After a couple of nights spent in the peaceful anchorages of Port Jefferson and Fishers Island, the far-from-peaceful anchorage in Newport harbour was a jolt to the system. Here, a distinctly holiday atmosphere lingered in the air and an air of cheerfulness came with it.
Our cheerfulness, however, was short-lived. A confused call to the Customs and Border Protection folks revealed that something was wrong. Although we had paid for it online, it transpires that the officer who cleared us into the country didn’t give us a cruising license. And we assumed that the decal we received was it. But after speaking with the CBP folks in Norfolk, it became clear that isn’t the case. In an attempt to clear this up, we called the office in Virginia where we originally cleared in. And it transpired that, yes, ‘errors were made.’
That night, we were scheduled to meet with the OCC folks also signed up for the New England rally at the Elks club in Newport. So we left Lady Jane a little earlier to head to the CBP office with papers in hand to get this sorted out. Half an hour later and we still hadn’t found the office. To cut a long story short, the office closed a long time ago – no matter what Google says. So we gave up on that and headed off to the party.
Salty Scruffy Tourists
On 2nd July, Maria called the CBP office and explained the situation to one of the on-duty officers. And I have to give credit to that officer – he did offer to arrange for someone to meet us to take care of things if a CBP guy was in town. Later he called back saying there wasn’t anyone available, but if we could come to the office the next day, he would sort it out. So, we made an appointment for 1300 the next day at the Warwick office. Then, using TripAdvisor as our guide, we wandered around the very attractive town of Newport.
Trinity Church delivered a nice surprise in the form of Helen, one of the volunteer tour guides. Despite our sailor-shabby appearance, she invited us into the church and encouraged us to wander around.
One of the many interesting things about Trinity Church (built in 1726) is that they had people buy box pews to fund the parish. Once under the ownership of wealthy families such as the Vanderbilts, these box pews are now exclusively owned by the church corporation, so anyone can sit anywhere. And Helen insisted that we sit in the Distinguished Visitors pew. Previous visitors to have parked their bums here are Queen Elizabeth II, George Washington, Desmond Tutu, a few other US presidents – and now the motley crew of Lady Jane. Despite the church’s age, it looks stunningly immaculate. It certainly merits a look on their website: www.trinitynewport.org.
Continuing the religious theme, we visited the Touro Synagogue – the oldest synagogue in the United States – dating back to 1763 and listened to its history delivered by an excellent storyteller in the heart of the Synagogue: www.tourosynagogue.org.
A tip from Helen drew us to Bellevue Avenue, a street full of the rich person’s summer cottages – mansions for most of us. One of the most spectacular is Marble House, built for the Vanderbilt’s mostly (and perhaps not unsurprisingly) out of marble. This, apparently, is the house where the Kennedy kids used to come and play during their summer vacation.
Our stay in Newport was a short one, we had to get to Bristol for the 4th July Parade.