12 May Areté is in Newport!
Areté is in Newport! Not surprisingly, there was some serious drama as this chapter of the delivery drew to a close.
Rick and I arrived in Newport on Sunday to find the crew about 100 miles out and closing fast. We launched Rick’s 19’ Boston Whaler so that we would have a vessel with which to meet the boat. Then my friend Billy Black, the Newport-based marine photographer, suggested that we go out on his boat, a power cat that is ideally suited for the trip and for Billy’s excellent photos. We eagerly accepted.
Billy hoped to head well offshore and get some photos of the boat before sunset. Then the fog rolled in. The bridge disappeared first, then Ft. Adams…pretty soon visibility was down to about 50 feet and the cold set in with the fog. We got a call from the boat…no visibility at sea either. They had electronic charts, but Newport harbor can be tricky at night, not to mention in pea soup fog. Their ETA was 10:00 pm with a forecast for darkness coupled with near-blindness.
Billy, Rick and I set out around 8:00, gingerly picking our way through the harbor and out into the sound. We were on the phone with Ron White, who was giving us updates on the tracked location of Areté. The water got rougher as we passed Castle Hill light – which we could not see – and out into the open waters beyond Beavertail. Billy had the radar on, Rick was passing information on location information and we were all scouring every radar blip to find them. We basically set a picket line offshore so that they could not get past us without our notice…but they could have very easily gotten past us in the dark and fog. After setting another waypoint from Ron’s information, we got a radar target in that same vicinity…it was faint, but consistent. We headed to the spot, but not at breakneck speed – we needed to be cautious about running into them or something else. Finally, their running lights emerged from the gloom, and Areté was that much closer to home. They followed us into the harbor, where Rick stepped aboard and helped the crew tie up at Newport Shipyard. On the dock to greet the boat was Ira Heller, one of the Las Palmas delivery crew and his wife Sydney. We passed them some celebratory beers aboard and listened to their experiences crossing the ocean on Areté. It was very clear that they had a lot of affection for la machine folle!
There is a blessedly short list of issues to deal with here in Newport, which is excellent, because we are eager to begin Areté’s next chapter – her delivery to the Great Lakes. But for now, thanks to Billy Black for escorting the boat into Newport. And congratulations to the authors of this part of Areté’s story – Pilou, Bertrand, Milena, Alix and Blaise. Bravo! Tim