The day started off all wrong. We were in the Isles of Shoals, a rocky scattering of islets in the Atlantic off the New Hampshire/Maine border, and we were hoping to make an extra-long day’s run to the south. But a steering problem on our 35-foot Dufour, Namani, scuttled those plans. Grumpy after an 0500 wake-up call that ended in three hours of troubleshooting, we sailed into Massachusetts waters and headed not for historic Plymouth but for the fishing port of Gloucester. The day got a little better when we managed to make good headway despite a contrary southerly wind. The day got a lot better when, 40 miles later, we entered Gloucester.
Rounding nun “6” as we approached the harbor, I waved absentmindedly to a passing excursion boat, then went below to hail the harbormaster on the V.H.F. A friendly voice directed me to a sturdy mooring in the inner harbor. Then a cheerful woman at the fuel dock stayed past closing time to accommodate us. As we filled our tanks, an unfamiliar man walked up to our boat. “Here you go,” he said, passing me several fish fillets. “Welcome to Gloucester!”
The stranger introduced himself as John, a crewmember on the excursion boat. He’d seen our German flag, and as a cruiser himself—he’d recently crossed the Pacific, and he was now saving up to continue his voyage—John knew what it was like to enter an unfamiliar port. The pink fillets were fresh cod, the catch of the day. Dumbstruck by his spontaneity and generosity, I could offer only inadequate-sounding thanks in return.
Gloucester is a hard-working, no-frills port. There must be something about such places that make the inhabitants so understanding of other sailors. Our day had begun with grudgingly scrapped plans for a long sail; it ended with happily altered plans for dinner. No spaghetti tonight! Instead, my husband, Markus Schweitzer, cooked a delicious meal using the fisherman’s gift and fresh, home-grown tomatoes given to us the previous night by sailors from Maine. We savored every bite, musing about how the meal was symbolic of the kindness that we often encounter as cruisers. We both vowed to show such generosity to strangers when they visit our home port.
Glorious Gloucester Cod
- 1 large tomato
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Dried basil, to taste
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 small portobello mushrooms, chopped
- 2 cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 3 pounds fresh cod, filleted and cut into chunks
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 cup rice, cooked
Dice tomato, salt lightly, sprinkle with basil, and set aside. Sauté onions and garlic in a little olive oil. Add tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, and lemon juice and sauté for 3 minutes. Remove from pan, set aside, and reserve. In the same pan, heat olive oil and butter on high heat. Add cod and fry on high heat until golden brown on one side. Turn and fry 1 minute more. Reduce heat, add the vegetables, soy sauce, salt and pepper, and sauté for another 3 to 4 minutes. Serve over rice, and raise a toast to Gloucester hospitality! Serves three.
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