Saturday, July 31, 2010

North Cove, CT

We said good riddance to Sag Harbor and left for the Plum Gut passage on our way to North Cove, Connecticut. We only had 4 to 5 kts of wind so we didn’t expect any problem at the Gut even though it was blowing against the 3 kts of current which was flooding, in our favor for going through the passage. We were surprised at how rough it was with only the light winds. There were white caps everywhere and a very confused sea. We took water over the bow and we bouncing around until about ½ mile beyond when the sea suddenly settled down like somebody turned off the wave machine, weird.

North Cove is just north of Saybrook and was dredged a couple of years ago so it’s fully usable again as an anchorage. It’s filled with moorings but the big difference is that it’s a Harbor of Refuge, regularly dredged by the Army Corps of Engineers. With the free dredging comes the requirement that they must let moorings not being used by their owners to be used by transients and furthermore, they can’t charge for their use. The moorings that aren’t being used for that day are required to be marked with a yellow ribbon and can be picked up by any transient. In the channel on the way in, the least depth we saw was 7 ft (corrected for low tide). We arrived with a rising tide at 3 ft so we saw 10 ft on the depth sounder. Inside, the center line of moorings is deep enough for 6 foot keels almost all the way to the town dock.

North Cove is the opposite of Sag Harbor in all ways. We were met my a couple in kayak that offered their mooring for the night since their boat was being repaired from a lightening strike. The greeting sign (photo) explains the rules (yellow ribbon, 72 hr max stay per visit) and the fact that the moorings are free. There is a free town dinghy dock at the head of the harbor. It’s a little under a mile into town where you’ll find a huge Stop and Shop, Walmart, hardware store, Westmarine and many, many places to eat. Along with all that, the harbor is completely wake free and has a great view of the sunset, what more to ask?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Sag Harbor – What a Rip Off

Sag Harbor is not interested in your business, at least not if you’re under 100 feet. The moorings are on a first come, first served basis. They cannot be reserved. Well, that’s not too bad, we’ve seen that before in many places. However, we should have asked the mooring price in advance. We didn’t dream it was more than Shelter Island’s $60 but we were wrong. For the advantage of staying in Sag Harbor and enjoying the wakes, it’s $80/night! “Is there a dinghy dock? Sure, right over there by the long pier” What he failed to mention was the dinghy dockage fee of $5/day. This was for a dinghy dock barely big enough for three dinghies with the access ramp blocked by a fishing boat you had to push out of the way.

We did stroll downtown and I asked about dockage rates and found they averaged between $5.75 and $6.00/ft. Now, there were some very large yachts docked, all in a row as per the photo. I guess money doesn’t matter to them. They mostly were from foreign countries – probably our foreign aid coming home.

We went to the local fish market but they had no fish on display. You were to tell them what you wanted and they would go out in back (out of your sight) and “pick out” your order. We weren’t thrilled about that arrangement and walked out. As you can guess, we didn’t enjoy our stay. Nobody was friendly. There were lots of signs “No Dogs Allowed” on public parks, threats of towing and booting cars, no rollerblading, skateboards, etc. A lot of “NO” signs all over the place. We certainly didn’t feel welcomed and it’ll be a cold day you know where before we’ll ever come back.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Shelter Island across from Greenport

After a day and night of 25 kt gusts, I was somewhat apprehensive about negotiating the narrow fairways exiting the marina. However, the winds died to the 10 kt range and I was able to back and execute a turn in the fairway with the wind helping to turn the bow of the boat, success! We motored over to Shelter Island YC to pick up a mooring. They are now renting to PYC again, we’ve been refused in the past. Of course, part of the change of heart could be the economy and the $60 mooring fee they charge! Hoolie was very interested in the swans that came by for a visit.

Shelter Island YC has several fleets of one design, racing sailboats, about two dozen of each design – I took a photo of one class. Must be some amount of money tied up in those sailboats.

We took the ferry across to further explore Greenport but found that the shopping and especially Prestons marine store has gone downhill. They must have found it hard to compete with the large mail order stores. There is a good farmer’s market in town with fresh vegetables. We had local corn from the stands, good. We’ll head southerly on Friday, perhaps to Sag Harbor, depends on the winds.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Greenport at the Mitchell Park Marina

Greenport built a marina a couple of years ago just for transits. No seasonal slips are rented out with the idea that they wanted to attract the tourist trade in boating. They saw a need since there were no marinas convenient to downtown. This one is sheltered from the wave action with a wooden pier breakwater that works pretty well. We have been getting 15 to 20 kt winds all day long with gusts to 25 kts and yet the water in the marina is calm, even with the ferry next door. However, the marina is sized for smaller boats. The alleyways are very narrow. We fit in but that was before the 25 kt gusts. Even the power boats are having trouble and several bounced off other boats in getting to their slip. Luckily, we are upwind of all the action but we have to leave Thursday and we’re hoping the wind dies off some. It would be a real challenge getting out of here with 25 kt gusts!! You can see how crowded things are from the photo.
On the way over we had perfect winds for a change and sailed all the way, at one time topping 8.3 kts through the water! The good thing about sailing in the Sound vs the river is that you have time to adjust the sails to get them just right before having to tack.

