We visited Georges Island in the Boston Harbor National Recreational Park with our Cub Scout Pack. One of the leaders had applied for and had received a bunch of free tickets for the Pack to go. The weather was not great–rainy and cool–but we nevertheless had a great time.
We took the T from Braintree station, whose garage was barely large enough to fit our very tall van, and we got off at South Station in Boston. From there we walked to Long Wharf along the Rose Kennedy Greenway and it didn’t take long at all. We actually got there more than a half hour early because the train had empty, although it was normally rush hour, and it moved right along and got us into Boston quicker than expected.
While we waited for our departure time, everyone else walked over to the Aquarium to look at the harbor seals in the exhibit outside, while I stayed with the bags near the boat departure point and was content to just sit and wait.
The ferry ride was about 40 minutes and pleasant. We stayed topside for the departure from the pier and gawked at the multimillion-dollar yachts moored nearby. The ride out to the island took about 40 minutes, past Castle Island and Logan Airport and dredgers and sailboats and a Coast Guard cutter inspecting a freighter. At Georges Island, you could see the famous Hull Gut, a narrow passage known for its rough currents.
After a brief stop in the Visitor’s Center to get a sense of the history of the place, we set off. Fort Warren itself is hardly at all in a conservation mode. Large sections of it are closed and even the visitor-accessible bits were crumbling. There were plenty of signs warning of the dire consequences of stepping out of bounds (it would be a long fall from the ramparts). Many of the indoor locations were dark and dank and some were pitch black and spooky. In one dark cellar, we turned off all the lights and spooked ourselves. But the view of the island and the ocean from the ramparts and the indoor gun emplacements were gorgeous even with limited visibility.
There were lots and lots of birds, especially swallows and we saw a number of nests with chicks inside.
We eventually had lunch at an outdoor pavilion in the mist. We were slated to head back on the 3pm boat, but by 12:30pm, we had seen enough and the rain and gloom had put a damper on things so the whole group elected to return on the 1pm boat.
Once we got back in, I suggested we walk across the street to Quincy Marketplace to get some nice, hot clam chowder. We got five bowls and I ended up eating about the equivalent of three as children ate some and abandoned the rest of the bowls. We could have had three bowls and that would have been plenty. In any case, it was excellent chowder and I regretted none of it.
Then it was another long, wet walk back to South Station, but we were in good spirits and it was enjoyable. The train ride home was a fight to stay awake, but we were home in short order. At home, Melanie and I were just too tired to cook anything so it was a night for leftovers and eating whatever you could find in the fridge.
Saturday morning, after the farmers market, we took a ride up to Hull Gut to see Georges Island from the other side, which was fun too.
I would like to go back to Georges Island someday when the weather is nicer, although for a family of 7 it’s expensive. If we’d had to pay for the ferry ride, we would have paid about $150 for our family. So perhaps we will wait for another Scout outing to go.
A couple of interesting notes: Nearby Peddocks Island was the site of a WWII P.O.W. camp for Italian prisoners and there’s a large Catholic chapel there where they had Mass said for them. And apparently Scout troops can get permission to camp overnight on Peddocks, which sounds like a great future trip.
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- 1280px-Georges_Island_and_Fort_Warren_in_Boston_Harbor.615e1ae6ec2943c8be521d7be79b3f23: Doc Searls/Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0