Truth: Stranger Than Fiction

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

Eric here with the latest travels of Still Waters II.


99 Watch Hill Light
Watch Hill Light


Summary of week:


The crew left for Newport, Rhode Island on Monday and explored the mansions of the rich-and-famous on Tuesday.  Wednesday, the crew anchored at the entrance of the Cap Cod Canal to time their passage with the tide and current.  On Thursday, they transited the Canal and anchored off the shore at Plymouth, Massachusetts.  Friday, the crew completed their run to Boston.

This week’s journey of discovery did answer the following questions:

  1. How did Rhode Island get its name?
  2. Did the Vanderbilt’s succumb to the three-generation fall?
  3. What is the truth about Paul Revere’s Mid-Night Ride?

Click on the link to read the day-to-day travel log.  This includes weather of the day, sea conditions, log of the days travel, and a summary of the experience.

At The Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II bobbing gently in 4-6-foot swells on her run from Newport to the Cape Cod Canal.  If you watch closely you will notice a couple of 10-foot swells roll under her keel.  Then a few clips of her entering the Cape Cod Canal.  Enjoy!

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library now contains 33 videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Sunday, Aug 13, 2017

There have only been a few stops that the crew was happy to leave, and vowed to never return.  They have added the Burrs Marina in New London, Connecticut to that short list.  The marina staff and people keeping their boats at the marina were all fine folks.  The problem was with the Ferry Boats that run up and down the Thames River.  The wake from the Ferry Boats started early in the morning and lasted till after dark.  Still Waters II rocked-n-rolled all day long in her slip.

89 Ferry
Offending Ferry

The crew was glad to have found this last-minute slip, but now understands why there was availability at the marina when everything else within 10 miles was sold out.

Monday, Aug 14, 2017

The run to Newport, Rhode Island was filled with the rocky coast that the crew imagined that they would see in New England.  The number of lighthouses continues to increase as the hazards in the water also begin to rise.  The lights mark areas of shallow rock formations called ‘ledges,’ so many of the lights have the word ‘ledge’ in their name.


The other observation is that though the crew is out in the Atlantic Ocean, these waters are named ‘Sounds.’  For example, today the crew cruised in the Fisher Island Sound and the Block Island Sound.  From the skipper’s point of view, when you can see the mainland off the port side of the boat and only water on the starboard side of the boat, you are in the Big Pond.  In these parts, the Big Pond would be the Atlantic Ocean.

100 Ferry

When Giovanni Verrazzano arrived at what today is named Block Island back in 1524, he described the island as about the size of the Greek Isle of Rhodes.  However, the first settlement of modern Rhode Island was not started until 1636 at Providence.  Interesting enough, Rhode Island was the first colony to declare independence from the British, but the last colony to approve the Constitution of the United States.

97 East Point Fisher Island
East Point of Fisher Island

Newport has a long nautical history and is a very popular place for boaters.  The mooring field has just over a thousand mooring balls.  They are first-come-first-serve and the crew was glad to find a vacant ball upon their arrival.  The first marina they called said they were full.  The second dock master said he thought he had one ball left, gave the crew the number and a general description where to find the ball.  The skipper weaved in and out of the moored boats until he finally found the empty ball.

Entrance to Newport

Tuesday, Aug 15, 2017 

In the Gilded Age, Newport became the summer home for the rich-and-famous. ‘Summer Cottages,” as their owners called them were open for living for six weeks in the summer.  The Preservation Society of Newport has managed to save several of these mansions and allow self-guided tours.  The crew decided to tour two mansions, both built by Vanderbilt’s.

You might recall that Cornelius Vanderbilt started his climb from poverty by starting a ferry business with one sail boat.  That business eventually became known as the Staten Island Ferry.  He moved from sailboats to steamships during the age of steam.  He then moved into the railroad business.  He became the richest person in America in the early 1850’s but lived a very modest lifestyle.  Upon his death in 1877, he left his 100 Million estate to his oldest son.

William Henry Vanderbilt grew the business empire to 200 Million in just 10 years.  He also is the one who started the Vanderbilt culture of living large off the new money he inherited.  He built the first family mansion on Fifth Avenue in NYC.  He really did not like running the family business so he established the first corporation to run the business for him.  Upon his death in 1885, he claimed the amount of money was too great for any one person to manage, so he divided the estate between two of his sons.

Cornelius Vanderbilt II is described as a socialite.  He built ‘The Breakers’ in Newport between 1893-1895.  The mansion has 62,482 square feet of living space on a footprint of about one acre.  He had seven children.  Strangely:

  • The first child died at the age of five of childhood illness
  • The first son died of typhoid fever while attending Yale University
  • The second son was disinherited for marrying a woman the family did not approve
  • The third son died aboard the RMS Lusitania when a German U-boat sank the ship

That left the fourth son, Reginald Vanderbilt to inherit the family fortune when Cornelius died an early death in 1899 at the age of 55.

