Back to our roots: Sea shanties and old friends in Mystic and Newport
Coming off a whirlwind of a visit to Newburyport and Boston, we were ready for a nice and easy sail to Newport, RI, home of our co-founder and President of Shake-A-Leg, Harry Horgan.
Harry's roots run deep in Newport. In fact, it was there that he started the original Shake-A-Leg prior to moving to its current location, in Miami. Walking around Newport's shipyards and waterfront, it is no wonder Shake-A-Leg was founded in Newport. Once you have spent any amount of time in the city, it becomes quickly apparent that it is the true "Sailing Capital of the World". With Newport Shipyard, constantly pumping out many of world's newest and largest sailing vessels, and being a past and present hub for the highest levels of yacht racing, Newport evokes the sailor in all of us. With all things sailing pumping through the veins of the city, the Impossible Dream and crew were naturally embraced by the community.
Our time in Newport, when we were not exploring gilded age mega-mansions, was spent with Harry and his ensemble of friends, family, and partner organizations sailing in Newport Harbor.
Amongst the many familiar faces aboard, there was one individual who really shown brightly. Tina Pedersen, who is also known as Ms Wheelchair Rhode Island made a lasting impression on the decks of the Dream. Tina was recently awarded the title and has used her unique position to passionately advocate for accessibility in Rhode Island and the country. Her motto, "Don’t just sit there…make a difference", rings true with our crew as we share a similar vision. Her relentless energy and positive attitude is infectious and gives us hope that we all can make a difference in people with disabilities live's. We applaud Tina for being a role model by showing us the power of an individual with a message!
Our Newport, RI stop was made possible by our good friend and supporter Bill Casey, who put up the crew and boat at his beautiful marina, Casey's Marina. We are very appreciative of Bill's hospitality.
After five days of sailing in Newport, we set our compass bearing towards our next destination, Mystic. Crewing this leg, we had a salty group sailor including Craig, CJ, Harry, Will and Paulina.
Motoring up the Mystic River, through the swinging rail bridge and under the ninety-eight-year-old Mystic River Bascule Bridge, we were taken back in time to an era where time was not judged by the hour, but by the tide. Historic vessel's and structures greeted the Dream as she glided past to her berth at the museum. Upon making landfall, we were warmly greeted by Chris Gasiorek, Vice President for Watercraft Preservation and Programs at Mystic Seaport, and his staff who organized two wonderful daysails with individuals from the community and members of the museum. We were blessed with perfect weather each day as we motored past the stunning 1841 whaling ship, Charles W. Morgan and other rare wooden vessels on our way out to Fisher's Island Sound. On our first sail, we were joined by a real shantyman, a musician specializing the traditional work songs used to keep up the pace on merchant's vessels back in the day!
After two days of excellent sailing, we had some rare downtime. Chris, from the Seaport, offered us the special opportunity to tour the museum's collection of 500+ vessels that are not open to the public. Housed in an old velvet factory, the museum's archive building contains room's the size of football fields of historic boats of all shapes and sizes packed floor to ceiling. We were all in complete awe of the variety and significance of the vessels contained in the achieve. Some of our personal favorites included a pristine classic hard top 1950's Chris Craft, to an original 1800's dugout canoe.
It is after seeing such an expansive collection of historically important vessels that we can not help to think that one day, when the world is a completely inclusive place for individuals of all abilities, that the Impossible Dream will be on display at a museum like Mystic, sitting amongst other historic vessels, teaching people that sailing was not always accessible. But, until the day comes were accessible design is the norm, we will continue travelling the world, educating people about the need to make society inclusive of everyone.
The Dream has just cast off her dock lines and gone under the Mystic Highway and Rail Bridges one last time this season. We have set sail down the Long Island Sound for New York, NY to work with many groups who are doing great work for people with disabilities in the Big Apple! We will be sailing out of Liberty Landing Marina and Manhattan with new and old friends including Heidi Latsky Dance, Wheeling Forward, Big Vision, and the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities! Please reach out if you are in town and want to visit. And like always, to help us keep sailing and making differences in people's lives, please donate to Impossible Dream here. We hope you enjoyed our stories from Newport and Mystic and can not wait to share more with you from NYC. Scroll further down for some more pictures from our time RI and CT.