It’s early morning at Sunset Bay Marina in Hull, Massachusetts. Sunrise is imminent and it’s very quiet. It’s like I have the whole place to myself. Thin, streaky clouds paint the sky with splashes of gun-metal gray. On land, countless birds, obviously also excited to be awake and alive on a such a nice morning, loudly make their presence known in the large oaks lining the shore. And it’s warm too. There will be no escaping the heat today.
With a bowl of Raisin Bran in hand, I stare at the now empty “party boat” across the fairway. Last night, in that boat, the locals were tying-one-on. No loud music, thankfully, but there was plenty of talking and laughing that increased in volume until about 10:30 when I think they ran out of booze. I briefly consider turning Ginger Lee around in her slip so that the aft deck–where we usually sit–would face away from the noise. Ah well. Maybe tonight will be different. Right now, I’m getting my walking shoes on. I plan to walk the four blocks to the other side of Hull Peninsula and check out Nantasket Beach, a name that conjures up all kinds of wonderful memories from my youth.
Nantasket Beach is wicked wide. It must be a couple of hundred yards to the ocean. And it’s long too. One continuous sweep of sand that covers at least three and a half miles. I walk south toward what used to be one of New England’s, and arguably, the nation’s premier destinations, mostly because of a cool amusement park that closed in the mid eighties. Years ago, I used to spend the day at the beach, then hit Paragon Park for the usual stuff that amusement parks offer: rides, greasy food, and girl watching. Now, only the carousel remains. I’m getting a sad feeling because it’s not at all what I remember.
“Jeez Rick. Get over it. Things change, life goes on. It’s a gorgeous day and you’re on vacation.”
Having talked myself out of the sadness, I happily head toward the water’s edge where walking is easier on the wet, hard-packed sand. It feels good to stretch my legs. So good in fact, that I increase my pace, lengthen my stride, and push off hard with every step until my body starts to complain. The sun is just beginning to bring the heat, and I have no water and no defense against its onslaught. So I think it’s wise to head back.
On the way back to the boat, I find a wallet on the street. It contains no cash and no drivers license, but there are credit cards, debit cards, and most importantly, some kind of veterans ID with a picture and a name. I google the name, and up pops a video of a parade through the streets of Hull featuring a young dude wearing a fancy, full dress Marine uniform. I’m talkin’ sword, tassels, scrambled eggs and everything. It was obviously the same dude on the ID I found. Apparently the guy is a war hero and the son of a prominent politician in Hull. I call the town hall, inform them of my find, and leave my phone number. The morning slips by and nobody is calling me back, but the XO and I want to bike to a museum. I figure I’ll leave the wallet at the marina office, that way, if he calls, I can just tell him where to pick it up.
We stop at the office and explain the situation to the nice lady behind the desk. I hand her the wallet and she looks at the ID. “Oh. It’s Johnny,” she says and dials his number from memory! So the story has a happy ending. The young veteran will soon be reunited with his wallet, and the nice lady gives us free ice.
We ride to Point Allerton to visit the oldest remaining Coast Guard life saving station. This place is absolutely fascinating. I’m impressed by the historic artifacts and the story of Captain Joshua James. He and his crew were credited with saving over 600 lives! These brave men lived and worked right here in Hull.
They had all their equipment on wheels, so if there was a ship wreck, they could quickly haul it to the beach. I love the breaches buoy rig. Basically, with a small cannon, they would fire off a cannonball with a line attached to it over to the ship in peril. The sailors on board would tie off to a high point and they could zip-line to shore.
I must admit, at first I was a not too impressed with this place. “What’s all the hullaballoo?” I said to myself. But the more I got to know it, with its friendly people, rich maritime history, and beautiful waterfront, the more I came to love Hull, Massachusetts, and the Sunset Bay Marina. I would come back in a heartbeat.