The Gilded Age

Ahoy from Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Welcome back virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

Entrance hall at The Elms

Summary of the Week

The crew set off from the Isle of Shoals on Monday, but could find no place to stay in Gloucester. Consequently, they moved on and dropped anchor in Boston. Tuesday, they moved down to the Cape Cod Canal and found a mooring ball for Tuesday night. Then it was on to Newport where they spent Wednesday and Thursday nights on a mooring ball. With Hurricane Dorian looming on the horizon, the crew went about 15 miles further north to Portsmouth for the weekend, and to allow Dorian to pass.

Click on the Still Waters II Travel Map to see detailed Voyage Logs.

The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

  1. Where were the Pilgrims originally supposed to land and start their colony?
  2. How many Fullers sailed across on the Mayflower in 1620?
  3. Who is credited as the first Pilgrim born in the new colony?
  4. How did the owners of The Elms make their fortune?
  5. How much did Rosecliff sell for at auction?

At the Box Office

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

Sunday, September 1st

The crew had a crazy cruise today. Their destination was Gloucester; however, the Labor Day weekend coincided with a large Schooner Festival in town so there was no room in the inn. The marinas were full, the mooring balls were full, and the anchorages were full. The crew decided to push on to Boston.

They did decide to cruise through the canal north of Gloucester and check out all of the activity though. That might have been a mistake with the number of people out on the water. The canal was full of boats moored and anchored in the channel with boat traffic moving both north and south.

Once they had navigated their way through the maze of boats, they arrived at an open narrow only wide enough for one boat to pass at a time Railroad Bridge. There was a steady stream of north bound boaters coming through the bridge. The problem was that the skipper was the first of many south bound boats wanting to go through the bridge. But there was a 90 degree turn to make and he could not see if the way was clear. He finally made a Securitee message call over the radio announcing he was headed through the bridge when there seemed to be a gap in the north bound boats. The northbound boater’s called back and said to wait, there were four more of them coming and then it would be safe for the south bounders. When the fourth boat came out from the bridge it signaled all clear and all was good to go. The skipper then made the right turn and passed through the bridge.

Almost immediately the crew came up on a TowBoat who was towing a broke down boat. The TowBoat was trying to maneuver over to a nearby dock, but there were so many recreational vessels in the way, the TowBoat could not move. After a few minutes of waiting, the traffic jam cleared and the crew found themselves waiting in another line of boaters at a highway bridge.

The current was running about 3 knots under the narrow bridge towards the waiting line of boats. Once the bridge opened it was total chaos as the boats all speed up to make the bridge. The wave action was horrendous, and a crowd of folks had gathered on the other side of the bridge to watch the action. I think they were hoping to see and hear some fiberglass crunching.

The crew was glad to get in the harbor, but found it full of boats as well. They looked for a place to drop the anchor, but eventually decided to just keep going to Boston. As they headed out of the harbor, they came across over a hundred sailboats and schooners out enjoying a sail.

It took nearly an hour for the skipper to work his way through all the sailboats and make a heading towards Boston. As they were entering the channel to Boston they saw a fully loaded container ship slipping up behind them. The skipper moved to the edge of the channel to make sure the container ship would be able to keep visual contact with Still Waters II. As the crew continued to keep an eye on the container ship, they witnessed three different boats cross the channel directly in front of the big ship. One sailboat was so close that the container ship started blowing his horn five times, which is the DANGER signal.

The crew eventually got into a good spot out of the wind and dropped the anchor. There were seven or eight small boats up near shore with their crews on land enjoying the day. Well all except one guy that is. The other boaters all left before the tide started to go out. But one boat was still there, with nobody in sight. In less than an hour, the boat was high and dry.

When the owner finally showed back up, he had a rude awakening. He began to dump water around the lower unit of the motor and dug it out. He then began to collect drift wood and started a fire to keep himself warm. The skipper checked the tide tables and learned the guy was going nowhere until a little after midnight when the tide would finally float the boat.

And this my friends is why some boaters say to stay off the water on three day weekends so you avoid the madness and weekend warriors. What a crazy day on the water.

