Sunday, August 19, 2012

Old Ironsides Sails Again

Old Ironsides, the USS Constitution in Boston Harbor

Today, August 19th, Old Ironsides, the USS Constitution sailed under her own sails for the first time since 1997.  The occasion was to celebrate her defeat of the British frigate HMS Guerriere during the war of 1812.   We thought we would get an early start and view the festivties from Castle Island in South Boston.  For a 1:00 p.m.  event we were early at 10:45.  Or so we thought.
No getting onto Castle Island except on foot and no place to park nearby to allow us to get there on foot.  In the meantime, we saw a bit of "Southie" with the Women's Bath House, the Men's Bath House, Carson Beach, some cool residences, and the like.   People sunbathing in the 72 degree temperature.

Turned around and got back on the Expressway, which took a bit of doing, there being no sign to I-93 where one turned.  Typical Boston neighborhood.  If you don't know where you're going, well, we can't help  you.

We drove into the North End and found parking on Commercial Street, a wonder with all the gawkers packing the waterfront and the Italian festival in the North End.  Traversed the harbor walk and caught a glimpse of our ship sailing through the inner harbor.  Walked all the way to the Marriott Long Wharf.  The Harbor Walk is cool, with lots of fancy real estate and yachts to gape at, and some restaurants to  quench hunger and thirst.  Plentiful
park benches.

We headed into the North End and Hanover Street and found a table for two at the Florentine Cafe which has friendly service, a nice not-too-pricey Italian menu and good wines.  Big windows that open to the bustling street.  We had been to the Florentine before and liked it a lot.  Liked it even more today.

We headed up Hanover Street and found our car on Commercial Street.  Asked the guys at the Coast Guard Station where to view Old Ironsides returning from her sail, and they gave us a wonderful site, a short walk away, right on the waterfront, and sure enough, we saw the ship in  the distance surrounded by a flotilla of sailboats, harbor cruises, kayaks, and everything but rowboats.  Police boats were clearing a bath for the great ship which still had top top sails unfurled but was again pushed by a tug boat.  Sailors in the rigging, a big crowd on deck, some in period dress.  A most impressive sight, this most historical of vessels, going through Boston's Inner Harbor at a pretty good clip to her Charlestown berth.  When she docked, the sailors would furl the sails, and the dignitaries would leave and the public was welcome back on board.

The ship has a commanding presence.

There were two big two masted (wooden masts) yachts in the harbor shadowing the Constitution with sails unfurled.  A splendid sight, so many masted boats.

As we trudged back to the car, we took note of the parking, the nice restaurant near the water and the crazy float from the festival parked down the block.  Boston is unique, and we have the loveliest old ship.  Huzzah!

See the sailors in the rigging!  A most impressive vessel.

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