Later we had dinner at Claudio’s on the pier outside in the wind and watched the Wednesday night regatta sail by. We only saw one boat reefed! Everybody had everything up! We sure could see a lot of bottom paint. That can’t be good for fast sailing I wouldn’t think but all but one boat was flying everything.

Even as I write this tonight, the wind is still gusting to 25 kts! We’re calm and snug for the night and we have a mooring reserved for Thursday at the Shelter Island Yacht Club, just across the bay.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Three Mile Harbor on Gardner Bay

We’ve never been to Three Mile Harbor although it was recommended highly by Rich Krumenacker of PYC and also by Leathem Mehaffey so we headed in that direction. It seems in the Sound that you either have too much wind or too little. Well today was a “too little” day. They are correct in saying the average wind speed during the summer months is 10 to 15 kts which seems ideal except that it’s made up of days when it blows 20 to 25 kts and balanced by days when the wind speed hardly reached 10 kts. On average it’s 10 to 15 but days when the wind speed is actually 10 to 15 are extremely rare. At any rate, we had to motor the first part of the journey but did get to sail the last 10 miles, not a bad trade off.

The approach to Three Mile Harbor is through a long, narrow channel. It’s well marked but you’d better stay in the channel. I watched the depth sounder with great attention. Most of the way the depth averages 10 ft (corrected to low tide) but one spot got down to 7 ft – but no lower. Since we draw 5 ft we had no problem.

Once through the channel, you still have to hug the shore since there’s a long finger of shallow water to starboard for almost a mile. We cut through the channel to the anchorage area between the last and next to last red buoy across a 7 ft bar. Before that, thw sand bar was only 2.5 ft. The anchorage area itself averages about 10 to 12 feet and looks to be about the same size as the Great Salt Pond on Block Island. It provides 360 degree protection although a chop can build up with a strong wind. Needless to say, it’s much less crowded than Block and we took Leathem’s experience into account and anchored off by ourselves. It was calm enough for me to go up the mast and install the LED anchor light. It’s supposed to be brighter and use 1/3 the juice of the standard bulb.

Getting Hoolie ashore was another experience. Heading north to the beach turned out to be too shallow, ever for our dinghy so we headed over to the channel and to one of the islands on the way in.
It’s off to Greenport tomorrow to do laundry, rewater, refuel and buy groceries and maybe to eat out (“Hey Ann, what’s for dinner?” “Reservations” (came the answer))

Monday, July 26, 2010

Stonington Stopover

Well, we started out for Three Mile Harbor but the wind which was supposed to be out of the northwest was on the nose and it was gusting to 20 kts with short, choppy waves. We didn’t look forward to 35 miles of that so we turned north to Stonington and the wave action lessened as we approached shore. One reason we like Stonington is the easy access to Hoolie relief on the breakwater. There’s a small beach there which covers at high tide but is accessible at all other times.

We took Lord’s passage as usual which is shorter and easier than the more popular Watch Hill passage. Stonington now has a designated anchorage area which we saw for the first time on our last visit but once again we anchored outside the four markers. We thought it was too crowded. The wind kept gusting and hit 24 kts at one point but now it has settled down to only 5 kts. If it stays out of the northwest as predicted, we’ll try for Three Mile Harbor again on Tuesday.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Last Day at Block Island

At Block Island in the Great Salt Pond, there is an anchorage area that is enforced by the Harbor Master. If you anchor outside the anchor buoys, the Harbor Master will pay you a visit and tell you to re-anchor. In the photo you can see that one rather large boat is clearly outside the line of red buoys and sure enough, about 10 minutes after the picture was taken, the Harbor Master showed up in his marked boat and the offending boat had to move.

Another boat off our port side re-anchored after a bad night but wound up too close to yet another boat – they need anchoring practice! You can see that the other boat was so annoyed at the close anchoring that he put out a line of fenders on his starboard side to cushion any impact from the boat that anchored too close. There was some serious discussion that we could hear from that direction between the two captains. Such is the fun of anchoring in Block Island. In the storm that came through this evening, they didn’t touch after all (the offending boat never did move).

