If there’s one thing we all seem to love most about summer, it’s being on the water. In the North of Boston region, we are fortunate to be able to enjoy a myriad of aquatic adventures from good ole’ swimming to whale watches, schooner sails, and dinner cruises. And, of course, kayaking.
For all of the kayak enthusiasts, both experts and novices alike, Marblehead MA, known for its maritime contributions and endeavors, is home to an aquatic gem – the Little Harbor Boathouse. If you’re out and about on the North Shore, taking in the last days of summer, we recommend you head out there immediately!
Little Harbor Boathouse is open 7 days a week through Labor Day (Thursdays through Sundays in September; including single & tandem Kayak & Standup Paddle Board Rentals) and they welcome paddlers of all levels of experience. If you are looking to enjoy anywhere from an hour to a day on the water, their rental prices are considerably fair and staff are extremely helpful. For beginners, Little Harbor Boathouse’s kayak, stand-up paddle board, and rowing coaches are fantastic and will create a program around your ability level, goals, and personal schedule.
They also offer rentals for groups with up to 40 people and see many corporate outings throughout the summer months (we are going to start making unsubtle hints around the CVB offices in regards to Summer 2015).
The Boathouse’s Water Sports Store is open year-round and is the Boston/North Shore authorized Hobie Kayak and Standup Paddle Board Dealer. They offer many different types of quality boards and boats that look great out of the water and work great while in. We were especially impressed with the extremely versatile Hobie Mirage Sport, a bit of a kayak/paddle boat hybrid (that will give your legs the best workout of your life!). For a bit of relaxation and fishing, the Mirage Sport also has a sail package that lets you take advantage of a breezy day and transform the kayak into a sort of a sailboat.
The Water Sports Store is currently offering their Annual Blow-Out Sale now through Labor Day. Don’t miss on big savings and the best prices of the year right now on limited stock of Hobie pedal and paddle kayaks & stand-up paddle boards! Their Annual YMCA Consignment Benefit Sale is also coming up on August 31st!
Perhaps most exciting at Little Harbor Boathouse are their guided kayak fishing excursions which run through September. These ~2 hour guided excursions of the “best fishing town in New England” are held on Thursday-Sunday mornings from 7-9am for groups of 3 (minimum). Little Harbor’s guides will introduce you to the versatile, hands-free Hobie Mirage as you enjoy a wonderful morning of fishing for striped bass, blue fish, and anything else that happens to come along!
“This all sounds great,” you must be thinking. “But what about those of us who are easily seasick?” Well, Little Harbor Boathouse let us in onto a Little Harbor Secret – ginger. If that does not work for you, then they also recommend a motion-sickness bracelet. No one should have to miss out on a terrific kayak excursion because of a little seasickness!
Whether you live on the North Shore or are just here for a visit, we encourage you to stop by Little Harbor Boathouse. Don’t forget to check out their website to keep up with their many programs, sales, rental information, and their fabulous blog (with great tips on kayaking spots, care, water fitness, and more!). While you’re online, check out their awesome Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram pages.
Last month, we delved into the North of Boston’s historical contributions to the US military. As we wrote, Salem is the birthplace of the National Guard while Newburyport is officially designated as a “Coast Guard City” (and has a signed proclamation from 1965 by then-President Johnson declaring it the official birthplace). But what about the US Navy? 5 (yes, 5) cities/towns across the East Coast claim to be the Navy birthplace – two of them, Beverly and Marblehead, are right within our region (the other 3 cities are Whitehall, NY, Providence, RI, and Philadelphia, PA). So, who’s correct?
Let us first look into each city’s claims. Providence, RI “asserts its title as the site of the first call for the establishment of a Navy.” In other words, Providence was the first to say “Hey. We should probably have some sort of amphibious military branch.” Not to discredit our smallest state, but after reading into the history of the Navy, Providence’s claim appears to be the weakest.
In September 1775, George Washington ordered the HMS Hannah to be outfitted as a war ship. The Hannah was built, outfitted in, and sailed out of Beverly. However, it was built by a contractor from Marblehead and manned by a Marblehead crew. In our opinion, the two coastal towns worked together to send out the Hannah under Washington’s command. There’s just one slight hitch – George Washington was commander of the Continental Army.
Around the same time, another section of the Continental Army, under the soon-to-be-strongly-disliked Benedict Arnold, undertook some maritime endeavors on Lake Champlain in Whitehall, NY, the basis for Whitehall’s claim to the birthplace title. Both military groups, as we have mentioned, were under the Continental Army. There was a Continental Navy established in October 1775 in Philadelphia, PA. The first ships were bought and outfitted in Philadelphia. This leads many to cite Philadelphia as the birthplace of the US Navy.
So, who gets to claim the title? The city who had the idea first? The city who first established a military branch with the word “navy” in the title? Or the cities who first brought their military efforts to the sea? When discussing the origins of the Navy, it’s not as simple as just saying “this city is the birthplace.” From our research, the official origins of the Navy seem to be a hot button issue and the Navy itself does not claim any one city as its birthplace. According to a US Navy website, “Unquestionably the contributions of all of these as well as of other towns to the commencement of naval operations in the American Revolution deserve recognition in any naval history of our country. Perhaps it would be historically accurate to say that America’s Navy had many “birthplaces.” In the end, it’s fair to say that each city played an important role in American naval history and all contributed something to the creation of the US Navy. That being said, in our (biased) opinion, Beverly and Marblehead share the honor of being the Navy cities. Under the command of George Washington, they made the first aquatic military endeavors in US history.
