It is said that it’s the journey, not the destination that matters. With all due respect to the journey, after two months of sailing Narragansett Bay only to return to my mooring in Jamestown, I was jonsing for a destination.
At the advice of my colleagues from Cruising World magazine, I decided that my first overnight trip would be a short-hop north to Wickford. My parents who were on vacation in the area were able to take their boat to Wickford too.
The morning of our departure was spent packing the cooler, cleaning the cabin and waiting for any semblance of a breeze to arrive. Eventually eight-knots of breeze from the north descended on our mooring ball. With Wickford punched into the GPS we set sail. Needing to head north into the wind direction was not really ideal. It took dozens of tacks with a cruising speed of three-knots and we could still see the Jamestown bridge in our wake, err, ripple. Any rational sailor would have fired up the engine and motorsailed to their destination. Rationality not being one of my specialties stubbornly sailed the entire way.
Seeing my parents wave from the flybridge of their Egg Harbor as they blew past us as 20-plus knots was salt in an open wound. Music from my weather-proof speaker would help pass the time, but only a bit.
30 songs later, Karen and I would bring the sails down and motor past the bustling breakwater in Wickford towards our reserved mooring at Brewers. After hailing the marina on the VHF for our mooring assignment, I was directed not to a mooring but a bizarre space in between two pilings, and boats, with a line tied between them. I would need to parallel dock myself perfectly into this tight space. It was at that very moment that I wished I had practiced docking, even once. Approaching the “mooring/pilings” very slowly the first time I realized I was coming in at the wrong angle. I would need to reverse the boat hard in order to reset my approach.
I was then subject to a phenomenon in the boating world that I call the law of docking. If you dock your vessel perfectly in tough conditions there won’t be a soul around to see it, struggle however; and every boater and their guests will materialize to watch the free entertainment. Watching me like stone-cold gymnastics judges I would finally tie up the Karen Marie on the third try. My final score… embarrassed.7 I was again humbled, realizing that in the words of Yoda, much to learn, I still had.
After some time (and a few cold beverages) I would finally relax and venture into town to explore. It would take about all of 15 minutes to see the entire “down town” portion of Wickford. Filled with quaint shops and numerous artistic venues it gave a charming first impression. From photography galleries to pottery stores each shop featured beautiful work. I would then venture into the suburban neighborhood where it seems as if I travelled back in time to colonial America. Homes circa 1700s lined the streets, nearly all of them flying Old Glory from their painted porches. If you’re a walking wanderer like me, you should really think about visiting here sometime.
The next day would bring more exploration of the area as Karen, my folks and I searched for a store to buy parts for their new inverter. Three miles into our trek we would learn that Wickford Hardware, a long-time family owned business had just closed, thanks in part to the Home Depot in the next town over, something Wickford residents are not happy about; don’t bring it up!
One bustling business that I was lucky enough to support (and you should too) was the Tavern By the Sea, a popular waterfront eatery with a specialty in seafood. There I had the best calamari in my life, and I like to think of myself as something of a connoisseur when it comes to crispy squid. Reasonably priced with ambiance to spare, I would give that restaurant a Dan Harding 5 out of 5 in spite of the fact that it was crowded.
My time in Wickford would be all too short, before I knew it we were on our way back to Jamestown, this time motorsailing since there was barely a breathe of wind. Visiting our first new destination whetted both Karen’s and mines appetite for using the boat as a way of seeing new places and meeting new people. If our next escape is anything like our visit to Wickford, we will be truly lucky.