Another Gloucester Adventure Aboard the Historic Schooner 'Adventure'

Sunday, July 21, 2019
Gloucester, MA, America's oldest seaport settled in 1623, is home to a variety of sea vessels from small wooden dories to old fishing boats to very large schooners.  Built in 1926 at the John F. James Shipyard in Essex, MA, the schooner, Adventure, made it's life and living fishing for cod, haddock, and halibut until she retired.  She retired as the last American dory fishing trawler left in the Atlantic.
We got to tour the Adventure a couple of years ago when we were vacationing in Rockport.  The Adventure is docked at  23 Harbor Loop near the Schooner Ardelle and the Maritime Museum.  A large and impressive ship, she has two masts: a mainmast (85 ft, the taller mast, aft) and a foremast (the shorter, 77 ft, forward mast) and a top mast (110ft)  She is 121.6 ft in length, 24.5 ft in breadth and 14 ft in depth.  It had the capacity to hold 160,000 lbs. plus 27 fishing crew.

The first captain of the Adventure was Jeff Thomas.  He commissioned her to be built and his son, Gordon, named her.  Tragically, Captain Thomas suffered a heart attack and died aboard Adventure after chopping ice off the rigging in 1934.  Her next captain was Leo Hynes who remained her skipper until 1953 when she retired.   Fred Thomas was the Adventure's engineer.  Although she was built as a sailing ship, the engine later became the main source of power.  The crew kept busy aboard the Adventure.  They would arrive around 1:00 am and spend three hours baiting 500 hooks on each trawl line.  Each hook was baited with a 1/2 of a bait fish (1-2" chunk).  The Adventure carried 14 dories.  The dories would each carry 2 men who would cast out three or four trawl lines.  Later the trawl lines would be pulled up by hand.  On a good day there would be hundreds of pounds of fish on the hooks.  Once all the fish was collected, the dories would head back to the schooner and unload the fish.  A typical fishing trip was 8-10 days long.  The Adventure had 27 crew members which included 24 dorymen, a cook, the captain and the engineer.  It also had one very special crew member - a dog named Skippy.  Skippy followed Fred Thomas aboard the Adventure in 1936 and stayed for over 14 years.  The storybook about his adventure is what added so much life to our tour that day.
 Did you notice in the photo above - the Tarr and Wonson Paint Factory?

 Below....notice the man high up the mast......

Adventure was a highliner, the biggest moneymaker of all time, landing nearly $4 million worth of cod and halibut during her fishing career.  It was converted to a power vessel in 1955 and is known now as a windjammer. She then carried passengers along the coast of Maine.  Her grace, beauty and prowess earned her the nickname, Queen of the Windjammers.  In 1988 the vessel was donated to the community of Gloucester by Captain Jim Sharp of Camden ME to serve as a community resource.  It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989 and in 1994 it was designated a National Historic Landmark.  In 1999 it was declared an Official Project of Save America's Treasures.

I'd like to thank our tour guides on the Adventure back in 2016 as well as Peter Cherry, author of "Skippy Finds Adventure" and Beth Welin for concept and historical direction, and Rusty Kinnunen who brought Skippy and the Adventure to life...for us and our grandkids.
To purchase the book or a plush Skippy:

If you find yourself with some time to spare when near the coast in Rockport or Gloucester, do yourself a favor and visit the seaport and check out this really special piece of history.  Visit the Harriet Webster Pier at Maritime Gloucester at 23 Harbor Loop. Take a sail aboard the Schooner Ardelle or Thomas E. Lannon.  You could spend a whole day soaking up the salt air and great seafood while you partake of a little walk through history.  The Adventure is now a floating classroom for maritime heritage and history.  On Wednesday, Friday and Saturday you can take part in a 3 hr Community Sail.  What are ya waitin' for?
To Watch a short video about the Adventure and more information:
Thanks for stopping by Life As I See It.  Come back soon and for more blog stories about beautiful coastal Massachusetts, check out my blog Directory (Click here for directory) under Destination-Massachusetts.  Keep cool and don't forget to share!

A Visit to Grant Cottage and A Personal Look at the Man Within

Sunday, July 14, 2019
It's not often we get the chance to view the deathbed of a President, particularly when that President died in 1885, and rarely when that deathbed happens to be just 30 miles from home.  It's taken me a lifetime but thanks to the urging of Captain Hal Raven of the Adirondack Cruise & Charter Company, I finally did. On every cruise, Captain Hal narrates his cruises sharing the history of Saratoga Lake and surrounding locales. Grant Cottage is always part of that talk.  I've heard Hal's narration over a dozen times, so it was about time I take his advice and pay a visit to a small, but significant piece of history.

