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STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS POH


I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

                        From the poem “Sea Fever” by John Masefield (1878-1967)


Photograph by Mark Paltridge     
Claiborne Pell bridge across the Narragansett Bay taken by Mark Paltridge as seen in American Public House Review
THE CLAIBORNE PELL BRIDGE ACROSS NARAGANSETT BAY



RUM RUNNER II IN NEWPORT, RI as seen in American Public House Review
RUM RUNNER II IN NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND




The view overlooking Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay from atop the 21 story high mid-span of the Claiborne Pell Bridge is truly one of the most spectacular seascapes in all of North America. From the moment that I begin the two mile crossing from Jamestown over to Newport my eyes sweep the blue green Atlantic waters in search of my old friend—the Rum Runner II. This nimble prohibition era motor boat, built solely to evade those who would enforce the Eighteenth Amendment off American shores, is certainly no stranger to the case files of this publication.

I’ve sung the praises of this classic wooden craft on other occasions; but there have been little kudos to her captain and crew—and for that oversight I must apologize. Because during my many passages through this perfect New England harbor “all hands,” whether they were at the helm or the handle of the rum punch pitcher, have done a remarkable job of turning even the simplest jaunt into a grand adventure! Among the list of skilled and colorful characters that have taken the wheel of the Rum Runner II is my good friend Captain Mark Paltridge.

Captain Mark Paltridge of the RUmrunner II in Newport Rhode Island as seen in American Public House Review
CAPTAIN MARK PALTRIDGE

Most of what I know about the man has been gleaned from brief exchanges over the last two decades, coffee and cookies at dockside in-between trips, or a quick evening beer while buttoning up the boat after the long hours of ferrying needy tourists. This summer though, my wife and I were able to spend the better part of a day with Mark as a result of his own generous nature, and the competitive nature of the crew at BMW Oracle Racing. After an eighteen year hiatus, the team had brought America’s Cup back to the United States by defeating the Swiss defender, Alinghi, in a Deed of Gift Match last February. Now the cup and crew were making the requisite public relations rounds, and on this day the oldest active trophy in international sports would be on display on the other side of the harbor at historic Fort Adams. A small flotilla of celebrated past winners and challengers to sailing’s most sought-after prize would provide escort to the assembled state dignitaries and yachting luminaries during the crossing. And there, taking the lead of such legendary names as Intrepid, Columbia, Heritage, Easterner, Weatherly and Courageous was the Rum Runner II.


Rohode Island Governor Donald L. Carcieri and Captain Mark Paltridge of the Rum Runner II as seen in American Public House review
RHODE ISLAND GOVERNOR DONALD L. CARCIERI AND CAPTAIN MARK

From my usual starboard position in the front of the boat, I watched our captain spend most of the morning patiently attending to the needs of all his passengers while adeptly navigating some very crowded waters. Whether it was a small child, a member of the press or an important politician, all souls on-board were the beneficiaries of his knowledge and kindness. Afterwards the three of us adjourned to the early afternoon quiet of the bar at Benjamin’s for a couple of pints. Now the man was in my wheelhouse—and at long last I might get the chance to know the real Mark Paltridge.

What I discovered after an extended period of conversation was that the man at the rail was no different than the man at the helm. It’s always refreshing to find people that live life guided by their finer attributes whether they are on or off duty. And as someone who has spent many years on both sides of the bar I appreciate that consistency.

When one considers the role of bartenders and captains it is easy to conclude that they are very much the same. Both are the stewards of structures that take on a life and personality of their own, in spite of whatever human influences are present. Both are charged with the care and protection of those who in many instances are unable to chart their own course. And when the day is over, both must see to it that their passengers reach home or safe harbor.

So to my occasional summertime shipmate on life’s voyage—I raise a hearty cup to the good captain and a laughing fellow-rover.  



RUM RUNNER II


BANNISTER'S WHARF


NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND 02840

http://www.cruisenewport.com

DIRECTIONS





   




Rumrunner II in Newport, Rhode Island as seen in American Public House Review
A GRAND ADVENTURE


America's cup as seen in America Public Houser review
 AMERICA'S CUP



The yacht, Columbia as seen in American Public House Review
THE YACHT COLUMBIA


Bow shot parade of America's Cup Racing Yachts as seen in American Public House Review
A PARADE OF AMERICA'S CUP RACING YACHTS


Bar at Benjamin's in Newpor, RI as seen in American Public House Review
THE BAR AT BENJAMIN'S RAW BAR IN NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND



Dining Room at Benjamin's Raw Bar in New port, RI as seen in American Public House Review
DINING ROOM AT BENJAMIN'S




Click here for a previous article in American Public House Review featuring the Rum Runner II.


Photograph by Mark Paltridge     
Yacht of the Narragansatt Bay as seen in American Public House Review
LIFE'S VOYAGE

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