It's been over a century since the original plan. It's been 57 years since the last appearance.
What, you ask?
The Sandy Bay Harbor of Refuge.Yes, we were to be the home of the North Atlantic Fleet. The "Great White Fleet" of President Theodore Roosevelt. The 1906 photograph above shows a line up of battleships entering Sandy Bay from the north. Many large warships would come and go as the twentieth century began it's infancy, but by the time WWI came along, Sandy Bay had dropped out of the picture as the home port for the Atlantic Fleet. Annual stop-over visits by the fleet became the norm from 1896 until 1919. Then with the halt of the breakwater construction, subsequent years saw only visits by a single ship. This continued annually through 1950, with one ship making the visit to the Sandy Bay Harbor of Refuge. Then the visits ceased.
Until this year when Rockport Patrolman and Navy veteran, Roger Lesch, along with other interested parties including Representative Verga and Senator Tarr, arranged the first visit by a naval vessel in 57 years. This year we were visited by the frigate USS Boone. The hope is that once again a yearly visit will become a reality.
It all began on Friday the 12th. A miserably damp and windy day for the Boone to arrive in Sandy Bay. Here is the frigate at anchor just off Rockport. The arrival of the Boone coincided with Rockport's annual Harvest Fest so there would be a lot of people in town to see the ship. Many events were planned including a reception at the Sandy Bay Yacht Club, ship tours for the public, tours of Thacher Island for the Boone's crew, golf at the Rockport Country Club for the crew, a nighttime softball game at Evans Field with the crew pitted against the Rockport police and fire departments, a tug-a-war on Front Beach, and a kayak race. Here are some pictures from Evans Field. Seems the Rockport guys were playing much better than the crew. I didn't stay to the end because it got way too cold to be standing on a granite wall so I don't know the final score, but how much practice at softball can you get while stationed on a frigate?The Boone's crew seemed to have a fantastic time playing and watching the game. The town provided hot dogs and burgers and hot chowder and coffee for the game.
The crew was invited to tour Sandy Bay on local lobster boats, there was a public open house at the American Legion, and a concert by the Navy Northeast Show band at the high school. As you can see, our weather had drastically improved by Saturday!Sunday would be the last day for touring the ship and at 6 p.m. there was a VIP reception on the aft deck.What a successful weekend for Rockport. Town was packed with people for the Harvest Fest, sidewalk sales, craft fair, children's activities, concerts, games, and of course the visit of the USS Boone!