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Thursday, September 28, 2006


She was beautiful. It was love at first sight but, sadly, not to last. Sam and I wandered up to her to strike up a conversation but I was struck dumb, grinning stupidly from ear to ear. She stood there all alone, in the afternoon sunshine, swaying gently, a priceless pearl among the aseptic vessels that dotted the Boston Harbor. She was The Liberty Clipper and I was just waiting to board her for a short jaunt in the harbor.

As we boarded her, I walked around on her deck while Sam went below, ostensibly to check out the facilities. I couldn't keep my hands off the ropes, the seats and her woodwork. Thick hawsers held her fast to the jetty but we were soon to be off.

A quick blast on the horn and a motor started up to take us out. We put about and all passengers helped launch her, of course, I pretended to, since I was desperately hauling away at the ropes which were being fed back to me by six others in front of me. As the last man, I was trying to coil them and making a bigger mess of it.

A quick snap told us the sail had caught the wind and was pulling the clipper away, not as fast as we would have her go but fast enough. The skipper kept asking for more wind and asking us to wish for more wind and I couldn't resist telling him to feed everyone bean burritos. I guess he thought I was some kind of a smart aleck. Come to think of it, I might have been a pain.

Then along came this very pretty young woman. Deborah Samson, one of the few women to fight alongside men against the British in the American war for independence. I won't tell you her real name but those who know her will definitely know who she is. It was her last trip aboard the Liberty Clipper and she enthralled us with her narrative of her role in the war.

As we circled the harbor, just staying inside the mouth and catching glimpses of other sail boats (The Roseway was making her stately way across the harbor), Deborah launched into the Boston Tea Party exhorting volunteers to help cast the "British Tea" overboard. Of course, no one was dressed for the part since hostile Indian costumes were in short supply, but she did get two volunteers one of whom obligingly threw the crate overboard.

In case you're concerned that the water has been permanently polluted by the tea, the crate had been carefully tied to the rail of the clipper to keep it coming along until it was pulled up. Talk about oversized tea bags.

What was most enjoyable about it all was the relative calm of the clipper, the light, cool breeze that sprang up as soon as we were off and kept us company till we finally stuttered into port.

That was one of her last trips in Boston for this summer. If you want the Liberty Clipper, she's off at Key West, Florida where she'll join her sister ship, the 80-foot all wood schooner that I would have loved to have sailed on.

Sigh! Triple sigh. But, then, as someone once said, all good things must come to an end.

PS: Pictures will be posted. But I'll take some time to upload the images.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

This one's without a picture

I met him at the West Entrance of the North Station in Boston. He was ugly, lame and aggressive. But there was a certain charm in the way he fixed you with his beady eye, neither demanding nor requesting, but knowing that you will give him any scraps that you certainly don't need. His attitude was one that reflected absolute clarity about his position.
I called him Oswald. Why, I don't know. But the name seemed to suit his personality as he limped aobut among his brethren, avidly devouring anything that even remotely pretended to be edible.
Then, a thought struck me and you could knock me down with a feather.
What if Oswald was a female?
You see, I can't tell the difference between a male and female among pigeons.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

One miserable morning

It started off by being rather cold, not cold as cold goes in Boston, but cold enough to cause a mild fit of cursing. I set off, camera in hand to Boston's North End. The quest of course was the battleship - The USS Constitution. She was lying to where they had tied her up and was scrubbed to shine like a new penny. Naval personnel of all ranks were gathered in and around her, proudly saluting the flag that hung over her stern and then turning to salute the senior most officer on board that morning.

I stood there mulling that Old Ironsides was home. It must have been that way for a number of sailors who had, aboard her, swabbed the decks and fired off her cannon. The helm was shining. Somehow, squeaky clean wasn't the phrase that leapt to mind when I looked over the line of cannon. One youngster was on board in period costume, most probably a volunteer, she looked too young to be in the Navy but then again what do I know. Her face shone in her earnestness when you asked a question about the ship. She knew her history all right.
The ship's bell was another attraction. I longed to own it and knew enough to be aware of its price in the market. Authentic and definitely not the kind of silverware you're likely to have at your table.
Sadly, my time on board Old Ironsides wasn't enough for me to go below decks along with the tour but, I will, one of these weekends and you can certainly look out for more photographs and perhaps a better write up than this patchy piece of writing.
There is another side to my story of the miserable morning that I enjoyed in Boston but that must wait till I can get around to penning it down.

Like I always say, good couch potatoes know how the story is best kept a mystery till it's time. Posted by Picasa