2013-07-04 July 4th in Bristol, RI

July 4, 2013

We left Block Island and headed to Portsmouth, RI for a brief stop at Nordhavn’s northeast headquarters.

Tyler brings the replacement inverter aboard

Tyler brings the replacement inverter aboard

We were having a replacement inverter delivered for our batteries and needed a safe place to install it (see technical section of previous post for details). Fortunately Bradley was able to get it installed with no problem. We decided to hang out in Rhode Island for the next week or so for a couple reasons. First, the weather for the next week did not look great – plenty of clouds, wind, and fog. Second, our friends Sid and Stef, who cruised with us earlier this year in the Bahamas are planning to join us for the passage to Nova Scotia and had arranged to fly into Boston so we wanted to be somewhere they could get to easily.

Another dinner with our friends Dennis and Linda in Providence led to a discussion of Bristol. At the junction of Narraganset Bay and the Sakonnet River, Bristol has plenty of nice anchorages that would protect us from the expected winds. In addition, Bristol is home to the longest continuously running 4th of July festivities in the country – 228 consecutive years – and they take this event very seriously. There is a week-long schedule of activities, including free concerts every night, fireworks, beauty pageants and a huge parade that draws 250,000 people. So we headed for Prudence Island, just around the corner from Bristol and a short trip from Portsmouth and anchored comfortably near Potter’s Cove. From there, it was a ten minute ride by tender to Bristol where we explored the Herreshoff America’s Cup Museum, did a little geocaching, enjoyed some great restaurants, and attended two of the free concerts. We met some new friends, a Swedish couple Yalmar and Britmarie, who joined us to hear a wonderful Jimmy Buffett tribute band. While there, we met a family with a ten week old puppy who was happy to play with all of us. We also got to meet Little Miss 4th of July, the winner of the Junior pageant.

With our Swedish friends and a cute puppy at free concert in Bristol

With our Swedish friends and a cute puppy at free concert in Bristol

We also took a short trip to visit some old Rosenberg family friends, Jack and Mary and their daughter Dana and husband David. Jack has been friends and business partners with Bradley’s father for many years. A former Army General, Jack founded an investment management firm after retiring from the Army and just shy of his 90th birthday, continues to manage the business. We had a delightful visit with them.

Prudence Island was a great place to practice paddleboarding, though the wind and current made it a challenge at times. But I was able to meet a couple local quahoggers – quahogs are the local clams – and we enjoyed a couple dinners of very fresh ones! Prudence Island was fun to explore, except for the mosquitoes, ticks, and poison ivy! We went nearly a week with no visible sign of the sun and with temperatures remaining fairly cool. Finally, on the 3rd of July, the sun made an appearance.

4th of July flag flying over Bristol

4th of July flag flying over Bristol

We needed to make a run to West Marine to pick up a new circuit breaker as we noticed a bad sound whenever we turned on the circuit for our primary battery chargers. Over-the-phone diagnostics identified the breaker as the likely problem. However, the closest West Marine store is in Newport, more than 12 miles by car. We looked at Google maps and determined that there was a nice cove where we could take the tender less than a mile from West Marine, so off we went. The only problem is that we had not studied our charts in enough detail – the entire shoreline where we needed to go was a naval base with restricted access so there was no chance of getting ashore by tender. Any other option at that point would have meant several hours of time in the tender. But there was a marina on the Naval Base and it was not restricted space, so we went in there to inquire about possible solutions to our problem. There was a gentleman standing on the dock and we asked him if it was possible to get to West Marine from there. He said, “you would need a car”, to which he quickly added “I have a car and I could take you there”. Little did we know where this would lead!


Tyler and Alex at the parade

Tyler and Alex at the parade

Our new friend, Alex, is a Marine Corps major and F-18 pilot. He had just returned from an assignment in Japan and his wife and children were not due to join him for several more days. Alex had just acquired a small sailboat from his father and had just launched it at the marina when we encountered him. He was excited about the sailboat, but had little sailing experience. He was happy to chat with us as he drove us off the base, dropped me at the grocery store, and proceeded with Bradley to West Marine. After procuring the circuit breakers, they picked me up and we took Alex out to lunch. Then we headed back to the base and to Alex’s boat, where Bradley spent some time helping Alex to sort out the various halyards, rigging, and docking lines. We suggested to Alex that if he was alone the next day – July 4th – that he come to Bristol for the parade and then come out to Shear Madness for a visit. As he had no other plans, he thought that would be a good idea and was interested in seeing our boat. We returned to Shear Maness in the tender, but on the way, the light fixture for the stern light on the tender broke – the metal rod housing just cracked. It did not look repairable, so another trip to West Marine would be necessary in order to get a replacement. Bristol does not have a local taxi service, but we found that busses run regularly between Bristol and Newport, so that was the plan. We thought perhaps, if Alex was coming for a visit the next day, we might be able to get a ride with him back to West Marine, and just take the bus back to Bristol.

