Jamestown: A coastal small wonder Print E-mail

 Long Island Boating World

June 2017

They dodged a bullet last year. When Tropical Storm Hermione finally veered out to sea, the crews of 68 mono hull sailboats awoke Labor Day weekend to lively northeast winds on a sun-splashed morning, scattered cotton clouds racing across the skies.James 1

It was the start of the 89th Conanicut Yacht Club Around the Island Race. The oldest continuing yacht race on Narragansett Bay, the competition is easily one of the most popular staged all year long in New England. Flying their colorful spinnakers, the boats sailed under the iconic Jamestown Verrazzano and Claiborne Pell bridges and passed by the watchful eye of Beavertail Lighthouse.

The race creates a magical backdrop to the annual Jamestown seaside car show set on a bluff overlooking the Bay at the Fort Getty town park. They are just a couple of the fun events that the quaint and quiet village holds each summer.

By the 1300s the island of "Quinunicut" served as a summer camp for the Narragansetts, the largest of the area American Native American tribes. Artifacts spanning a 3,000 year period have been recovered from a site near the local elementary school. The island was purchased from the Naragansetts by a group of colonists in 1657. The first regular ferries began running to the island 20 years later and remained the only way to access the island until well into the 20th century.

 
The Mystique of Martin Guitars Print E-mail

 Florida Today

Travel

April 23, 2017

Is there a better sounding, better looking acoustic guitar than a Martin?MartinG 2

For one hundred and eighty four years, C.F. Martin & Co. has been producing flattop guitars celebrated as the gold standard. They are prized for their power and balance, deep resonant bass and crisp, clear treble. From Paul McCartney to Eric Clapton, Neil Young to Sheryl Crow, Martin counts hundreds of stellar performers as loyal patrons. Mark Twain strummed one, as did Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and Kurt Cobain. Members of the Lumineers and Mumford & Sons do as well. Commemorative and deluxe first editions rise above the rigors of daily play to stand as superlative works of art.

It all began when German immigrant Christian Frederick Martin sailed to America and opened a shop in New York City in 1833. Six years later he moved to Nazareth, Pa. where he built the first guitar factory. In any American industry, Martin has few rivals for sheer staying power. Handed down through six generations, it's currently steered by C.F. (Chris) Martin IV. He took the leadership role at age 30 after the death of his grandfather in 1986.

The company just hit a major milestone: the production of its two millionth guitar. In a nod to Martin's durability and longevity the guitar's theme was "Passage of Time." It was a show-stopper. Unveiled at the National Association of Music Merchants show in Anaheim, Calif. in mid-January, it featured a D-45 style body with the back and sides constructed from Brazilian rosewood while the top is crafted from highly-figured bearclaw Engelmann spruce. The company partnered with America’s premier watchmaker RGM Watch, of nearby Mt. Joy, Pa., to create a stunning one-of-a-kind, fully playable model with a custom working RGM timepiece built into the headstock of the guitar.

 
Easy-Going Anna Maria Island Print E-mail

Florida Today

January 15, 2017

Longboat Key, the glitzy island just south, grabs all the buzz. That sits fine with Anna Maria Island residents who are more than content to hang out on the seven mile stretch of powdery white sand or kayak alongside a pod of bottle nosed dolphins in the Gulf's teal-colored waters.Anna 1

Tucked on a slim barrier island 40 miles from Tampa, Anna Maria Island is dominated by palm trees and low slung Crayola-colored beach cottages. The ladle shaped island is actually three small communities-- Anna Maria to the north, Holmes Beach in the middle and Bradenton Beach to the south. It feels like the type of beach town that you visited when you were a kid. No fast food joints or buildings higher than three stories. There are scores of renovated old-timey motels, one grocery store, and no cinema. So go catch a gorgeous sunset.

Legend has it that a Spanish explorer discovered and named the place Ana Maria Cay in honor of the Virgin Mary and her mother Anne. The island’s first homesteader, George Emerson Bean, purchased a tract of land on the north end of the island in 1893. Two decades later Charles Roser-- the man who invented the legendary Fig Newton-- sank his million-dollar windfall into developing the town. Home sites were hacked out of a jungle. Built in 1912, Roser's original clapboard home still stands next to the Siam Garden Resort.

 
Port D'Hiver, a Beachside B&B Treasure Print E-mail

 Melbourne Beachsider

March 2, 2017

Linda Rydson's roots run deep. Her great-grandfather built a home in Melbourne in 1906. Growing up near Baltimore, her family visited the place several times a year.Port 1

"We would often spend the day at Ocean Park Beach," recalled Rydson, a resident of Melbourne Beach for 30 years. "I knew that historic house on the bend and was always intrigued by it."

Back in May 2003, a realtor friend alerted Linda and her husband Mike that the legendary "Pinky Brown House" was going on the market. They met with owners George and Cheryl Schmidt and fell in love with the original sand chimney, fireplace, French doors, longleaf pine floors, exposed beams, and a courtyard that features a coquina fountain, all paying homage to the beach town's eclectic history.

The couple purchased the home that would become the luxury B&B Port d'Hiver for $550,000. It offers a dazzling view of the Atlantic, but came with strangely tilted hardwood floors.

"The floors were uneven, one side of the home raised about four inches above the other," recalled Mike Rydson, a former mechanical engineer at Harris Corporation. "Linda thought it was sort of quaint, but I thought if people have two glasses of wine they would tip right over."

 
Big Cypress Swamp: A Watery Wilderness Print E-mail

Long Island Boating World

January 2017

Call it America’s Amazon. A place of immense natural beauty with orchid species and bromeliads (air plants) everywhere. Stillness and serenity reign.BCypress 1

The Big Cypress National Preserve is a mosaic of open sawgrass prairies, lush cypress stands, and pine islands, comprising nearly 730,000 acres. The flow of its freshwaters support the rich marine estuaries that serve as nurseries for life along Florida's southwest coast. Known as "Big Cypress Swamp," it was designated as a national preserve in 1974.

In this rugged terrain native tribes outfoxed military intruders and drain-the-swamp developers thrived for years. From the late 19th century through the 1960s, it was the site of the world's largest cypress-logging industry until most of the trees were cut down. Government entities stepped in and snapped up parcels of lands. "Big" refers not to the new-growth trees but to the swamp, jutting into the north edge of Everglades National Park like a jigsaw-puzzle piece.

Today, nearly half of the swamp makes up this national preserve. The watery wilderness is devoted to recreation as well as to research and preservation. Compared with Everglades National Park, the preserve is less developed and hosts fewer visitors which makes it superb for naturalists, birders, and hikers who prefer to see more wildlife than people.

 
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