The storms so far tonight have been the mildest yet and let’s hope it stays that way for the rest of the night. Got a nice sunset picture. Tomorrow it depends upon the wind direction on whether we go to Stonington or Three Mile Harbor.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

At Block Island – It Was a Dark and Stormy Night…

After I wrote last night’s blog, another line of thunderstorms approached from the northwest, a whole string of them. I got up to see what was going on around 1:00 am and there was chaos in the anchorage. Two boats behind me started to drag their anchors. One was especially in trouble since they had put out two anchors off the bow and when they swung with the wind, the two rodes crossed over each other, hard to untangle. The small power boat that had been rafted with the sailboat got entangled in all the extra rodes and eventually got free. He then proceeded to tour the anchorage looking for a spot to anchor. He seemed to like the spot about 30 feet off my starboard side but after playing flashlight tag with him, he proceeded elsewhere after crossing my bow about 20 feet out – all this in high winds and pouring rains with lightening to highlight the storm effects. I had similar fun with two other boats where I seemed to have the perfect anchorage spot and everyone else wanted me to share it. After about and hour and a half of such fun, things quieted down.

During the day we met our neighbors when their small powerboat drifted into us. They were from the New York Yacht Club but their anchoring skills left much to be desired. Their dinghy consisted of a small dinghy type sailboat but when the wind died this afternoon they had no way to get back to their boat so I went after them. They were clamming and I learned that a license cost $20/day (complete with photo ID)! After returning to their boat, they did move further away.

This morning I decided to move to a less crowded spot after some of the boats left and we’re better situated tonight. I can see the storms coming on NOAA radar, there’re due about 1:00 am like last night, should be more fun, I can hardly wait.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Block Island and more Storms

We made an uneventful trip to Block Island but had to motor the entire way, about five hours. We picked our way through the anchored boats to find a spot and thought we had a good one until the wind changed and we found ourselves right next to a Hinckley boat. I had out my usual 100 ft in 32 ft of water which has always held in Block Island in the past, even in thunderstorm winds. However, he had 150 ft out and with the wind change, we were going to come together. With that I got on the bow and let out an additional 70 feet so we swung behind him as the wind shifted.

As was well until we saw a line of thunderstorms approach on NOAA radar. The winds peaked at 30 kts but worse than that was the wind shifts, we did a 270 around our anchor but managed to avoid everyone while swinging. Certainly not the excitement that Leathem had last night but enough excitement for us. It appears the wind has settled into a westerly direction, good for us and hopefully there’s no more storms. Once again we watched the NOAA radar to pick out a storm intermission for Hoolie, successful!

We ate on board while it rained outside and hopefully can get ashore Saturday between showers.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cuttyhunk Storms

Last night we watched the NOAA radar website as the thunderstorms marched across the night sky. After the mad dash to get Hoolie ashore in an interlude between storms, things seemed to settle down and we opened the forward hatch for air. About 12:30 another storm hit and being groggy with sleep, I didn’t close the hatch fast enough and the bed got soaked. So around 1:00 am we got our act together and changed all the sheets. Nobody likes to sleep in the wet spot - I think there's a song about that!

In the morning, we were really rocking and going up top it was clear why. The predicted west wind was actually a northwest wind which is definitely not good for the outside anchorage at Cuttyhunk. There’s enough fetch in that direction for wave action to build up with the 15 to 20 kt winds blowing. So we hauled anchor and went inside to pick up a mooring at 6:30 am, there were plenty available. The harbormaster came by at 7:30 to collect a mooring fee thinking that we came in after he collected yesterday. When we told him that we came in a 7:00 am and not the previous night, he was okay with that but didn't look happy.

Later that morning we got a call from Leathem Mehaffey who had anchored out in Three Mile Harbor on Gardner Island. He was hit with the worst of the storms. At one point his dink was doing windmills in the air behind the boat, completely airborne. Another boat dragged on top of him and caused damage to his bow (the boat was unoccupied and had only 30 feet of rode out). They had four foot waves in the one mile across harbor. Being in Cuttyhunk, we missed all that. The brunt of the storms went south where Leathem was anchored.

To my surprise, Cuttyhunk is now jammed packed! The last mooring went around 2:30 and there are a dozen boats anchored in the anchorage area north of the mooring field inside the harbor. They can literally touch each other where they are anchored. Something must be going on we don’t know about. I’ve never seen Cuttyhunk so crowded on a Thursday night.

The “Lobster Lady” is still there but instead of buying lobster, we bought fresh swordfish. She gets the pick of the best six swordfish before the catch goes anywhere else. We grilled it out tonight and I can confirm that it was as fresh as can be. We planned on sailing to Block Island Friday. Nice sunset tongiht!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fried Clams in Menemsha then on to Cuttyhunk

When we weighed anchor in the morning, both the chain and anchor was clean, no mud, no sand, etc. They say the harbor has a hard bottom which presents problems for some anchors, they have a problem digging in to set. However with our 44lb Spade anchor and 60ft of 3/8” BBB chain, we were fine.

