Last weekend my absolutely amazing girlfriend and I went to the Mystic Seaport Museum, which was awesome. It was her idea; her family used to go to Mystic on vacation when she was a kid and so had some nostalgia for the area, and she also knows I like boats. I have been to Mystic a few times, but never actually made it into the museum, despite the aforementioned deep love of boats. So on a particularly hot Saturday in July we packed up the DeLorean and head up to Mystic to check it out.
It was a great day to go to the seaport. We got there right when it opened at 10, and initially had some confusion about the ticket counter (well, I had some confusion), though after a security guard cleared it up for us we were right in. They were handing out a free book that day with admission, Through Hand and Eye by a guy named Ted Hood, who I had never heard of but is a sailor dude and apparently important (or self-important) enough to get an autobiography published of himself that normally costs $50. And more importantly, they were renting out sailboats FOR FREE!!!!
I was very excited for this because I very rarely get to sail and I do love it so. I guess on a normal day you can pay money to rent one of their sailboats, but given that large chunks of the museum were closed due to coronavirus, they were letting people just take boats out as a bit of compensation I guess. Since it was free, and first come first serve, I was anxious about getting there in time to be able to take a boat out. So I speed walked us right over there and arrived before the boathouse even opened up. I loitered nervously and made sure to get even closer when another couple arrived, though I shouldn’t have worried because they wanted a rowboat.
I was excited to take my girlfriend sailing because she had “maybe once, though I can’t remember for sure” gone sailing before. And I mean I talk endlessly about it. I even wrote an essay for a magazine about sailing mostly to impress her. So I was excited to take her sailing and show her both the literal ropes and the metaphorical ropes, and teach her all sorts of great vocabulary like “port” and “sheet.” To be able to take the sailboat out, you had to pass a rigorous knowledge test, which consisted of the person asking “do you have small boat sailing experience?” to which I cunningly answered “yes,” though I had specifically worn my 2009 Marion-Bermuda race hat to show off my sailing credentials.
So with a shove from the dockhand we were off! We were sailing in the river there and it was a lot of fun. The breeze was light but constant and there was plenty of room and not much traffic and we got to go around for like 40 minutes before I started to feel guilty and pulled us in with a slightly too aggressive docking maneuver (we made it anyways). I had her take the tiller for a bit and she did amazing, absolutely fantastic, because she is both absolutely amazing and absolutely fantastic. It was a great time.
The YP (Yard Patrol) craft!
Then we were off to see the rest of the museum. One of the more exciting bits was discovering that the Joseph Conrad (pictured up top) was owned by Alan Villiers. I own a number of his books so it was really cool to walk around his boat. That era of ships is also pretty astounding to me, because of how it spans different eras. The Joseph Conrad is a square-rigged sailing ship, but has an iron hull, you know? Villiers was of an era where you could both work on sail-powered cargo ships and then later also see the moon landing.
As we walked over into the shipyard area, I was also absolutely delighted to discover they had a YP! I almost didn’t recognize it at first because I walked up to it at a weird angle, and it was painted a super weird blue instead of it’s usual inspiring grey. I guess this one is owned by the Merchant Marine Academy, and was at the seaport because they’re experienced with working on wooden hulls. But my long and lasting experience with YPs (which I think I’ll detail next week) meant she couldn’t hide from me for long.
Walking around the rest of the museum was also very nice. It’s not a single building, but actually a small village-looking thing. Although like I mentioned, much of it was closed, there was still plenty to look at. There was a scale model of the river from 1870 or so, and an old US Life-Saving Service hut, and various buildings full of boats. In the above picture, I convinced my super amazing girlfriend to stand next to a triple-expansion steam engine, because I find steam engines very sexy. I am comfortable posting the above picture because she has a mask and that will provide her some deniability of my obsession with steam engines. Actually going through my camera roll I managed to take pictures of a whole host of engines that day:
So yeah. It was a great day at the Seaport Museum. We saw all sorts of ships and saw all sorts of nautical stuff and even got to go sailing!!! We managed to have lunch at a seafood shack not too far away, and after we were hot and tired from walking around and getting excited about nautical stuff we went to downtown Mystic and had some ice cream. After all that, the only other picture I wanted to post for you guys was the one below of the two little sailboats (one of these we had taken out earlier) because I thought they looked like they were racing. Maybe they were just going about the same direction at about the same time, but it my heart you can’t have two sailboats doing that and not believe they are racing: