Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cuttyhunk and Lies, Lies, all Lies...

Ahoy it's Matt. Today I woke with a dog foot in my face. Hoolie jumped on my face when we were going to take him ashore. Then I curled up in the v berth and slept for 3 hours. Then I woke up to fog with a tenth of a mile visibility. I drew some more and watched for lobster pots. After that we anchored out side of the break water. We went ashore on the inside of the break water and I waded a little then came in the other side and I floated around. Then we came back and I made a gold ribbon landing(Ed. note: he grabbed the dinghy lines on the boat on the first try) . Then I swam off the back of the boat. After that I worked in the Yellow bag of bad things (Ed. note: homework!) and then we had dinner and a group of sail boats anchored really close to the Fleetwing. Talk to you next time. P.S. Oh the water was 54 degrees today in Cuttyhunk.

Listening to the "Morning Lies" from NOAA it was supposed to be spotty fog followed by 10 kts of wind out of the south which would have been excellent for our trip to Cuttyhunk from Block Island. Instead all we saw was thick fog all the way and wind exactly on the nose out of the NE at first and when we turned towards Cuttyhunk, it came out of the east. Once we were anchored, the wind obediently turned to our of the southeast and the fog cleared. So much for NOAA!

We decided to anchor this time instead of picking up a mooring and about half of the boats there did the same thing. The moorings were empty. I can just imagine a town board meeting saying, "we need more revenue and since we had X mooring rentals last year, we'll just raise the mooring rate and rake in the additional revenue". Well guess what, boaters decided the mooring rate was too high at $35 and just anchored instead so the town got less money than they would have gotten by keeping the rates the same. Of course the people I talked to in town are impervious to such logic, it's all the economy according to them. Pointing out to them that with the economy such as it is, it might bring in more revenue by LOWERING prices instead of raising them which would attract more customers. As expected, this argument is lost on the local residents. Well, the economy is teach them.

Actually, anchoring outside is quite nice, there's more boats out here than in the anchorage in town! We'll definitely do this more often. Matthew had fun running the dinghy today although it's getting hard to start, gotta look at that.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Block Island - Matthew Takes a Dive

Ahoy it's me Matt. Yesterday I got on the boat in Branford with the whole family and my cousin Osh. We left Branford at 11:00 to go to Stonington. On the way I watched Eragon. Then I drew a battle and a camp for the army. Then I took a nap for a good 20 minutes. After that I made lunch and went back to drawing. When we arrived we had hamburgers for dinner with a side of macaroni. then we watched Mall Cop. Today we left Stonington to go to Block. I did some work on this yellow bag (Ed. note, school homework!) I got from the school. We left and for most of the morning drew more pictures and for the rest of the ride stayed in the cockpit. We were able to sail today. When we got here I swam for a hour and a half in water 58 degrees. then I read in my book. I started the dink for the fifth time in the past day. We went to shore and ate at a restraint called the Oar. We had calamari. It was great and its squid.after that we got provisions and went back to the boat. see you next time argh.

It's good to welcome back Matthew to his blog. You can see from the photo that getting into the 58F water was a shock to the system. Nevertheless, he stayed in for over an hour, I do not understand how he did that along with the wind blowing about 15 kts too! As Matthew mentioned, we sailed for the first time, about an hour before the winds died on the way to Block.

Here we are on a Monday before the 4th of July weekend and Block, while not empty, is certainly not the crowded Block Island of old. I snapped a photo of a nearly empty dinghy dock, this was at 6:00 pm! I can remember climbing over two or three rows of dinks to reach the dock. Now there are actually empty spaces. We had no trouble finding a place to anchor, lots of room. I will say though that I didn't see an empty mooring although I didn't look too hard. Tomorrow it's off to Cuttyhunk.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Matthew Joins Fleetwing!

Matthew rejoined Fleetwing today! We stayed over an extra day at Branford for boat work and to make the trip shorter for Matthew. He came with plenty of supplies and snacks favored by a 12 year old which we shared with him at noon! They were sad to see him go, especially the girls who were teary eyed.
Unfortunately, today was another motoring day. It was otherwise beautiful with lots of sunshine and no storms, just not enough wind for sailing. On top of that, the current was against us all day, oh well.

We had to relearn cooking for four, it's great having Matthew back aboard again. He watched a movie while we motored along and after a dinner of hamburgers and macaroni, Nana and Matthew are now watching another movie, "Mall Cop". Matthew also ran the dinghy by himself when we took Hoolie for his shore leave, this time driving from the "Captain's" side.

Tomorrow it's on to Block Island and some swimming for Matthew in 54F water, the current temperature of Long Island Sound.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Still at Branford - Fireworks Tonight!

Never have I seen so many people at Branford, the place was packed and the parking lot was full, no lanes for anyone to get out. Tonight was the annual Branford fireworks display. They had signs posted saying the river was closed for 1 hour after the fireworks because each of the 1600 launching tubes had to be inspected before boats would be allowed to pass by. The fireworks lasted about 1/2 hour, a very nice display.