Monday, September 2nd

The crew was hoping they would not have a repeat of the nonsense they encountered yesterday. They weighed anchor and headed south towards the Cape Cod Canal. The wind was a bit blustery out of the west, so the skipper stayed as close to shore as safely possible.

The wind must have kept the weekend warriors at bay because there were not as many boaters out on the water today. There was also not much excitement, which was a good thing. The crew did pass the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant, just south of Plymouth.

Obviously, the Plant was named for the Pilgrims who landed in Plymouth Bay in November 1620. Their land grant was for the New England territory; however, their initial landing and colony was supposed to be at the mouth of the Hudson River. They sighted land (the hook of Cape Cod) and tried to sail around the Cape. But because of the shoaling between Cape Cod and the island of Nantucket they could not find safe passage. Because cold weather was starting to set in, they decided to abandon the plan for the Hudson, turned around, and landed in the Bay and made a rock famous.

Two of the 102 passengers were brothers Edward and Samual Fuller. Edward also had his wife (possibly named Ann) and son, Samual with him as well, for a total of four Fullers on the Mayflower. Both Edward and his wife both died in early 1621, joining the half of the folks who did not make the one year anniversary of landing at Plymouth Rock. There was a birth of an Alice Fuller on January 11, 1621 which would make her the first Fuller born in the New World. Ann Fuller’s death is listed as, after January 11, 1621, with no cause of death. Makes you wonder if it was complications due to delivery.

You might think that Alice just might be the first baby born in America to the Pilgrims. However that honor actually goes to Peregrine White. His mother gave birth to him on the Mayflower while anchored off the shore at Plymouth, which makes him a passenger. Later that same day, the passengers made their landing and went ashore. Peregrine, which means traveler, lived a long life before passing away in July 1704 at the age of 83. Which also makes him the last surviving passenger of the Mayflower.

Uncle Samual Fuller took in nephew Samual Fuller (12 years old) and niece Alice (new born) and raised them. Junior would later marry and have nine children, three sons who reached adulthood and also married. Junior’s older brother, Mathew, eventually came to Plymouth and raised his family here also. So the Fuller’s can trace their lineage back to Edward Fuller, a signer of the Mayflower compact.

The crew timed their arrival at the Cap Cod Canal just about perfect and got a couple knot current push as they transited the Canal. The skipper had noticed that Confetti had left an Active Captain review about some mooring balls on the west end of the Canal. The balls do not have any line attached so you have to attach your own line to the ball. Confetti explained how they were successful, so our crew replicated the method. It took three tries to grab the ball because of the wind, but once the crew had the ball they were able to thread the needle and get the ball secured to the bow of the boat.

Once secured, the crew had a good view to observe other boats transit the Canal. After dark, a large cruise ship went by lit up like a Christmas tree.

Tuesday, September 3rd

The crew dropped the mooring ball and made the cruise to Newport. The mooring field at Newport is first come first serve. With the three day weekend over, the skipper was hoping that boaters would have left and the crew would find a mooring ball. What the skipper did not know was that the Newport International Boat Show was scheduled for next week and the harbor was a buzz getting ready for the event.

When the crew arrived in the harbor, they hailed the harbor master on the radio and asked for a mooring. It took a few minutes, but the harbor master found a mooring the crew could take. Because of the Boat Show preps, the mooring was good for one night only. The harbor master would let the crew know tomorrow if they could have the ball for another night before noon tomorrow. The boat brokers use the mooring balls during the boat show as offices and have dibs on the balls. The harbor master does not know when the brokers will actually show up, so they keep a few balls open everyday for the arriving boat brokers.

Looking around the harbor from mooring ball #13

Wednesday, September 4th

The crew learned they could stay another night around 1000, so they hailed the launch service to get a ride to shore. They then took the trolley to one of the Gilded Age Mansions, The Elms.

The Elms was the summer cottage for coal magnate Edward Berwind and his wife, Herminie. She was the daughter of the US Consul to Italy, so she was raised overseas and had a taste for Venetian art which shows through in The Elms.