We motored out of the harbor and set sail to Menemsha on the western tip of Martha’s Vineyard. There’s a place to anchor next to the beach so you can dink into town. If you look closely at the photo, you can see our boat anchored out, it’s in the upper right corner.

There were two reasons for coming to Menemsha, one is for the fried clams at a shack that has received widespread, positive reviews from all over and the other reason is to buy fresh tuna. First we had the clams which were very good but not as good as Lenny’s, they were juicy but smaller. After a stop at the fish market for tuna, we dinked back to Fleetwing and headed out for Cuttyhunk. At least we sailed about half the way. We wanted to refuel before anchoring so we headed into the inner harbor but found the ferry parked on the fuel dock! An hour later, the ferry finally moved and we resupplied ourselves with diesel, gas for the outboard and water. The dock was rebuilt last year and actually looks modern now and is boat friendly.

We have come to prefer the outer harbor at Cuttyhunk vs picking up a mooring inside. Besides saving $40, it’s quieter and much less congested with more privacy. We anchor just north of the red flasher at the end of the breakwater in 9 ft of water. There is very little fetch anywhere from southeast to northwest. Don’t anchor here if the winds are out of the north or northeast. However, be sure your anchor is set well since the bottom has grass. So far tonight, we’ve sat through three thunderstorms with winds up to 30 kts with no problem. The boat behind us started dragging its anchor and the captain came forward to attempt to reset it with no luck. They finally fell back about ½ mile before getting it to set (in the pouring rain and 25 kt winds!) We downloaded the weather radar to look for a gap and made a run into shore with Hoolie between thunderstorms (hurry, hurry, Hoolie! Stop smelling and do something!) As I write this, yet another thunderstorm has hit but winds are only 22 kts at the moment and there’s no wave action since there’s no fetch. Thursday is predicted to be windy and rainy so we’ll probably stay put until Friday.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Vineyard Haven on the Hook

After finding out that we couldn’t use their laundry, there was no reason to stay on one of their moorings so we move all of 200 feet sideways and dropped our anchor just outside the mooring field and saved $45. It was the same distance to town, just a little more towards the channel in 15 ft of water. We had no storms predicted (and none materialized!) so we paid a visit to town. Vineyard Haven is one of the few towns that has a large supermarket (Stop and Shop) within walking distance of the dinghy dock. They also have a decent fish market and bakery. We also paid a visit to both.
When we returned, the sailing club came by in tow. The last boy in the string was doing his best to tip his boat over but was not successful. Vineyard Haven is also the home of The Black Dog bar and there’s many spin offs in town on the name, our bakery for example. Many of the boats in the harbor carry the Black Dog flag.

The town was hot, hot, hot! Ann and the dog about melted (the temperature was 89). It was definitely cooler out on the boat. We had lobster roll and cod for dinner from the fish market with desserts from the pastry shop, very nice being on vacation

Monday, July 19, 2010

Vineyard Haven - "Unexpected" Thunderstorms

Well, the “morning lies” said we would have fair weather with winds out of the southwest, perfect for a sail to Vineyard Haven. We had reserved a mooring in advance to be sure of having a place. We weighed anchor and found a lot of grass on the chain and anchor but the anchor had found mud under the grass so it held well. However, it took a long time to get all the grass off. Be careful if you anchor here.

Our first clue that something was amiss was a call from Leathem Mehaffey who was at Branford. He had put in there to fix a faulty tach and said they were under a severe thunderstorm warning. But the skies as far as we could see were clear and sunny – and – we had that great forecast from NOAA that today was going to be sunny with no storms (it sounded so authoritative)!
With that we set out for Vineyard Haven against a foul tide but with a great wind. Once through the cut (Quick’s Hole) we hoisted sails with a 15 kt wind on a broad reach. As we sailed on, the skies kept getting darker and darker to the north of us but we thought that the wind would push whatever storm there was away from us. As we reached the mouth of the harbor, the skies got really dark and angry looking clouds so we dropped sails and turned on the engine and raced for a mooring at 8 kts. We almost made it. The winds gusted to the 30’s as we made our turn for the mooring and the rains came. Ann aimed for the nearest one and I grabbed the pendant, retreating quickly to the cabin.

Looking back, it would have been great to get some action shots of the dark clouds, the lightening, me on the bow in the pouring rain – but you tend to get rather occupied in such situations and forget to click the camera.

