Friday, January 30, 2009

Where the Wide Open Ocean Intersects with a Really Small World

What always amazes me when we are at sea is how large the ocean is and how truly few boats we often see – that is of course until we meet a super tanker in the narrowest part of a canal with the current running a good 6-7 knots! But I digress… Yet I am also constantly amazed at what a very small world it is. The crew of Gypsies in the Palace was reminded of both this past weekend when we took a short hop to Wentworth by the Sea in New Castle, New Hampshire. Our friend Scott Kirby, of Key West fame and disrepute, was performing at a private party at the marina there and we, of course, had to crash the party.

Mary and Steve Ouelette, from Lincoln, Rhode Island, friends of Tammy and Doug for many years (they will always be our great friends, they know way too much!) came up for the trip so the crew of four became a party of six. We left Kennebunkport at 8:45 AM for the three hour tour with Tammy at the helm and John and Colleen handling lines - Doug managed to avoid any specific duties other than to keep Steve out of everyone’s way (he got the short straw). Unlike Gilligan’s misadventures, the trip was fairly uneventful and beautiful. The seas were rocking a little at 2 to 4 feet but nothing Gypsies can’t handle with ease and I’m not sure we saw another boat even on the horizon until about York Harbor, when several go fast fishing boats decided to cut right in front of us on their way out to Boone Island. Its amazing how your perspective changes when you buy a trawler and do only 8 knots – a year ago we were those go fast boats!

As we approached Little Harbor, Doug took the helm to bring her in and things got a little exciting. We had to cross Portsmouth Harbor and boats were coming from everywhere, including one particular sailboat that seemed intent on messing with us – not just once (that I can deal with) but TWICE – and but for heroic efforts on the part of our skipper, that sailboat would not have liked the consequences – we of course were much bigger and heavier than him! Now Colleen and I grew up sailing so we try to cut sailors some slack even when Doug wants to kill them for cutting in front of us but even we wanted to scream “just because you’re in a sailboat and have the right of way, doesn’t give you the right to be an idiot!” The nautical excitement was short-lived (after all even we can outrace a sailboat – most of the time anyways) and we headed on into the marina at Wentworth where things were looking up. This was our fist trip by boat to Wentworth by the Sea (I had been a part of many swimming races there back when I was a kid and had not too pleasant memories of that first gasp of shock upon diving into their salt water pool – but I’m probably dating myself here because they now have several wonderful chlorine filled pools). Wentworth is a magnificent marina run by a fabulous lady named Pat Kelly - the docks are in great condition and are well maintained; the staff is pleasant and there are a lot of really kewl amenities.

But let’s face it, that’s not why we were there - we were there to see our friend Scott Kirby. In the “it’s a really small world category,” Doug and I first met Scott down in Key West when he was playing at the Hog’s Breath. We wound up one night at the Hog until very late listening to Scott’s music and found ourselves back there the next night doing the same thing (and the next, etc) – funny thing was that the faces hadn’t changed from the night(s) before – all the same people were back at the bar sitting or standing in the same places. Talk about a major déjà vu!! Our friends Steve and Mary got introduced to Scott through us – no not in the usual face to face way – but the Hog has a webcam and while we were in Key West, they logged on to the webcam to see if they could see us and did but also got to see Scott playing night after night until they confessed they felt like they were stalking us!! Anyways, after several more trips to Key West, we got to know Scott and found out that he had lived in New Hampshire for much of his life – that explained why we also got to see Scott play in NH and ME over the years. Enter Colleen and John…

Unbeknownst to us at the time, Colleen and John knew Scott not from Key West but from the time he lived in New Hampshire. Once we got talking we all had a good laugh over that and the four of us decided to go see Scott when he was playing in Portsmouth a number of years ago. When we walked in to the bar, Scott just looked at us like ”how the heck do you guys know each other” – again the it’s a really small world thing happening….
The world continued to shrink that weekend – Scott and his friend and playing partner Dave Edmisten stopped by the boat before their gig for a beer. At the same time, our friend Captain Laura Nelson, who we met in April when she came on board Gypsies in the Chesapeake Bay to help us get familiarized with the new boat, showed up with several of her friends – she was teaching some boating classes at Wentworth that weekend! While Captain Laura was with us in the Chesapeake, we introduced her to Scott’s music and it’s all downhill from there…she was headed to Key West in several weeks and we told her to look up Scott at the Hog. Next thing you know, Colleen, John, Doug and I are having dinner in Kport and we get almost simultaneous calls from Scott and Captain Laura from Key West – they were out carousing!! Did I say it’s a small world??

Scott’s performance was, as always, awesome. He and Dave make a great team and play all of Scott’s songs and a few others by such obscure singers as Jimmy Buffett and James Taylor for the few in the crowd that don’t know the words to all of Scott’s songs. There were close to 300 people at the event and a great time was had by all, despite mother nature’s attempt at putting a damper on things (literally it started to pour several times – the second of which made the band call it quits since they weren’t under any kind of umbrella or tent.) But the rain didn’t last for too long and it just turned into an excuse for many people to come back to Gypsies!

After the performance, the band and about 25 others (including friends of Scott’s from NH) converged on Gypsies and the carousing went into the wee hours. Colleen did a heroic job of keeping the troops fed, including making nachos rather late in the evening which looked fabulous but were gone before I could get to them! About 11:30 we thought we had woken up the guy from the boat next to us, but rather than yelling at us, he just wanted to see if he could join the party – how fun! Come on over – so we got to meet Dennis Acton, a really fun guy with a very understanding wife! What a great night – we got to reconnect with old friends and meet some new ones and after all, isn’t that what this cruising life is all about!!

The next day we were supposed to head back to Kport but mother nature not to be thwarted again was having none of that - we woke to serious fog, both in our heads and on the ocean. Colleen was headed off to spend a week with her family up at Sebago Lake, including all the nieces and nephews – brave woman!! John left with her (although not to head to the Lake but in search of a cortisone shot for his hurting shoulder) and Steve and Mary left with them as well so they could get back to Rhode Island to go to work on Monday. WOW – that had to stink - we’ve forgotten what that is like already!! So Doug and I hung out on Gypsies waiting for the weather to turn which of course it never did – we talked to Pat and she showed us the satellite images for that afternoon which were not good so we decided (and she was gracious enough to let us stay – thanks tons Pat!) to stay put.
So like all cruisers do, we decided to make the most of what the day gave us - Scott and Dave showed up around five for another evening of fun. We met up with some of Scott’s friends from New Hampshire at Rudi’s in Portsmouth, a great restaurant and bar owned by a terrific lady named Brooke! Over several cocktails we wound up making plans to meet them in Harbor Island this winter where Gypsies is planning on spending time this February/March – how fun will that be!! Anyways, after several more stops and several more cocktails, the four of us headed back to the Wentworth bar, which wound up being closed by the time we got there – no worries, Gypsies to the rescue. Only issue was that the skies opened up and we wound up dodging lightning the entire way down the dock – to say we got wet would be the understatement of the century. After drying off and changing clothes (yes Doug wants his tee-shirts back) we wound down the evening of revelry with some good jokes, stories and tequila (not me though - anyone who knows me knows that tequila and I don’t mix!).

The trip back to Kport the next day was rainy but uneventful – I think Doug and I saw 3 boats the whole trip. Again we were reminded how large the ocean is, but after a wonderful weekend with old and new friends, we also realize what a great small world it is and how lucky we are to be living our dream.

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