. “Hang on a sec.” I say, not willing to give up. “Got a mirror?” I ask. She digs a small compact out of her purse and hands it to me. With a flashlight in one hand and the mirror in the other, I begin to carefully check all the wiring under the starter in the dimly lit engine compartment.
“I’ll be damned! A corroded spade connector!” I can just barely detect the tell-tale greenish fuzz that is almost completely hidden by the blue plastic connector apron. It’s so corroded that it crumbles in my hand. Within 30 seconds I crimp on a new one, hit the starter and Pollux roars to life. “Oh Yeah!” I cheer, doing my best Tom Brady fist pump. “I knew you could fix it,” Susan says. Apparently she’s more confident in my abilities than I am, but I’ll take the credit anyway. Next stop; Provincetown!
Slip rental: 2 nights @ 4.50/ft $288.
30 amp electric service $24.
Refrigerator magnet $3.99
Waterboat Marina Tee Shirt $15.