Tuesday, July 12th (yes, I’m behind on my blog posts) we set sail for Newport. The winds were supposed to start off light and then fill in, so we ghosted along the coast of Fishers Island under the jib alone, and headed out through Watch Hill Passage.
The promised winds arrived, but unfortunately they were right up our bum so we were crawling along at 3 1/2 knots. Upon turning into the wind to raise the mainsail so we could switch to wing and wing, we realized just how good the wind was so we made a command decision to bang a right and head to Block Island instead. Sure it was the middle of the summer, but it was Tuesday. How crowded could it be?
We had a great sail to Block, averaging 5 knots with 14 knot winds on our beam. While we cruised along we marveled at how much more comfortable we’re getting as each season passes. It was only three years ago that sailing to Block was our big accomplishment for the season. Now we were spontaneously deciding to just sail on over.
As seems to be typical for our visits, it was blowing harder in the Great Salt Pond than it was outside of it, and it was crowded. The Shenny mooring was full and we motored around for a while fruitlessly searching for a free public mooring. Fortunately by now it was after 3:00, so we called the Harbormaster on the VHF to get a private mooring assigned to us. We would have to leave by 10:00 a.m., but since we were only staying for the night it didn’t matter to us. Jeff picked up the mooring in 17+ knot winds on our first attempt – no Boat TV entertainment provided by us this time! – and we kicked back with some cocktails.
Soon we heard a call over the water, “Andiamo! Andiaaaaammmo!” It was the Aldo’s boat! Block in the middle of the summer is something we normally would stay far away from (way too crowded), but I had read about Aldo’s boat and was excited to finally be experiencing it for ourselves. Aldo’s Bakery has a boat that cruises through the mooring field during the high season with the driver calling, “Andiamo!” In the afternoon the boat sells seafood, homemade breads, desserts, etc. and in the morning they sell baked goods, hot coffee, breakfast sandwiches, and other yummy treats. We bought some stuffies to enjoy with dinner, and settled in for another beautiful sunset on Block.
Wednesday morning we woke up and decided to skip Narragansett. There was a high likelihood that going to Narragansett would result in our motoring all of the way home at the end of our vacation due to the typical summer wind direction, and we really wanted to sail for this vacation. So we switched gears and decided to head to Long Island.
Winds were supposed to build to a steady 15 knots, starting from the southwest and shifting to due south. We took a left at the R2 bell outside of the Great Salt Pond, and didn’t tack again until Gardiner’s Bay, many miles later!
Unfortunately the promised wind shift to the south didn’t happen until much later in the journey, and the 15 knots ended up being more like 18-20 knots, so we ended up sailing close-hauled almost the entire way with very lumpy waters. Pegu Club was great, water repeatedly splashing over her bow. As the winds approached 16 knots we decided to put in a reef in the mainsail, which was our first time reefing under sail. Another first checked off the list!
We initially planned to sail to Montauk but we were finding conflicting information as to where we could anchor. We wanted to anchor in the south part of the lake closer to town, but had read a warning that it had shoaled in that area to less than the stated depths on the chart. I couldn’t get an answer when I telephoned the Harbormaster, so we decided to press on to Three Mile Harbor. We were navigating on the fly, and once again took note of how much more comfortable we are getting with this whole sailing thing!
As we approached Gardiner’s Bay the wind shifted to the south and dropped down to a steady 12 knots. Figures. Now that it was time to head south, the wind shifted to the south. Time for some tack-tack-tacking, and we shook out the reef. Nope. Winds are back up again to 18+. Time to reef again.
40 nautical miles later (our longest sail to date) – and one narrow, winding channel conquered – we dropped anchor in Three Mile Harbor.
It was as serene and picturesque as people had promised. This was a place where we could definitely stay for a few days.
Thursday the 14th brought clouds and a few short downpours. It didn’t dampen our spirits, however. The rain gave Pegu Club a much-needed rinse from all all of the salt water she had collected the previous day, and it gave us a chance to have a much-needed rest after yesterday’s adventure. We had our first cockpit shower with our solar sun shower that we had purchased just before we left (it worked great!), and we made english muffin bread in our Omnia stove top oven (also a success!).
