Double, double toil and trouble

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Monday morning after sunrise we took off for Salem, Massachusetts.  Not much to report on the short cruise.  Lots to discuss about Salem.

Most notably, Salem fully embraces what Salem is most known for, which is hanging townspeople who someone accused of witchcraft in 1692.  We find this a bit surprising, since in most places lynchings are frowned upon and old lynchings are things most towns try to forget.  Not Salem.  It’s all about witches around here.  But at least some of it’s historical.  For example, this is Proctor’s Ledge, where the nineteen hangings occurred.

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Judge Jonathan Corwin was on the panel that carefully weighed the evidence and determined that, in fact, these folks were witches.*  Judge Corwin’s house still is here, ironically looking like a house where witches might live.

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Just down the street we found his grave.  Wait, another Corwin was the sheriff who likely had a hand in arresting and charging the poor slobs?  Yeah, that sounds fair.

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Okay we get the history stuff.  But that’s not all.  Salem proudly claims the nickname “Witch City.”  There are witches—real admitted witches—around every corner.

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At The Cauldron Black, they purvey not just occult goods, but fine occult goods. Only the top-shelf stuff.  No pedestrian books of curses or magic potions like they might sell at Omen, the Witchcraft Emporium (where the Ghost of Doug appeared in the window).

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Apparently every October witches and others of questionable sense travel to Salem from around the world to celebrate Halloween, or the Harvest, or the moon, or whatever strikes their fancy.  Bizarre.  Know who—besides us—wouldn’t come to Salem for Halloween?  The Reverend Dan Reehill, who recently banned Harry Potter from Saint Edwards Catholic School because the books contain “real spells” which, when read, can “conjure evil spirits.”  Yup, Father Dan partying like it’s 1692.**  (In fairness though, he did consult with “several exorcists” before passing his judgment.  Although that’s about as objective as Judge Corwin consulting with Sheriff Corwin.)

Happily, we found more to Salem than witchery.  Nathanial Hawthorne was born just down the street from our marina in 1804.  We previously commented on The Scarlet Letter, which he conceived while working in the same customs office building that we passed every time Oscar went over to Derby Wharf to pee.

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Clearly Natty was fantasizing about things far more salacious than just levying customs duties.

Hawthorne’s birthplace is hidden behind a paywall, but we were able to sneak around on the street to photograph the house of the seven gables, which somewhat obviously served as his inspiration for The House of the Seven Gables.

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We also toured the Peabody Essex Museum.   We didn’t just tour it, we actually participated in one of those modern art things.  This one was designed to show how multiplying a small individual achievement can lead to big things.  And in fact, when a bunch of people make a small clay ball, the total is a bunch of small clay balls.  Ours are in there somewhere.

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We also popped over to Gloucester.  Ever since reading The Perfect Storm, this has been a must-stop stop.  Anyone who read the book will recall that Billy Tyne and his crew hung out at The Crow’s Nest bar the night before they left port, and the families all gathered there during the search efforts.  Doug stopped by for a beer mostly to say he stopped by for a beer.

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It’s still just about the same as it was in 1991, although now that back wall has photos of the crew.  The owner is Gregg, whose brother-in-law was on the Andrea Gail.  He intentionally hasn’t used the story to market the bar, even though George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg and others frequented the joint while filming the movie.

Gloucester has lost thousands of fishermen, all of whom are listed on plaques surrounding the Fisherman’s Memorial.

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We’ve seen scores of memorials along our way, but this is one of our favorites.

We topped off our stay with a visit from George and Judi, who were traveling aboard their Nordic Tug Done Tacking when we first met them at Shady Harbor.  Very enjoyable dinner and trip over to Jubilee Yacht Club.

The plan is to leave our nice slip tomorrow and head to Boston.

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* In another post we wasted a reference to the classic Holy Grail witch scene.  That was quite poor planning, since this obviously is the most appropriate place possible.  If only Judge Corwin had thought to weigh the evidence in a more literal way.

** What about the witches in Macbeth?  Ban Shakespeare as well?  What about Bewitched, with Samantha and Darrin and then replacement Darrin?  Where does the madness stop?

 

New state, New Hampshire

Another state in our wake.  Maybe the most amazing thing is that we made it from Southwest Harbor to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, without stooping to the obvious puns.  As in “Lobster floats are a Maine in the butt” and such.

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Last night we had quite the treat when Paul and Kathy—owners of Miss Elly—picked us up for a delicious dinner.  Big fun and we hope to see them again in New Bern.

We’d planned to stay one more night in Kennebunkport but decided this morning to head on out.  Mostly it was just a straight shot down the coast, past Cape Neddick Nubble and the Nubble Light.

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We’ve seen hundreds of lighthouses, but none with a better name.  It’s such a cool lighthouse that in 1977 NASA sent a digitized photo of it into space aboard Voyager II as part of an informational package intended to educate any extraterrestrials who happened to intercept it.  True story.

We docked at Wentworth By The Sea, but failed to take a photo of the iconic hotel that was built in 1874.  We did, however, get one of the Portsmouth house—built in 1758—where Revolutionary War naval hero John Paul Jones lived for a while before he started jamming with Jimmy Page and the other boys from Led Zeppelin.

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Portsmouth is a town worth a few days.  Maybe we’ll come back someday, but it’s a good travel day tomorrow.

