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Northern Japan

What a day. In an effort to totally avoid paying for hotels we have worked out an elaborate system of only taking night trains, where we can sleep as we travel.

Today that landed us in Aomori, a small city in Northern Japan. After spending two hours researching things to do there, I had found only one possibility: eat apples. The city is known for having good apples, and nothing else whatsoever.

With 14 hours before our next train to Sapporo, we had to find something else to do. To fuel our brainstorming we found a little trendy Italian restaurant called Piccolo. Even one-street towns in Japan have restaurants with beautiful interior design. It's important here. We lucked out - they use high quality ingredients, make their own sauces, and use extra virgin olive oil.

Day 2: Newport, RI - Cuttyhunk Island, MA

On True North

Cuttyhunk, which is home to the town of Gosnold is the last in the chain of the Elizabethan Islands that lie about 8 miles off the south coast of Massachusetts. I started out about 7:30am for the 3 hour ride. There was no wind to be had, so on went the diesel. The new cylinder head I put on was holding up well, and the engine was running as well as she ever had. Buzzards Bay was flat and calm as I cruised by my hometown of Westport, MA and soon arrived at the breakwater entrance to Cuttyhunk Pond. The entrance stays almost fully concealed until you are on your final approach, and there isn't much room with boats coming and going!

I arrived to find a beautiful anchorage with crystal clear water and long elegant strands of eel grass gently moving with the current. I dropped the anchor and immediately prepared to go explore the island. I motored the dinghy under a brilliant blue sky to the town docks through a maze of boats. As I walked up the dock, past the fisherman shacks and onto one of the few small "roads" I noticed something strange- silence. There are maybe a handful of vehicles on the island that don't seem to get used all that often. The primary mode of transportation is either walking or golf cart. I made my way up a hill and stopped into the small general store for a snack, and some shade. As I continued on up the hill to an overlook of the south side of the island, I found stunning views of the sheer cliff faces on Martha's Vineyard and the Atlantic Ocean beyond. As I made my way back down the hill, exploring the many footpaths that wind all throughout the island I passed throngs of kids running amok with not a parent in site, it was easy to imagine what a thrill it must be to have this island as your playground, maybe this is what it was like all over in times past?

I continued on and wandered past the Cuttyhunk Historical Society and Museum of the Elizabeth Islands. They are only open a few hours a week, but I was in luck as they were set to open from 2-4pm today. I eagerly read about the fishing clubs that formed on the island in the early nineteen hundreds that attracted people like Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and John D. Archibald, president of Standard Oil. One particular photograph shows all the men standing on a lawn in front of an awning, laughing and cajoling. Only two years later Roosevelt's administration would begin bitter anti-trust proceedings against Standard Oil to break their monopoly on the oil market.

I retired back to the boat for a lazy nap, made some dinner and planned to go back to the island to hike to its highest point for sunset. After a beautiful walk, I was joined at the top by a dozen or so others with the same idea. Among them was David and his wife, who had anchored beside me in their exquisite Tayana 37, Isla Hope. They graciously invited me for a visit and tour of their boat. What a beauty she was indeed with tons of teak and spacious amounts of room below decks. We swapped stories and had some great conversation but before long it was time for bed- a 4:00am start awaited me to catch the flood tide through the Cape Cod Canal. This next leg would be a big test, 60nm through the canal and then up the coast to Scituate. Before I went to sleep I took a few minutes and stared at the sky, it's amazing to see it here with the absence of light.

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