The wind forecast for Thursday promised to start out easy and then build steadily into the low 20’s through the day, with accompanying building seas, so we woke up bright and early to try to get a jump on things before it got too frisky.
We motored out of the Great Salt Pond and then kept motoring for about an hour until the wind started building enough to sail. And they certainly built! Pegu Club was flying down the waves at over 5 knots (her max hull speed is approx. 5.7). I could see the waves were increasing, and we had a few that were definitely 6 feet – our highest ever. I’ll admit it, at that point I was a bit scared. We had never been in waves like that and while they weren’t supposed to get higher, I was worried they would. There was a moment where I thought about suggesting that we turn around and high-tail it back to Block. But then Jeff noticed something off our stern – DOLPHINS!!
I was SO excited – I immediately forgot about how nervous I was – and started squealing “Dolphins!!”. There was a pod of eight or nine of them, and they were surfing along in the waves. Of course I had to get the camera, so I jumped up and handed the tiller to Jeff so I could hurry down below, Jeff hollering “Be careful!” behind me. The waves were making things just a bit rocky, but I had hand-holds so it was fine. Coming back into the cockpit though, I realized there was no way I was going to be able to simply stand there and take a few shots. We were rocking way too much for that. So I held up the camera in the approximate area of where they were, didn’t even look through the viewfinder, and took one shot. It wasn’t until later that I was able to see if I had taken a picture of anything besides the sky or water:
The dolphins surfed with Pegu Club for a few minutes before heading off, but in the meantime I had forgotten all about how nervous I was. Jeff said later that this portion of the sail, with the waves and the wind, was his favorite part of the trip. We’ve both come a long way since last year!
After we reached Point Judith we had to turn towards Jamestown, which unfortunately put the wind right behind us. We decided to drop the main to avoid any accidental jibes, kept the jib up, and turned on the outboard so that we could get there as soon as we could in an attempt to outrun the increasingly windy conditions. It was a windy, choppy slog to Jamestown with whitecaps all around, but soon we were able to radio Dutch Harbor Boat Yard to get our mooring assignment. As we approached it was REALLY windy (turns out it was in the low 20’s) and I radioed for specific directions to our mooring ball. The nice girl on the radio said, “I can’t really hear you because of all of the wind, but I think you’re looking for directions” and proceeded to give us excellent details as to how to find the mooring. We had never tried to catch a mooring in these kinds of winds, and in a strange harbor no less, but Jeff caught it on our first try. Yes! We flung off our lifejackets, high-fived each other, and opened up a well-earned beer and cider.
Dutch Harbor Boat Yard is on the west side of Jamestown, on Conanicut Island across from Newport. Approximately 1 mile wide, Jamestown is VERY cute with many restaurants and a good grocery store where we could stock up. After recovering and eating some lunch, we walked to the other side of the island to scope things out and get a ferry schedule, for the next day we were going to take the ferry to the Newport boat show.
Friday was yet another beautiful day, and we made the most of it at the boat show I wanted to pick up a spring/fall sailing jacket, Jeff was looking for some tech long-sleeve shirts, and we both thought it would be fun to wander onto the new, big boats that we would never have a hope in hell of owning (nor would we want to). I confirmed that I don’t like motor boats nor catamarans.
Some of the boats were mind-boggling. There was the the 60+ foot Oyster with the electrical panel that looked like it belonged on the space shuttle (I said to Jeff there was no way you could “do it yourself” for that one, and he pointed out that anyone who could afford a $3,700,000 boat wasn’t going to be the do-it-yourself type). We also saw an Island Packet that had the chart plotter positioned so that when you sat down behind the wheel, all you saw was the chart plotter screen. Why would you do that? Don’t you want to see where you’re actually going vs. staring at a screen? What was particularly surprising was that several of these six and seven figure boats had that unmistakable smell of “boat” from the head. It made me all the more convinced that our composting toilet (which is still AWESOME!) is the way to go.
When we were waiting for the ferry to return to Jamestown, I started chatting with a gentleman next to me who had also been to the boat show. He asked if we saw our next boat, and although he was initially skeptical when I said no, I went on to explain that we really prefer the older boats with their lines, layouts, etc. I must have passed the “test” because he began telling me about his boat – a 12 meter Hinckley from the 1930’s up in Maine. I can only imagine how beautiful it must be. He tried to convince me that we really should look for a 40 foot boat so that Jeff can have more headroom, pointing out that there wasn’t much difference in cost between a 35 footer and a 40 footer. Easy to say when you own a 12 meter Hinckley circa 1930! Anyway, he was very nice, and it was a a pleasant way to spend the wait.
After we returned we took advantage of the laundry facilities at the marina and also charged some electronics. While we were waiting for the clothes to get out of the dryer we tried out the tacos at “The Shack”. It’s literally a shack at the marina, and I had read that they were amazing. There is supposed to be a wonderful restaurant in Newport called Tallulah on Thames and this is an outpost of that. It has tacos and a few other things, literally in a shack. They. Were. Amazing. We were wishing we could stay another day just so we could have tacos again the next night. However, Bristol awaited and with that was going to come the opportunity to meet a few other Bristol owners.
Saturday arrived with strong winds again, right on the nose. We would have taken our time and tacked our way up the Bay, but our meet-up awaited. We crossed under the Jamestown Bridge (our first time going under a bridge) without incident, although we did keep the outboard on given the wind direction and the choppy waters.
As we approached Bristol we were greeted by Eric, Jeanette, and Chris, two Bristol boat owners that we had met through the Bristol Yahoo Groups. The group is very active and has been a great resource for us. There are early plans to have a Bristol rendezvous in 2016, possibly in Bristol, which would be a lot of fun. Eric and Chris have sailed for many years, and we were in awe of their abilities – quick tacks, sliding right next to each other without colliding, etc. We’re hoping some day we’ll be that good.
Chris keeps his Bristol 26 moored at Bristol Marine which is where we would be spending two nights, and Eric and his fiancé Jeanette keep his Bristol 32 in Barrington which is pretty close. We discovered that Chris bought his Bristol through the same broker that runs Narragansett Sailing (where we took our ASA 101 course a few years ago), and Eric also knows the broker because he is at the same marina where Narragansett Sailing is located. It’s a small sailing world. Anyway, we spent part of the afternoon hanging out in Eric’s cockpit, getting to know each other and talking boats, and then Chris kindly took all of us out to dinner at a yummy Irish pub in Bristol (the 5 of us squeezed into his car was pretty entertaining). We had a great time.
That evening was the first rain we had seen on the whole trip (except for in the middle of the night in Stonington), so Jeff and I played some rousing hands of Go Fish and then hit the sack.
The next day we said our goodbyes to Eric, Jeannette, and Chris as they were going sailing and we planned to explore Bristol. We had a great breakfast at the Sunset Cafe and then spent quite a bit of time at the Herreshoff Marine Museum.
The Herreshoff Manufacturing Company was run by two brothers – John and Nathaniel. John ran the business side despite going blind when he was 14, doing cost calculations in his head. Nathaniel designed the boats and was an amazingly innovative sailboat designer, including designing eight America’s Cup defenders. The museum has over sixty of their boats along with other displays, and it was fascinating.
After getting our fill of the museum we continued to poke around Bristol and then headed back to the boat. We had yet another gorgeous sunset. I can’t believe how many we’ve had on this trip.
Newport awaited the next day.