Living surrounded by water, to no one’s surprise, most of my pictures involve water. Water in lakes and ponds, water flowing over fall and dams. I don’t entirely know where to start.
Dams? Streams? Ponds? Ocean?
I suppose, this being the Blackstone River Valley, it would have to be the river, its dams, canal, tributaries, ponds.
I think I’ll stop now. Because there really are so many … not to mention volumes from Tom and Ellin’s boat and marina. And of course, the beaches and docks …
It’s hot. It’s humid.
It’s summer and the only thing to do is get wet, stay wet, and wait for the cooler weather to come!
Our friend, Deb, takes her boat to Martha’s Vineyard every year and lives on a mooring there for at least a month. This is her happy place. She can telecommute – so she’s very lucky, too.
Recently divorced, she can’t make the 140 mile trip on her 40-foot power boat by herself. So we volunteered to go with her and get her there safely. It’s great to see friends living their dreams.
Deb’s radar tower was damaged. It was supposed to be fixed weeks ago. It wasn’t. We couldn’t make the trip without radar. Endless delays left her with a promise to get it fixed by 8 AM this morning – two hours before we wanted to leave! Miraculously, the marine repair crew came through this time and we were ready to roll on time.
We headed out in beautiful, sunny weather and enjoyed glossy seas the whole way. We drove for 8-½ hours, with Tom and Deb taking turns driving the boat.
We picked up a mooring at Block Island and watched an awesome sunset over the water. Then we cooked a late dinner. The only mishap of the day was some spilled butter in the oven from the peach cobbler. The cabin filled with smoke and we had to open the doors and windows to keep the smoke alarm from going off.
This morning, Deb took her dog to the shore in the dinghy for a walk.
She came back with award-winning, amazingly light and airy donuts from a well-known local donut shop. We were looking forward to these donuts since the last time we had them! These donuts made the 8-½ hours on the water worthwhile. That’s how good they are!
We stopped to get gas before we headed out so we got a glimpse of the Block Island waterfront. The rest of the day was as beautiful and calm as the day before.
While we are underway, I love lying down on the sofa and feeling the vibrations of the engine. I also get to enjoy the gentle rocking of the boat as she moves through the water. The sounds are wonderful too. — the hum of the engine and the lapping of the waves against the hull.
The lapping of the waves is even more pronounced and soothing when we’re on a mooring. They lull me to sleep at night.
We get to Martha’s Vineyard and search for our mooring in the mooring field. It’s beautiful to see all the boats dotting the water. The houses on shore all around us are beautiful too. Taking lots of photos!
We decide to go to town for dinner. There’s a water taxi that takes you to shore if you don’t want to use your dinghy. The taxi drivers are very skilled. They maneuver their boat sideways next to yours and line up the boats so you can get on and off the taxi without falling in the water. The drivers are also super friendly. You always seem to end up in a conversation with other riders as well, so the whole experience is quite engaging.
We end up at an atmospheric crab shack right next to the water in the harbor of Edgartown. Our view is a ‘parking lot’ for all the dinghies that people drive to shore from their boats in the mooring field.
We have a fun dinner and watch some TV when we get back to the boat. Lovely, but uneventful.
DAY 3 – Travel Day
After a relaxing morning, today is all about getting home without a boat.
Our trip will involve many different modes of transportation and close to six hours. First, we take the water taxi to shore where we get a land taxi to the ferry depot on the other end of Martha’s Vineyard, in Oak Bluffs.
After close to two hours on the high-speed ferry, we pick up our rental car and drive the two plus hours home. We stop at our marina to pick up my car, which we left there when we boarded Deb’s boat.
And we’re home! Great, frenzied greeting by the dogs after two days away. Now we’re back to normal after a successful trip.
And I can go through all the pictures I took and sit down and post my blog!
What is it about water that so many people find endlessly fascinating and soul soothing? People pay top dollar to live in homes that have a view of water – any water – ocean, lake, pond, marsh, stream. Prime vacation spots are often on, in or near the water.
I love the sound of our backyard mini waterfall. I can also sit and look at it for hours. The sound of waves lapping onto the shore have been recorded innumerable times for relaxation tapes, sleep aids and comfort for newborns.
People also love the feel of water; pushing through the fingers, falling onto the hand, resisting a closed palm, like in swimming. People walk with their feet in the water at beaches and swim anywhere they can, both under the water and on top. There are a plethora of gadgets to help you play in the water, from inner tubes to noodles, paddle-boards, beach balls, etc. There are also too many water sports to even try to list.
There is a theory that our obsession with water is rooted in our time in our mother’s womb. As fetuses, we float in the uterus in a protective amniotic fluid, gently rocked as our mothers move. We may even hear the sounds of swooshing water. Which could explain the universality of humans’ love affair with water.
But it doesn’t explain why only some people seek the water in many different aspects of their lives.
Personally, we choose to live in the woods — but we own a boat. Listening to water slapping against our hull is our version of Nirvana. Our boat is big enough so we’re not close to the waterline when on-board.
So we have an inflatable dinghy that we drive around. In that, we are as close to the water level as you can get, like in a canoe or a rowboat. I can’t resist putting my hands in the water and opening my fingers as we ride through the water. I love the sound of the little boat pushing through the water, punctuated by the percussion bursts of waves breaking against its sides.
I don’t have any earth-shattering conclusions to make. I’m sure there are research studies out there on the subject. It’s just that I’m on my boat enjoying being on the water and wondering why it is so satisfying for me. I had a swimming pool and a pond during summers growing up but no one in my family went to beaches or liked boats. We were city folks who ‘roughed it’ in the countryside of Fairfield County, CT during our summer vacations.
