Last weekend Mrs. Horne and I returned to our beloved Newport for the first time since Labor Day 2018. We were scheduled to be joined by our #1 crew – Gail and Rudy, but poor ole Rudy fell ill on the morning of departure, so we ventured off alone.
Last May, Mrs. Horne and I also hit Newport early in the season and we discovered that it’s a spot that opens for summer very early. And since we love cruising “the shoulder seasons”, it made perfect sense.
We left Friday morning around 10:45 on one of those unusually calm days on Buzzards Bay.
The flat seas allowed me to run Vigilant down the coast at a steady 25 knots which meant Newport was only 90 minutes away. But Newport wasn’t our first stop. Rather, our first stop was my favorite Rhode Island Gunkhole – Gooseberry Island.
Word of caution, the dreaded fish traps are fully deployed just north of Gooseberry Island. I think there may be path between them and the shore, but rather than take the chance, we headed a couple of miles out and steered clear.
We arrived just after noon and once we anchored, I fired up the cooktop and began grilling up The Captain’s Rubens.
Perhaps it was the cold water, early season clarity, or simply the fact that the sea was so calm. but for the first time I noticed we could see clearly to the bottom in 15′ of water.
Back To West Wind Marina
Last summer we tried West Wind Marina with Peter and Mary Lee. It’s a nice little boat basin with an excellent staff. It’s located in the south end of the harbor near different shops and restaurants, kinda like an alternative Newport.
Our friends Tony and Liz rave about Bouchard and Mrs. Horne wanted to give it a try. It’s a 2 minute walk from West Wind. Although West Wind is typically the same price as Bowen or The Newport Yachting Center, they were quite a bit less last weekend – which helped seal the deal.’
I plan to do a proper review on West Wind one of these days, but I’ll give you a vital tip right now – be aware that there is a huge night club next to the marina office that pounds out very loud Hip Hop until the wee hours of the morning.
Vigilant is a quiet boat and we did have two doors between us and the music, but the music was loud enough to shake the boat as we drifted off to sleep both nights.
A Proper French Dinner
We dined Friday night at Bouchard and I’ll refer to my full review for details. Suffice it to say, this is a true 4 Star + dining experience for those who love French cuisine.
I know that we get fog when it’s warm inland and the water is cold (58 degrees), but how come Friday was crystal clear and Saturday morning was socked in?
Rather than trudge out in the cold, gray morning I fired up the flat-top and assembled a very nice little English Muffin Egg Sandwich.
After such a rich and filling meal, we needed to burn off a few calories. We’d never biked in Newport, but I thought June 1st might be a good time to try since we’re not quite into the full tourist season.
We wandered down Thames Avenue looking for a bike rental shop and we were almost to America’s Cup Way when I noticed a half a dozen bikes next to the Scooter Rental Shop.
I went inside and I was surprised to see that the bikes were a very reasonable $7/hour with options for whatever other period one might like.
We were fairly certain that we were looking for about a 90 minute hard ride before shopping and lunch, so we signed up for 2 hours. This place is great, the bikes were brand new Giant Sedona’s – which I love. In fact I own two!
We had to sign an agreement saying that we’d stay off of sidewalks and not ride the wrong way down a one-way street. It seemed fine until we realized Thames was a one-way street.
We left the parking lot and immediately headed up the hill on Ann Street through the quaint old neighborhood and churches. At the top of the hill I spotted a very old cemetery…
Mrs. Horne said “Let’s go find the ocean” and so we did.
We quickly came to Bellevue Avenue, which is the main street with all the Mansion Tours. It was a little scary for biking, but not too bad. I knew we were getting near the Cliff Walk that we’d enjoyed last fall and made a turn into Salve Regina University.
This is an incredible college located just inside the Cliff Walk and spanning over 80 acres of land that is surely worth millions. It’s also a great place to ride a bike since there is little traffic and it moves very slowly.
I’m not exactly sure where we went, but eventually we ended up on Ocean Avenue which was the highlight of the ride. Although the bike lanes vary from quite large to none existent, there was very little traffic and copious ocean views.
Eventually we reached the entrance to Fort Adams and then back to town on Spring Street.
Despite the great forecast, the day continued to be generally foggy with a few breaks of sun. After some west end shopping, we tried a new spot for lunch – O’Brien’s Pub.
It’s a great pub style restaurant with al fresco seating and one that I’ve already reviewed, click here to read my full review.
Finally Music at The Deck!
You’d think that a place that’s hiring musicians to entertain customers would know who and when they were hired. Not so at The Deck.
Don’t get me wrong, I have totally enjoyed every musician I’ve seen at The Deck. I also think the atmosphere looking at the marina and harbor from under the tent is great as well. That’s why we went to West Wind Marina instead of Bannister’s.
Before I booked the marina, I called the deck and spoke to someone about the entertainment schedule for the weekend. I was assured that there’d be live music Friday and Saturday afternoon.
When we arrived Friday, we were told it would start at 2:00, then 3:00, then 6:00. Same for Saturday – noon, then 2:00, and still nothing.
Around 2:15 I gave the hostess my card and asked her to text me if a musician showed up. Around 3:30 she texted me to tell me that the music had begun…
The first performer was a soloist named Sean Rivers. I produced a short MBB video of a few of his songs – click here to see Sean perform. We also caught a number of songs from the 6:00-9:00 PM band – The Innkeepers. They too were excellent and featured two lead guitar players.
Dinner at Midtown Oyster
We had dinner reservations at 6:30 and Sean finished at 6:00, so it worked out perfectly. Midtown Oyster is about 8 minutes from The Deck, but it was a nice night for a walk.
I have reviewed Midtown in the past (click here to read) and although the menu has changed, the Fried Oysters are still great.
More Fog on Sunday
Our trip to Newport had an “open return” in that we had left the option of returning Sunday or Monday. We woke up to fog (again) on Sunday, but decided it was time to head out. Although the forecast for Monday was great, we no longer trusted the so-called weather experts.
We had a loose plan to head to The Chart Room, but it depended on the weather living up to the forecast. We decided to leave around 10:30 and make a go/no-go decision on The Chart Room when we reached the mouth of Buzzards Bay.
As is often the case, it was far more foggy on Rhode Island Sound than it was in the harbor. Last year I set some waypoints on my chartplotter for the southern and northern edges of the fish traps and I was quite happy I did.
Here’s what the ocean looked like as we ran at 25 MPH a few miles off Gooseberry Island…’
The good news was that the seas were pretty flat and we could run at 25 MPH. The bad news was that there was no way to see the Fish Traps until we ran into them.
It’s always good to brush up on your radar skills before you really need them. Suffice it to say, I got more out of our hour ride through the mist than Mrs. Horne did.
We broke out around Smith Point, but the horizon looked ominous and the temperature was stuck at 58 degrees – not Chart Room weather, so we returned to port.
Turks and Mudslides
We picked up Daisy, dumped our boating stuff at home and headed to Turks for a late lunch/early dinner (one of our favorite meals).
As soon as Tara came over Mrs. Horne said “Can you make a Mudslide?”
“Not as good as the Chart Room, but I can try” she said.
I said “I’m sure you can, it’s just equal parts of Vodka, Kalula, Baily’s and ice. You’ll do fine.”
Once again Tara did not disappoint…
Neither did our meals…
I think it’s safe to say that both June and the summer were ushered in well…