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Down the Road

My most relaxing week -- on the ocean
By Milton M. Gross
Dec 16, 2012 - 12:17:26 AM

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I never thought a week on the ocean with my son-in-law and my youngest son would be so relaxing.

Actually, I never thought of relaxing at all. Most news reporters don't.

I thought of the potential fun the cruise would offer from a small port just east of Mystic Seaport, perhaps Stonington, up the Intercoastal Waterway in Buzzards Bay, through the Cape Cod Canal, into Plymouth, the Isles of Shoals, and finally through Casco Bay at Portland and on into Falmouth Foreside.

Bob, who passed away last spring, had phoned and said my youngest son was not behaving. Would I meet them in Connecticut and finish the cruise to Falmouth? I agreed.

Bob had phoned earlier and said he was having some emotional difficulties, having sailed alone from an island to the coast of Virginia. He had asked if Scott could meet him in Virginia to accompany him home. Scott flew down to meet Bob.

Bob's daughter (he had been married before) and my daughter, Lorraine, drove me to Connecticut, where I climbed aboard the 38-foot twin-diesel yacht. My first chore was a father-son discussion with Scott, explaining that his remaining free of bodily injury in the near future would depend on his behavior's improving. That was not my precise discussion, but whatever it was must have worked, because he was an ideal son all the way to Falmouth.

I wouldn't actually have threatened him. He didn't threaten me.

I made a mistake before the start of our voyage, taking a seasick pill. It created a "lump" in my stomach that probably wasn't as bad as seasickness, but it was bad enough. That was the only seasick pill I took and had no problems during the trip -- once the pill's effect wore off.

I learned during my dishwashing turns that to avoid any hint of becoming seasick, all I had to do was look at the horizon. It didn't wobble, nor did my digestion system.

Dishwashing has advantages.

The first night we moored at a tiny island near the Connecticut/Rhode Island border. It was quiet and peaceful, something about which I never complain.

Going through Buzzard's Bay, I learned that our being on automatic pilot, or whatever the seagoing version of that is properly tagged, probably made other boats and freighters think we were driving drunk. The yacht wobbled back and forth, keeping us straight. When we drew within a half-mile of a freighter during my stints at the wheel, I would take over from the automatic thingy so we would go straight.

Operating was "fun," because it was impossible to see the water ahead any closer than what I remember to be about 40 yards. The bow of the craft was built so it was in front, blocking my landlubber-navigator's view. That wasn't a real problem until we approached lobster traps, which may have numbered in the millions. I couldn't see them as we approached them so hoped my distant avoidance aim was correct.

It must have been because not on any occasion did either Bob nor I need to climb down the ladder and untangle buoy line from an engine.*

Buzzard's Bay was relaxing when not avoiding freighters or lobster buoys.

Overall, that week on the yacht was the most relaxing week I've ever enjoyed.

Entering Plymouth Harbor was not relaxing. We entered during a storm, and Bob "allowed" me to steer while he navigated. We rocked so much that it was impossible to read the wildly fluctuating gauges, as I stood with my legs outstretched to prevent me from wildly fluctuating. Afterward, I thanked Bob for letting me steer into the harbor, but he explained that it was so rough he had to spend all his effort on navigating the narrow entryway.

I had fun anyway.

In the harbor, I got a great shot of the Mayflower II through the empty space of another yacht's sail rigging -- kind of a triangle shape.

That photo has gone down in history, so far down I have no idea where it is.

The reason for our stop, besides it being time to stop for the night, was that Bob loved ice cream. He knew of a place that sold the wonderful stuff, and Scott and I hurried to stay on his heels as he made for that ice-cream shop.

Another night we moored at the Isles of Shoals, where was located an old religious conference building, an fisherman's shack with its roof coated white from the resident seagulls, and those gulls.

We toured the island, but then Scott and I took photos of seagull eggs. Luckily we wore slouch hats, because the angry mother seagulls dove across the space just above our hats, so close we could feel the breeze.

Millions of lobster-trap buoys. How about gadzillions of seagulls, all unhappy with us?

The trip through Casco Bay was interesting with its islands and an old fort, and it finally led us to Falmouth Foreside.

I had to admit I was happy to be on dry land again, even if it was in the "other Maine."

We've canoed a good bit since, really enjoying our quiet electric outboard, which eliminates those sudden outcries on my part, "Rock ahead! Paddle hard on your left!"

Dolores never majored in "left" or "right" or "port" or "starboard."

We've also ridden on windjammers in Bar Harbor and off Camden as well as last summer's ferry ride to Monhegan Island.

But that week on Bob's yacht remains the most relaxing memory in my soft drive of memories.

I continued my landlubber career.

Scott finished school, married, and moved away from Maine to some foreign place, perhaps called Not Maine.

Bob and Lorraine were married.

* I notice that in places such as Northeast Harbor, the summer yachters don't like the lobsterman, because of the danger of getting tangled in those lobster-trap buoy lines. Of course, guess from where the lobsters on which they love to dine hail. And the lobstermen don't like the summer yachters, who are always in the way. Of course, guess who buys their lobster.

Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at

Milton M. Gross Copyright 2012

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