Salty & Satisfying
The sun is just rising above the trees across the river. My bare feet feel each board on the dock, damp with dew, as I make my way up to the shower. It’s brighter when I emerge, and though it’s early, it’s already warm and sticky. It’s 7:00 a.m. and I do what everyone in town does: Shuffle my feet and head toward Essex Coffee and Tea. Joggers bounce along Main Street; there are no cars on the road yet. I pet a Golden Retriever and remember to say hello to his owner. Familiar faces in familiar places.
At this point I usually tear off to the office to dive into the emails stacked up like cordwood, but on this day I have a little time on my hands so I grab a seat outside with the old-timers.
I’m feeling especially nostalgic this morning, so I start to think about my sleepy homeport, on the banks of the Connecticut River.
I first visited Essex as a kid. I remember it had a bookstore where I was able to snag the newest Harry Potter. There was also an ice cream store and a pool, so in my book, Essex was up there among the great boating destinations. My parents seemed to really enjoy the live music at The Griswold Inn—a quaint old bar/restaurant said to be the oldest continually running inn in the country. I recall sipping Sprite and wondering how a band consisting of someone playing the spoons and a banjo could entertain anyone. (I’ve changed my tune, now that I’ve upgraded from soda to their Revolutionary Ale.)
When I first moved here a few years ago I was bemused by the quiet town. Having grown up in the shadow of New York City and then the bustling seafaring community of Newport, Rhode Island, I was quick to joke about its small-town quirks. Big craft fair this weekend. See you guys down there? I’d joke with a colleague. Where should we go for drinks, the Gris or the Seal? We could really mix it up and go to both.
I was with a group from out of town here recently when I was dished a taste of my own medicine. “Wow, big night at the bar, huh?” said one of the visitors.
I got defensive in an only-I-can-pick-on-my-brother kind of way. “Well, Abbys got their liquor license and Essex Boat Works is working on approval for a new bar/restaurant. There’s some opposition from the museum, but a lot of the town is behind it,” I explained to glassed-over stares.
Not long ago I saw a boating couple (their foul-weather jackets and backpacks were the giveaway) walking along the red, white, and blue striped Main Street heading for the supermarket. I’d seen that look before from visiting transients. It’s a long walk and the store is next to our office, so I offered them a lift. They were quite taken with our small homeport and peppered me with questions. I carried on about the town’s history with pride.
“It actually used to be a major shipping port in the 1700s and 1800s. They used to ship brownstone down the river to Manhattan to build the first brownstone buildings. Then during the War of 1812 the British actually occupied the town and stole rope and barrels containing, at the time, more than $100,000 worth of rum. I dare anyone to try that again today! But anyway, you’re going to enjoy it here. There’s a lot of historic charm.” “Sounds like a perfect place to call home,” the husband offered. I paused. “Yeah, I guess it is.” Those memories and many more flooded back as I finished my cup of coffee. It’s a funny thing, how a place can become your home without you realizing it.
Now that you’ve heard about Power & Motoryacht’s homeport,I want to hear about yours. Shoot me an email at inbox@pmymag. com explaining what makes your homeport or favorite destination special. We’ll consider your suggestions for our upcoming feature highlighting Top 25 Boating Towns, and it’s a chance to winsomeofficialswag.