Snug...but not warm!

Melvyn Brown
Mon 4 Oct 2010 21:14

41:23.17N 71:30.98W



Saturday – The Mystery of the Mary Celeste


The weather was textbook New England Fall.  There was a nip in the air in the early morning but by the afternoon the temperatures were up in the high 60’s.  I took the opportunity of visiting Marion’s Heritage Centre where volunteers take turns at showing visitors their collection.  The elderly lady who showed me around was very refined and genteel and from one of the old Marion families – and I could quite visualise her on the No Dunkin Donuts picket line!!  Revolution is obviously in their blood because the town was renamed from its Indian original (Sippican) in honour of a Captain Marion from the Southern States with whom they traded – illegally - during the Civil War, and without whom they wouldn’t have been able to export their goods.  There is a movement in the town to revert to its original name.


What would have been the kitchen of the original house is given over to examples of the Whalers’ art – carved boxes and whalebone and the like and included a small whalebone spinning top carved into a hexagon (if not tenagon!) with numbers.  She had been told it was a gambling game – but didn’t know how it worked.  I was happy to enlighten her and told her my Grandmother had a brass equivalent and we called it Put and Take.  Depending on the side it landed on, it was a question of putting 1d or 2d, or taking 1d or 2d and I there was a Take All too.  The distinct advantage of playing it with Grandma was that she supplied the original pennies to play with….but we got to keep the winnings.


Another room was devoted to the Mary Celeste (not Marie apparently).  The Captain came from Marion family with a long sea fearing (oops…Freudian slip….meant ‘faring’) tradition and was sailing to Genoa with a cargo of industrial alcohol.  His wife and baby daughter were with him, but his 7 year old son had just started school and had to stay at home with his Grandmother.  When the boat was found all the hatches were open and some of the sails were up but there was no one aboard.  In the Captain’s bed the imprint of the child’s body could still be seen.  Mutiny is roundly discounted because the Captain was so well liked and respected.  The most recent theory is that the fumes from the alcohol started to affect the crew and passengers and so they got into the lifeboat to escape them, the wind got up and the ship started to move and then the rope tying them to the ship broke.  The ship was sold and 12 years later was intentionally sunk off Haiti to collect the insurance and in recent years the wreck has been located.


The third room was named “The Golden Age” and this was the period when some famous – but not terribly famous – they probably went to Martha’s Vineyard – came for the summer and invited their well heeled guests.  One of the Rockafella’s featured, as did Mark Twain.  


In the afternoon I sat in the very pleasant memorial park next to the Boat Yard and read a book in the sun….here was the view I was looking at:



Sunday Marion to Snug (yes…really!) Harbour, Rhode Island


We got up before light and set off at 7 o’clock for Snug Harbour.  Melv estimated the journey to be possibly as long as 10 hours.   It was very chilly and a foretaste of how cold it gets up here in winter.  More than chilly…thermal vest, socks and bobble hat (Melv did find one the same colour as my waterproof jacket).   Fortunately the seas were virtually lobster pot free and the winds such that we didn’t have to motor further than just beyond the harbour entrance before Melv could put the sails up.  I had my sea sickness pills first thing and I’m pleased to say they worked.  That said, I did spend the majority of the trip on my bunk, but mostly because I was bored.  It doesn’t take long to exhaust the possibilities of I Spy With My Little Eye.  Mostly “s’s”.  Sea, seagull, sail, shore.  I was summoned on deck on arrival in Snug, not that I was an awful lot of help.  It looked to be impossible to “park” the boat in its allotted berth with the wind and tide against us and so it went on the outside of the last pontoon as an interim measure – and even that would have probably proved impossible to accomplish if it hadn’t been for the five guys in the first bay who came to our aid.  After consultation with the Marina Manager it was decided the best bet would be to move it to the other (calmer) side, in front of their 40ft sailing boat which wasn’t moving until Friday and so the same guys manhandled it around the corner by means of rope and engine.  They did a magnificent job – but then when it is your boat which is in front, it does tend to concentrate the mind.  We were invited on board to share our stories and have a beer…but as my “story” consisted of flying Virgin to Boston I declined and went for a warm shower and left Melv to it.


The wind is still strong and we are stuck here for at least another day, possibly more.  It may be “Snug” but there is little else here (although a clean Restroom and hot showers go a long way).  There are no shops for provisions, the nearest town is 5miles (Wakefield) and we were quoted $35 for a taxi, one way.  There is a wooden shack (and it really is no more than that) next door which acts as a Diner-cum-Provisions (who uses Frosted Cake mix on a boat……?).  ‘Elf and Safety would have a field day, and close it down in a nanosecond!  Having said that we spent an enjoyable hour or so over breakfast listening to the banter between the local fishermen – Melv says he is going to ask if he take a photograph tomorrow – watch this space.  The lady who owns it (the “Mom” – the daughter runs the Tackle Shop) is a BIG fan of BBC series and we chatted about her favourites.  Among them – and we have heard it from others – are Fawlty Towers, Sherlock Holmes (with Jeremy Brett) and Benny Hill and Are You Being Served get honourable(!!) mentions too.  On the walls are photographs of fishermen and their catches.  The tuna are way over the height of a man and there was one which was slightly out of focus (as well it might be) of a the mouth of a Great White Shark appearing at the back of the boat….now it might have been a still from Jaws II…..I’m rather hoping it was.  (Do Americans do irony…?)


Back to that book I started then…..



Anne, Occasional Crew