For the past few years, we’ve spent Labor Day with Mrs. Horne’s family. Her brother Paul hosts a party and a “Washer’s” Tournament.
Rudy and I don’t play Washers, but we do perform live music.
In May, Mrs. Horne informed me that she wanted to try something different so I forked over $915 and booked Bowen’s Wharf in Newport for 4 days/3 nights.
Our Initial “First World Problem” at Bowens
Right after I booked it, I texted Kerrie the dockmaster and asked her if we could tie up as close to the end of the dock looking out at the harbor. She said “it shouldn’t be a problem.”
Two days before we left, I texted her again and I was shocked to discover that not only were we not at the end of the dock, but that we’d been assigned the spot right next to the dock office.
If you’re not familiar with Bowens, this spot may just be the worst in all of Newport. First of all, it’s about 100′ from the live music stage at The Landing, which is bad for sleeping and almost too loud for conversation. Second, it’s about 15′ from the tie-up spots for the two Newport Holding Tank Pump-out boats and their lovely aroma.
I admit that I was a bit “short” with Kerrie after learning about our lousy spot, but I do see her point. Vigilant was the smallest boat on the books (at the time) and thus we had to go into the shallowest slip. Now that I know this, I doubt I’ll ever book Bowens again on a busy weekend.
Of course I checked out Bowen’s Wharf every time I went by all weekend and not only were several smaller boats tied up, but no one ever ended up in the stinky spot!
Anyway, Kerrie did come through by landing us a spot next door at The Newport Harbor Hotel and Marina. This not only turned out to be a great place to tie up, but may become our new go-to spot in the east end of Newport.
Our Second First World Problem at The Mattapoisett Boatyard
Mrs. Horne and Gail & Rudy were driving down from Fitchburg Friday morning, so we planned a leisurely 10:30 AM departure. As always, I went over to the boatyard around 9:00 and brought Vigilant into the fuel dock.
Other than packing for the trip, the only other thing I needed to do was add about 80 gallons of diesel. I had mentioned this to the launch driver and he courteously brought the pump down, inserted it into the starboard tank, and began fueling.
About 5 minutes later, MBY owner Dave Kaiser came running down the dock yelling “SHUT IT OFF, SHUT IT OFF”. As soon as I did he said “that’s gas, not diesel”.
While I certainly wish it never happened, I have to commend MBY (once again) for having our back.
Within minutes, they had their top tech Jaycey onboard figuring out how to convert the fuel transfer pump into a drainage pump.
Dave and Ned brought three 55 gallon drums down with the fork lift and proceeded to drain 115 gallons of 80% diesel and 20% gasoline out of Vigilant’s starboard tank.
The net of it all was a 105 minute delay in our time of departure. Truth be told, this could have been a real pain if we were headed to Block Island or Montauk and there was an afternoon wind kicking up. But we weren’t.
In fact, I had planned to drop anchor off Goosebery Island for a picnic lunch anyway, so the delay just meant we’d stop a little closer to home.
A New Gunkhole Found!
The wind was blowing between 15 and 20 knots, but it was from the Northeast so it was just a helping tail wind. The NE wind did mean that all my favorite gunkholes would be exposed to the wind so I had to find a new one.
A quick look at the map revealed a very obvious spot just outside the entrance to Westport. Coincidentally. it’s just off Gooseberry Neck and it’s my newest favorite gunkhole.
As you can see, just to the west of the Neck is a sandy area with almost 20 feet of water right up to the shoreline. Not only is a great place to set the hook, but the views were magnificent as well.
If I cooked lunch more often, I’d probably broaden my menu, but since it’s only once a month or so, I tend to stick to my most popular dish – Captain’s Rubens.
We enjoyed a splendid lunch gazing west at the Rhode Island Sound.
The coolest thing was a school (?) of five seals swimming and playing right off the bow of the boat.
Sorry the video isn’t any better, but I just had my iPhone.
The Newport Harbor Hotel and Marina
As mentioned above, we changed our three month old plans to stay at Bowens Wharf and booked The Newport Harbor Hotel and Marina (NHHM) literally at the last minute.
It’s interesting to note that Labor Day Weekend is pretty much peak season in Newport and I was able to land a slip the day before it all started. I also discovered space at The Newport Marina and 41 North.
NHHM is very centrally located; it’s literally right next to Bowens. About half of the slips are occupied by seasonal boaters. The long straight wharf that runs parallel to Bowens is all transients as is the bulkhead dock in front the pool and resort.
They’re not on Dockwa, but highly accessible by phone or email…
If you’ve followed my reports on Newport Marina’s, you know that there are things I love about them and things that I’m not crazy about. I love that they’re all floating docks and most are straight wharfs with plenty of open water to one side or to aft.
My biggest gripe about slips in Newport has to do with the preponderance of Mega Yachts. More often than not, we’ve arrived around 2:00 PM and landed a wonderful spot looking out a Newport Harbor. Invariably, a few hours later a Mega Yacht arrives blocking both the sun and the view of the harbor.
If you look at the slip map for NHHM, you’ll see that most slips are pretty immune from having their view blocked by a Mega Yacht…
If you stay at NHHM, you can use their indoor swimming pool. Jason told me that they also have bikes, kayaks, and paddle boards for guests of the resort and boaters can pay $35 (one time fee) and use them for the duration of their visit.