Ulysses S. Grant was born on April 27, 1822 in Point Pleasant, OH.  Ulysses was the first of six children of Jesse and Hannah Grant.  At a family gathering several weeks after his birth, a boy's name, Ulysses, was pulled from ballots placed in a hat.  Wanting to honor her father-in-law who had suggested the name, Hiram, Hannah named her son Hiram Ulysses, but he would be referred to as Ulysses.  At the age of 16, Ulysses's dad wrote to Ohio Representative Thomas L. Hamer requesting that he nominate Ulysses to West Point.  Hamer did so when a spot opened.  Ulysses was 16 when he entered the academy and trained there for four years.  Interesting to note: Ulysses did not have a middle name, nor did he have the middle initial of 'S'.  Thomas Hamer made a mistake on the letter of recommendation, and West Point was not allowed to change the name of a candidate so Ulysses would go on to be known as Ulysses S. Grant for the rest of his life.

Grant graduated from West Point on June 30, 1843, ranking 21 out of 39 alumni.  Small for his age, Grant entered the academy at 5'2", 117 lbs.  Upon graduation, he was 5'7".  Although Grant considered leaving the military upon graduation, he remained in the Army and served in the Mexican-American War and later resigned in 1854.  In 1848, Grant married Julia Dent, the sister of Frederick Dent, one of Grant's West Point fellow cadets.  Disapproving of Julia's family's owning slaves, neither of Grant's parents attended the wedding.  A month later, they would welcome her into the family.  Ulysses and Julia had four children. Grant left the military only to rejoin at the start of the Civil War.  He would serve under Abraham Lincoln, a man he admired and referred to as 'the greatest man he'd ever known'.  Lincoln invited Grant to the theater the night of his assassination, but Julia had other plans so Grant declined, most likely saving his life.

  Although Ulysses wrote to a friend that the happiest day of his life was the day he left the academy and the day he left the military, Ulysses struggled with civilian life.  He had several failed businesses, a struggle with alcoholism, and was eventually bankrupt as a victim of a ponzi-like swindle.  Grant was not a fan of military dress and received many demerits for his unkempt uniforms at West Point.  This habit lingered during the Civil War where Grant rarely carried a sword, and was often clad in a civilian's hat, mud-caked boots, a private's jacket with his rank stitched onto it.  One observer described him this way, "ordinary, scrubby-looking man, with a seedy look as if he were out of office on half pay".
Although Grant had no previous political experience, he was elected the 18th President of the U.S. He served two terms and was the first president to get Civil Rights Law passed, destroyed the Ku Klux Klan, ratified the 15th ammendment.
On June 16, 1885, impoverished and suffering from throat cancer, Grant needed a place to convalesce.  He also needed to restore his family's financial security.  His friend, Joseph W. Drexel, who owned a cottage on the top of Mount McGregor, offered Grant a place to live and write his memoirs. Grant would spend the six weeks here writing about his Civil War experiences.  Just as he was about to sign a book deal with a magazine, Mark Twain, with his newly formed publishing firm, Charles L. Webster and Company, offered Grant a very lucrative deal.  Grant died just four days after the final proofreading on July 23, 1885.  One year after 'The Personal Memoirs of US Grant' was published, Julia Grant received a royalty check of $200,000.  It was hailed as a literary masterpiece and was a massive best seller and has never gone out of print.

Grant Cottage remains a historic landmark today.  Visitors to the cottage can see the first floor exactly as it was the day Grant died....the clock on the mantle stopped by Grant's son, Fred, at the time of his death....8:08am.   The jar of cocaine water used for pain relief still sits atop the bureau, the leather chairs still positioned facing each other where Grant would sleep, propped up when he could not lay flat in bed.  Photos below.  We visited on a Sunday afternoon and heard much of the cottage's history from a well mannered and well spoken tour guide.  After our tour we stayed for a Sunday lecture about Suye Gambino, the cottage caretaker until 1984.   Admission is a very reasonable - $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, children 6-18 $5, kids under 6 are free.  There are several special events scheduled throughout the season including Remembrance Day on July 21st (a re-enactment of Grant's funeral), and Living History Tours every Friday at 3:00pm.   The Cottage is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10-4:00.  Tours begin every 30 minutes.  The cottage is currently owned by the State and operated by the Friends of Ulysses S. Grant Cottage. Even if you don't consider yourself a history buff, I highly recommend you check this out.

