On 3rd July,  after a brief sail from Newport, we arrived at Bristol, Rhode Island, home to the oldest 4th July parade in the USA. But before we could see any of the town’s sights, we had some urgent official business to take care of – the Cruising Licence. 

Tying our dinghy at the back of the old fire station, we tried to get an Uber to take us to Warwick but failed. One by one the drivers in the area disappeared from our screen until we were left with none. Fortunately, we had another choice in the form of Lyft. And thankfully, otherwise we would have had an even bigger problem on our hands, the driver turned up.

The CBP building is as anonymous as they come, but the folks there expected us so we didn’t need to launch into a lengthy explanation. The officers were courteous and understanding (although I suspect this caused a bit of amusement in the back office). And a few minutes after filling in a form, showing our paperwork and a copy of the receipt for the cruising licence – we got the licence.

Free to Roam

So, with our status changed to free to roam rather than having to clear in at every port, we celebrated with a small purchase at the Apple store to make it easier to get photos onto this website. And after an unsuccessful search for a wedding hat for Maria, we took an Uber back to Bristol to join our fellow salty sailors at another Elks lodge for drinks. And there, we also caught the tail end of the England vs Columbia penalty shootout. Who’d have thought that England would win that eh?

After an early dinner at Aiden’s Bar, we then headed back to Lady Jane to watch the eve of the 4th July fireworks. On a boat in the harbour is the perfect location to witness this, and the display was magnificent. We have no photos though. Taken on a rocking boat in the pitch black, the results would have been worse than dreadful.

4th July Parade

The OCC folks agreed to meet somewhere near where the parade passes, but a few of us couldn’t quite work out where that was. So we ended up in a splinter group consisting of four Brits (Maria and I and Patricia and Julian) and two Germans (Dietmar and Marie off the boat Greyhound). And we stood by the side of the road in a clear bit of pavement where we could watch the 4th July parade and occasionally sit or pass out without causing much inconvenience. It was inferno hot. 

A US bomber thundered directly overhead to announce the start of the parade. Then the police arrived in a display of thundering motorcycle strength, their Harley Davidson police motorcycles rumbling slowly past us. A good start we thought. But then the parade started in earnest with representation from the forces, colleges, community groups and local businesses. And it became clear that the plane and the bikes were simply an amuse bouche rather than the main course. 

Both Maria and I have seen local carnivals in the UK, but this is in a completely different league. It was stunning and a lot of fun. 

Herreshoff Museum

The parade was still going on when we met with the other OCC folks for lunch in Aiden’s pub, but we saw some more of it on their television courtesy of Fox TV I think. And after lunch, our European splinter group walked the short distance to the Herreshoff museum.

In its heyday, the business acumen of John and the design skills of Nathanael Herreshoff produced more Americas Cup-winning boats than any other company. And the story is told in a 40-minute long video followed by a browse around the museum and the boat shed that hosts many of the Herreshoff boats – some of them in original condition and all of them beautiful in a timeless fashion. It was a great place to end our stay in Bristol and head for shelter. The winds are coming!