Run away!

We left Newport on Wednesday and enjoyed a great mostly downwind sail to Stonington.  The winds were honking at close to 20 knots, but since it was behind the beam we were able to enjoy the benefit of it without any of the angst.  Bob the windvane steered like a champ, although we are still fine tuning our technique so that we won’t vary from our set course quite so much.  Once we were settled in at Dodson’s (we decided to treat ourselves and enjoy unlimited hot water showers) we realized that we hadn’t tacked once the whole way.  It was great!

On Thursday we headed from Stonington to Old Saybrook, motoring our way up the Connecticut River for the first time.  We had picked North Cove as our destination because we needed to do a few boat chores the next day and it offered good protection for the predicted high winds that were coming.  

North Cove has been designated as a Harbor of Refuge, and the Army Corps of Engineers prohibits charging transients to use empty moorings.  Although the channel and cove had silted in considerably over the past few years, it was dredged this past winter and now has plenty of depth.  Given that it’s past mid-September we easily found a mooring and settled in for a few days with a Saturday departure planned to Port Jefferson.  

Friday night was a small craft advisory and the winds were howling.  At one point Jeff and I were both awake and said that we weren’t leaving if it was going to continue like that.  Eventually they calmed down though, so after checking the forecast and seeing 15 knots predicted with choppy waves, both decreasing throughout the day, we decided to go.  That was mistake number one.  We raised the mainsail while we were on the mooring and didn’t put a reef in, based on the forecast and how it felt in the cove.  That was mistake number two.  Cue the ominous music.

Continue reading “Run away!”

A visit with the Newport Harbormaster.

We had a great sail on Sunday from Bristol to Newport.  Although winds were 12-18 knots on the nose, we had already decided that we would tack tack tack until we got tired of it and then motor the rest of the way.

Working on roles that are less familiar for us, Jeff was at the helm the majority of the day while I handled the lines.  By the time we turned on the motor three hours later, Jeff was much more comfortable with our new chart plotter and I was pulling the iib lines like a pro as we quickly tacked.  I even managed to trim the sails so that Pegu Club was steering by herself.  This bodes well for future success with Bob, our Monitor windvane.

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Jeff was determined to get past the abandoned pier on this tack.
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He made it!  Part of an abandoned military base on the end of Prudence Island.

Anchoring near our original spot last week, we tucked in for the night and prepared to spend Monday running errands for most of the day.  With rain forecast for all day on Tuesday, we wanted to get everything done since we were planning to leave Newport on Wednesday.  By the way, conveniently there is a bus stop right in front of West Marine.  Something tells me corporate selected the site specifically for that reason!

As predicted, Tuesday proved to be windy and rainy with a thunderstorm thrown in for good measure.  Jeff was able to put our rain catcher (prototype version 1.0) to good use, quickly and easily collecting five gallons in the collapsible jug we bought the previous day at West Marine.  We’re definitely going to pick up a second jug.

While we were watching the rain catcher gather water, we noticed a boat dragging through the anchorage.  The owner was on board and he was having a conversation with the guy on the boat next to him, and he picked up his anchor and tried again farther away.  We pretty much forgot about it, spending the rest of the afternoon watching The Big Red One on our entertainment system (i.e. our laptop and Bose portable speaker), until we poked our heads out after the movie and saw that a change in the wind direction had now put the wandering boat about six feet directly in front of us with no sign of the owner.  Hmmm. Continue reading “A visit with the Newport Harbormaster.”

Relaxing in Bristol, RI.

On Tuesday we took advantage of a break in the weather to sail from Potters Cove to Bristol.  Bristol has a rather large anchorage that is quite exposed to the prevailing southwest winds, but with the forecast calling for light winds from the north for several days it seemed like a good time to visit.

The sun peeked out a bit on our pleasant four nm sail east across the bay.

IMG_0103We were feeling lazy so we went under headsail alone, beam reaching and broad reaching with winds ranging from 6-12 knots.  We had plenty of room to drop the hook and before we knew it we were settled in again.

