We departed Mystic Seaport on June 10th with a forecast that looked like a good 12 knot sunny sailing day for our long coasting up to Narragansett Bay, but like all forecasts their only true somewhere else. We motored all day and as we turned the corner at Point Judith we could see the fleet of racing sailboats off of Newport competing in the New York Yacht Club’s “Annual” regatta - supposedly the longest running regatta in the United States. We weren’t ready for Newport yet so put into Dutch Harbor off the West Passage near the East side of Jamestown. We found a great anchorage near the mooring field and dinghied into the town dock for a walk across the island to Jamestown, about 1/2 mile away, situated on the East Passage. What an amazing quiet island. You feel like you’re walking through a nature preserve it’s so quiet, listening to the birds chirping and the wind blowing through the trees. But it’s not, it’s a residential island with a nice little boutique town, Jamestown, on the Eastern shore.

We knew that a Bainbridge Island boat, Rocket J. Squirrel, was in Newport doing the annual regatta so we had our eyes peeled in the harbor for a Swan 39 moored out or at the dock. We though we spotted it, but when we got close it was another 39, not the Squirrel, but what are the odds of finding it so quickly eh? So we began walking back across the Island to Libra and didn’t make it more than two blocks before around the corner came the Chris, Rhonda and crew of the Swan 39, Rocket J. Squirrel! What are the odds? New York Yacht Club is over in Newport Harbor across the passage so we figured the boat was over there, nope, she was in Jamestown where they had rented a house for their stay. Laughing, talking, joking we made plans to visit them the next night at their rental house for a crew party/bbq and walked off into the sunset. WOW, running into them like that was strange and a huge boost to our day, amazing to see someone you know in a strange place.

So the next day Jennifer took some time for herself at the hair salon while I explored the local beaches with MacIntosh and then we walked back across the island to the Rocket J. Squirrel party and met sailors from all over the East coast at their send off party for the Newport to Bermuda race. We stayed way too late and enjoyed way too many toasts but it was a blast to hang out with Bainbridge people and Seattle sailors so far from home.

The next day started grey and overcast for our motor up to Bristol and the Herreshof Museum. We anchored off the facility and dinghied in to find an amazing place they have set up. It’s not the organized history that we found at Mystic, but for $10 you get to peruse through the America’s Cup Hall of Fame then wander through the steam engines Nat designed and then walk around, upon and inside many of the boats in the warehouse. We’re not talking daysailors only, the have a bunch of those, but 40’ sailboats built by Herreshof and even his personal boat, Clara. She is an amazing boat, way ahead of her time with an external lead keel, reverse bow and a full battened mainsail. Very cool. And then hanging just above her is his catamaran that he designed and built. It looked to be over 30’ long and very light and fast. So fast he was told he couldn’t race it against the monohulls of the time and the idea and boat got shelved. The fact that the boat still exists is a miracle. It is truly something that should be brought out west for the America’s Cup event, it, like Clara, was way ahead of its’ time.

After spending the afternoon at the museum we motored across the channel to Potters Cove for the night, just us and one other boat in the quiet “over mooring balled” cove. There are so many mooring balls there is no room to anchor, but only 2 boats there. Needless to say we picked up a mooring ball with a Yacht Club name on it for the night. The next morning was grey and wet, with full foulies we went on deck and motored back to the mouth of Narragansett Bay and Newport, Rhode Island. It was wet, misty, foggy, grey and finally we got to Newport, motored around the bay, spoke with the Harbormaster and found a spot in his recommended anchorage area. It was very crowded, but we found a spot between a converted Foss tug and a boat from Stockton California. So we had a boat from Seattle, a boat from Bainbridge Island and a boat from Stockton, California all next to each other in Newport Harbor. Good stuff!

We took a walk ashore between rain showers and then retired below for the evening while it poured and poured. I don’t care what people say about it always raining in Seattle, it is never this wet in Seattle, ever. The East Coast gets more rain than they care to admit. The next day dawned sunny and after a morning of cleaning ourselves up at the Seaman’s Church Institute we met up with Mark Williams on his Moore 24 #82 - More Fun - for lunch. Mark was a great host for lunch on his Moore 24, he obviously loves the Moore but isn’t using it any longer and is struggling with the idea of selling her. If he does sell her he doesn’t want her to stay on the East Coast because, as he says, “People on the East Coast just don’t know what a Moore 24 is and I don’t want to see her waisted away and trashed in a boat yard.” A sentiment we fully understand and appreciate, Mark is obviously infected with Moore Dementia Syndrome to some level. Not quite Tertiary Moore Dementia Syndrome, obviously, otherwise he would never be considering selling the boat and actually would be out practicing for the Newport to Bermuda race that starts tomorrow.

We left Mark, longing for a sail on our Moore and missing the Roadmaster series just a bit more than we already were, but it was a great visit with a fellow Moore 24 owner. Up next on the agenda was a walk around the point and Newport. What’s known as the Cliff Walk, basically a trail between the houses on the bluff and the cliff above the breaking waves. A great walk past amazing houses from a time gone by. Some were in good shape and being used by foundations or business as restaurants and hotels, but many were simply run down and need of a lot of help. Part of history that is sitting in disarray, looking for a new energy to recreate a time long gone by. One place had the beginnings of a remodel in the works, we learned later it was recently purchased by Larry Ellison, the AC sailor who recently purchased an island, not a little island but one of the Hawaiian Islands. He should have enough money to get this old house back together.

The walk was long, tiring but well worth it if for nothing else than to really stretch our legs after so many days of sailing. As we walked back into town we passed a bar called the IYAC that had a dog inside so we knew we could bring Mac in and have a cocktail after our long walk. While sipping our rum and tonic we learned that the IYAC is actually a yacht club, the International Yacht and Athletic Club. Basically it was organized as a club because of Newport zoning rules, it was a bar. But after forming as a US sailing club its’ membership blossomed and it actually puts the Sloop Tavern Yacht Club to shame in the amount of members and the amount of charitable donations they make every year. Since their overhead is so small they spend their money on charity rather than new awnings for the deck by the tennis courts (like a club down the road). A cool group and a fun little place. So while this guy, Billie, is explaining what IYAC is to us in walks a group of guys and they sit backs to us at the bar. I look over and go, wait a minute, that’s Newbrook! Billie’s between us and Newbrook and heading out the door and I say hey Billie, hit that guy on the back and get his attention. No doin’, Billie says “Do it yourself” and skirts out the door. I don’t know if he knew Newbrook and didn’t want anything to do with him or if Newbrook’s size scared him. Either way it was fun to watch! So I yell out, Hey, Newbrook! and as Jennifer laughs he turns around and faces people he knows from the left coast, completely out of place for his head and it takes him a few moments to process what he is seeing and then come join us and say hello. 3500 miles from home, for both of us, and we run into each other in one of the many, and I mean many bars of Newport, Rhode Island. What are the odds that we would show up at this bar at the same time of day? Mark Newbrook everybody! Mark had been working on a new 72’er named Bella Mente for the past 2 months getting ready for this race, the Newport to Bermuda. Brand new boat and they’ve been working on her for 2 months, wow! They ended up finishing the race 2nd across the line behind the 90’ sled Rambler. Not bad for a new 72’er, guess all their hard work paid off... We left Mark to dinner with his crew and retired to Libra for dinner and some sleep before we left in the morning for the little Island at the end of the Elizabeth chain, Cuttyhunk.

Continued in Part III