We’ve been busy over the last couple of days exploring Rhode Island which is nicknamed “The Ocean State.” We sailed over from Block Island to the mainland on Tuesday. We passed numerous fishermen, but only boated one bluefish that I wasn’t so sad to see flop back overboard. (It might be a local delicacy, but I’m not looking forward to trying to eat one of these oily fish.)
We dropped our anchor in Dutch Island Harbor on the West Passage of Narragansett Bay. The harbor is surrounded by Conanicut Island but gets its name from small Dutch Island which lies in the middle of the harbor. Wednesday we dropped in the dinghy and immediately we pulled our bikes out of storage, because Conanicut Island is huge. Conanicut Island is home to Jamestown which has been joined to Newport across the East Passage of the Narragansett via ferry for over 300 years. Now the island is connected to both sides of the mainland by two picturesque bridges.
Our first destination on Conanicut would take us down Beaver Neck to the Beavertail Light. Beavertail Light is the 3rd oldest lighthouse in the United States – it actually even predates the United States. (Subsequently we’ve added the oldest two lighthouses in the U.S. to our destination list, they’re at Boston Harbor and Nantucket.) Beavertail Light was first constructed in 1749, but the wooden structure didn’t last too long, it burnt to the ground four years later. The current granite structure was constructed in 1856. Check out the Beavertail Light website for more information on the timeline. The light has been lit by many different technologies over the years and the 4th order Fresnel lens that was previously used is on display in the museum. Fresnel lenses are still in use in many lighthouses, and we’ve seen 1st order lenses in service at lighthouses in Hopetown, Bahamas, and Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City.
The bicycle ride out to Beavertail State Park rode up and down many hills with beautiful vistas in all directions. While it was tiring, it was a great way to see the countryside, with panoramic views of both sides of the island. At the lighthouse many people sit on the high rocks to listen to the surf and watch the boats sail in and out of Newport. From the park we headed back through downtown Jamestown, checking out the shops and the restaurants.
Rhode Island has a State Park App for smart phones, and after I downloaded it I noticed there was a scuba area at Fort Wetherill State Park. I wanted to see what that involved, so yesterday we biked to that point of the island. The scuba area was in a little cove and we talked to some divers that we’re packing up their gear after their dive. They said it was a cool place to dive, but the visibility was pretty poor and the water was a chilly 68 degrees… so we crossed that off the itinerary.
Fort Wetherill was a WWII armament and you can see the large mounts for the artillery that was housed there. Unfortunately, the fort is in ruins and graffiti covers most of the surfaces, but the views from the top of the fort are still breathtaking and offer a closer vantage point of Newport harbor than Beavertail.
Yesterday afternoon we headed back to the boat and sailed north up the Narragansett Bay to Potter Cove on the north end of Prudence Island. We were scheduled to meet up with Minx and we had a great sail in the brisk sea breeze that was sweeping up the Bay.
Before we left Dutch Island Harbor, Sabrina stopped at the Jamestown grocery to purchase lobsters ($4.99 a pound!) and clams for our dinner last night with Minx. I steamed the lobsters for lobster rolls or sushi, and then we steamed the clams in none other than Narragansett beer.
Eating Narragansett clams that were steamed in Narragansett beer while being rafted up on the Narragansett Bay after a nice sail up the Narragansett just seemed like the right thing to do.