I spent the morning washing the boat (the south dock would have been proud...), replacing PYC water with city water, redoing the swim platform teak and general tidying up. Matthew is due to arrive Sunday morning and will be with us for the month of July. We have to reach Sandwich, MA by Thursday for the 4th of July weekend with Philip's family so we're not sure where we'll be tomorrow yet. It will depend upon the weather and what time Matthew arrives. At any rate, we'll be findable on Spot.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Branford and Lenny

It rained all morning as we watched the storm develop on the NOAA website. Seeing a gap develop in the radar scans, we headed out of PJ around 11:30 or so. Winds were not enough for sailing so it was another motoring day. It was uneventful until we neared Branford which is next door to New London. I found six tankers between us and Branford. By clicking on each AIS target displayed on the chartplotter, I found that four were anchored but two were moving across our bow. AIS did the computations and found that we were okay on our present course even though is was not apparent from the radar or visual contact. It was raining then and foggy with very poor visibility. It was hard to tell what the tankers were doing but with AIS it was easy.
We made our usual stop at the fuel dock and bought more fuel than ever before, 40 gallons! On to our dock at Brewers Bruce and Johnson and we were secure for the night and further storms. Of course we made a journey to Lenny's, the premier place on the east coast for fried clams and they didn't disappoint but the place was not filled, even on a Friday night - not like the old days.

We walked back in the rain but at least we saw a rainbow. We may stay for the scheduled fireworks Saturday night and pick up Matthew on Sunday morning. It will be good to have an infusion of youth aboard again!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Port Jefferson

I was thinking about the picture of the tanker I took yesterday at Hell Gate. It would have been much more dramatic if I had snapped a photo as the tanker rounded the bend headed straight towards me. I had to point right at his bow before turning away in order to clear a point of land at the gate. I was wondering at the time what the tug thought. However, I find myself rather more occupied at such times just trying to avoid a disaster without worrying about getting a photo despite how much fun it would be at the January Ham Dinner.

Today was a total motoring day. The only sailing we've done was from PYC to Newburgh with our rare north wind. We motor along at 7.4 kts but it would be more fun sailing. One good note, the PJ ferries are now on AIS so you know where they're at, they weren't last year. We anchored in our usual spot with three other boats. The area is littered with moorings but there's still plenty of room to anchor. It's rather sad that so much water real estate is taken up by empty moorings. There must have been over 100 moorings and only 5 boats using them.

One of the attractions of our Maine trips for Ann is taking pictures for her paintings. She will take a photo of parts of scenery that may later appear in a painting. When she sees interesting clouds, for example (see photo), she will snap a picture for reference this coming winter when she paints.

One reason we like PJ is that it provides a good shore for Hoolie to play on and a deserted, sandy beach for explore - plus there's always plenty of room to anchor. On to Branford tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Through Hell Gate and onto Northport

The current changed against us at noon so we had to get an early start which for us was 6:00 am. Of course, the first order of business was to get the dog ashore for one of his twice a day visits to land. That accomplished, we set out but was in for a surprise. The motor started to hesitate and then surge. It had all the symptoms of a clogged fuel filter so after several repeats and not wanting to try changing a fuel filter in the middle of the east river, we pulled to the side of the Hudson and I changed the filter in 30 minutes (probably apparent on Spot track). That solved the problem and onward we went.

Almost all of the ferries around NYC use AIS (shows their location on your chartplotter) which really comes in handy when going around blind turns since it will show boat locations within a 10 mile radius at least. This time when I was approaching Hell Gate itself, I saw a very large tanker (see photo) just ahead of me using AIS, I couldn't see the tanker visually since it was around the bend. I hugged the right bank but had to clear the point just ahead of Hell Gate, there wasn't much room! Without AIS I would have been in the middle of the channel and it would have been much more exciting.

We pulled into the Sand City anchorage at Northport around 4:00 pm and it is perfectly calm. we saw a lot of rain on the way after passing through Hell Gate but it's not raining now. Ann and Hoolie were inseparable. He's not fully a boat dog yet since he got seasick once but he's getting better. Hoping for better weather tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

June 2009, A New Maine Adventure

We had thought we were doing good getting the boat loaded on Friday, a full three days before our takeoff on Tuesday! So we were sitting in the left hand turn lane at Rt 44 when BOOM!, we were hit from behind by a woman in a Ford Econoline van. The bumper on her van was higher than ours so it road up and over resulting in caving in the hatchback door on our Plymouth minivan. Naturally, our insurance company was closed by the time we got back home but they had a website where we could enter the info in and even schedule an appointment on Saturday with a local body shop for an estimate. Everything worked out and we dropped the van off Monday on our way to the boat. Such excitement.

After numerous trips to the boat, everything was finally loaded Monday and the Fitchetts invited us for a send off dinner at PYC that night which was delicious - along with all the wine. Retiring to the boat, the wind howled all night long, averaging around 20kts without letup. The next morning I went to retrieve the dinghy and found the entire area in back of the fuel dock filled with branches, wood, leaves and various other river harvestables. After about 1/2 hour of scooting up the dinghy through the stuff, it was finally free.

By this time the wind was peaking again at 20 kts but at least it was out of the north! We departed and put up the jib and coasted downriver, the first time in recorded history that we were headed in the same direction as the wind!

It turned out to be a nice day actually with temps near 80 as we sit at our anchorage here at Hook Mt.

Lance departed last year and we now have a new dog, Hoolie (see photo). He's full of spirit and has taken to the boat like second nature. Like last year, I'll publish daily whenever there's an internet connection. Next stop Northport we hope.