In the book, Fortune’s Children the fall of the House of Vanderbilt, Reggie is described as living the life of a rich playboy.  The book also claims he did it with dedication and skill.  Reggie’s fast living left him dead at 45 from cirrhosis due to alcoholism.

The Breakers



In the cluster of pics above, the bottom right picture shows a wall with ‘silver’ wall finishings.  The interesting thing about the ‘silver’ finish was that it never corroded as one would have expected silver to do.  The Preservation Society wanted to find out what the ‘silver’ was so they used modern technology to solve the mystery.  Turns out that the ‘silver’ wall is actually Platinum, a metal more scarce and expensive than gold.

William Vanderbilt I is described as an American heir.  He built ‘Marble House’ from 1888-1892.  After his divorce in 1895 he went to Europe to live out his life.

He had two sons, William Vanderbilt II and Harold Vanderbilt.  William was a fast car enthusiast and was into auto racing, travel, and leisure activities.  Unfortunately, his only son was killed in an auto accident.

Harold was into yacht racing and playing bridge.  He defended the America’s Cup three times in 1930, 1933, and 1937.  He was a world class bridge player also winning the North American Bridge Championship in 1932 and 1940.  However, Harold had no children and the name of Vanderbilt faded into the history books.

Marble House


In the book of Genesis, chapter 5, there is a list of Adam’s descendants.  In the middle of the list, verses 12-18 we find the following names: Kenan, Mahalalel, and Jared.  If you look these names up in Hebrew, you would learn that the names mean Material Acquisition, Exuberance (letting go with no restraint), and Decline.

Ancient Jewish Wisdom teaches that once our heart moves towards material acquisition, the next generation will be exuberant, and the third generation will be in decline.

The Vanderbilt family lived this pattern out to a T.  Once William Vanderbilt started building and acquiring property rather than running a railroad the family future was sealed.  The Breakers and Marble House are both excellent examples of exuberance of the second generation.  Reggie’s playboy lifestyle with his cousins consumed with leisure activities in the third-generation lead to the decline of the House of Vanderbilt where the name died with no male heirs.

Certainly, something to think about as America has been on a Material Acquisition binge for a while.  The second generation is currently living a life of Exuberance, as many people are living a life with no standards and no restraint.  Is it any wonder that many people believe that our country is currently in Decline?

 Wednesday, Aug 16, 2017       

The crew began their three-day journey to Boston.  The first stop was to anchor near the beginning of the Cape Cod Canal.  The swells in the open water were consistently 4-6 foot with occasional swells 9-10 feet.  The swells were about 13 seconds apart so the ride was a pleasant slow roll as the waves passed under the keel.

107 Breakers in RI
Leaving Newport, these are the breakers that the summer cottage was named after

At one point the crew began to overtake a sailboat.  The sailboat was about a half mile off the starboard beam.  As the swells would roll by the sailboat would drop down in the trough between waves and the crew would lose sight of the boat and just be able to see the mast of the sailboat.

109 Buzzard Bay
Saw this ship as we entered Buzzard Bay

They dropped the anchor initially in the Phinneys Harbor and had supper.  The skipper noticed that the wind had changed direction (by 180*) and intensity.  He went out to make sure the anchor would catch when the wind blew the boat the opposite direction.

110 Cleveland Ledge Lighthouse
Cleveland Ledge Lighthouse

The anchor did not hold so the crew had to reset the anchor.  Once the anchor was back onboard, the skipper decided to move behind an island to get out of the wind.  They dropped the anchor and had a nice calm night on the hook.

112 Anchored in Phinney's Harbor
Phinneys Harbor

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The tide and current dictated that the crew should enter the Cap Code Canal about 1100, so the crew had a leisurely morning.  At 1100, they weighed anchor and headed over to the Canal.  When they entered the Canal, the Admiral noticed a posted sign that said Speed Limit 10 mph No Wake.  Let’s just say that there were plenty of boats exceeding both the speed limit and No Wake requirements.  It felt like the boat was in a washing machine for the first mile or so.

113 RR Bridge over Cape Cod Canal
Open RR Bridge over Cape Cod Canal

Upon exiting the Canal, the crew was in Cape Cod Bay.  They altered course and headed towards Plymouth.  The crew had wanted to visit the Pilgrim Museum upon arrival, but due to the late start the museum was closed by the time the crew arrived.

115 Cape Cod.JPG
First look at Cape Cod

The skipper also checked the weather and noticed that a storm was brewing off shore and would arrive Friday afternoon.  Since they could not visit the museum, they decided to drop anchor out in the Bay rather than spend the hour getting into Plymouth.