Copies of Grant's written memoirs

The bed where Grant died

Death Mask and Letter to Julia from Grant

Actual memorial pieces, intact, from the funeral

Clock stopped at 8:08am, the time Grant died
 Just a short (but steep) paved walk from the cottage, you can enjoy this spectacular view!

Grant Cottage is located at 1000 Mount McGregor Road in Wilton NY (off Exit 16 of the Northway).  For more information on Grant's Cottage:
To explore more NY destinations, visit my blog Directory:

An Invention That Changed History - The Tarr & Wonson Paint Factory

Sunday, July 7, 2019
It seems I can't break from the past these days, and that holds true for today's that has been waiting to be put to words for over two years.  Assembling my last post which featured my ten favorite ways to enjoy summer on the water, I was reminded of this piece of Gloucester history, one that deserves its rightful place on the blog. many of you are familiar with this sight?  The Tarr and Wonson Copper Paint Factory!

With my affinity for old buildings, combined with my deep love for Gloucester, it's no wonder that the Tarr and Wonson Paint Factory caught my eye and stirred my soul.  Located on the point of Rocky Neck in Gloucester, MA....America's oldest seaport,  it was Captain John Smith who encouraged colonists to come to Gloucester to harvest the bounties of the sea.  Since those days, over 10,000 men have been lost at sea. You can read more about Gloucester in my earlier blog post:

If you have visited Gloucester, you know that parts of it haven't really caught up to current times and one doesn't have to look hard to feel part of the past, part of history.  That's definitely the case with the Tarr and Wonson Paint Factory.  Curious about its story, I researched and knew immediately it was a story I had to share. Not wanting to reword the story and at the same time give credit where credit is due, I'll give you the story verbatim by Janie Franz.

Copper Paint FactoryThe Tarr and Wonson Copper Paint Factory
an excerpt from an article by Janie Franz
For centuries, ship captains have sought ways to prevent the growth of barnacles, grasses, and other marine life forms from growing on the bottoms of their vessels. Heavy infestation, called fouling, can cause considerable drag, slowing ships and hindering maneuverability. Some marine pests can even bore into the ship's wooden hull and threaten the safety of the crew.
Augustus H. Wonson and his son Gardiner found a remedy by creating copper, anti-fouling paint for boat bottoms. Partnering with James G. Tarr, the Tarr and Wonson Paint Factory began manufacturing the first copper, bottom paint in 1863 in Gloucester, Massachusetts. It was a mix of tar, dry copper oxide, and naphtha or benzine, blended in a time-consuming three-step process. The original patent proclaims, "We have found by experiment that the hull of a vessel painted with our composition has remained free from shells and weeds for a period of twelve months, while another vessel painted in the common manner and employed in the same trade became so foul in six weeks as to require scraping."
The paint was so successful, the Tarr and Wonson Paint Factory made copper paint for the maritime industry for over a hundred years, sending this paint to ship owners all over the world. When the factory closed in 1980, it remained vacant for almost 30 years until Ocean Alliance, an oceanographic research organization, bought it to house its headquarters.
"I really believe the invention of Tarr and Wonson's copper paint launched the first industrial revolution in North America, which was commercial fishing," said Iain Kerr, Vice President and CEO of Ocean Alliance. "You cannot underestimate the effect it had on American society. Not only did it help in fishing, but it helped in commerce, it helped in warfare, and it helped in recreation."
Kerr, who also is a ship captain and piloted Ocean Alliance's research vessel Odessy, knows the value of this paint. "In the old days in warfare, it would take days just for the boats to get close and then they would start shooting. If you saw a boat on the horizon and your bottom was not foul, it didn't matter if they had more sail or not. You could just sail away," he said. Prior to copper, anti-fouling paint, navies would sheath the bottoms of boats with layers of thin, copper sheeting. "Think how expensive or heavy that was," Kerr adds.
Copper paint proved essential for the commercial fisherman.
"If you put a coat of paint on the bottom of a hull and not have to scrape it for a year, instead of every six weeks, suddenly you've got a business," Kerr explained. "And, with a clean bottom, these boats might be sailing anywhere between six and twelve knots. With a dirty bottom, they might be going three knots or two knots." This allowed fishermen to get to their fishing grounds quicker and get back to shore faster. Even when motors were added, having a dirty bottom could increase a businesses expenses further. "You might be doubling or tripling your fuel consumption."

