Memorial Day Weekend on Block Island: “I wish it was windier” said no one on Block!

This past weekend marked our fourth annual sailing trip to Block Island.  We had spent the prior windless Saturday installing our solar panel (the subject of a future post), and Sunday was mostly windless so we continued doing small projects and getting the boat ready for our mini-vacation.  We were psyched because the weather forecast for the holiday weekend looked great and we were going to be hosting our friends Vanessa and Kurt for two nights – our first overnight guests of the season!

Jeff and I had taken a few extra days off to get a jump start on the holiday weekend, so on Wednesday we drove down to Shenny.  It was a sunny, warmish day with great winds, and we were really looking forward to seeing how Pegu Club would do.We got off to a late start because we had decided to test out having Pegu-teeny on the foredeck instead of towing her behind us.  We used the main halyard to hoist her up onto to the boat and we were relieved to see that she fit.  However, after strapping her down we changed our minds and brought her back down onto the water.  This was going to be our first sail alone on Pegu Club, and we decided it wouldn’t be a good time to experiment.  We’ll hoist her up again when we go someplace close, like West Harbor.

Throwing off the mooring line, we headed out on a spectacular day with winds of approximately 12 knots.  What followed was a splendid sail.  Winds ranged from 8 knots to 20 knots, and we even spent about 20 minutes sailing wing and wing (that’s where the mainsail is on one side and the genoa is on the other) which was a first for us.  We sailed the entire way with the exception of 15 minutes motoring when we realized that we had misidentified a can and needed to get away from that area quickly, lest we end up on the rocks.  Oops.

We pulled into the Great Salt Pond in a record 5 hours and 15 minutes having averaged 5 knots the entire way.  I think we may have even broken the sound barrier at one point.  Needless to say, we were thrilled.  We loved the way Pegu Club sailed, which is a good thing given all of the work we did on her during the offseason.

Jeff at the helm on our way to Block.

We woke up on Thursday to a lovely, warm, sunny day on Block.  We decided it was a perfect day for a hike, so we rowed Pegu-teeny to the area across the Pond where people beach their dinghies so as to cut off part of the walking distance to one of the more popular beaches on the island.  Jeff suggested that we bring our trash, reasoning that we would find a barrel along the way.  I wasn’t so sure, but went along with it.  There were no barrels, so we walked along, carrying our two small bags of trash.  Fortunately our route took us towards the transfer station, where we got rid of them while we joked about it.  “What did you do on your vacation?”  “Oh, we hiked to the transfer station.”

We ended up hiking for almost six miles, enjoying some fantastic ocean views and the peacefulness of the island.

A classic, rocky New England beach.
I love the stone walls on Block.  

After our hike I rowed us back to the boat, giving me a chance to work on my rowing technique.  I’m still amazed at how much straighter she rows than our old dinghy.  Our Fatty Knees is a fantastic tender – we absolutely love her.

We enjoyed a fantastic sunset that evening and a yummy dinner before crashing into bed at cruiser’s midnight (9:00 p.m.).

This sunset reminded me of Key West.
Sausage from D&D Market in Hartford and wine on our boat.  What could be better?

Unfortunately Thursday proved to be the highlight of the trip, as far as the weather was concerned.  It was still sunny and warm, but the winds started to howl on Thursday night and didn’t let up until Sunday morning.  This is becoming a pattern on our trips to Block, and we were not particularly pleased about it.  A strong thunderstorm even rolled through at 2:00 a.m. on one of our nights there, accompanied by gusts of up to 50 mph according to Sailflow.  As lightning flashed Jeff and I commented to each other that we were sure glad that we weren’t surrounded by water with a 37 foot hunk of metal right above us!  Oh wait….

By Saturday morning the forecast for Monday simply sucked.  It was going to rain all day, accompanied by fog.  Our friends were supposed to take the ferry over Saturday morning to meet us, so we called them bright and early to let them know we’d be heading back on Sunday instead.  They wisely decided to make other plans while we sat out another day of 25 knot winds, giving us plenty of time for cocktails and figuring out where we should go for Memorial Day weekend next year.  Granted, when you go to Block during the shoulder season you take your chances, but we’ve now had 3 out of 4 trips where the wind has been howling for at least half of our stay.  It’s time to find a new long-weekend destination.

After blowing and blowing for the previous 48 hours, the wind died when we woke up on Sunday to head out.  Of course it did.  While it would have been nice to stay for one more day, Monday still called for rain and fog so we did what any sane person would do and motored home.  There wasn’t a speck of wind the entire way back, but thankfully Thumper didn’t miss a beat.  Ironically, it took us the same amount of time to motor back as it did to sail there – 5 hours and 15 minutes.

BI to Groton
Block to Groton – 24 nm.

We enjoyed a lovely afternoon back on our mooring at Shenny, grilling and relaxing before heading back home Sunday night, wishing we were back on the boat.  Because even when the weather doesn’t cooperate – when it’s too windy, or not enough wind, or there’s thunder and lightning or rain – we still love it.

Overall it was a fun weekend.  We were able to spend four nights on Pegu Club, and it has merely whetted our appetite for more.  It should be a great summer!

2 thoughts on “Memorial Day Weekend on Block Island: “I wish it was windier” said no one on Block!

  1. Wow! what a great report. I love the way you write. Too bad that your friends couldn’t make it. There will be other times. Love, Nikki


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