The boat in front of us on the bulkhead was a beautiful Eastbay 54. Even more beautiful was their miniature Siberian Husky who stood guard on the bow of their boat each morning.
Dave Horne Live at The Landing
Around 5 on Friday we visited the landing and listened to the Justin Pomfret Duo (click here for post with a video compilation).
At around 6:00, Justin asked if anyone in the audience could sing and would anyone like to come up and do a song. Of course I readily complied!
I decided to have a little fun with the audience. As soon as I got up I stared acting nervous and said “I’ve never done anything like this before – I hope I don’t mess up.”
Of course that got everyone’s attention; I mean who doesn’t like a public train wreck?”
As I dove into my favorite Band song – The Weight, I looked out at all the people who were now nervously staring at me. As you can see in the video, I pointed to them smiling as I belted out my tune.
It was great fun watching everyone cheer me on…
After the show we took the 250′ walk to the Wharf Pub for dinner. I think the best thing on the menu might be the wings, but you can’t beat the atmosphere in the heart of Bannister’s Wharf.
Saturday Morning on The Cliff Walk
Rudy suggested we take the 5 mile hike along the ocean known as The Newport Cliff Walk.
The views were spectacular and it was nice to get my 10,000 steps in before noon. This is one more thing to add to the “Things to do in Newport” list.
You can click here for a full report and musical video set to Bob Seger’s Like a Rock.
Live Music at The Deck
I have now come to the conclusion that the reason I love Newport so much is because of the live music available on weekend afternoons.
On Saturday we heard a very talented young couple called ANAMCARA (click here for the story and video compilation). We went back on Sunday and watched The Royal Furs perform (click here for the story and video compilation).
Both musical venues – The Deck and The Landing, draw huge afternoon crowds buying lots of cocktails so I assume the acts get paid well. They deserve it, the talent is always great.
Great Dinners On Bannisters
Since we had planned to stay at Bowens Wharf, I made all of our dinner reservations nearby. Saturday night we hit my favorite Steak House in Newport – 22 Bowens and our dear friends Liz and Tony drove down from Mattapoisett to join us.
22 Bowens was great as usual. We all had different steaks; mine was the Rib Eye and the side was a roasted potato with Chorizo bits.
Keeping with the theme of guests visiting from Massachusetts, Sunday night we had our friends Paul and Ellen visit us for sunset on the aft deck of Vigilant followed by dinner as what has become my favorite restaurant in Newport – Fluke!
While 22 Bowen’s offers the kind of menu you’d expect to see in a first class steak house in Boston or New York, Fluke is very eclectic featuring exotic small plates and main dishes.
Having now eaten at Fluke 4-5 times, I can honestly say that they have never served me or any of my guests anything that wasn’t prepared perfectly!
The Story of Kaylee’s Necklace
In addition to great food, Fluke always seems to have the best servers. On Sunday night we were treated by a young lady named Kaylee.
Ellen noticed her necklace – An eagle with a Crown, and asked her about it.
She told us here grandfather made it for her grandmother after fleeing communist Poland for America. Poland’s national symbol had been the eagle with a crown for centuries, but once the country fell to the communists, they ordered all the crown’s be removed.
“After World War II, the communist authorities of the Polish People’s Republic removed the “reactionary” royal crown from the eagle’s head. Still, Poland was one of the few countries in the Eastern Bloc with no communist symbols (red stars, ears of wheat, hammers, etc.) on either its flag or its coat of arms. The crownless design was approved by resolution in 1955. To counter that, the Polish government in Exile introduced a new emblem with a cross added atop the crown. After the fall of communism in 1989, the crown came back, but without the cross.”
Kaylee’s grandfather was quite a man. After escaping Poland, he joined the US Army and fought in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. He died at the age of 94.
Finally Labor Day!
Monday morning came and it was time to celebrate the unofficial end of summer. Although it was still hot and humid, you could tell autumn was coming by all the signs of the upcoming Newport Boat Show.
Just off the NHHM restuarant was a brand new Azimet 57 that still had the wrappers on many of the deck fittings…
We decided to try a new spot for Breakfast – The Hungry Monkey. It’s just up the street from The Corner Cafe on Broadway.
We waited about 20 minutes for a table, which wasn’t bad for 9:30 on a holiday and we ended up eating outside at one of their three Al Fresco tables…
The food was quite good and fairly unique…
As we enjoyed breakfast, we debated our options for the day. We decided to let the sun decide what we’d do. If the sun came out on the way home, we’d head to The Chartroom for lunch. If not we’d just head home.
The Chartroom it is!
We met up with BYS Yacht Broker Joyce Richards and her sister Janice for lunch…
We also met a bunch of Joyce’s friends from Falmouth. They had all come over on her friend Glen’s 35′ Center Console.
While we ate, the southwest wind kicked up to 20 knots and when we left, we passed Glen and his crew slogging back to Falmouth at about 10 MPH…
You’ll have to excuse Mrs. Horne’s camera work, we were going through very short 4-5 foot chop.
Back in Mattapoisett, it turned into a wonder evening.
I have to say, if you’re looking for a great spot to spend a holiday weekend, you can’t beat Newport!