There's so much on the internet about Tarr and Wonson and the Paint Factory that changed the fishing industry.  This is an awesome video about it: 
                     of the Paint Factory  
As for me, I just love the building, sitting there worn and proud among the fishing boats and schooners in the Gloucester fishing port.  I might never have known what the story was behind this  building ....but in this case, now I do.   A great invention happened here, one that made a lasting impact for years thereafter.  
 And below you can see the Tarr and Wonson building in the horizon, just to the right of the sail of the Schooner Ardelle.

If you get a chance to visit Gloucester, be sure to take some time to explore Harbor Loop.  Visit the Maritime Museum, have a meal at the Gloucester House Restaurant, take a sail on the Schooner Ardelle or the Thomas E. Lannon and when you get a bird's eye view of the Tarr & Wonson Paint Factory, be reminded of the invention that was  manufactured here.  To read more about areas of interest in Gloucester, check out these earlier blog posts:


My 10 Favorite Ways to Enjoy Summer on the Water

Sunday, June 23, 2019
This weekend is the official start of summer according to the meteorologists and calendars.  In my younger days the start of summer meant that my family would move from our flat in Cohoes to our trailer on Saratoga Lake until the dreaded Labor Day weekend.  At 13 my parents bought a year-round home on the lake, so the magic of summer on the water didn't end on Labor Day.  Growing up on the lake was not only fun, it gave me an appreciation and affection for water and for boating.  If I were the sort that follows astrological signs, I'd blame my attraction to the water on being born under the sign of Cancer, whose element is water, but when all is said and done, it doesn't really matter how or why.....I just love water.  I also love being 'on the water' so I'm beginning a summer blog series of  favorite summer destinations with my favorite ways to enjoy time on the water - locally and beyond.  I suggest you make a list and set a goal to enjoy as many of these as you can!   In no particular order, but starting locally......

Adirondack Cruise & Charter - General Schuyler  
It's no secret here on the blog that this is one of my hometown favorites, which probably explains why I list it first. Hal Raven has brought back the days of the Steamboat Alice on Saratoga Lake with his beautiful vessel, the General Schuyler, a 1900's replica Fantail Launch.  Whether you're enjoying a sunset cruise, coffee cruise, or a floating classroom cruise, Captain Hal and his fellow crewmen make sure passengers enjoy some local history, famous landmarks, lake preservation education and breathtaking views on one of the prettiest lakes in New York State.  You can even rent this beauty for private functions like gourmet dinners, proposals, bachelorette parties, corporate events, or just a fun family gathering.  Plan your cruise today and when you disembark, catch a delicious meal, a  drink or some live music at Dock Brown's or Carson's Woodside Tavern. For more information:, and or you can read about our many cruises here on the blog. You can find those stories in my blog Directory under Destinations-New York 
Dutch Apple Cruise
 It may have taken me my whole life to finally check this one out, but better late than never!  Isn't it funny how so many folks come to the Capital District as tourists and we locals are clueless about all the great tourist attractions right in our backyards?  Built in 1986, the Dutch Apple vessel is derived from the dayliners that carried passengers to and from ports on the Hudson between Albany and New York City.  With three decks, passengers can enjoy time inside or outside on the upper deck.  The 90 minute sight-seeing cruises are the mainstay of the Dutch Apple, but there are a number of special cruises along with special events too!  For more information: and to read my blog post about our cruise: Cruising Down the Hudson Aboard the Dutch Apple

Mohawk Maiden Cruises - Caldwell Belle
For another relaxing river cruise, how about a ride on the Caldwell Belle, the Champlain Canal's only authentic sternwheel paddleboat.  Docked at Lock C5 of the Champlain Canal in Schuylerville, the Caldwelle Belle provides the perfect venue for a leisurely afternoon observing nature, learning local history or just enjoying the view, there's something for everyone on a variety of cruise options at affordable prices.  This family-owned business is a well-kept secret, but once you're in on the secret, you'll want to partake over and over again.   To read more about it and see many more photos, you can read my blog post:   You can also check them out at: and

If you venture a little further from the Capital District area, you might consider the Erie Canal Cruise aboard the Lil' Diamond.  Your cruise carries you east on the Erie Canal from Herkimer NY, through Lock 18, one of the oldest remaining 100 yr old locks with all of its original equipment.  With a variety of cruises to choose from, the 90 minute narrated cruise, the Living History Cruise, the Friday Night Party Cruise, all offer a fun and educational trip through history on one of the most beautiful waterways in the state.  Great for all ages, this is a wonderful way to enjoy an Upstate summer day.  If you happen to take a late day weekend cruise, consider dinner at Beardslee Castle just down the road on State Highway 5 in Little Falls. For more information, you can read about our trips aboard the Lil' Diamond here:
or check out there Facebook page:
or their website:

