Sunday, 29 June 2014

In the last two weeks we have had the boat in Newport, Rhode Island. Newport is considered one of the sailing centres of USA together with Annapolis and San Francisco, and the legendary New York Yacht Club has a “club house” in Newport besides their primary house on Manhattan. Several big racing boats are also berthed in Newport, when they’re not participating in races worldwide.

When we came to Newport, we were asked by the US Customs & Immigrations to sail to a marina for the inspection. Since we didn't know any of them, we chose Newport Shipyacht. It turned out to be the marina of a lot of big racing boats, among them Rambler, who holds the record for the Newport – Bermuda race. We thought about staying in the marina for a couple of days, but after we found out that the price was 7 USD per foot per day, we quickly moved the boat!

Besides of a few expensive marinas, you can only stay at an anchorage, when you come as a visitor to Newport. There are a lot of moorings, but they are all private, and even though a lot of them are empty, you are not allowed to stay at any of them. We've been very fortunate to be able to borrow a friend’s mooring. The moorings are very popular, though, and it took our friend 8 years to purchase a mooring - and if you're not a resident in Newport, the waiting list is up to 24 years!

Newport is also known for its mansions and prominent residents. Jacqueline Onassis spent her childhood in one of the mansions, which later became the setting for her wedding to John F. Kennedy, and together they spend their summers in Newport. Some of the mansions are also opened to the public, and we went to see two mansions both previously owned by the Vanderbilt family. The Vanderbilts were very interested in sailing, and Harold S. Vanderbilt won several America’s Cup titles and later became Commodore in New York Yacht Club.

The current defender of America’s Cup, Larry Ellison has recently bought three mansions in Newport, and he is currently restoring one of them. All the inside of the house has been ripped out, and the walls have been lifted to built under ground. The mansion is apparently going to be housing his art collection, when it’s finished, and the guard outside told me that the it was being restored for 35 mill. USD. Larry Ellison himself lives in a smaller mansion next to it, (which in those circles are called a single-family house despite its 7 bedrooms). The people of Newport were thrilled when Larry Ellison in 2012 bought his “small” house. They hoped that the America’s Cup would return to Newport, but Ellison went with San Francisco. Maybe next time?

While we've been in Newport, we’ve stayed with our friends in their house, and it’s been wonderful to be off the boat for a while. We have been able to take hot showers (indoor!), and we have slept in a queen size bed, so our feet haven't had to fight for space. However, now it’s time for us now to get back on the boat – and sail to New York!

Signe Storr freelance journalist and friend of Boatshed