Posted by: nauticalchronicles | November 29, 2011



Days of Our Moorings, Re-Births and Head Butts

“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our moorings”; adapted from “The Days of Our Lives” (thanks Martha).

For many years, our boating friend Perry had a “secret” mooring in the Ipswich River which he referred to in passing conversations, but never fully explained to us. He would disappear with his boat and dinghy for weekends and never be heard from; he’d never talk about it when he returned.  His boat’s name is “Off Duty”; he’s close-mouthed, tight-lipped, not forth-coming with information, and answers a question with a question…which is how law enforcement officers are supposed to be; secretive.

After years of trying to invite ourselves down to his mooring to tie-up, Louise and I on “HalfMine” finally bribed him with a case of Michelob-Ultra to allow us along for a weekend.  His mooring is located near Grape Island and requires a careful approach due to shallow water at the entry.  There is a large sandbar in the center of the river which appears at low tide providing a great playground for boaters…but only at low tide.  At other times, the sandbar is below water and creates a formidable hazard to navigation; local knowledge is extremely beneficial in these waters.

Louise and I, Perry and Dorothy packed up our boats, including our dinghies, for the weekend…and a great weekend it was.  As I’ve said before, there is nothing so much fun as doing something for the first time, and we had never been into the Ipswich River, let alone on a mooring overnight.  The daytime weather was hot; the sandbar was available from 10AM to 4PM; the drinks were cold (his free case of Mich-Ultra did not last the weekend); the dinghy runs at night were fun.

And his secret mooring was no longer a secret; “HalfMine” needed one of these.

Over beers one evening at Striper’s, my friend Jack who worked in Ipswich said “sure, I can get you one of those”.  So began our addition of “The Mooring” to our list of boating adventures.

Over the past ten years, we have spent much time with our boating friends in the Ipswich River, Massachusetts.  In fact, not only is Perry’s secret mooring no longer secret, he has helped six of our friends get their own river locations; in effect, with eight moorings and the ability to raft up to 25 boats, we have relocated our Marina to our Moorings.  And now, strange things go on at the moorings as well as on the docks.

Let’s see…I remember when Dorothy had to babysit her friends (miniature white, very clean, very white) white poodle for the weekend.  Winnie was a pampered, kept in-door type lap dog; I don’t think Winnie was allowed, by her owner, to even walk on her own four legs; she was kept firmly in the owner’s arms, at all times.  When the dog needed to go to the bathroom, I believe the owner held the dog above the grass or litter box to do its business.  Anyway, Dorothy brought Winnie to the mooring…and the sandbar…and Grape Island; wow.  I have never seen such a transformation. And could Winnie RUN! And, of course, run away she did.  When she returned, we didn’t think it was the same dog.  It must have taken weeks to get all the sand, dirt, bugs and other miscellaneous debris out of Winnie’s matted white coat (I may have mentioned that Winnie had [past tense] a very white coat).  It probably took many more weeks to get rid of Winnie’s new attitude, but we don’t know.  Dorothy’s friend never talked to her again, and we never saw Winnie again.  Too bad; Winnie would have made a great boat dog!

And I remember the day we tied all the rubber inflated things together (they float; they have cup-holders; they tip over in the water; they may or may not hold the person while floating; they are multi-colored and can lose air if not properly inflated…those kinds of things; rafts and such), and dragged them and their occupants (the girls) around the river and back-and-forth to the sand bar with the dinghy. We also invented the “actual, natural deviation” whereby all floating objects along with their passengers allow the shifting tide to propel them, in or out of the river, naturally; no power allowed.  It is a widely-held belief, at least at our marina that objects, left to drift, will not run into anything; that they will naturally drift around things in their path…this is not true. You may wonder where all of this is going; we let the girls drift for the better part of an afternoon.  They ended somewhere up the Parker River on their way to Rowley before we “rescued” them.  The boys considered just letting the tide bring them back naturally, but in the end, we went after them; it was a really nice way for all of us to spend the day…apart.  They did run into a few things on their voyage, dispelling the belief that drifting debris drifts around fixed objects.

Then there was the day we unintentionally stranded one of our own on the sandbar.  When the tide comes up, there really is no place to go. She did not want to leave when the rest of us did, so we said we’d be back to get her.  Of course we all got into doing other things until someone pointed toward the yacht club and asked, “Who’s that with the lawn chair, waiving her arms, waist deep in water where the sand bar used to be?”  Peter said, “Oh my lord, I forgot to pick her up!” We are always sorry, but these things can happen at the moorings.  Victoria did not drown, but mercy sakes she was some upset.