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The view from Pegu Club in Bristol harbor.

Bristol is a cute town of about 22,000 people, and it has the oldest continuously celebrated Independence Day festivities in the United States.  The celebration starts on Flag Day on June 14th where they have outdoor concerts, soap box derby races, and many other festivities.  A former co-worker had told me about their July 4th parade which he said was unbelievable.   Continue reading “Relaxing in Bristol, RI.”

Potter Cove, RI

We raised the anchor on Saturday as we prepared to leave Newport and head to Potter Cove on Prudence Island.  More commonly known as Potters Cove, it’s a very popular spot in the summer.  It was wonderfully quiet on a cloudy post-Labor Day weekend, however, where we had a planned meet-up with fellow Bristol owners Eric and Jeanette of s/v Delta-T.

We had discovered upon arriving in Newport that we needed to settle on a set of hand signals when anchoring.  Hollering at each other, repeatedly yelling, “What?  What???” drove that point home – not to mention the poor guy next to us watching nervously as we raised the anchor after the Harbormaster had told us to move!  This time, if anyone had been watching us they would have thought we had done it a million times (instead of less than ten).  No need to say anything at all, let alone holler at each other!  

With the wind on the nose we resigned ourselves to motoring, but fortunately it was a short trip at only 11 1/2 nautical miles. 

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There is a surprising amount of tanker traffic on Narragansett Bay.

Arriving at the cove just a few minutes before Delta-T (who used our track on the inReach map to determine when they should head over), all we could see were erratically spaced mooring balls so we weren’t really sure where we should anchor.   Continue reading “Potter Cove, RI”

Newport, RI

While Connecticut was sweltering through another heat wave, we were in the coolest spot in the area – Block Island.  After enjoying a few days of lovely temperatures and nice breezes, we decided to head to Newport on Thursday, September 6th.  We would have loved to stay another day, but we wanted to take advantage of the favorable winds given that Friday they would be on the nose.

We cast the line off the Shenny mooring ball and pointed Pegu Club towards Newport with 15-18 knot winds from behind.  Downwind is the slowest point of sail and we don’t have much experience with it, so we struggled a bit at first trying to find the sweet spot between getting some speed and aiming somewhat towards Newport.  After rigging up our preventer we finally settled in and jibed our way across Block Island Sound, pulling into Newport around 1:00 p.m.

Continue reading “Newport, RI”

Troubleshooting our solar panels.

Perhaps the biggest “must do” task on our list before we left was making our bimini and installing solar panels.  While our 50 watt solar panel has kept up well over the past few years, we knew we would be demanding more from our electrical system when we cut the docklines.  We have minimal power requirements and weight is always a concern given Pegu Club’s size, so we decided to go with flexible solar panels.  While they aren’t as efficient or durable as hard panels, the weight savings alone (8 pounds for two that could be mounted directly on the bimini vs. 33 pounds plus a stainless frame for two hard panels) made it worth it to us.

We had ordered a bimini kit from Sailrite several months ago, and now it was time to get to work.  The kit came with the stainless steel tubes already bent, so all we needed to do was figure out what size we wanted the bimini to be, then cut them to the proper length.  Don’t let the simple description fool you into thinking that this was a quick process.  It most definitely wasn’t.  However, by the time we were finished cutting we had a bimini frame that Jeff could stand underneath, which made for a happy Jeff. 

Continue reading “Troubleshooting our solar panels.”

And we’re off!

After a solid month of working on the boat Every.  Single.  Day.  We finally cut the dock lines!

It’s a good thing I stopped working at the beginning of August, because if I hadn’t we likely would have been at Shenny until mid-October.  The to-do list on a boat is never finished, but there is a difference between “nice to do” and “must do.”  In our case, our “must do” list which was scribbled on a piece of paper had over thirty items on it, including finishing sewing the mainsail cover, making the bimini, and installing our battery monitor and solar panels (all future blog posts).  It felt like we would never get there, but finally – on Labor Day – we were ready to go! 

