On September 16 we had another picture perfect day cruising from Newburyport to Rockport and then on to Salem. We decided to take the long way way going around the outside of Cape Ann so we could see Rockport. Rockport is situated at the tip of Cape Ann and is surrounded on three sides by the Atlantic Ocean. It is known for being a place where artists gravitate due to its amazing light, its location, and its rocky coastline and vistas. The coast was lined with graceful New England homes and accented by a lighthouse acting as sentinel to the harbor.
We entered the picturesque harbor and called the harbormaster for guidance on entering the harbor.
We were delighted when she directed us to tie up at the red shed – an image that we are all familiar with as it graces many paintings of this coast. It is officially called Motif Number 1. The current building is actually a replica of a former fishing shack and is well known to students of art and art history as the most often-painted building in America. The original was built in 1840, but was destroyed in the Blizzard of 1978. From the early 1800’s, Rockport attracted both artists and fisherman and the barn became a favorite subject for them because of its composition and the great lighting in the area.
We tied up at this distinctly non-floating dock. We were at the very edge of the building and dock and had to climb the ladder to get out of the boat. By the time we returned a few hours later the tide had risen and we could practically step right onto Zendo.
There is a moving tribute on the red shed. A collection of bouys lines one side of the building. They commemorate the fisherman that lost their lives off the coast of this historic fishing village.
The light and rocky landscape are stunning and it is immediately clear why Rockport attracts so many artists . The town is funky and artsy yet it still retains its authenticity with plenty of working fishing boats complete with lobster traps, burly fisherman, etc.
The town is adjacent to the docks. It is filled with artist galleries and gift shops housed in in rustic and historic buildings and festooned with colorful flowers.
We wandered into several galleries and saw some pieces that we really liked (though we are not in an acquisition mode these days). Many of the galleries were “one man shows” with the artist present so there was an intimacy that made the experience more special.
We also enjoyed the larger Rockport Art Association. It was founded in 1921 and is the oldest and most active art organization in the country. It had a large collection representing a wide array of local artists. The gallery space was beautiful with great skylights and a wonderful feel to it. The building was as stunning as the art within it.
The town did not have as many good restaurant choices so we had an OK lunch overlooking the bay before leaving for Salem where we would stay overnight. We were really glad that we bypassed the inside route and made the decision to go further out into the Atlantic to experience Rockport if even for just a few hours.
As we headed out of the harbor, we passed more fishing boats coming in and two more lighthouses providing guidance to this “end of the world” rocky outcrop.
We then headed to our next port, Salem - which deserves its own web page.