Saturday, July 4th, 2009
Our passage from Lunenburg to Gloucester has been foggy, thick, thick fog all the time. But the winds were fair and we sailed along our way. Finally, yesterday, it began to clear as the ship sailed into Ipswich Bay on the coast of Cape Ann. We arrived in time that we could have gone into Gloucester on Friday night, but we had a big arrival scheduled for Saturday morning, so we went to anchor in Ipswich Bay in order to sail in on time the next day.
This passage, the first passage of the summer voyage and the first passage for many of our trainees, has been full of new experiences. People have been aloft underway for the first time, loosing and stowing sails. A few people were seasick for the first time, but everyone seems to have recovered now. We have seen whales, practiced knots, set sails, braced yards, scrubbed the decks, washed dishes and even tacked the ship. Like a quote in our handbook says, sailing is a mix of the ordinary and the sublime.
This morning we woke up early, 0630 in ship’s time and 0530 in shore time, in order to get around Cape Ann and to the entrance to Gloucester Harbour on time. We heaved up the anchor and got going under mostly clear skies on the first sunny day we’ve had in a while. We sailed around Thatchers Island with its twin light houses famous to generations of Gloucester fishermen coming home from the Banks. As we came closer to the entrance to the harbour in Gloucester, there were more and more boats around – this and thousands of lobster trap buoys everywhere. The organizers of the event had put out a call to all recreational boaters to let them know they could accompany us into the harbour. In addition to scores of small boats, we were accompanied by the schooners Thomas E Lannon, American Eagle and Lewis R French. The French is a restored coasting schooner from the 19th century, sailing with passengers in Maine. The Lannon had been built recently in Essex for day sailing and the American Eagle had been built in Gloucester in 1930 as a fishing schooner and had once been owned by Capt Ben Pine, Capt Angus Walters’ perennial rival in fishing schooner races with the famous Bluenose of Lunenburg. Lannon was close by our side for most of the way, under the command of Captain Tom Ellis. A fire boat also came out to join us, throwing huge sprays of water up into the air to lead us in. While they were to windward of us, it felt and looked like we were back in the fog that accompanied us from Lunenburg. As we got closer and came into the harbour, there were people standing on the wharves waving and watching our arrival. Days of fog had turned to an exquisite blue sky sunny day for our arrival.
Our berth is at the Gloucester Cruiseport, across from the fish pier. The inner harbour has two channels, separated by the fish pier. Both channels are full of vessels, mainly commercial fishing vessels. The Captain wanted to position the ship with the starboard side to the wharf, so we had to turn the ship in the channel and bring her alongside. By using the engine and setting and taking in the spanker to push us around, the ship made a tight half-circle with not a lot of extra room on either side to face the right way.
After we were tied up to the wharf and US Customs had come aboard to clear us into the country, we welcomed Mayor Carolyn Kirk and event planner Ally O’Connor on board. They have been so welcoming and have organized lots of things to keep the crew busy. After such a great welcome, we’re looking forward to our stay in Gloucester, this fine old seaport with so many connections to Lunenburg and, of course, the sea.