Bristol has the country's oldest July 4th celebration

Bristol has the country’s oldest July 4th celebration

July 3rd was the night for fireworks as most of the local jurisdictions planned them for Wed night instead of Thursday the 4th. From our anchorage we were able to see plenty of fireworks shows and it was the first clear night we had had in over a week! The weather forecast for the coming week also looked promising for our departure to Nova Scotia.

Sid and Stef landed in Boston at 6am on July 4th and arrived in Bristol just after 8am. Alex arrived about the same time and they all, along with Bradley, returned to Shear Madness to give Alex a tour and for Sid and Stef to stow their gear, while I stayed ashore to find us a good spot to watch the parade. If you have never experienced the 4th of July in New England, it is hard to describe. The streets along the parade route are painted with red, white, and blue lines down the center and spots along the parade route are hard to come by, even two hours before the start of the parade.

Alex and Bradley arrive at Prudence Island

Alex and Bradley arrive at Prudence Island

A carnival-like atmosphere is everywhere. We finally found a great spot in the shade with enough room for all of us to watch. The parade is really spectacular and includes everything you could imagine – marching bands, floats, beauty queens, horses, bagpipes, fire engines, old cars, new cars, and much more! When we had had our fill of the parade, I headed back to the boat along with Sid, Stef, and Tyler. Bradley and Alex had come up with a great plan – they would head to West Marine in Alex’s car, then proceed to Alex’s boat where they would sail together up to our anchorage at Prudence Island. Alex would drop Bradley off before sailing back to his marina on his own. Bradley’s sailing knowledge on the way up would help Alex to get comfortable with the boat and we were sure he could manage the return trip on his own after that.

The rest of us spent the afternoon swimming and playing – paddleboarding, kayaking, and even trying to ride Willy the Whale. A few hours later, a small, but fast moving sailboat approached with two guys wearing ear-to-ear grins. Bradley and Alex had had a great sail and had figured out all the sails and rigging. I took the tender out to retrieve Bradley, and we waved goodbye to Alex. After a dinner of turkey burgers and hot dogs, we saw a few more fireworks and went to bed early as we planned a 6am departure to head through the Cape Cod Canal and then on to Shelburne, Nova Scotia.

You can follow our progress by clicking here.As always, we appreciate your comments and replies!

  1. #1 by Michael Cook on July 7, 2013 - 6:34 pm

    The 4th in Bristol, what a treat. Now try Plymouth for thanksgiving day and Denis for Christmas and your New England experience will be complete.


  2. #2 by Joe Ardagna on July 6, 2013 - 8:21 pm

    Hi cruisers Kathy and Bradley. My wife and I were in Provincetown this weekend for the 4th. Our home port is Scituate, MA.. Today we took our inflatable from the mooring field over to Long Point beach, the true “tip” of the Cape. While at the beach, I saw your beautiful boat and actually saw your departure from Provincetown Harbor. I wish you both, calm seas and a safe journey!
    Joe Ardagna
    “Bada Bing!!”


  3. #3 by Kingcraft almonte on July 6, 2013 - 5:59 pm

    so, is nordhavn a newish type of company because ive been seing like 20 nordhavns in the great salt pond this year, nordhavn 55 —– to nordhavns 86

    i wish to se a 120 soon

    i would love to spend a week on any nordhavn— since i have been on many sailboats


  4. #4 by Alan and Kathleen on July 6, 2013 - 9:10 am

    Hello Kathy and Bradley sounds like you are havng a fantastic week! What a great post. We are on Galveston Island enjoying the family, surf and sand. We have had great weather and good paddle sessions and getting in a few Tour de France hours. Missing you and wish you safe sailing as always. Alan and Kathleen


  5. #5 by Gary Stratford on July 5, 2013 - 6:20 pm

    Geez Kathy. I moved to N. VA in 1983 and while I missed all my play-time activities, I never missed the area. Somehow, your post made me miss RI and all it has to offer. By the way, one of my favorite dive locations is the south side of Jamestown Is. off Ft. Wetherill (sp?). Of course, we used to have to climb down the cliffs to get in the water. Great visibility and tons of fish and lobsters.


  6. #6 by dirigoagency on July 5, 2013 - 3:52 pm

    Awesome pictures Kathy!

    Best Regards, Tim Fahey

    Dirigo Agency Inc. | Branding and Design Marketing/Communications for Rockville Science Center Director, Marketing and Creative Services for Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce

    202.276.3263 phone tfahey@dirigoagency.com | AIM: timfahey@mac.com | LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/timfahey | http://twitter.com/timfahey web: http://www.dirigoagency.com | A big change in results requires a big change in action.”


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