We are all alone, the only cruiser in this small mooring field. There are other boats, but they’re unoccupied. The sun has just crested the eastern horizon. As you can see, the water is as still as can be expected in a major harbor, not yet disturbed by any passing fishing boats. Wait a sec. Here comes one.
The Lobster boat passes slowly by. Its occupants smoke cigarettes, sip coffee, and talk loudly. They eye Ginger Lee warily, surprised to see such a vessel with obviously no fishing ability.
It’s very warm, as it should be in July. Fairly humid too, again, just as it should be. The birds have been awake for hours. They chatter so constantly that I almost don’t hear them anymore. A faint fishy smell is ever-present, but not enough to bother me. I’m sure somewhere close by on shore, seafood is being processed for the masses, because that’s what they do here.
The XO is up and rustling around in the galley. After awhile, she climbs the companionway stairs with her big coffee mug and smart phone. We exchange our usual morning greetings and pecks.
“There’s a museum I want to visit,” she says, and sits next to me on the gunwale.
“I wanna see the Fisherman statue,” I gush.
My wife’s phone tells us everything we need to know. Like where the public docks are (so we can park the dinghy), and the route to our destinations.
“Bike or walk?” I ask.
“Walk. Definitely walk. Everything is so close.”
While drinking our coffee, we watch an unusual object float slowly toward us. It’s a bright yellow cylinder sticking straight up a foot out of the water.
“Broom handle,” I guess.
“I don’t think so. Why is it sticking up?”
“Because the broom part is still attached,” I venture.
“Can’t be. It would be floating sideways.”
“Maybe a mop. With the metal part weighing it down. The water’s too murky to see more than six inches under.”
“Only one way to find out,” the XO says as it floats closer.
After breakfast we take the dinghy to shore. There are two public landings. One is right across the street from the market, a liquor store, and about a dozen restaurants, so that’s where we’re heading. The plan is to see the Fisherman’s Memorial, hit the museum, grab a bite at a restaurant, and provision up at the market.
I love the boat. You know I do. But after a couple of days afloat, it feels so friggin’ good to walk on solid ground. You really do wobble for a bit.
There are a fair amount of people out this morning. I’m sensing it’s a weekend. I pull my phone out to check on that, and spontaneously decide to call Joe, my next door neighbor. He’s a good man, and always agrees to watch our house while we’re away. We always leave our float plan with him. For those who don’t know, a float plan is a written way to let people know where you are going in your boat. Just in case something happens and you don’t return, the Coast Guard will have some idea of where to look for you. It does happen. A lot. In our case, because we don’t know exactly where we’re going, I can only leave general directions, but I suppose it’s better than nothing.
I dial Joe’s number, he answers immediately, and right off the bat I notice a weird echo. Suddenly, it’s one of those ridiculous and indescribable moments when we both realize we’re standing right next to each other! I mean, literally, one foot away from each other. We all have a good laugh and hang out for a while.
Today is one of those summer days that is so hot and humid, ya just know there’s gonna be thunderstorm. Sure enough, not long after we return to Ginger Lee, all happy and aglow from our busy shore leave, that familiar and ominous rumble begins. The sky abruptly changes from friendly blue to dangerous grey. Being engulfed by a storm while floating on your boat is not a happy feeling. All you can do is take the usual precautions and hope that you don’t get struck by a bolt of lightning.
It was all over in a matter of minutes. We survived and got a free boat wash to boot.
The post storm air is as cool and refreshing as an Autumn morning. I open all the windows and hatches to bathe in it before the hot July sun turns it to steam. This will be our last night here. Tomorrow morning at sunrise, we will start the diesels and head off with the fishing boats. I envy the people who live here. I wonder if they think of Gloucester Harbor in the same way as I do: friendly, historic, beautiful.