My husband and I celebrated our fiftieth wedding anniversary, earlier this month. As an anniversary present, one of our daughters gave us tickets for a sunset cruise on The Liberte, a schooner that cruises Vineyard Sound.
It sounds wonderful and it was. Surprisingly, the hit of the cruise was the passengers. We had two bachelorette parties, among the other sundry passengers. These young ladies were bringing their brides-to-be friends on the cruise. Consequently, the mood was gay and celebratory.
Once out of Falmouth Harbor, all six sails were hoisted. The Liberte is a 72-foot schooner, which the captain tried to explain to us landlubbers, but it was hard to hear him over the wind, sails flapping, and the mirth of young ladies giggling and shrieking with laughter.
But I did learn the answers to some questions I've always been perplexed by. Cape Cod is shaped like a bended arm, with Falmouth and Mashpee being the shoulder and Wellfleet and Provincetown being the fist. Yet, Falmouth and Mashpee are called the Upper cape and Provincetown and Wellfleet-the Lower Cape. That's right--the exact opposite of what you would think when looking at a map, which shows Provincetown higher than Falmouth--the Lower Cape is higher than Upper Cape.
Why? Any thinking person would ask.
The answer has to do with the wind. Sailors sail upwind to get to Falmouth and downwind to get to Provincetown. By the way, that's also why going to Maine is called "Down East." It all has to do with sailing with the wind.
I learned all this while watching the sunset, as we sailed at a good tack, between Martha's Vineyard and Woods Hole and Falmouth. Then suddenly, an ominous cloud arose over Martha's Vineyard and all too soon hasten towards us. Would this turn into a "dark and stormy night"?
The captain directed our attention to the formation and explained that he expected this--the weatherman predicted a foggy night. The Liberte is equipped with radar and a GPS.
It didn't take long for us to be in the thick of it. Soon we were surrounded by grey sea and sky. We couldn't see neither the stern nor the bow of the schooner. The drunks never noticed.
Now, my family has owned sailboats for over twenty years. We loved the fact that sailboats are so quiet, serene, and peaceful. And now, when the drunks had calm moments, it was nice and peaceful with the breezes cooling us off from the humidity. But, in the thick soup of fog, it was eerie...quiet... ominous...and creepy...until the drunks' shrieks of laughter broke the sinister mood.
We all looked around at each other and joined in the gleeful merriment, with relief. This was fun--an adventure--a story in the making.
Soon we heard the buoy bell and saw the light from Nobska Lighthouse. And within ten minutes we dropped the sails and turned on the motor to sail between the red and green lights marking the entrance to Falmouth Harbor.
Our captain was an experienced sailor. We were impressed with how skillfully the schooner was quickly docked alongside the pier.
The goodbyes were cheery and the young ladies invited us all to follow them to Liam Mcguires to continue the gaiety. But hubby and I are simple, old folk, and after a few "Cape Codders" and a swaying, rolling, and pitching cruise, we were looking forward to "lights out."
Old sailors never die, they simply return to port.