If you're looking for more of an all day adventure, you might want to consider a trip to Cooperstown.  Most people think of the Baseball Hall of Fame when they think of Cooperstown (and that's definitely a fun place to visit), but there's so much more.  From the Farmer's Museum, to the Fenimore Art Museum, to the Otesaga Hotel (a great place for lunch on the terrace of the Hawkeye Grill), you might be looking for a way to unwind and there's no better way to do that than aboard the Glimmerglass Queen where you'll enjoy the view on Otsego Lake.  One special note:  this is a cash only venue.  ATM is available.  Don't miss my blog post about our day in Cooperstown, loaded with photos of our cruise, the Fenimore and much more: Cooperstown NY - Where History, Literature and Tourism Meet   For more information, cruise times and prices:
Lake George Steamboat Company
I almost forgot to include this group, maybe because I assume everyone already knows about them. excellent option for discovering (or re-discovering) Lake George, the vessels of the Lake George Steamboat Company - the Mohican, the Minne-ha-ha and the Lac du Saint Sacrement offer something for everyone.  For more information: and

In case you are looking for some ways to enjoy bigger bodies of water, I have a few ocean cruises that I want to share.  Again, if you're new to the blog or missed my posts previously, you can find these and more fun adventures in my blog Directory (   I'm not much of a traveler but when I do venture out of state, the destination is usually no further than Rockport, MA, Newport, RI and Connecticut.  I have cruises to share in each destination!

Classic Cruises of Newport 
The Madeleine

In Newport there are a number of cruise options, beginning with the Classic Cruises of Newport.  My favorite of those is the Madeiline a 72' schooner.  We've done sails on this beauty twice and there's something about those giant sails when they're raised that is so exhilerating!  Also with the Classic Cruise Company is the Rum Runner II.   The Rum Runner II is a 1929 classic motor yacht.  It evokes the intrigue and luxury of her smuggling days.  Both of these vessels provide unforgettable times cruising the coast of Narragansett Bay where you'll see a number of beautiful homes and historical landmarks.
The Rum Runner II
For more information on the Classic Cruises of Newport, you can check out my Newport Sailing blog post at: and for information about cruises:

The Schooner Ardelle
Sail Ardelle

This is possibly my favorite of all the ocean cruises..the 72' pinky Schooner, Ardelle in Gloucester, MA.   This schooner, was built by Harold Burnham....a process so complex and fascinating, Harold wrote a book about it.  Harold is the 28th Burnham to operate a shipyard in Essex since 1819. You can imagine with that lineage, Harold is a master storyteller when it comes to Gloucester fishing history.  This is one blog post you don't want to miss: An Afternoon of Sailing and Storytelling Aboard the Schooner Ardelle    For more information and to follow the Ardelle on Facebook:  and on the web:

The Thomas E. Lannon 
Another Gloucester beauty, the Thomas E. Lannon schooner....another spectacular way to spend time on the seas.  Meticulously maintained, massive sails, wonderful Captain, the Thomas E. Lannon was such a wonderful experience.  I actually snapped this photo while aboard the Ardelle.  Gloucester is the oldest fishing port in America and that is evident by the number of vessels, for both fishing and pleasure cruising is massive in the fishing town.  The Lannon offers a variety of cruises throughout the season and is definitely a must-do if you are in the area.  To read about our sail and see some pretty gorgeous shots of this beauty from under the sails....   To arrange your own experience on the Lannon: and on the web:

And one more I almost left out....
The Becky Thatcher Riverboat

The Becky Thatcher Riverboat can be found cruising along the Connecticut River in Essex, CT. Aside from lots of wildlife, passengers can enjoy such sights as the Gillette Castle, and the Goodspeed Opera House. You can even combine your cruise with a ride on the Essex Steamtrain. The perfect family excursion!   For more information on the Becky Thatcher and Essex, CT:
So there you have it!  Twelve (I tricked you) beautiful ways to get out on the water and soak up summer!  I hope this post and all the ones attached to it inspire you to venture outside your comfort zone....or indulge in your passion and take a little cruise (or a big one).  Thanks for reading.   Stick around for more Life As I See It and more posts with great ideas for fun things to do near and far this summer!  Don't forget to check out my Directory for more posts like this one!

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