Monthly Archives: September 2015

Feast this Fall in the North of Boston


Lobster dinner. Credit: Schooner Lannon

If we’ve learned anything from Pinterest, it’s that fall is the start of the comfort food season.  Instead of falling back on the same, old soups and casseroles, why not indulge you appetite with new flavors and temptations from your favorite local restaurants?  This fall, the North of Boston region offers numerous culinary celebrations to satisfy every appetite.

Savor Newburyport | Newburyport, MA
September 17-26

Newburyport’s newest festival, Savor Newburyport, features 10 days of celebration and highlights the coastal city’s exceptional food, drink, shopping, and cultural experiences.  Enjoy various events throughout the festival; including innovative dining experiences with unique restaurant and shop parings.  Don’t miss great events like Pizza in the Park (Sept. 18),Creating Your Own, Unique Salad Dressing (Sept. 20), Build Your Own Whoopie Bar (Sept. 25), and more!

Taste of the Gables | Salem, MA
September 20

Dozens of chefs, vintners, and distillers from across the region will showcase their specialties and vie for your vote in the Best Chef and Best Beverage competition at Taste of the Gables.  Set along the beautiful Salem harbor front on the lawn of the House of the Seven Gables, the night will feature a silent auction, with original pieces of art and other exciting items lining our beautiful garden paths.  This event is a benefit to raise money for the House of the Seven Gables important preservation projects and education initiatives.

Cape Ann Fall Restaurant Week | Gloucester/Rockport, MA
October 18-23

Fantastic food and beautiful scenery come together every year for Cape Ann Restaurant week.  For six days, participating restaurants invite locals and visitors alike to sample the flavors of Cape Ann and offer a tempting prix fixe three-course dinner menu $33 or $25.

Salem Fall Restaurant Week | Salem, MA
November 8-12, 15-19

Who needs turkey when you have Salem’s variety of culinary treasures?  For two weeks, taste and enjoy all that Salem has to offer with nominally-priced two-and three-course prix fixe options.

North of Boston Historical Figures – Crossing the Atlantic

Many incredible historic figures called the North of Boston region home.  From celebrities like “Lily the Pink” and the “Circus Queen” to the infamous Hatchet Gang and Informer of the Deer, we’ve come across quite a few colorful characters in reading up on local history.  This week, we’re bringing you the stories of two brave adventurers from Gloucester who, despite some personal obstacles, each crossed the Atlantic Ocean alone a combined total of three times – Alfred “Centennial” Johnson and Howard Blackburn.

1876 was a big year for the United States.  The anniversary of the country’s centennial, there was much hoopla and cause for celebration.  To celebrate this milestone, a 29-year old fisherman from Gloucester, Alfred Johnson, sought to do what no man in recorded history had done before – a solo sail across the Atlantic Ocean.

Centennial JohnsonÕs dory will be discussed in the tour titled ÒCrossing the Atlantic Alone 1876-1980 Ð The Single-Handed Transatlantic Journeys of Alfred ÔCentennialÕJohnson, Howard Blackburn and Philip Weld,Ó at the Cape Ann Museum this weekend.

The Centennial dory. Photo credit –

Allegedly, Johnson and his friends were playing cards and began to discuss whether anyone could cross the ocean alone in a small, open boat.  Spurred by this his friends’ disbelief that such a feat could be possible, Johnson declared that not only could it be done, but he would be the one to do it.  He purchased a 16-foot dory, named it “Centennial” for the country’s milestone birthday, and set sail on June 15, 1876.  After a stop in Nova Scotia, Alfred “Centennial” Johnson sailed into open water on June 25th.

Local fishermen, who heard of Johnson’s proposed trip, thought it a hoax.  Passing ships were concerned to find the solo man sailing a small boat in open water and attempted to rescue Johnson  who politely refused (much to the crews’ confusion).  A German passenger ship even threw Johnson a few bottles of brandy (this he accepted).

On August 12, Johnson arrived in Abercastle, Wales where he rested for a few days.  On August 21, he arrived (to much hullabaloo)  in Liverpool.  And so, Alfred Johnson completed the first solo sail across the Atlantic Ocean.  When later asked about the trip, Johnson replied “I made that trip because I was a damned fool, just as they said I was.”


Howard Blackburn. Photo via Cape Ann Museum

Johnson’s feat was the stuff of legend until he was overshadowed by the “Man of Iron” himself, Howard Blackburn.  Blackburn crossed the Atlantic twice – he sailed from Gloucester to England in just 62 days in 1899 and then proceeded to break that record by crossing the Atlantic again when he sailed to Portugal in a mere 39 days.

Did we mention that Blackburn had no fingers?  He had lost them in a winter storm while fishing for halibut.  His mittens fell overboard, leaving Blackburn to curve his freezing hands to allow him to hold the oars and row back to shore (a feat which took five days with little food, water, or sleep).  His hands were severely frostbitten and Blackburn lost all of his fingers, both thumbs to the first joint and a toe.

So, as he managed to cross the Atlantic Ocean TWICE without fingers or thumbs, Howard Blackburn became (and rightly so) a symbol of adventure and bravery.  “Centennial” Johnson never stood a chance against a story like that and was quietly swept into historic obscurity.

Alfred Johnson’s Centennial | Dory Man
Johnson Wanted to prove that he could do it alone | Greg Cook


North of Boston Fall Events & Happenings


Fall is a terrific time to visit the North of Boston region!  There’s so much to do during your visit –  come explore the changing of the leaves, apple and pumpkin picking, hayrides, festivals, and more during this wonderful time of year!

Click here to view our Fall Newsletter and get information on upcoming events, lodging and dining deals, activities, and more!