Jim and Carol have a cute little center-console boat which they run around the moorings in.  Six of us decided we should “make a run” to Tom Shea’s in Essex one afternoon for cocktails and apps, and that we should use Fox Creek (the shortcut) to get there.  It was a hot day and the ride was refreshing, but we think Jim was going too fast (he gets this look in his eyes and this smile on his face and we know he is “letting loose”; normally, he is just an accountant).  When we departed the restaurant, we asked each other if the tide was too low to return to our mooring using Fox Creek (the shortcut can only be used at high to mid tides); our answer, after brief consideration, was that of course we could.  In fact…we couldn’t.  Halfway back to Ipswich, we were stuck.  Usually, when stuck in Fox Creek, the reason is that the creek is too shallow.  For this reason, our mate, without second thought, jumped from the craft into the shallow water to push it into deeper water.  As it turned out, the craft was too wide for the creek; it was bound-up at the sides; there was plenty of water underneath the boat…and the mate, much to everyone’s amusement, submerged himself in Fox Creek.  The mate was me, and I have never seen so much laughter from one crew, especially the accountant.  It did, however, take the entire crew to un-stick the vessel, so everyone was required to get wet and mucky with the low-tide goo.

At night, we usually end up back at “HalfMine” for eats and drinks…and music.  This is when the real trouble begins.  Our “playpen” uncomfortably holds 15-20 dancing people I must have been swinging around the pole one night just as Steve was be-bopping in my direction. We collided.  It was one of the best head-butts you can imagine…one eye, BANG…into one forehead.  At least six of our friends are nurses, so the ensuing commotion with the hollering, running for 1st aid kits, blood…and laughter was destined to become one of our most memorable occasions at the moorings.

Except for the night we were all reborn.

We must have been wired and fired that night.  The girls were in the forward, V-birth of “HalfMine”.  It was a warm, cloudless night and the guys were on the front deck above the V-birth.  The hatch was open to allow air circulation into the boat, so guys and girls could all hear what was going on. As usual, there was the normal ruckus going on with music and laughter.  Well, Peter, for whatever reason, decided the girls should join the boys on the deck. Peter is also a pretty good sized boy (big and strong) so he thought the shortest way to the deck would be…through the hatch.  He grabbed the hands of one of the girls and yanked her, quickly and deliberately, up and through the hatch.  There was a “popping” sound as she arrived on deck.  Well, obviously, the antics weren’t going to stop there.  Others were popped through with great applause; then others were running down to be popped through a second time; then the boys had to be “reborn” as well; until all but Peter had been delivered.  Different arrangements needed to be made to bring Peter up from below; more than one “doctor” was needed, from below as well as above…this was going to be one big, big baby! We had several folks pushing and several folks pulling and, as luck would have it, HE GOT STUCK; IN THE HATCH!

The next day, “HalfMine” had to go back to the marina with Peter stuck in the hatch, his hands and arms at his sides, with no way to extricate himself from our boat.  Thank goodness he was facing forward so we didn’t have to see the forlorn look in his eyes as we headed out of the river into the sea (we put goggles on him). After returning to Cove, we used the forklift and an attached cable (as well as some grease) to remove him; he was ok, but since this incident, he has lost some of his girth.

And these are  things that go on at the moorings; stop by sometime…Ipswich River near Grape Island; Perry’s secret place.

Captain Robert Brown

First Mate Louise

the little man



  1. Whinnie sure did have fun that day. She was hysterical, running and jumping, jumping and running. It was like she grew feet for the first time. As I recall we stayed a little too long on the beach. How were any of us I too know, that a wet matted White little pink skin dog, is very close to a fair headed blonde. Combined with a beautiful sunny day, 6 hrs on the beach, and poor little Whinnie was down for the count that night. Dogs need sunscreen also! Thanks for memories Capt. Keep them coming.

  2. Yikes; how to sort this all out. The assult on Hog Island, endless lazy sunny days floating and gazeing upon pristine beaches! where the hell did I spend the last 41 summer’s!
    Once again, great read and quite enjoyable.

  3. Great times had by all.. love this 🙂

  4. you are all crazy!!! love reading these!!! they never disappoint!!

  5. Hilarious, as always Love, Betsy Lee

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