Jeff was able to get Thursday and Friday of Memorial Day weekend off from work, and with a sunny forecast we decided to head to Block Island. I think three seasons in a row means that we can officially call it our “annual trip” to Block. Despite sailing there the two previous seasons, we had yet to travel non-stop from Groton. Both times we had stopped in Stonington, so this was going to be a first. Not our longest trip – that was Newport to Stonington last fall – but a first nevertheless.
The plan was to get to the marina Thursday morning so we could leave by 11:00 a.m., giving us plenty of time to arrive before dark. Jeff rowed us out to our mooring (the dinghy outboard is still being uncooperative), and we started to get settled in. I was in the cabin unpacking when I heard Jeff say, “There’s a raccoon in the lazarette.” Jeff is prone to saying random silly things, so initially I thought he was joking. “No. I’m serious. There’s a raccoon in the lazarette.” Well this was a new one.
We were reluctant to take it upon ourselves to displace him given the fact that he had sharp claws, and I’ll admit that the possibility of rabies also crossed my mind. After trying without success to call the yard guys on the VHF and our cell phone, I hopped into the dinghy to row back and get some assistance.
When I told the guys that we had a raccoon in the lazarette, the look on their faces must have matched mine when Jeff initially told me. “But you’re on a mooring.” “Yep.” “He must have gotten in when you were on the hard.” “Nope. We’ve been on the boat every weekend and have explored every nook and cranny. He wasn’t there last Sunday.” After some discussion, the guys asked if we could motor to the t-dock while they called Groton Animal Control. I pointed out that since the raccoon was where the outboard is, no, we couldn’t motor. They ended up hip-towing us to the dock where we waited for the animal control officer.
The officer showed up fairly quickly with his snare, and then spent about 20 minutes trying to capture the raccoon.
That little guy had tucked himself into the corner and he wasn’t going anywhere. Eventually Jeff came up with the idea of pulling on a line that was attached to a fender in the lazarette. The raccoon saw his opportunity, slid down the engine well and into the water, and started swimming just like a dog. Now we could see how he had arrived on Pegu Club to begin with.
The officer still wanted to catch him because he knew that otherwise he was just going to get called down to the marina again. But this raccoon was smart. He started to swim down the port side of a boat in a slip, but when he saw us he turned around and started swimming down the starboard side instead. When we walked over to the starboard side, he turned around and started going down the port side. It was comical, and it quickly became clear that the officer was simply going to have to make a second trip to the marina when the next boat called for help.
All of this took three hours, making it much too late to try to sail to Block that day. Once again we were going to be making a stopover in Stonington.
We finished our preparations while at the dock – preparations which fortunately did not include cleaning up the lazarette. The raccoon must not have been there for very long before we arrived, because there was no evidence that he had been there at all, save for a tiny piece of fur which Jeff found the next day.
Finally we were off. Our sail to Stonington was splendid. The winds were consistently 10-15 knots from the southwest, it was a sunny 55 degrees on the water, and we had a “set it and forget it” sail to Dodson’s, our summer home away from our summer home. 9 nautical miles in three hours, door to door so to speak.
We toasted to our mini-vacation with the Dog Watch Cafe’s version of Bermuda’s rum swizzle, ordered dinner to go, and went back to the boat to relax. An early start to Block was awaiting us the next morning.