Low to mid-80’s, low humidity. My dad has a name for this kind of weather – “Chamber of Commerce weather.” After a long, cold winter and a very cold (and seemingly never-ending) spring, we’ve had a summer full of Chamber of Commerce weather and this past weekend was no exception. Fortunately it was going to last through Monday, so I took yesterday off and Jeff and I decided to sail to Stonington and spend the night.
Last season Stonington was the first sail where we stayed overnight away from our marina. We enjoyed it so much (well, except for the part where the outboard started sounding like it was going to stall out just as we were entering busy Stonington harbor which is filled with super-fancy boats – i.e. really expensive), that we returned two more times before the end of the season. We wanted to go last weekend but it was cloudy, showering, and zero wind so we simply hung out on the boat and did boat chores. This weekend was looking substantially better, so we were psyched.
Departure day on Sunday was looking good, timing wise, because the ebb current was going to be kicking in around noon. During our second sail last year we found ourselves at a standstill despite the fact that it was windy and we were “sailing.” It was at that point that we learned that with a 3 1/2 foot draft on our boat, the tides weren’t as important for us as the currents, particularly in Fishers Island Sound. Since then we never go for a sail without first checking to see if the current is flooding or ebbing. The currents in Fishers Island Sound can frequently run 3-4 knots so it makes a big difference, especially in our heavy (6,000 pounds) 24′ boat.
While the day started out with very light winds (under 5 knots gets us nowhere fast), the breeze finally starting puffing enough that we decided to cast off the mooring line and head out. The perigee full moon was giving the current an extra boost, and before we knew it we were flying towards Stonington at over 5 knots, despite winds of only about 6 knots. Gotta love it when the current works with us instead of against us!
After approximately 1 1/2 hours the wind had dropped to well below 5 knots, and even though the current was still allowing us to make some headway, the sails were starting to slap around. When we hit the area that we jokingly call the “mini-Race”, the turbulent waters combined with virtually no wind pushed us around enough that we decided to call it a day, fired up the outboard and motored the rest of the way. We picked up the mooring line at Dodson’s Boatyard less than 3 hours after we had left Groton. A personal best for us, and all due to the screaming-fast current.
Note: we weren’t this close to the lighthouse – we sail very conservatively and give everything a wide berth. I used the zoom on the camera.
We got lucky in that Dodson’s had assigned us a mooring that was about as close to the dinghy dock as you could get. This was fortunate because Sunday morning the dink outboard was repeatedly stalling at low speed, so we had left it behind in the car (it’s highly likely that we simply need to clean the carb). Since Jeff would be rowing the dink, a close-in mooring assignment was fabulous. After we flaked the sail and got everything ship shape, we were sitting in the cockpit enjoying a drink when we began to hear a fife and drum corps playing at the Dog Watch Cafe (Dodson’s bar and restaurant). Unbeknownst to us it was the bicentennial of the Battle of Stonington, so we had some fun listening to a variety of songs while sitting in the boat, including a rip-roaring version of “Blow the Man Down.”
After a trip to the Dog Watch for its version of Bermuda punch, a great sunset, tri tip on the grill and spanish rice on the Origo for dinner, and some general relaxing while watching the full moon rise, we were off to bed by cruiser’s midnight (9:00 p.m.) for a solid night’s sleep.