"if you live long enough!" (Part 2)

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written 28 June 2008
The Haddie Pierce House
Wickford, Rhode Island
6:00 - 7:30 am

Once Captain was settled - after negotiating the steeply-angled dock ramp - Sarah took me to Updike's for some internet time. She introduced me to Mike, who promptly dubbed his place, "Newtowne's Coffee and Daycare." I was in good hands. :-) When she dropped me off again the next day, I received a compliment for entering alone: "Goodbye at the car and coming through the door by yourself, that's a big step!" I enjoyed the freshly-roasted coffee from his fancy roaster, too!
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While I blogged that day, the weather turned for the worse and Captain battened down against a hailstorm.

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Yep, you read that right, golfball-sized hail in the midst of summer! Tom and Sarah both checked in on her....I didn't learn of the hail in Allen Harbor until after the fact but the rain was cause enough to worry. Maybe it was the hours of separation that led to our great talk that night, although I think the lightning that nearly got us might have had something to do with it! We were just sitting there in the evening, listening to the rain and thunder, watching the lightning out the open back, when a nearly-simultaneous burst of light and sound of crash startled both of us enough to jump! I thought it struck to port, Captain thought to starboard, maybe it was overhead or at the bow, but there was just barely enough time between stimuli to perceptually distinguish the sequence of light/sound - any closer together and we'd have been toast. "I think you don't hear anything," the Captain mused, "if you're actually struck."

I heard a lot, by the way, from the good ol' boys running the Marina!

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Bill, Bill, Bob, Mike, and Al are amiable old salts. Keith too, young 'un that he is by comparison. Some combination of these men were usually in the office, telling their independent versions of whatever stories were going 'round that day. Often a couple of them would be out back on the porch downing a beer or two at the end of the day. I got most of my history of the place from Bob; I asked him if it would be unfair for me to be ironic about the donation of a polluted place. He said yes, it would in fact be unfair: "The Navy has been good to us; they've been good to this town."

"It was WWII. We were in bind - us young people, especially. They did what they had to do, you know?"

All the wildlife has come back, although it's still not safe to eat the shellfish - "but they're here!" Over the years, Bob has observed the fish and birds return. I watched egrets hunting, considering the birds eating the fish as evidence of recovery.

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Bob confirmed that birds proliferate, and I sure enjoyed listening to them singing away in the nearby woods and honking their various incongruous calls.

I learned more from Bill as he drove me in the golfcart to the pumpout station. The harbor holds eighty moorings and about eighty more slips. Profits go into a leisure fund for North Kingstown, designated for recreational activities. The town seems to use it mostly for the golf course (why not for electricity, I wonder?) Bill wasn't claiming precise knowledge or complaining, just answering my questions based on memory. Allen Harbor has a long wait list; these guys are set! The hailstorm, our visit, and subsequent storm damage are duly recorded in the logbook - do you suppose there's any correlation?! Nah . . .

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Christian, of the International Yacht Restoration School, designed and installed a lovely, fully-functional washboard.

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Upon clearing inspection, Captain was (as usual!) ready to go! I'll miss Sarah's taxi service, replete with sail gear, tales of sea adventures and historical lore. Here she is, driving and displaying her brand-new certification to poop aboard the Gracious Lady (a decal which may never again be seen in public).

We made it to Rome Point with the current but thoroughly against the wind. Except for the wind's uncooperative direction, one could hardly ask for a more beautiful day for sailing: clear blue skies lightly sprinkled with puffy pure white clouds, mildly warm, a bit of chop as the wind whipped up some whitecaps, and hardly anyone else on the water. In the evening, as we honed in on the selected overnight spot, we were privy to a sailboat race. That was pretty fun! The boats maneuvered so very, very close to one another, a few times appearing they might collide. Crew shifted sides, acting as human ballast ("meat") as the sloops (?) angled for position, tacking furiously.

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After the second turn, they unfurled their spinnakers - so pretty! Classic, the Captain commented, a sailboat race on Narragansett Bay.

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We anchored. Tensions between us had re-flared during the afternoon, in periodic bursts sortof like the practice that happened immediately overhead all week for the annual Rhode Island Airshow.

The water and wind were calm that night. In the morning, (gulp), I was fired. :-(

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