After the first storm we had an interlude of calm which we used to find a better mooring and watched some boats take advantage of the good winds through the mooring field. Looking at the weather map, we saw an opening to go into town to the Stop and Shop to stock up on groceries before the next wave of thunderstorms hit. The town was packed! It was bumper to bumper traffic with everybody in a hurry to get somewhere, they only reluctantly let you cross the street, not very idyllic! We’ll probably get off the mooring tomorrow and drop an anchor nearby, the moorings go for $45/.night. We got a mooring to gain access to the marina’s laundromat but found that it was closed due to a water restriction on the island, oh well.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday at Cuttyhunk – Mysteries of Anchoring

We had anchored outside the harbor yesterday and observed our fellow boaters attempting to do the same thing. About ½ failed to get their anchor set and moved on. When their anchors came up they were draped with seaweed. Danforths were particularly susceptible, the flukes just wouldn’t dig in through the kelp or bottom grass (I’ll find out tomorrow when we pull our anchor). Many just tossed their anchor over the bow and hoped for the best instead of carefully laying out the anchor chain away from the anchor as the boat drifted back from the wind and perhaps helped along by a reverse idle. The boat gives the anchor a good tug as it’s brought up short when the chain is fully extended. No more is needed nor advisable as any anchoring book will explain. The anchor needs time to settle into the bottom, a sudden jerk or full throttle back at this point will just pull the anchor out – great entertainment for everyone in the harbor if you’re so inclined.

The other great mystery is the power of an anchored boat to attract other boats! We watched as the anchorage gradually empted out on a Sunday afternoon, I suppose some people still have to work… Eventually we were the only boat left in the outer harbor but that didn’t last long. The mystery deepens when you realize that other boats view the perfect anchoring spot to be about 100 ft in front of you (for the anchor drop, then their boat drifts back)! There’s lots of room to the right and left and behind (downwind) but those are not choice spots, apparently. So on the first try, the boat choosing the choice spot was close enough off my bow that I asked if he wanted cream in his tea, or more appropriately, hand me the can of beer and I’ll open it for you! To his credit, he did wind up moving a little more upwind (why not right or left??) . Another boat joined us off our port side but he was far enough away to be no problem – but I was sort of wishing for more solitude. I suppose I’d better get used to it since we’re headed down the ICW in September and I’m sure the anchorages will be crowded.

Cuttyhunk always has pretty sunsets and we always enjoy the show. We think we’re headed for Vineyard tomorrow, who knows, plans always seem to change. The weather seems to be moderating after the front comes through tomorrow and we should have nice weather.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Well, we had intended to visit Bristol next and then stop at Newport on Sunday but the winds were predicted to gust to 20 kts on Saturday out of the south, a very bad direction for Bristol which is unprotected from that direction. We thought Greenwich Bay would be good but listening to the weather report (morning lies!) it appeared that the winds were really going to pick up over the next few days and if we wanted to sail out of Narragansett Bay without fighting huge seas, we had better do it soon.

With all that strategy in place we headed for Newport with the intention of leaving the next day, still with good weather. However, we discovered that this week is race week at Newport! There were hundreds of boats in town and not a mooring to be had, so much for our “strategy”. So what to do? We headed down the bay and looked at the wind, it was out of the southwest, perfect for sailing to Cuttyhunk – which is what we did, a four hour sail on the same tack!

We were unprepared for what we saw at Cuttyhunk. Not only were all the inside moorings taken, but all the outside moorings were taken too. We had intended to anchor out anyway in the outer harbor since it’s well protected in a southwest wind but there were a lot of anchored boats too ( I counted about 20)! Nevertheless, we found a spot and we’re snug for the night. You’ve got to be flexible when sailing, not bad advice in general.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Battleship Cove at Fall River

With all our boat work completed, it was time to depart. First I we had to walk Hoolie and get ice and on the way I took a picture of how the work crew got on and off the boat with the enormous keel, “Numbers”. Frankly, it looks a little tippy to me but they go up and down all day on it.

We had intended to pick up a mooring in Bristol but with a 15 to 20 kt wind out of the south, the harbor would be rough – it’s wide open in that direction. With that we decided to try Battleship Cove. It’s the home of the battleship Massachusetts, the destroyer Joseph P. Kennedy Jr, the missle corvette Hiddensee and the submarine Lionfish. The cove is formed on one side by the USS Massachusetts and land on two other sides, it’s completely protected from wakes but still open to a cooling breeze. There’s a local boat club that rents out moorings not being used by their members. They answer on channel 72 and a mooring costs $40 and comes with no launch service.
We started our tour around 1:30 with the USS Massachusetts. I’ve always known battleships are big but there’s a big difference in the knowing and the seeing. The guns are enormous (where’s the soundproofing?) We saw where they slept and ate. There’s a complete machine shop on board, a necessity I would think when you need a part out in the middle of the Pacific. Everything, of course, was 70 year old technology but ballistic shells are still deadly. Perhaps they are delivered with more accuracy nowadays but when they hit I can’t see much difference.

