We waited before a black steel gate, the sun high above us as a few people began filling the space. It was a sunset cruise or booze cruise at sunset rather, but nonetheless, we were excited. To watch the waves turn from deep blue hues to black with the waning sunlight, its shine looking like skipping gold rocks to and from the boat. To people watch. To talk or not talk. To drink or not drink…well we did, vodka with cranberry for me and a madras for my fiance.
Once the gate became crowded, we moved to the lower fence, leaning our arms, watching real boat owners return from a day of fun and tie up. I pointed out one coming to the dock, thinking it said ‘hall and oats’, but it was ‘hal and oaks’. Two dogs and 4 caucasian people stepped off the boat, dressed in the uppity gear we could barely afford nor want – wasp wear looks weird on you if you’re not a wasp. A young fit man, maybe mid-thirties yelled up to his friend who was with his girlfriend next to us. It was a little embarrassing; the nice couple taking a booze cruise for $22 a pop, his well-endowed friend tying up a gorgeous boat and on their way to a night party (I eavesdrop a lot). They part walked up to the gate, opening it like it was the entrance to a high-class heaven, then closed it behind them, creating a circle with his friends, the cruise couple in their blue color clothing looking out of place. They were nice, we actually had a conversation with them on the cruise but it was clear where they stood in the eyes of the wasps.
This was all of course before we got into the boat and a story is already brewing. This is the first mini cruise or booze cruise I’ve been on and there was so much to watch, I had to try to catalog everything as quickly as I could. And it certainly didn’t stop there.
In a closed space, true characters and images come alive
Everyone huddled to the second floor of the boat where the bar was. This is what I observed:
- A few annoying and loud women were celebrating one of their birthdays and couldn’t for the life of them, be quiet for a mere second to listen to the stressed out, totally done-with-people captain who welcomed the guests and pleaded with everyone not to use too much toilet paper. Seriously, that happened.
- A wasp couple turned the chairs to the view, securing the few seats on the second floor, drinking in silence for a remainder of our time on floor 2 and somehow were the first two out of the cruise when it was over.
- Only a handful of 60+ guests, one with a navy blue blazer, gold cufflinks that I couldn’t decide whether they were valuable or just cheap. Either way, they came off with the feeling they once had a boat but lost it during hard times.
- The view included Marblehead’s coast of million dollar houses and at least one crappy apartment complex, dirty and decrepit. Must look better from the front, I thought.
- The shape of the waves changed as they do change in color.
- We passed by a boat graveyard, no souls as the boats bobbed back and forth with the waves.
- A girl I knew back in high school was there with a group. We didn’t speak a word to each other.
- It’s better to dress warm while traveling by sea and that fact was lost on many shivering guests, including my beloved.
- Some guests avoided high contact, further separating in their own groups. Floor one ended up being a lot better for privacy, whispered conversations.
Bring a small notepad
There is a lot of interactions (or none followed by awkward stares through black shades) going on the cruise. You have 1 ½ hours to capture facial expressions, dialogue, interactions, moods and of course, site see. We had the chance to go past winter island, the skeletal remains of the old Salem power plant with cranes in all, moved past misery island (both big and little) and at some points saw nothing but water. And yes I did the cliche titanic ‘Jack I’m really flying’ scene. I do this on every boat, it’s a tradition at this point. The trip took a lot of walks of life together in pretty small space, with at least 40 people. The staff were young, which is a little alarming considering their training or lack thereof in the event of an emergency (and at one point the cook yelling over to the captain about his hours – I joked with my fiance about him leaving work early, jumping to the water, swimming back to shore – yeah, I know, bad joke). Waiting to leave we struck up a conversation with an older couple and walking the docks back to safer lands while it was bouncing against the water, everyone being careful with each step (except myself – I was forcefully rocking the docks).
This trip wouldn’t be great to discuss without mentioning the sunset and how behind buildings made it look as if the city of Salem was on fire. Made the water look like sparkling gold gems were skipping across its surface. The shadows of boats were eerie as we went back to the entrance. The quietness of the crowd when a girl fell down the metal stairs. It was a good trip.