Schaefer’s Spouter Tavern in Mystic, Connecticut

Dining Outside the Home: Schaefer’s Spouter Tavern in Mystic, Connecticut! For perfect al fresco dining in the heart of Mystic Seaport Museum’s seafaring village, choose a table outside under the trees. Take a breath of fresh air as you gaze at the flagship, Charles W. Morgan, an American wooden whaling ship built in 1841. She’s a National Historic Landmark, you know, now docked in Chubb’s Wharf. That’s quite a view. But back to the tavern. For those who may not be familiar, the tavern is named after one mentioned in Melville’s “Moby Dick”. The Museum re-created it as a working exhibit in 1956. As for lunch, I highly recommend the Lobster Roll, served on a split bun with chunks of fresh lobster meat practically overflowing onto the plate. Add a bottle of Mystic River IPA for a mild, earthy, citrus flavor that will go down like a welcome treat for the palate.

Invasion of the Boat People

A couple times a week the beach is inundated with tourists when a luxury cruise ship pulls into Nawiliwili Harbor and docks for a short period of time. Hoards of beach lovers pour down the gang plank to enjoy the pebbly soft beach of Kalapaki Bay. With colorful towels, bamboo mats, swim fins, and boogie boards in tow, families stake a claim along the shoreline to gather and sunbathe. Within minutes children squeal with laughter, splashing each other and running away. A slender middle-aged European man stands with feet firmly planted squinting out to sea. As if deep in thought, he raises a cigarette to his lips and takes a long drag before flicking the ash into the wind. Loose strands of black hair fall across his wrinkled brow causing him to pivot a half turn and then back again. Over his shoulder, an energetic group of millennials mark off the sand and choose sides for a pickup game of soccer. Shouting in an unfamiliar language, they slap each other on the back before aggressively kicking, chasing, and passing the ball back and forth toward the goal. So much activity. So much joy. This is how to spend a day in paradise. After awhile, short toots from the bridge of the huge vessel signal it’s time to head back. Beach towels are rolled up, soccer games disperse, umbrellas are left vacant, and the sand is brushed away as flip flops are slid into place. The boarding process begins for passengers to depart “Fantasy Island” and return to sea until we meet again. 

The Return of Nippon Maru: A Japanese Sailing Vessel

Standing on the shore, gazing out to sea, if you looked hard, put an open palm across your brow, and really squinted, you could see it. Like a mirage in the desert, it seemed to appear before fading into hazy white light. Blink. There is was again. Beyond reason, if seeing is believing, then it had to be a ghost ship of some sort, gliding back and forth on the horizon, but never approaching land. Until it did. A military intelligence service veteran, standing on the jetty wall of Nawiliwili Harbor, proclaimed “She’s actually coming in.” The Nippon Maru II, a 1930 four-masted Japanese training vessel, was about to dock after 21 long days at sea. The last time it had visited the island of Kauai was in 1983. As if awestruck, tourists and Native Hawaiians stood as still as marble statues. They gaped in wonder when the buoyant museum slid into Pier 2. The familiar white rectangular flag, with a bright red disc in the center, identified its country with pride. Word is after its return to Japan in 1984, it became a permanent landmark docked in Yokohama Harbor. During its service, it had logged over 45 trips around the world and brought up 11,500 cadets. Historical. Just as gallantly as the Nippon Maru II arrived, two days later, the prestigious training ship with its four giant masts, solid wooden decks, and thick knotted ropes guided its way back out to sea. The energetic sailors, dressed in crisp white uniforms, scaled the nautical rope ladders with ease. From every position they heartily waved their arms at the crowd. Shouts and cheers of farewell billowed on the trade winds. Then with imperial majesty, the Nippon Maru II slid out of sight without ever unfurling its mighty sails.