end of the shake-down

Bristol, Rhode Island

I recently went to the San Francisco Social Security Administration offices to change my name, from “Ronald Raymond Lussier” to the simpler “Ron Lussier”. Forms are involved, of course. Amongst many other things, they asked me to list my place of birth, which was Woonsocket, Rhode Island.

When I turned in the paperwork, the clerk looked it over, and then looked at me. “Are you a citizen?” she asked, concerned. I indicated that I was, and pointed out that I was born in the United States. “Where were you born?” she asked. I pointed to my neat block script stating “WOONSOCKET, RHODE ISLAND”. “Oh, you’re supposed to put the state here” she said. “It is there. Rhode Island.”

Then she looked at me again like I was deranged, and said loudly “Rhode Island isn’t a state!” “Yes it is.” I said, wondering whether I was understanding her correctly. But she insisted. “Listen, I’ve worked for the Social Security office for 20 years, and I’d know if it was a state!” The other clerk in the office was also unaware of the existence of Little Rhody. “You know, the Ocean State?” I asked. “The Biggest Little State in the Union?” Blank stares from both of them.

Phoenix is on her mooring in Bristol Harbor, in the State of Rhode Island, relaxing after a journey of almost 600 miles. Bristol harbor is scenic and well-sheltered, about an hour north of Newport on Narragansett Bay. A thousand-pound mushroom anchor holds her securely until we next venture forth.

After Provincetown, we sailed smoothly south to the Cape Cod Canal. We went through the Canal with the current, our motor idling, doing 2 knots above current while Cookie trolled from the deck. We moored that night in the incredibly-crowded Marion harbor, and enjoyed a drink in the Beverly Yacht Club.

The next day we motored all of the way to Newport, where we dropped anchor. We took the dinghy into town, which was crowded and touristy. Dad and I walked together. Ostensibly we were looking for an internet café, but mostly we were just walking. I knew that Dad was worried about my bad experience on the return from Maine. He wants me along for the longer voyage to San Francisco, and he’s worried that I may not go along.

I’m thinking about the same thing, wondering if I can do this for 9 months. This has been an amazing voyage, full of experiences that I’ll never forget. I accept that some suffering is a necessary ticket to places that the greater part of humanity will never visit. But for 9 months? Right now, I don’t know. So we walk the streets of Newport together, making small talk.

We all return to the Phoenix for our last night on board. We’re drinking in the cockpit when an amazing fireworks display begins over the harbor. It’s a fitting end to a good cruise, and we all sleep soundly that night as the cool fog rolls in from the sea.



A small boat, usually used to get between a larger boat and shore. The dinghy on the Phoenix is a 9′ Zodiac inflatable. Pronounced ‘Ding-ee’.

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