The Ship is Ready ~ Come Home! Come Home!
The Flagship Misty Isles
Introduced to the Captain of Misty Isles Ray Pike by an article published in the Newburyport Daily News (July 6, 2000, Captains Quest, seeks crew for small tall ship) --- the Comity made overtures that the small tall ship serve as flagship for the Plan in Motion. During initial conversations, the possibility was explored that the Misty Isles could venture home during the City of Newburyport's Sesquicentennial celebration in 2001.1
Thus began the Comity's familiar commerce with a close though distant correspondent. Sharing dreams and common goals, that voyage for the Ship and the Captain would be charted --- the Plan kept in Motion, and the map, the cartogram, regularly updated. The hope was that our courses would merge sometime during 2003, the Year of the Better Way. It was a matter of Faith.
Confirming the compass and calendar for the Plan in Motion early in February of 2003, the Comity anticipated the return of Misty Isles and crew the week before Yankee Homecoming. To allow the Waterside community to share in this experience, a Motion of Comity was initiated between elected and appointed officials, private and public entities. At his request, the Comity kept the Mayor apprised of the progress, along with arrangements for the second Annual Public Forum.
The Misty Isles was to come home to the Waterside during The Year of the Better Way --- a motto adopted for the old style calendar year (March 25, 2003 through March 24, 2004) that was inspired by those accomplishments to be marked during the year:
It was Destiny. As was the landmark decision made by the Newburyport Waterfront Trust on March 10, 2003 that restored the original reference to the "historic waye to the Waterside" called Somerby's Landing. The rededication of the "wayes" and newly restored boardwalk was planned for May 18th and announced at the Annual Public Forum.
With the encouragement of NWT Co-chair Tom Lochhaas, the Comity engaged the Newburyport Harbor Commission (NHC) and Harbormaster about the potential for Misty Isles to occasionally dock along the Waterfront boardwalk. NHC Chair Hans Erwich arranged the opportunity to open discussion with the commissioners and harbormaster at the commission's May 14th meeting. That meeting proved a positive exchange, with Tom Lochhaas suggesting interim use of the transportation dock when the Newburyport Whale Watch is out on its 4-/12 hour excursions.
To follow are two electronic communications, self-introductions made by Alice Twombly, Skipper of Sea Scout Unit 49, Ring's Island, Salisbury, MA and the Misty Isles' Captain, Ray Pike --- forwarded to the parties in preparation for that meeting with the commission.
I can give you my perspective on the benefit of having Misty Isles dockside for Yankee Homecoming. As a child, I was fortunate to spent many a pleasant week on the island of Martha's Vineyard. Every day I would walk down to the dock and watch the boats go in and out. I was never quite able to figure out how to get on the water myself.
When my older children came into their teens, I began looking around, trying to figure out how to get them out on the water. We discovered the Greater Lawrence Community Boating Program, learned to sail small craft and got our instructor certification there. We also discovered the Rings Island Rowing Club and then we were hooked on being on the water year round. The affiliation with the rowing club led to a lot of other connections, one of whom was Ray Pike. We are pleased to count Ray and Wendy among our dear friends.
I believe that the presence of the Misty Isles at dockside, with her comings and goings apparent to all, will serve to inform local youth and others who dream of gaining some way of accessing the waterways, of the many fine programs available to them. As we sit dockside, we hope to make available information on all of the programs we are aware of locally. These could include the programs at the American Yacht Club (AYC), Lowell's Boat Shop, Custom House Maritime Museum (CHMM), Greater Lawrence Community Boating Program (GLCBP) and, of course, my favorite, the Sea Scouts.
My goal is to make area youth and adults aware that there is no need for them to be 'left standing at the dock'. The opportunities are HERE. Boating is not for the privileged few. Some of these organizations are ripe and ready to serve the youth and adults of the area. All they need do is step aboard.
This summer, my intent is to utilize the Misty Isles with the youth currently involved in programs, who already possess some seamanship knowledge, to give a real time look how a Sea Scout program can serve the community. We intend to fulfill this goal by forming alliances with other seamanship minded organizations and providing them with a resource for further training aboard Misty Isles. This summer, we will focus on availing our resources to two groups:
sure Ray will give you more from his end of it all. Hope this gives
you a clearer picture. Feel free to disseminate this information to
any you feel appropriate.
Let me begin to introduce myself. My name is Ray Pike, and I've had a boat, the 50 ft length on deck (9 ft bowsprit, 9 ft draft, displacement rated from 21 - 30 Tons) 1915 Misty Isles, for 13 years and sailed the West Coast, East Coast and a little of the Caribbean, but my home port is the Merrimack River, whenever I can find a slip and a mooring. That's been hard up there lately, much harder than when I grew up on Ring's Island.
I bought Misty Isles when I was teaching a GED class in Salisbury with all volunteer teachers, and realized that a course like that could be taught afloat, with local day cruises, or an extended trip, even around the world, and students could come home with skills and confidence for much more than passing a test. So I bought a classic boat that had blue water heritage (sold to me as a Herreshoff, but not very likely) and could handle a good size crew as well as lots of rough weather. So far we've sailed in winds up to 50 kts, and ridden out Hurricane Georges (on a mooring in Key West in 1998) - winds up to 111 mph. The boat is plenty sturdy, but she's 88 yrs old, and needs a major project to come up to Coast Guard Commercial standards. That major refit begins in the winter 2003/4 or 2004/5 schedule.
So I've dealt almost exclusively with Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, the Ring's Island Rowing Club, Church groups, and the kinds of organizations that are not as bound up as public schools with the need for a $5 million dollar insurance policy. I'll continue to serve those groups, and the Sea Scouts, especially because they have group blanket insurance coverage for their kids. The Misty Isles will remain 'self-insured' until we are able to comply with Coast Guard regs and begin a commercial operation. She will also remain a 'sail for free' vessel, (bring your own food/drink) because we're sailing the boat to serve kids, our communities, our churches, and our God.
That's just a little about me, the boat, and some things I want to do with it. Now, what kind of information could I provide you at that meeting on May 14 that would help you?
I understand that we have a chance to make a short presentation, thanks to the work of the Dears, Alice Twombly, and others who are active in encouraging use of the waterfront. It sounds like the central question for us to discuss may be how can the Newburyport Waterfront benefit from the presence of a boat like the Misty Isles (for you), and vice versa (for our crew). If that's accurate, I wanted you to know that it wasn't my idea to initiate this proposal, but I am flattered just to be considered as a potential attraction for your waterfront.
So I'll be happy to make a short presentation on that topic. If however, your interests in developing the waterfront go beyond just our boat, I'd be happy to share some thoughts on what I've learned at ports and events in So. California, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, a few Caribbean Islands and the East Coast from Key West to Maine. I have been a member of the American Sail Training Association, the U.S. Coast Guard Reserves, and I'm still a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Key West Flotilla, so there are only a few things I enjoy talking about more than 'messing about in boats'.
Hope this email gets to you, isn't too foggy, and can initiate our conversation toward a mutually beneficial presentation in May.
1When conceived, the strains of two period compositions with lyrics by local librettist Hannah Flagg Gould --- The Ship is Ready and Come Home! Come Home! --- were to be revived as anthems during the City's Sesquicentennial celebration, sung on Inaugural Sunday as a tribute to Newburyport's maritime history. A parade of sail was to follow. As Fate would have it, this Destiny would be postponed. The songs went unsung, and the flagship would stay the journey home until this year. Coincidentally, nearly two years to the day later, the Mayoral Proclamation was submitted as communications to the city council on June 23, 2003 --- remarking the return of Misty Isles. Patience --- and perseverance --- were rewarded.