Neither Ann or I had ever been on a submarine so we had to see Lionfish. You were allow to walk the length of the ship inside. All the navigation is manual (no GPS!) with a lot of dead reckoning thrown in for good measure. I can’t imagine being inside with depth charges being released during the war. Everything was very compact as you might expect inside the submarine but I could stand up without bumping my head except when passing through the hatches that seal off parts of the boat. It looked pretty much like in the movies. Notice the bunk above the green torpedo. Imagine sleeping above 1000 lbs of explosive! Or, for that matter, sleeping while 200 feet below the surface with enemy ships trying to sink you!

After all that, it was back to the boat, Hoolie duty on shore again and a night’s rest.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Last Day at Hinckley's

Hoolie has not been feeling well lately. He threw up last night several times and didn’t eat his breakfast but now seems to have recovered. There’s lots of foul stuff around, mostly leftovers that the gulls won’t eat but Hoolie will woof it up in a flash if you’re not careful. We figured he must have snacked on something while we weren’t looking and it didn’t agree with him. He moped around all day yesterday but seems to have his spunk back now. When we went for our morning walk, he “pointed” when he saw a rabbit. He’s never been trained to do that, I guess it’s genetic with the breed.

Today was the day when everything was to be completed. The Volvo (main engine) was reassembled (raw water pump, fresh water pump, heat exchanger, alignment, valve clearance, injectors) and the Panda genset was repaired (new fresh water pump, raw water pump redone, fuel line with new copper seals). Better than all that, it all worked when turned on! We now consider ourselves ready for our ICW trip in September.

While at our dock undergoing repairs, a sailboat was commissioned in the slip next to us. It was made in New Zealand. It’s a 40 ft daysailer, beautifully done with much varnished wood. I sure wouldn’t want to have to keep it looking as good as it looks now, it looks like a LOT of work to keep in delivered condition – but it’s gorgeous just the same (see photo), Friday it’s on to Bristol.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wednesday at Hinckley’s in Melville

It rained throughout the night and most of the day today. There was thick fog most of the morning and we never did see the sun. It didn’t make much difference since today was the day that we had the oak engine shims replaced with ones machined out of aluminum stock, special made for our boat. It sure looks solid. The shaft is now aligned to within three mils, to spec.

Ann spent the day painting. She took photos earlier since she likes to paint from photographs. She used her computer for cropping and altering with Photoshop and we transferred them to my computer for the on-board printer. So while the mechanic was lifting the engine with his palm sized hydraulic jack for shim replacement, Ann was painting away. I could see where that small hydraulic jack would come in very handy on a boat.

Yet to be done is to return the engine in running form with replacement of the fresh water pump with new seals and the replacement of the heat exchanger after it passed pressure testing. Then it’s on to the Panda genset for replacement of its fresh water pump and a few other sundry items. With all this, we ought to be ready for our September 15 departure down the ICW.

The rains finally stopped and we paid another visit to the Melville Grille, a recommended stop for anyone in the area. They have unusual dishes not found elsewhere, interesting.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tuesday at Hinckley's

I think we have the smallest sailboat in the entire marina. Our mast height certainly doesn’t compare to the rest of the boats here. This marina is a bee-hive of activity. It’s clearly a repair and servicing facility for Hinckley. Given that, what are we doing here? Well they do more than just Hinckley boats and what they do they do well. When you see a Hinckley boat for sale, the by line is almost always, “Maintained by Hinckley”, such is their reputation.

So our little boat is in need of attention. It started out innocently enough, a replacement of the fresh water pump on the genset, the Panda. Then it started out, “While you’re at it, do a checkup on the genset in general and the Volvo main diesel while you’re at it”. Well, one thing led to another. They found the alignment to be out by 12 mils, far beyond the 3 mil limit recommended by Volvo. And, by the way, where did you get those spacers under the engine mounts? Wood are they? Might they absorb water and expand and ruin alignment? Perhaps they should be replaced with aluminum spacers, at a modest added cost? (nothing in a Hinckley yard is modest). And, while we’re at it, we found your fresh water pump on your Volvo to be leaking too. On the good side, your heat exchanger checks out as does your fuel injectors (all recommended by the engine manual for periodic checking, due now). All this adds up to an extended stay at the Hinckley Marina or should I say the Hinckley Repair Facility. By the way, the oak spacers under the engine mounts were added last year by Yardmouth Boat Works at a cost just slightly less than Hinckley's going rate.

Meanwhile the genset is waiting for parts to arrive,. Hopefully, that day will be Wednesday. On the other hand, we’re much happier that whatever needs to be done is done here and not out in the boonies down the line on the ICW after being towed to the nearest facility. The Volvo has almost 1000 hours on it and the Panda has 450 hours so they are due to checkups. Time sure flies.

