Sunday, October 7, 2012

Gloucester Days

September 18, 2012
Gloucester, Massachusetts

Most persons visit the sea-side in warm weather,
when fogs are frequent,
and the atmosphere is wont to be thick,
and the charm of the sea is to some extent lost.
But I suspect that the fall is the best season,
for then the atmosphere is more transparent,
and it is a greater pleasure to look out over the sea.

   HDT, Cape Cod

As long as I can remember, my family has visited the ocean
at the very end of summer.
When I was little, that meant a visit to South Jersey.
My grandparents lived in an apartment in the north end of Atlantic City,
right across the street from the beach.
I remember sitting on the balcony with Pop-Pop Pierce, who would watch the fishing and tour boats with an honest-to-goodness brass spyglass, and call them out to me by name. “Here comes the Capt. Starns !”

It was a week I looked forward to all year, imprinted upon me early in life. Ever since, I get restless around Labor Day.
It’s a sort of reverse-spawning kicking in.
This fish wants to get back to the Sea!

But don’t be fooled, I am pretty much of a landlubber. Can’t tie knots worth a darn. Not that great a swimmer. But I do love the beach, and admit to a fascination with those who go beyond and out onto the open sea.

In August, I read Ahab’s Wife. Enjoyed it immensely, though I had read only snippets of Moby-Dick, many years ago.
By September, I moved on to Heart of the Sea, a truly absorbing nonfiction account of the Essex whale-ship disaster (the original inspiration for Melville’s novel.)
Now I am finally getting around to seriously reading Moby-Dick.
(Although I never realized before how funny it is -- well, at least, in the beginning.)

So while I am drenching my head in salt-spray with my reading,
my feet remain on land.

Rick is interested in such things as well. His last name is Enos, and the first Enos in his family to arrive in America was a fisherman named Joseph.
Joseph came from Sao Miguel, in the Azores, arriving first in Provincetown, and then settling south of Boston.

We plan on going to the Essex Shipbuilding Museum, which doesn’t open till midweek. And Rick readily agrees to go on some sort of boat-ride – something I’ve always wanted to do while here. (Mom won’t even take a ferry ride.)

Meanwhile, we drive here and there, as a way of letting Rick get to know his way around Cape Ann.
Today, we ride to Gloucester.
First we drive out to Eastern Point.

Rick and I walk along the entire length of the Dogbar Breakwater,
on a not-so nice windy morning. The sea is whipping up off to our left,
and rocks are wet. Halfway out,  I suggest turning back.
Rick points to several very-determined guys who are fishing out at the very end, and keeps walking.


While in Gloucester, we sign up for a ride on not one but TWO different schooners. The first one, the Thomas E. Lannon, might be adding a Friday evening sunset sail. We were the first to sign up, but it’s not a sure thing.
The second one we signed up for will be Saturday morning … on the Ardelle !

I didn’t know that they were doing public sails.
It’s been a whole year since I first saw her, and had wondered what it would be like to be on board … I am jumping for joy.

She’s docked near Maritime Gloucester. At the excellent museum there,
we began learning about how Gloucester has depended upon the Sea for her living.

The name on this box naturally caught my eye … hmm.


We had a picnic lunch in Stage Fort Park, finding a table that was well out of the wind, which was gusting hard by mid-day.

On the way back, we stopped at the Cenotaph along the Boulevard.
This is a memorial to those souls from Gloucester who were lost at sea.

That name again ! All in all, we saw about five other Enoses listed here,
the first in 1860.
It’s not just about some hazy distant past, either; names are added every year.

Clouds are gathering to the west.
There's a high-wind warning tonight.


  1. That's a great photo of the fisherman at the helm. That perspective really conveys his steering out towards the open sea.

  2. Hi Al,
    the front of the statue is also compelling, but in the background, you see all these little houses on the Boulevard...