Continue reading “And we’re off!”

Installing our Monitor Windvane.

When Jeff and I went to the Annapolis boat show last fall, one of the major items we wanted to purchase was a windvane.  As long as there is wind, windvanes can steer a sailboat 24/7 without using any electricity.  Consistent with our “keep it simple” philosophy, we knew that it was the way to go for us.  All we needed to do was make a choice amongst the different types that are manufactured.  

By the time we flew down to the show we had done our research and decided to purchase a Hydrovane.  We went to their booth, checked it out, and spent some time talking to the rep.  However, before we pulled the trigger we thought we should do our due diligence and also look at the Monitor windvanes.  After looking at it and speaking to Mike Scheck (the President of Scanmar), we walked away with Jeff saying, “Well, I think the Hydrovane is the way to go.”  I looked at him and said, “I prefer the Monitor.”  Uh-oh.

Jeff and I have been married since 1999 and we have always agreed on big purchases.  At $5,000 this certainly qualified as a big purchase, but for the first time in our marriage we didn’t agree.  This was going to be interesting.

Continue reading “Installing our Monitor Windvane.”

Wow! It works! Installing the electric windlass (part 2 of 2).

Installing the windlass itself was only half of the job.  Now we needed to wire it.  It looked to be a daunting task based on the wiring schematic and our electrical skills, but fortunately we had friends at Shenny we could bounce things off of when we were stuck.

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Very basic for anyone with decent experience.  For us?  Not so much.

Some people install a separate battery in the bow of the boat to use exclusively for the windlass, but we didn’t want to add even more weight up there.   We figured the 38 gallon water tank, a 33 pound Rocna, and 125’ of 5/16” G4 chain plus 175’ of 8 plait rode was already enough.  That left us with running the wires back to our battery bank in the quarter berth.  Before we could do that, however, we needed to find homes for the up/down control switch, the reversing solenoid, a manually resettable breaker, and a breaker/isolator switch.

Continue reading “Wow! It works! Installing the electric windlass (part 2 of 2).”

Moving onto a 30 foot boat.

Imagine that you’ve decided to move onto a boat.  You don’t want to rent a storage unit, but you can leave a few boxes of priceless (to you) items with a relative to store in an attic.  Everything else has to go unless it’s coming on the boat.  Look around where you live.  Look at all of the furniture, the television, the desktop computer, the pictures on the wall.  It all has to go.  Now look again.  Notice all of the things that you didn’t even see the first time you looked around.  The floor lamps.  The end tables.  The shoe rack.  The umbrella stand.  The drying rack.  Yep.  That has to go too.  How in the world are you going to pull this off?

This is what we repeatedly asked ourselves in the weeks leading up to our move.  In fact, until a few days before we actually left, I wasn’t so sure that we COULD get rid of it all.  When we sold the house in February of last year, we rented a dumpster and got rid of a ton of stuff.  Somehow we still managed to have what felt like a half-ton of stuff.  I can’t imagine what this would have been like if we hadn’t already downsized once.

We sold things on CraigsList and Facebook.  I offered items to people at work.  The Goodwill employees practically knew our names.  We repeatedly filled the trash barrels.  Each day we put items on the curb.  And slowly but surely, we managed to get rid of it.  I knew we were making real progress when the rooms in the apartment began to have that distinctive empty room echo when we talked.

I lean towards minimalism so overall I really enjoyed getting rid of 99% of our stuff.  I know that some people have found similar processes difficult, but I thought it was incredibly freeing.  There is something to be said about being intentional about every single item you own.  We touched everything and made a decision whether to bring it with us or not.  Now, Pegu Club doesn’t have a thing on her that is superfluous or that doesn’t have a purpose – even if the purpose is simply to bring us joy.  Honestly, it’s the only way to make it work on a 30′ boat, but someday when we swallow the anchor we’ll definitely continue living like this.  It reminds me of when I packed everything I owned into my car and drove across the country.  It felt great then.  It feels even better now.