42.3583° N, 71.0603° W – Boston Harbor

How I went from reading the vows for a friends wedding in San Diego to looking down the hatch of a tall ship in Boston Harbor in the span of 16 hours is still a fog.  After a late night of revelry my travel day started with a 5 a.m. shuttle mishap, followed by a trans-continental flight, than a ‘holy shit this is a long tunnel’ cab ride from Logan International to the Boston waterfront. With bags in hand I’m now standing in the darkness, hopeful that the silhouette of masts at the end of the pier belong to the ship I was sent to photograph.

It was 10:30 at night, the first of July, and I was now in the company of the Privateer Clipper Schooner Lynx along with her crew of 8 under the command of  Captain John Beebe-Center. The captain and Lee Anne, a volunteer from Michigan, were watching a Haratio Hornblower movie in the main salon. It was obviously the climatic moment, and no one spoke until I broke the silence. It was a long and akward five minutes.

Lynx was part of a fleet of tall ships participating in Boston’s week-long War of 1812 Commemoration Festivities – culminated by the annual turning of the USS Constitution. With the crew outfitted in period naval uniforms, we took on passengers to experience a rolling gun battle with our sister privateer The Pride of Baltimore – something that had not been seen on these waters since, well, the War of 1812. By mid-morning on the 4th of July, the waterfront was clogged with all size and manner of vessel. Captain John deftly threaded Lynx through the mosh pit flotilla escorting the USS Constitution out to Castle Island, the apex of her ‘annual turn.’ Old Ironsides, in all her glory, exchanged a blazing volley with Fort Independence. The roar of the guns and the following concussion shook us to the bone.

With the setting sun we let go our shore lines and began the southerly transit, via the Cape Cod Canal and Buzzards Bay, to Newport, Rhode Island. The sea was velvety smooth. A full moon was rising over our port quarter. To our starboard, we were treated to 4th of July fireworks from Cohasset, down the coast to Duxbury and beyond to Plymouth.

Our following days in Newport were filled with morning duties, shore side tours, and the loading of passengers for afternoon sails.  My free time was spent searching out photo galleries, diggin’ around the worksheds at the International Yacht Restoration Institute, and people watching from my observation stool at an outside bar.

The dancing white caps, and billowy skies of Newport Bay were Edward Hopper perfect. And as we ran along side the schooner Mystic Whaler, the rush of our quarter wake echoed off her sails. Regretfully, my time sailing aboard Lynx had gone by much too fast.

p.s. During the course of this trip we were in the good company of the ship Bounty. She was a fine vessel, manned by an excellent crew. Ke Akua ho’omaikai Captain Walbridge.

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