So I have no family history or childhood memories to fall back on, except the pool and the pond. Maybe that, combined with my primal connection with amniotic fluid, is enough.
2018 BOATING SEASON BEGINS – BY ELLIN CURLEY
We got our boat in the water right on time this year, in early May. But the weather wasn’t acting like spring. It was rainy and cold a lot. Tom didn’t care. He’d go sit on the boat in the rain. He says, “It’s a boat. It’s waterproof!” That’s not for me. I stayed home while Tom went and sat on the boat in the lousy weather.
Now it’s feeling like summer and I’m getting into the rhythm of boating. Some days we just go to the marina for a few hours, often without the dogs. But when there are several nice days back to back, we pack up the dogs and move to the boat. It’s like going to a floating beach house.
But there’s something cozy and fun about living in a mini house. The small kitchen and bathroom are challenges – but fun challenges. Cooking on the small three burner stove often has to be done in installments because I can’t fit three pots on the stove at once. I can’t boil pasta, make sauce and cook meatballs at the same time as I do at home.
Creative juggling gets the job done – eventually.
We grill a lot at home. But we aren’t allowed to use a grill on our boats at the marina. Instead, there’s a communal grill for each dock. You often have to wait your turn to get to it, so we don’t rely on grilling too much on the boat. We tend to order out or go out to eat more. It’s part of the sense of being on vacation when you don’t have to cook as much as you do at home.
Since we are all living in a smaller space on the boat, we end up spending more time together with the dogs than at home. At home, the dogs spend a lot of time outside in good weather. And they love to go from room to room, sofa to sofa. On the boat, there’s only one sofa for them to crash on. And that’s where I spend most of my time.
While we do similar things on the water that we do at home, such as reading and writing, it feels different on the water. Among other things, the dock is a more social environment than in our rather isolated house in the woods. When boats go out or come in, everyone rushes to help. It’s dock etiquette. There is a very strong current in the river at the marina, so getting in and out of our slips can be a tricky affair.
After helping a boat in or out, the people on the dock hang out and chat. The same thing happens when we walk the dogs. We end up chatting with people on their boats as we traverse the dock to get the dogs to the parking lot and the dog walking area.
Then there are the invitations for drinks and the time spent relaxing on each others’ boats. Most things are impromptu, spur of the moment affairs. You never know who will be on their boats when you’re there.
We recently had a wake-up call, reminding us that boat travel can be dangerous. Our good friend took her boat out in bad seas. She got banged around so much, her swim platform literally broke in half and her radar unit broke away from its hinges. If the swim platform had come off ITS hinges, the boat would have started to take on water and sink in the middle of Long Island Sound!
She was lucky and dodged a major bullet!
My friend was very shaken, as were we. When you are alone out on the water, you are dependent on weather and water conditions. And there can be lots of unpleasant surprises. The key to boating safety is knowing when to leave the dock and when to stay put. The go or no-go decision is the most important thing a Captain does.
But no matter how careful and conservative you are, you can get caught in unexpected and dicey conditions. It’s happened to us but we never suffered as much damage to our boat as our friend did. We have had some very rough and scary trips. We’ve reached our destination with things flung all over the boat – furniture, contents of drawers, anything not tied down! I’ve had to crawl along the floor to keep a chair from heading off the boat when our gate broke loose!
Fortunately, I’m very happy on the dock! I don’t need to go somewhere in my beach house in order to enjoy it. I like hanging out at the marina and taking short day trips. Our friends and family are happy with this routine as well. So this is what we do most of the time. It’s not what all boaters do, but it’s fine for us.
We were watching “Father Brown” on Netflix and in the back of my head, I was hearing a grinding sort of sound. I could not identify it, but it was coming from the basement. I could barely hear it … but it was there. It isn’t the sound our boiler makes and it didn’t sound like the dehumidifier.
So I went downstairs to look around. Aside from realizing that we really are overrun by mice, the sound had stopped. I shrugged and went upstairs, pondering how the mice — which we used to have under control — went so crazy. I think it’s because no one lives downstairs now, so they’ve the run of the place. They are living here, but as far as food goes, they are “ordering out.”
Our Pest Control guy assured us they aren’t eating our food because you can follow the trail of acorns from the trees. Our oak trees could feed a world of squirrels. It turns out, they are already feeding a world of mice.
Living in the woods is wonderful and romantic. It’s also messy and invites many uninvited guests to drop by and stay awhile.
Today, we took Gibbs to the vet. It was his annual visit. He needed to be tested for heart worm, though I know he doesn’t have it. As we were driving home, I noticed all the little streams looked more like real rivers. Everything has overrun its banks.
The Mumford and Blackstone Rivers are full and the dams wide open. Even the usually shallow Whitins Pond is deep and wider than usual.
That was when I realized what that sound was, the one I heard last night. It was a sound I had nearly forgotten because it has been years since I heard it.
It was the sump pump, pushing the water out of the sump under the house.
If we didn’t have a sump, a pump, and French drains, we would be up to our kneecaps in water downstairs. For the first time in more than a dozen years, we are facing the likelihood of flooding in the valley.
We are pretty well prepared for it because when we first moved here, we had some serious flooding issues. Before we even fixed the roof or put up siding, we were adding French drains across the entire front of the house, down the driveway and through the backyard into the woods. The sump and pump came about two years later and we haven’t had any flooding since.
Of course, if the water gets bad enough, nothing will stop it, but we don’t live on the edge of a river — though many people around here live very close to the river. We have a lot of rivers and tributaries and streams and ponds.
We are a major water source for all of Massachusetts as well as parts of Connecticut and Rhode Island. It is the reason I get so worried when we go through long periods of drought or semi-drought. It isn’t just “our” well. We are all linked to the same underground waterways and rivers. The water belongs to everyone.