Friday, July 7, 2017

Marblehead and Salem


Leaving Boston we knew Marblehead would be crowded, but we forged ahead anyway, called the Harbormaster when we got close, and managed to snag a mooring for two nights. The harbor is indeed full of mooring balls and lobster pots, leaving no place to anchor. Boats of all types thread their way between the buoys as they go in and out. Luckily our mooring ball was out near the mouth of the harbor and easy for us to find.

The guidebook said there are upwards of 2000 boats here and we can believe it! They all seem to be in use this week; from the simplest SUPS and kayaks, to the most elegant old yachts, everyone is on the water celebrating the 4th of July. And the weather here in New England is finally co-operating because it has been sunny, warm, and calm the last couple of days.

Monday we went to Salem to play tourist. What an interesting place! Home of Nathaniel Bowditch (you old sailors should know him), birthplace of Nathaniel Hawthorne who wrote The Scarlet Letter and The House of Seven Gables, site of the famous witch trials of 1692, and an historically important town in the founding of our country, Salem is also a very pleasant place to visit.
Our first stop was the old Custom House where ship captains would come to pay taxes on imported goods like coffee, tea, sugar, and pepper. Nathaniel Hawthorne worked here and used a custom house as the setting for the Scarlet Letter. This wooden eagle was originally on the roof but now it's indoors and a resin replica braves the elements. 

The witch trials of 1692 are a strange and depressing bit of Salem's history. There is a memorial in town that honors the twenty people put to death that summer.
Although most of the "guilty" were hanged, this man was laid under boards, then stones were piled on top until he died. How can men think up such barbaric punishments?
This house, called the Witch House, was the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin, and rumored to be the location for the interrogations, but why would the judge bring that kind of work home? It is now a museum and a beautiful example of Colonial architecture.

Speaking of architecture, I am certainly enjoying seeing all these fabulous homes. Many of the homes were decorated for the 4th of July, but this house didn't need any bunting; it's already red, white, and blue.

On the 4th of July we left the mooring (where the smaller blue dot is) and anchored just outside the harbor (where the bigger blue dot is). The yellow thing is the fireworks barge and the safety zone around it.
The show started at about 8:30 with the harbor illumination; basically hundreds of people with red flares, lining the harbor. Then promptly at 9:00 the fireworks started and it was a great 20 minute show with a rousing finale. I don't think I've ever seen such a great fireworks display.
Happy 4th of July from Thistle. 
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