Birthplace of the US Navy
Navy birthplace in dispute; 5 towns lay claim
Beverly or Marblehead? Birthplace of American Navy still up for debate
The Birthplace of the American Navy
Is the birthplace of the U.S. Navy in upstate New York?
Every year, thousands of elementary school students flock to Wenham for an exciting field trip. Unlike other field trips full of “No touching” rules, buddy systems, soggy boxed lunches, and the dreaded trip-related homework assignment, this trip is one to look forward to. It’s to the Wenham Museum, a North Shore gem whose amazing collection features an array of toys, dolls, games, and so much more.
This week, we made our own field trip to the Wenham Museum. The museum strives to “protect, preserve and interpret the artifacts of childhood, domestic life, and the history and culture of Boston’s North Shore” and does so in a way that’s interactive and fun for kids of all ages. The museum fosters and encourages every child’s desire to touch and play with their surroundings while managing to protect their priceless collection. The museum’s current exhibit, The Art of the Artifact: Art Inspired by the Wenham Museum Collection (on view through August 24th), which features art by local artists inspired by the museum’s collections, features fun games for kids to play. Families are also encouraged to make their own art inspired by the exhibit right in the gallery!
Another exhibit, Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days: Summer Fashions (on view through September 14th), features a costume trunk full of dress-up clothes for children to make their own crazy summer fashions.
The Museum’s gallery space also features a world-renown doll collection featuring fashion, baby, and mechanical dolls from around the world. At the center of the doll displays is the International Doll Collection, home to a collection donated by Elizabeth Richards Horton in 1922. A former resident of the Museum’s Claflin-Richards House, Mrs. Horton would write to various celebrities, heads of state, and officials for donations to her growing doll collection. Mrs. Horton’s dolls traveled around the world as a traveling exhibition (proceeds from which were donated to charity). The collection, on permanent view in the Museum’s Osgood Gallery, features dolls from Queen Victoria, Czar Nicholas and Czarina Alexandra, and many more notables from the 19th/20th centuries.
The biggest piece in the Museum’s historical collection is the Claflin-Gerrish-Richards House, one of the earliest-built homes on the North Shore and the former home of Mrs. Horton. The house features 4 rooms decorated to showcase how families lived from the First Period (1625-1725) to the Victorian Era. We took a tour of the house and it was fascinating to see how family life changed throughout America’s early history as well as see the centuries-old architectural details. Guided tours of the Claflin-Gerrish-Richards House are available weekdays at 11am and 2pm and weekends at 11:30am, 1:30pm, and 2:30pm. The House is also open for 17th Century Saturdays (the first Saturday of the month, June through October).
Perhaps most exciting at the Museum is the train room. Located downstairs, the Bennett E. Merry Train Gallery features numerous miniature towns – all with trains that run through the towns at the push of a button. The detail put into these model towns is astounding. Every time we visit the Wenham Museum, we find a new little scene that we had never seen before: house fires, weddings, a little movie theater showing the Bogart/Hepburn classic “The African Queen.” What scenes will you find when you visit?
Also located downstairs at the Museum is the Family Discovery Gallery, another interactive space for families. Currently, the gallery features the exhibit Our Amazing Brains: How We Learn Our Whole Lives Through (on view through September 28th) which explores the different parts of the brain and how our brains develop through various games, puzzles, and activities.
A day at the Wenham Museum is not a day of looking at untouchables behind glass – it’s a day of adventure and play. This play teaches children in a fun and interactive way while fostering a future interest in museums and history. So what are you waiting for? The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 4pm* (6pm on Thursdays) through September 16th. Be sure to check out their event calendar to learn more about the Museum’s fantastic events and programs.
Woodman’s of Essex is known for a lot of things – being the birthplace of the fried clam, their delicious menu, beautiful wedding venue, and their numerous accolades. But did you know that Woodman’s also offers an ongoing series of cooking demonstrations at the Essex Room? Every month, you can enjoy a demonstration by Woodmans’ award-winning chef, Ned Grieg, followed by a tasting. From sophisticated French dinners to Woodman family recipes to holiday treats, there’s something for everyone at Woodman’s Cooking Series.
August 6th – An Ode to Julia
Bring out your inner French Chef with a classic French dinner in honor of Julia Child’s birthday! Don’t forget your pearls (and your best Julia impression!).
September 10th – A Seafood Selection
Woodman’s is known for their unparalleled seafood – now you can enjoy a seafood selection from the Woodman’s Family Cookbook: Five Generations of Stories, 100 Years of Recipes.
October 15th – Soups & Stews
What better way to warm up this fall than with a nice cup of soup? Watch as Chef Ned creates scrumptious seasonal soups and stews.
November 5th – Family Cookbook
What are some of the Woodman family’s favorite recipes? Come try out some more family recipes with elections from the Woodman’s Family Cookbook!
December 13th – Santa’s Bake Shop
Big and small elves alike will delight in these holiday treats! Bring along your little helper for some holiday baking fun!
Classes fill up quickly – be sure to sign up today! Questions? Call 978-768-7335 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can’t make it to Essex for the classes? No problem! In honor of their centennial anniversary, Woodman’s has published a fantastic book featuring 5 generations of family stories and 100 years of delicious recipes.