The photo is of our small boat in among the giants (PS, can you even find our boat in the picture? Hint, look for the smallest mast) Our mast height is quite modest and we’re the only Beneteau in the marina. It’s dominated by Hinckleys and Little Harbors. Since we’re going to be here for awhile, we’re looking into renting a car and touring the area for a day or so. Might as well enjoy our lemonade.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Still in Melville

All we needed to get repaired was the fresh water pump on the genset, a minor affair. However, given that we will be setting out for Florida on Sept 15 down the ICW we decided to have a general checkup of both the genset and the main diesel, a Volvo D-55. With having to order the part by mail for the genset, we’ll be here a few days. So in making lemonade, I took Ann out to dinner at the Melville Grill, the same place we first visited when we bought the first Fleetwing, an Ericson 38 back in 1994. It’s a good place with many unusual recipes. We had calamari with a Chinese twist, good.

After running the dog, we ambled back to the marina and once again marveled at the boats being worked on. I took another picture of “Numbers”, the boat with the very long keel but from the aft to show how narrow both the keel and the fin rudder were. They virtually disappear from view when looked at from behind! You really wonder how the huge lead weight at the bottom of the keel can remain attached and whether the thin keel can remain straight when the boat is heeled.

Tuesday morning the mechanic is due at the boat at 8:00 so it will be an all day affair I would suspect but we’ll probably have to stay til Wednesday to allow time for the genset mail order part to arrive. Time to make more lemonade.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Melville at Hickley Marina

We left Block Island around noon so we wouldn’t have to buck the tides going into Narragansett Bay. There was a small craft advisory out for the entire area with 4 to 6 foot waves predicted out of the southeast. Since we were headed north to Melville and the wind was out of the south, we figured it wouldn’t be too bad. The test came when we cleared the wave shadow of Block Island and we went up and down like a roller coaster. The hulls of nearby sailboats would disappear from view as they entered the trough of the swells. Nevertheless, the waves were long period swells so they were no real problem. Unfortunately, the wind was only 5 to 10 knots directly out of the south so we had to motor – we’ve sure done a lot of motoring this trip so far.

Coming past Newport, there was a riot of boats from all directions! We really had to watch our P’s and Q’s to safely get through. Melville is about 10 miles north of Newport and we found a dock for tomorrow when they’ll work on our genset. Meanwhile, we toured the area and found the usual exotic boats on the Hinckley grounds. I though the one pictured first was pretty sleek but it couldn’t hold a candle to the last one we found that has a picture with Ann and Hoolie standing in front of the keel. If you look closely, you’ll see that it has no propeller. There’s a slot in the bottom that the propeller descends from, otherwise it’s tucked up inside, no drag! As you walk around the boat, the rudder seems to disappear when viewed edge on, it’s so thin! All the surfaces that we could reach were as smooth as glass. We are rather small potatoes in this marina.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Block Island - Morning Rainbow

We had a morning shower but with it came a pretty rainbow. It framed the sailboat just aft of us. We invited him aboard later that day, he’s from Atlantic City and has a long trip back starting tomorrow morning.

When I turned on the genset this morning, it started up okay but then stopped after about three minutes. The engine overheating light came on. The raw water flow was okay and I tried again with the same result. After about four hours of debugging and with phone calls to Panda with testing suggested by them, we figured out that it was a faulty water pump on the antifreeze side. There are two water pumps on the genset, one for the raw water that’s used to cool the genset and one for the antifreeze circuit internal to the Panda that goes to the heat exchanger that transfers the heat the overboard water. It’s the antifreeze pump that appeared to have failed. I could order a part from Panda but I decided to take the boat to Hinckley in Rhode Island, a Panda dealer, for the fix. Getting a new pump mailed to Block Island would have been a several day affair, hopefully Hinckley will be faster.

We saw lots of storm clouds marching along the coast on the mainland but none reached us (so far), we’re hoping for a quiet night. It was only in the 70’s today. Onward to Rhode Island tomorrow.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday at Block Island

We just decided to take it easy today and not do very much. I started a boat project, one of many, that involved installing an LED light dimmer. After about two hours of running wires (running of wires dominates the time all boat projects, at least the ones I take on) I discovered that the dimmer works by limiting the current through the negative wire. Since the boat has a negative ground and the light switch only has positive wires (red) to it where the switch only interrupts the positive current – I could not use the light dimmer. The negative circuit to the lights is common to all the negative wires on the boat, nuts!

After that we toured the harbor looking for Norbert who said he was going to be in Block this week but couldn’t find him. We saw an egret along the way. Maybe the heat convinced him to stay away. It never got over 80 today, mostly cloudy with rain now and then. We’ll watch the weather and may go to Cuttyhunk Saturday, or not – perhaps Sunday, perhaps Monday – whenever the weather is good, we’ll embark. Nice to be retired.