116 Sunrise Plymouth Bay
At anchor in Plymouth Bay

After dropping the anchor, the skipper deployed the dinghy so that he could move a lobster trap.  He was afraid that the float and line might tangle in the anchor chain if the wind changed direction.

Friday, August 18, 2017

The crew weighed anchor at first light and set out for Boston with hopes of beating the predicted storm.  The wind was light and the waves were 1-2-foot following seas.  The crew made good time and arrived in Boston Harbor around 1000.

120.2 Boston Light
Boston Light, location of the first lighthouse in America in 1716

They were surprised by the number of islands scattered around the entrance to Boston.  There are some 30 plus islands protecting the entrance to town.

120 Enter Boston Channel

Cruising by downtown Boston

After they docked the boat, the rain started to fall and the winds began to pick up.  After the storm blew through, the crew decided to set out on foot and explore the Freedom Trail towards Bunker Hill.

124.3 View from top of Bunker Hill Memorial
Looking at the marina from the top of the Bunker Hill Monument (294 steps to the top)



Saturday, August 19, 2017

The crew took a Hop-on-Hop-off trolley ride around Boston.  They started the tour at the USS Constitution.  The town has really changed significantly since the last time the skipper was here back in 1992.  The tour guide made a point to reinforce that Boston had four main business sectors:

  1. Financial
  2. Medical
  3. Technology (he called it the Silicon Valley of the east coast)
  4. Tourism

He also mentioned that the improvements in the city are keeping the graduates of MIT and Harvard gainfully employed.  There were new condos being built all over town.

The Admiral has a keen interest in Real Estate Markets, so upon return to the boat she looked up housing prices in the area.  The cheapest one-bedroom condo around the marina district was $750,000.


Million Dollar Condos in Boston


The tour guide pointed out one building that was recently sold for 31 Million after being listed on the market at 28 Million.  The increase in price due to competition between buyers.

Old state House
  • Oldest public building in Boston, built in 1713
  • The Boston Massacre occurred under the balcony on March 5, 1770
  • The Declaration of Independence was read from the balcony on July 18, 1776

After taking the tour around town the crew hopped off the bus at the Old State House and started the Freedom Trail back to the boat.

Changing of the Guard at the Old State House

One of the big narratives on the tour was Paul Revere.  The Freedom Trail takes you by Paul Revere’s home and by the Old North Church.  The story that was told along the trail conflicted with the skipper’s previous understanding.

Paul Revere with Old North Church in background

Turns out that the truth was that three men rode to Lexington and only one made it to Concord.  Paul Revere was captured after leaving Lexington by the British.  They took his horse and he walked back to Lexington on foot.  He never made it to Concord.  And how about that famous line “The British are coming; the British are coming!”  Did not happen.  His actual message, “The regulars are coming out.”

Of the three men who rode, only Dr. Prescott made it to Concord .

Reminds the skipper of the old joke, what were Paul Revere’s last words on the mid-night ride?  “Whoa horse”


Map from


To get the real story about Paul Revere’s ride, click the link above in the picture.

So where did all the miss information originate from?  Short answer – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his 1860 poem, Paul Revere’s Ride.

He knew his poem was historically inaccurate, but his purpose in writing the poem was to warn of a future civil war so he took poetic license with the facts.  Some how the poem became the definitive ‘truth’ about the event and these ‘truths’ made there way into textbooks.  Hmm, so much for that ‘free’ public school education.  I guess you get what you pay for.

With the Hop-on-Hop-off tour, the crew also got a cruise on the Boston Harbor Tour Boat.  Rather than walk to the USS Constitution, the crew took the Tour Boat and enjoyed the narration about the harbor.

Boat Name of the Week


USS Constitution – the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel afloat.  She was launched in 1797.

Next Week –

The crew will stay and explore Boston and surrounding areas most of the week.  They will leave on Friday and try to make it to New Hampshire and Maine.

Loop On

The water goes on forever and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red


2 Comments on “Truth: Stranger Than Fiction

  1. Really enjoyed this. Have toured the Breakers in Newport. Spectacular. I noted how many of the builders of those fine mansions lived only a few years after. There’s a biblical reference in there. Have done the on and off Boston trolly. You were lucky to tour the Constitution because it was just returned after being refurbished. If you have a chance, take the half-day Gray Line tour out to Lexington and Concord (Walden Pond also), the narrative our driver did made me feel like I was there. Thrilling. Also, don’t miss the JFK Library. It’s not very close to other attractions though. By all means eat lots of lobster there and in Maine. Love your pictures and narrative. Too bad you won’t be in the area on Sept. 9 to celebrate my 80th bday!


  2. I was studying on Newport and Middleton RI this week. Funny how our “paths cross” even when we are so far apart.

    Mrs. Parr probably forgot to tell you about the truth behind Revere’s ride as she was searching for her magnifying glass to read your previous night’s homework. 😏


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