Rose Island

The Newport boat show is underway so there’s no sense in trying to hang out in Newport for the next few days. Instead, we took the water taxi from Jamestown to Rose Island to check out the lighthouse and the island. It’s a flat island between Jamestown and Newport and directly below the Newport Bridge.

The lighthouse, besides serving as a navigation aid, also is a B&B. Comfy rooms right out of the 1890s. Bring your own food. There are few amenities…unless you want to scavenge seagull eggs in the brush. Still, it might make for an interesting writer’s retreat. Just remember: BYOB.

During WWII the island was a military base for making torpedoes. Back then, Rose Island was stripped of vegetation to make way for buildings, barracks, and 500 people. The people, and presumably the torpedoes, are long gone and the foliage has returned with a vengeance. To find and reach some of the old, abandoned buildings, you need a tank or a flame thrower. One of the caretakers showing us around said he had a tractor and a chainsaw. He’s making progress rediscovering bunkers and buildings, old walkways, and long overgrown railway tracks. Cool place. I need to go back for a longer walk around the island.


Armada de Molucca

I was just onboard a replica of Magellan’s 500-year-old flagship, Nao Trinidad. It was one of five ships in the 1519 Armada de Molucca sailing around the world. Magellan made it as far as the Philippines. I may have to re-read Bergreen’s Over the Edge of the World.

Magellan and his crew were not 21st-century men. They were cruel, violent, superstitious, incredibly ignorant about everything, greedy, zealously ideological and theological, and they smelled really bad. But they had nerve. Nerve enough to say across unknown oceans with little more than a compass, bad food, and a rat-infested wooden boat that leaked and depended on the vagaries of the wind to get from point A to the next unknown point. Or maybe they were just idiots.