Newport RI

Newport is an amazing place. It’s impressive because of its expansive green lawns; abundance of cemeteries; huge mansions; big trees; mega yachts; and one of the largest registered collection of 18th century buildings in the nation…It also has the longest damn stoplights I’ve ever waited on!

This entry was easy – it was written while waiting at a stoplight.

Newport is an amazing place. Geographically, it resembles Manhattan, perched on an exclusive finger of land surrounded by water.

Its prominent features include; expansive lawns; historic cemeteries; mansions; big trees; mega yachts; the largest registered collection of 18th century homes in the nation, AND the world’s longest stoplights… What is it about those stoplights???

When driving into Newport – watch your speed. Each of the two thoroughfares into town have 25mph speed limits, and the cops have them well covered.

Don’t let losing a good part of your life, waiting for the last stoplight to change, affect the weight of your foot, because someone is likely measuring your patients and virtue with a speed gun.

Looking at Newport’s history truly inspires. Founded in 1639, it rapidly became the wealthiest port on the eastern seaboard, and did so through adversity, and not always scrupulous ventures.

Its rapid growth of wealth included production of Sperm whale oil (where its use originated), rum  distilleries, and more than 60% of the slave trade came and went from her wharves…And much of it illegally.

Today, tourism dominates portions of town. The quays that once thrived with the most lucrative commerce in the country, are now fouled with sightseeing cruises and tourist shops.

Yet, at its core, there remains prominent examples of business and culture. It will take the developers a long time to completely excavate the historic dirt from beneath her feet – the story runs too deep.

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The 12 meter, Enterprise, looking a little neglected.
I am here looking for work.

Newport remains the apex of the American yachting scene even though the America’s Cup sailed off over the horizon in 1983.

I do my rounds, twice a day, visiting the Newport Shipyard and Melville’s Boat Basin, with hopes I stumble on a boat that needs a skipper. The routine is fraught with disappointment – but the task is nothing but pleasurable.

The yachting industry changed considerably since my days as a yachty. It became highly polished and regulated. Resumes, and a sea chest of credentials, is what’s required to find a job. In my day, it was a good sense of humor and the ability to out drink whoever it was was hiring you.

Are today’s requirements necessary? I don’t recall too many accidents or stories about lost property. I find it all disheartening to be honest. Only rock stars get the work today…and not many of them built for sea, from what I see. I’m feeling like an old  binnacle decorating the corner of some state of the art electronics store.

Got any Brasso?

On a promising note – the industry exploded.

What was considered a big boat in my time is today mediocre. The port is vibrant, and full of life. 130′ yachts are worked on regularly in every shed. Some of the advanced designs are hideous –they confirm we’re heading for space, while other yachts are hybrids, combining the old world with the new. Wonderful!

I often feel regret for leaving the industry when I did. Working on yachts was fun, but it had its down side…. I need to remember I left for a reason.