Another Birthday

So Dena had another birthday yesterday and we went all out. We rented a car and took off north in the snow to check out our local environs and soak up some history and art.

First we went back to Bristol, RI to see the Herreshoff museum we missed this past summer while sailing through the Narraganset Bay. If you remember we tried to sail there in the dingy but got caught in a stiff tidal current and a contradictory wind and ended up throwing in the towel after way too much struggle.

Here’s the link to the story…

Dena and I have never been much into crowds and The Herreshoff Museum in the height of summer is a crowded mess anyway so missing it (with every intention of someday coming back) wasn’t that big of a deal at the time. Once again we discovered that the only way to see a museum like that is on a miserable day in the dead of winter. There were only a few people there besides the volunteers that maintain the museum in the winter so we pretty much had the run of the place. We got to go aboard all the boats that they have on display and we also got to spend as much time as we wanted looking through the exhibits, it was incredible! We came out of it with so many great ideas on the boat improvements that we’ve been planning that it really did re-stoke the fires for our up-coming starboard demo and rebuild.

Nat Herreshoff really was the “Wizard Of Bristol” and the museum in Bristol, RI shows you why. He came up with so many small sailing vessel innovations from cleats to anchors, sail tracks and interior cabinetry that it left us swimming in ideas for our near future to-do list.

If a museum doesn’t inspire you what good is it?

After that we headed off to Boston for a south Indian buffet that didn’t disappoint us one bit. We loaded up on most of our south Indian favorites and toured the busy little town of Summerville as the snow piled up around us.

Then it was time to head back down to the water to see the U.S.S. Constitution! We got there just 10 minutes before they closed the ship so we didn’t get to go aboard which was a big disappointment and the full body check with an x-ray scan was a major turn-off (for a museum ship?! What the fuck?). So we just walked around the ship-yard and talked about the evolution of politics, boat projects and us… It was good enough just to be together in Boston on Dena’s birthday.

Although we knew we would be way to early for the play that we had tickets for in Providence, RI we took off anyway in hopes that Providence would provide (yuk-yuk) us with something to do while we waited for the theater to open and sure enough it did. As we were walking down the street in downtown Providence we heard the sounds of an Irish sextet playing traditionals in a bar so we had to go on in. We enjoyed a couple of Irish coffee’s while listening to the music, checked out a photo exhibit in the little gallery next door to the club and then bellied-up and burned some time in the place that was just a little too hip for the likes of us sailing folk. But it was fun and we enjoyed each other being in a new place as we have for many a birthday now.

Then it was time for the show!

Dena did some research a few weeks ago on local theater and discovered the Trinity Repertory Theater in downtown Providence, RI. The theater has had some rave reviews over the past few years and we made it a point to make our way up there as soon as we could. As it turned out they were putting on Sarah Treem’s “The How and The Why”, a new play that neither one of us had heard anything about. The theater, having a reputation for choosing their seasons well made it easy to go into it blind so we got tickets for last night’s show. It was an awesome play, well written, timely, intelligent and performed (in my opinion) flawlessly. Like most public art that Dena and I go to we laughed in all the wrong places (and the right ones too) and enjoyed it to the hilt. In other words, we had a blast!

Then we drove home talking and laughing and enjoying each others company all the way back. It was so perfectly what we both needed after another intense week at the community.

Happy birthday Dena, you make my life an incredible adventure!



  1. This is what that phrase means! Many happy returns of the day, Captain Hankins. May this next swing around the sun bring you as much joy, adventure, curiosity, mystery, lessons and pleasures as your last year’s circuit has brought to my landlubber life. I am only one of the many people so very lucky you were born.

  2. Hey James and Dena. Happy birthday Dena! Life here in northern Maryland is good. Grandson Wesley is now 18 months old and absolutely absorbs me (and exhausts me!). Managing a retirement community must surely be fun, if – and it’s an if that I know relates to you guys – you have the right attitude. Mom lived in such a place in Kalamazoo and I made many friends, from arch conservatives to ribald co-conspirators! Attitude is everything. Surprise is buttoned up and on the hard for the winter. The kids have over out of the state park at Dundee Creek, so I’m evaluating options for next season. The park marina is cheap but plagued by shallows, aquatic weeds and birds. What will I be willing to pay for the genteel life?! Les and I are probably going to drive up to Bridgewater MA to visit my brother and his latest. You guys aren’t far from the route. Let me know the place where you’re living and we will see if there’s a chance we could connect! Happy New Year and let the hurricanes be damned!

    JW 443-841-4622 cell

  3. J.W.,
    Out of all the great conversations we ever had I don’t think you ever (even once) told me the name of your boat!
    My very first boat, a 1974 Catalina 22 was named S/V Surprise, she came to me that way and it wasn’t until I saw Master and Commander that I ever thought that name was very cool, but it is a very cool name for a boat especially your boat.
    We are spending the winter at Spicers Marina Noank, Ct. but the retirement community is in Groton, Ct. It’s called Windham Falls Estates (google it…) We have a lovely guest suit that I would be honored if you would stay in, on me (remember, I’m the manager) and I would also enjoy your company for breakfast, dinner, supper (suppah, here in New England) or all three if you wish, my treat.
    If you still have my phone number please give me a call when you know the date you’ll be around so we can work out logistics. I’m looking forward to it.
    Happy New year to you as well my friend!

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