Edward Berwind made his fortune in the coal business, but before he launched his civilian career he was a Naval Academy graduate. Back in those days the Academy just happened to be in Newport. After resigning his commission at the age of 27, he started his coal business by acquiring mines in Pennsylvania. He managed to get a contract supplying coal to the Navy. He went on to land contracts with Cornelius Vanderbilt supplying coal to both the growing shipping industry and railroads.

The Berwind’s opened their summer cottage in 1901.

One interesting backstory about the cottage was the duties of the head house maid. She was tasked with making sure none of the linens/satin napkins did not disappear. This was no easy task when you realize that at one ball they would serve at least 200 guests in a 16 course French dinner. She had to count the linens when they came out of the closet, when they went to the washing area, when they went to be dried, and lastly when put back in the linen closet. Why all the security over a napkin you ask? One of those gold lined satin napkins was worth more than the servants made in the two month season in Newport.

After exploring The Elms, the crew walked down to Rosecliff to tour the ‘Party House.’

Rosecliff opened in 1902 as a summer retreat and the stage for Theresa Oelrichs to throw some of the greatest parties of the Gilded Age. Theresa’s fortune was made as the heiress of Silver Mines in Nevada. It was common for her to throw a party at the cottage with a $500,000 budget. The Ball Room was the largest room in any of the Newport Cottages and was specifically designed to hold large number of guests for Theresa’s outrageous parties. These days, the house is a favorite for weddings and other functions.

The most interesting backstory at Rosecliff was the sell price in the 1940’s. The original cost of the ‘Party House’ was 2.5 million. The house was passed down to the original owners son. By the 1940’s, the house became too expensive to maintain so the son auctioned the mansion and contents for $21,000.

Thursday, September 5th

The task for today was to figure out the best strategy to weather the winds that will arrive in the area on Saturday due to Hurricane Dorian.

Based on the current predictions of the storm track, it appears that the crew would see winds in the low 20’s with gusts near 40 at Newport. With that info, the crew decided to move north about 15 miles to a marina in Portsmouth. The winds are only expected to be 15-20 in Portsmouth, with gusts to 30. After arrival, the skipper spent a little extra time to secure Still Waters II to the dock. The winds are supposed to arrive Friday late afternoon and peak early Saturday morning. Time will tell what actually happens.

Tucked inside hurricane hole at Pirate’s Cove Marina

Friday, September 6th

So far so good for the crew. The winds have only been up to 15 mph here in Pirate Cove Marina, and very little rain during the day. Winds are predicted to get to 25 overnight so looks like all will be well here in Rhode Island.

Saturday, September 7th

Overnight the winds stayed below 25 mph, and the well protected marina was surprisingly calm. Dorian has moved off from Cape Cod and has tracked towards Nova Scotia. It will be interesting to see how much damage the ICW has encountered once the crew heads south from Norfolk in a few weeks. But it does appear that the initial storm damage reports from Florida to New England are better than expected with little loss of life.

One interesting story about post hurricane damage assessment comes from Cumberland Island in Georgia. It seems a woman had some of her ashes put in a bottle with a note and thrown in the Atlantic Ocean off the Island. Some folks found the bottle on Cumberland Island. The note request that if you find the bottle, take a picture, write and send pic to the email, and throw the bottle back in the water. The woman wants to travel the world. Well, she is off to a slow start.

To end the week on a brighter note though with someone who actually has cruised the world, the crew met a couple on the docks who have a connection back to McKinney, Texas. The Admiral has a niece who still lives near McKinney. But more interesting, the couple spent 7 years cruising the Mediterranean. Their stories were definitely more interesting than cruising Cumberland Island in a bottle.

Boat Name of the Week

Next Week –

With Dorian in the rear view mirror, the crew will focus on cruising the Long Island Sound and arriving in New York City on Saturday, to cross their wake and complete the Down East Loop.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

One Comment on “The Gilded Age

  1. Good news that Dorian was a non-event for you and you found a good hurricane harbor. What an amazing adventure you’ve had on this Down East Loop ! We will spend November in the area between Punta Gorda and Fort Myers before heading to Marathon FL Keys for the winter. Let us know where you are during that timeframe so we can find you and catch up.


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