PS, Hoolie likes our cabin too. He arranged himself all by himself.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Block Island - Where is Everybody?

Well, Block Island is far from empty. There are plenty of boats but the signs are there that things aren’t as they usually are. We had no trouble finding an anchoring spot, that was our first clue. The second came on our way into the Oar House for their famous Buffalo wings. We actually saw empty moorings at 6:00 pm, the lime green ones! When we reached the dinghy dock, there was empty spaces. Usually the dinghies have been three and four deep with no empty dock space, not so this year. Now it’s true that this is a Thursday night but still, it’s the peak of the season and in the past this has never happened. Once in the Oar House,, there was a table available right away, no waiting. In fact, as we ate we saw three tables become empty right next to the railing and remain so for several minutes. Evidently, there was no line.

With the decrease in traffic, we are enjoying our stay at Block Island. No doubt more boats will come for the weekend but I was still surprised at the lack of boats during the week after the 4th of July. Temperatures reached 100 again on shore according to our son and daughter (Connecticut and Pennsylvania) but Block Island remained in the 80’s. That’s hot for Block Island but so much cooler than the mainland. We actually got some sailing in today as we cleared out of the fog around Stonington on the way to Block.

The sun set behind a fog bank tonight so the sunset photo is not so bright but then we saw sun rays in the sky after the sun had set, unusual for us (see photo). We’ll probably stay here a few days and rest up. Eventually, we’ll head for Cuttyhunk and points east.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


We checked the temperature in the cockpit and it was already 89F at 7:30am! We looked at the nearly possible anchorages for lower temperatures and found Stonington forecasted at only 84 for a high so Stonington it was! We stopped for fuel and found the same guy there who’s been there for many years. He prefers the heat to the winter cold. He also fuels the boats in January, not a good job.

We sailed for awhile before the wind died and we shifted over to motoring once again. At least the temperature was less on the water, only 80 or so. We had the tide with us so we made Stonington by 3:30 and dropped the hook, plenty of room. Our anchorages are require Hoolie relieve nearby and Stonington is no different. The relief in this case is at the breakwater at the entrance to the harbor. It’s enough for Hoolie. A sailing class came by the boat on their way into harbor, a pretty sight. A dragonfly paid a visit for awhile on the wheel.

Now we’re settled in and it’s cooled to 75 so far, a vast improvement to Branford in that respect. Tomorrow we’re headed for Block Island.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Branford and Lenny's

There was not a breath of air in the morning, the water was as still as a mill pond and the heat had started in early, 85 by 8:00 am. With that we started out early for Branford, better with moving air than stagnant air even if it’s only from the movement of the boat. The Sound was glassy-smooth so we motored forth once again, more motoring than sailing this cruise thus far.
Branford has two great attractions: a first rate swimming pool for the kids and Lenny’s. We stayed at Bruce and Johnson Marina which has the pool and this time we had a ride to Lenny’s since Philip had his car parked there in advance. It hovered around 95 or so in the cockpit and even at 9:00 tonight we still have the A/C on, a record for us. However, Lenny’s was air conditioned and going full blast, it felt good. Even with all our traveling up and down the coast, we’ve found nothing that came close to Lenny’s frie4d clams (whole belly, not the sissy clam strips). It’s been reviewed in the New York Time\s food section and is Zagat rated. They have two people outside directing the traffic and post an outside sign on the wait time for a table, it’s a popular place. But arriving at 5:00, we got a table right away – at 6:00 it was full with a wait line. As usual, the meal was delicious.

Wednesday we’re headed further east, possibly Fisher Island to find a little cooler weather and then out to Block Island to further escape the heat. In past summers, we’ve been wearing windbreakers in Maine, what a change.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Monday Night Hot

Summer has arrived in earnest in Long Island Sound and probably everywhere else nearby. However, we were on the water and had cooling breezes. The kids swam off the back of the boat all morning as we watched boats leaving in a steady stream. Part of the reason for the very large crowds must have been the fireworks last night which we didn’t know about unit they started. Not only were there lots of boats but we counted 12 on one small boat, typical of many.
We did have wind so we sailing out and back for several hours before returning to Port Jefferson and anchoring west of the entrance instead of east as we had done for the last two days. With the thinning out of the boats, three was room for one more. With chicken cooking in the galley, we relented and turned on the genset and the A/C, much better for the cook.

The kids settled down into another session of watching movies, this time “Cars”. It doesn’t matter that they’ve seen it 10 times, they continue to watch it all the more. I watch a movie once and I’m done, not so with the kids. Tomorrow we’ve off to Branford and dinner at Lenny’s!