Apparently the answer to yesterday’s title is outdoor furniture

Supposedly Dolphin Restaurant delivers fresh muffins to the boats every morning.  Every morning, that is, except this morning.  But we loved the place anyway even though it only was a one night stand.

We left under brilliant blue skies and light wind, just as we like it.  We’re getting away from the sheltering islands now, which means more waves and less scenery.  Mostly it’s just Atlantic Ocean but at least there’re fewer lobster pots.

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Fewer lobster pots, but more upside-down picnic tables.  Okay we only saw one upside-down picnic table, but it was some two miles offshore where we’d sink about three hundred feet if we hit it.

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A bit further we came upon a nun-shaped red navigational buoy.  Meh.  We’ve seen a zillion red buoys.  Wait a second.  This one’s not red.  It’s white and orange.

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We’ve never seen one of these before, because we’ve never been past a “Presidential Security Zone” before.  And frankly we don’t understand this Presidential Security Zone.  The point is to protect Walker’s Point and the Bush family compound.

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We get that this is an important place.  Heads of State visited here.  And with the exception of Presidents who die in office, or are impeached, or who should be impeached or die in office, protecting them and their families is a good idea.  But look at that shoreline.  All rocks.  Too shallow for submarines.  It’s quite unclear what threat is being deterred here, and we didn’t see anyone patrolling the area.  We theorize the Bushes just don’t want a view of lobster pot floats when they look out their windows.

We dutifully avoided the area anyway and went on up the Kennebunk River to Chicks Marina.  Kennebunkport is another cool Maine town.  Plus Kennebunk is another fun word to say.

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Yes Doug flew the drone, and yes he wanted to fly over the Bush place but chickened out.

We’re going to explore the town more tomorrow.

Milk jugs? Seriously, what’s next?

One thing you’ve got to give Maine, and that’s a bunch of cool islands.  With cool names.  Like The Cuckolds.  There’s got to be a good back story to that one.

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The Coast Guard shut down the lighthouse on Cuckold Island and then auctioned the whole mess.  Some dude bought it and turned it into an inn, which he cleverly calls “Inn at Cuckolds Lighthouse.”

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The place looks to be closed and the website’s down, however, so maybe it wasn’t as awesome as it sounds.

By contrast, the Seguin Light isn’t an inn.  It’s a museum.  This lighthouse is Maine’s highest, and having been established in 1795 it’s also Maine’s second oldest.

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We also passed by the Sugarloaf Islands, Buttonmold Ledge, Spoonbowl Ledge, The Hypocrites, The Sisters, Brown Cow Island, and Bold Dick Rock.  Yup, we’d like to hang out with the dude who named these places.  Unless he’s also responsible for Bald Head Cove, of course, because that one frankly is a bit mean-spirited.

There’re surprisingly few trawlers up this way, but plenty of lobster boats and sailboats.  Today we saw a guy who couldn’t decide between the two.

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Bizarre.

Just before turning up into Merriconeag Sound, we heard a sound.  It sounded exactly like we imagine spooling up a lobster pot into the hull might sound.  Long story made short, we backed up, then slowly pushed up to Dolphin Marina.  Then we paid Jerry to get in the 54 degree water, supervised by Mickey the black lab.

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We indeed snagged something on the rudder, although it was a poor excuse for a lobster pot float.   The actual trap may have banged our bottom but thankfully did no damage.

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This place turns out to be way cool.  It’s a family-run operation going back several generations, but is first-class all the way.

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Tomorrow we’re off to Kennebunkport.  Since Dana also is from Texas, maybe the Bushes will invite us over to the compound.

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Maine is quite pretty when you don’t focus only twenty feet ahead

Bummer to leave Rockland yesterday morning, because Rockland has a surprising amount of good stuff we didn’t get to explore.  Like the Maine Lighthouse Museum and a bunch of artsy places.   We also missed the Maine Lobster Festival by a couple of weeks.  Oh well, on to Boothbay Harbor.

Yesterday was a fine day, mostly because we decided to embrace the lobster pots and just enjoy the beautiful Maine scenery.  We took the inland route past hills.

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And islands.

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And lighthouses.

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While underway we caught up to Cygnus, a Kadey-Krogan we met in Rockland.  Mr. Cygnus sent us a photo as we slid by.  That’s a damn fine boat right there.

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Boothbay Harbor is a bit of a tourist town itself, probably because it has boats and lobsters and that picturesque Maine look.

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The American Constitution—which apparently is classified as a “coastal cruise ship”—sat anchored out in the harbor, frankly looking kind of abandoned.  Doug flew the drone over for a closer look.

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Two obvious questions though.  First, where are the lifeboats?  If they only cruise along the coast maybe they just expect everybody to swim for safety if the ship goes down, but somehow that doesn’t seem right.  What about the old people like us?  Second, who decided to install a putting green on a surface that pitches and rolls?  Probably the same genius who found lifeboats superfluous.  There’s even a berm around the green to keep balls from falling off.  Ridiculous.

Right now we’re tucked into a tidy quiet corner away from the masses.  The only boat around is Wren, a little Grand Banks that also seems abandoned but probably isn’t.

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After a recommendation from the owner of a sister 43—Miss Elly—we changed our plans.  Tomorrow we’ll head to Dolphin Marina in Harpswell rather than Portland.