17/07/2016 – Marblehead and Rockford

The weather forecast for Sunday wasn't fantastic so we stayed on the buoy at Spectacle Island until Monday morning. This gave us the opportunity to go ashore and listen to the Sunday afternoon free jazz concert! The group comprised a drummer, a bass guitarist, a keyboard player and a clarinetist/flautist , they were very good. Unfortunately the grey morning, cool temperature and general lack of sun meant very few day trippers went to the island so the audience was sparse. We had to keep leaving to pull the dinghy further up the beach every 30 minutes or so! Monday morning the sun returned and we set off for Marblehead, less than 20 miles away. There was no wind so we motored, the batteries needed charging anyway. The anchorage is a large U shaped bay, between Marblehead and Marblehead Neck which are joined together by a causeway. The whole bay is populated by mooring buoys and is home to a number of yacht clubs including Boston YC, Corinthian YC and Eastern YC. Corinthian could offer us a buoy for 2 nights, Eastern had one available for 5 nights so we took that one. $45 per night is quite expensive for a buoy but there was a launch service, 0700-2300, to take us either to the club, on the Neck, or to the town. The washing machines were free and, to my surprise, were Bosch European machines. For once my washing looks clean though the wash programme took three times longer than the usual American machines we have found in marinas in most other countries on our travels! John booked a car for a couple of days, subsequently extended to a third day. Tuesday we picked up the car and headed south, through Boston, to a company who could test and replace the freezer control unit. It might have only been 60 or 70 miles away but it took most of the day because of heavy traffic and roadworks. John replaced the freezer control unit and the freezer started chilling down, alleluia! Wednesday we set off to explore the area, stopping off first at U Haul who do propane refills. The guy took a quick look at our small BBQ tank and said it was far too rusty, as we suspected. We didn't like to tell him that the other two were even worse! We followed the Essex Scenic Coastal route stopping in Manchester by the Sea, a picturesque small town, passed through Gloucester which was much bigger and stopped in Rockport, a very popular holiday town. On the way back to the boat we stopped at a Home Depot which sells gas bottles of a suitable size but they are on a two week delivery so no good to us. The only ones they stock are steel and far too big a diameter to fit in our gas locker. John managed to order two glass fibre composite gas bottles from West Marine for next day delivery, by 1030, hence the extra day's car hire. Unfortunately the bottles did not arrive on the 1030 van so we set off on other errands. The Waste Transfer Station in Marblehead doesn't accept gas bottles but gave John the card of a guy who does. Thank heavens for mobile phones, we dropped the two empty bottles off in his yard. On our way to the Salem Witches Museum we spotted a supermarket, rather better stocked than Walmart. As we were leaving there West Marine phoned to say the tanks had arrived on the 1200 delivery so back to Marblehead. Next stop U Haul, just as the heavens opened, where the guy took one look at our brand new tanks and said he wouldn't fill them because 'that type explode"! The next three hours were spent following up suggestions before I finally found an Amerigas supplier about a mile from U Haul. Why couldn't the U Haul employee suggest we try there? Unhelpful or what? Instead of lunching on fried clams in Ipswich we spent the whole day driving in circles between Marblehead, Lynn, Salem, Peabody and Danvers, really just one large built up area! Friday morning we returned the car to Peabody then spent several hours in the mall, buying John's birthday present! His iPad screen is badly broken but it still works, held together by tape and encased in a Lifeproof case (which is no longer waterproof but....). What took the time was trying to do a backup on the old machine to transfer everything to the new one. While John was in the Apple Store I wandered around the mall. I came across a piano with an invitation for anyone to play a tune. A youngish chap had just sat down as I passed and was tapping a few of the keys, moments later he was playing a Beethoven Piano Sonata, absolutely lovely and unexpected. Apple's wi-fi got slower and slower so, after a quick lunch, he retrieved both machines and we got a taxi back. John managed to do the backup via the yacht club's free wi-fi while I did the washing. Saturday morning we dropped the mooring and picked our way out of Marblehead. It wasn't just a case of avoiding all the boats, the odd empty mooring buoy and the Star class dinghies making their way to a start line, there are lobster pots everywhere! I suppose that isn't surprising given the availability of inexpensive lobster rolls, whole lobsters etc. McDonalds does a very good lobster roll for $8.99 - I have to take John's word that they are very good though he usually prefers crab to lobster. We motored the 20 miles to Rockford, the batteries needed it, and anchored off Front Beach just a short dinghy ride to the old harbour. A fleet of 6 Navy yachts are in the small main harbour, dressed overall like the World ARC fleet. I guess it takes an 'Anorak' to notice however one of the boats has its flags the wrong way round! I know there are different acceptable orders of the flags however 5 of the yachts have a sequence starting A, B, W, 9.... from the bow, the 6th one started with A at the stern. We are not sure how long we will stay here, so watch this space. Joyce In passing I mentioned Walmart. The one we found was a big store but only had a small grocery section with very few vegetables, no meat and very little choice of yogurts but it did have a haberdashery section where I bought lots and lots of DMC embroidery threads at $0.33 per skein! I thought they were good value at 50p each in Hong Kong having paid about €1 elsewhere. Many apologies for not posting this sooner. It could not be delivered when I tried to post it because the website's inbox was full of spam. I also tried to post some photos but they just disappeared in the ether! Sent from my iPad

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