Our destination today is the Marina at Harbour Place on the Piscataqua River in downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We time our departure from Pepperell Cove to arrive at the marina at slack tide, passing the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard where nuclear submarines visit to be refueled. Tidal currents in the river average 4 knots. Even at dead slack tide, there are a few knots of current pushing against the bow of Cutter Loose.
In order to gain access to the marina, we must pass under the Memorial Bridge. This is a lift bridge that opens by demand on the hour and the half hour. We arrive at the bridge and contact the bridge operator on VHF 13 at 10:55 AM to confirm the 11 AM opening. When the bridge is lifted, the operator chides us on VHF channel 13 for taking too much time to pass under the bridge…”I’m not going to keep this bridge open all day waiting for you to get here!” Once through the opening, we politely thank him and wish him a pleasant day. He responds in kind.
The marina is located just upriver from the Memorial Bridge. Within minutes of passing under the bridge, we maneuver Cutter Loose alongside a long linear floating face dock. The current here is creating boiling eddies in the water. When a boat passes in the river, the wake and the current combine to create a bouncy experience on board the boat. We carry six large rubber fenders on Cutter Loose and it is immediaely apparent that we will need all six and then some to create a buffer between the boat and the face dock.
Since we have access to water in the marina, the first order of business is a thorough scrubbing of Cutter Loose, both above decks and below. Today’s high temperature in Portsmouth will reach 90. This is the first time we have utilized the air conditioning system on board the boat since New York City.
We selected this marina because of its convenient access to downtown amenities. Portsmouth is a lovely historic town. The architecture is superb. Sidewalk restaurants and cafes are scattered throughout a nine square block area in the downtown. On a Monday evening, the sidewalks are filled with residents and visitors. The surrounding residential neighborhoods are as neat as a pin. And if that isn’t enough of an attraction, Portsmouth is also the home of the Smuttynose Brewery, named after an island in the nearby Isle of Shoals archipelago. As we stroll through town referring to our tourist map, several residents stop to ask if we need directions. We are highly impressed with this friendly, walkable, highly livable community. We will continue our exploration of Portsmouth tomorrow.