A Spin on a Schooner


Taking Madeleine up Narragansett Bay

Our final day in Newport was also our departure day, but Jen made sure to fill my birthday trip (which I had turned into our engagement trip) with wonderful experiences.

It was a beautiful and breezy day, perfect for a sail. I threw on my Sox hat and got back to my New England roots, even if I never got the accent. The Madeleine is a gorgeous white 72-foot Schooner (that’s a boat with 2 masts) styled after the sailboats of the 19th century.

Being a Tuesday and off season, there were only about a dozen people on our charter, for a boat that holds closer to 50 that made for a nice, roomy sail. Once we pulled out of the dock and got past the moorings, the crew set sail and we were off. Jen and I took some pictures, took in the view, and soaked up our last minutes of time in our “Newport bubble.”

As relaxing as it was, being a sailor at heart, I couldn’t fight the urge to take the wheel. Every time I felt us fail to go up with a puff, or let the sails luff a little, I wanted to shout back to the skipper like we were falling behind in a beer can race in San Diego (not that caper ever falls behind in races). Eventually I just went for it, asking the captain if I could grab the wheel for a bit.

He asked if I knew how to sail, and I said yes, and I guess that was about all of the verification he needed. I quickly took us hard on the wind, and the boat quickly heeled over and jumped a knot faster. A few of the people hoping for a more casual sail seemed to be caught off guard, but they also liked seeing us speed up a little. The captain soon realized I knew what I was doing, and said “you’ve got this, I’m going to hit the head real quick.”

After tacking up the Bay, passing the Bell 3 I used to pass as a baby, we came upon Castle Hill and the lighthouse where Jen and I had gotten engaged just 2 days earlier. As we turned for home, we passed one last little island known as Goat Island. The last little piece of magic that I didn’t know at the time, was that we just sailed past the place where we would be getting married.

We made a last stop at the Black Pearl for lunch, getting more chili, more fries, and this time I tried their famous lobster roll on a croissant. Normally I can be a bit of a downer at the end of a great trip, failing to enjoy the final moments because I’m not ready to leave yet. But this time, even though we didn’t know quite when or how, we were already thinking up all of the things we couldn’t wait to try on our next trip, hoping we’d be coming back to plan our wedding soon.

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