Pegu Club doesn’t really have room for a proper oven, but I had read about the Omnia and hoped it would serve as a decent substitute. You simply heat the base on high heat for three minutes, put the food in the pan, cover it, and put the pan on the base. Turn the heat down to medium and cook for the same amount of time as you would in the oven. The result was delicious! If our first try is any indication, we are all set for any oven-related needs we might have.
On Friday we headed into East Hampton, NY. We wanted to get some fresh food at Stop & Shop and we had never been to East Hampton before, so it was time for a road trip. We tried to take the bus but it never showed up in either direction, so unfortunately we took a cab both ways. Oh well. We’re on vacation. East Hampton was interesting to go to once, but it’s not our scene so it’s definitely a been-there-done-that item for us. Let’s just say that the people watching and window shopping was interesting.
We had originally planned to move on the next day (Saturday the 16th), but we found out that Three Mile Harbor’s annual fireworks show was going to take place Saturday evening. I wanted to see them, but I was reluctant because I knew the peaceful harbor was going to turn into a madhouse. Jeff convinced me to stay, however, so with a bit of trepidation on my part, we did.
Saturday was warm and sunny, and the boaters started pouring in first thing in the morning. As the harbor filled with boats, my anxiety level rose. This was not my idea of a good time. Everyone seemed to know what they were doing though, so I started to relax and watch the Boat TV.
Late in the afternoon a beautiful navy blue sailboat came right up behind us, expertly dropped its anchor, and moved backwards as they let out their chain. A short while later they hopped into their dinghy and came up to our boat. “Were you in West Harbor a few weeks ago?” they asked. “Yes, we were.” “So were we! As we came in you pointed out the dragging boat so we anchored upwind of it. Thank you for doing that!” What a small world! We ended up having a lovely chat with them (it turns out they are the people who radioed the Coast Guard), and we giggled to ourselves out how Pegu Club is getting around this summer.
Unfortunately, as sunset approached the yahoos started to arrive. These were definitely people with varying levels of experience and intoxication, and anchor space was getting tight. Jeff stared down a power boat that kept trying (and failing) to anchor too close to us, and they finally picked up and moved somewhere else. Then we watched a 45+ foot catamaran motor up the channel and I joked to Jeff, “Watch them end up trying to anchor by us.” Apparently the joke was on me.
What can be best described as a bunch of 20-something trust fund kids motored what was probably their dad’s brand new catamaran to about 15 feet away from us and they lowered the anchor. Jeff quickly hopped up onto the foredeck and told them firmly that they couldn’t anchor there. We were going to swing differently and we absolutely would hit each other. The kid replied, “We’re in 10 feet of water” which simply confirmed to us that they had no idea what they were doing. The depth of the water was irrelevant. They were a cat, we were a monohull, they were 15 feet away, and it was only a matter of time before we made contact. Anchoring etiquette says if there’s an issue, the last one to arrive is supposed to leave. Given that we had been there since Wednesday, this was a no-brainer.
Jeff repeated that they could not anchor there, and wisely resisted the urge to tell them that he was going to call their dad and tell him they took his boat without his permission. It’s likely that would have been counterproductive. In the meantime I was down below, avoiding the conflict, getting ready to radio the harbor patrol boat that was in the area, and vowing to myself never to come to Three Mile Harbor for fireworks again.
The kids conferred with each other and after about 20 minutes they wisely raised their anchor and motored away. By now it was almost dark, and fortunately no one else came near us. The stress of the evening vanished as we watched a great fireworks show. But I’m still never doing it again.
Sunday was supposed to be very little wind with Monday looking to be a lot better, so we made plans after the fireworks show to head over to Coecles Harbor on Sunday morning for a change of scenery. We would then sail back to Shenny on Monday.
Well, by the time Sunday arrived we were in major chillax mode. I suggested that it was hardly worth the trouble to raise the anchor only to sail six miles away and re-anchor for one night. Jeff readily agreed so we lazed around, read our Kindles, and did some more swimming off of the boat.
One more pretty Three Mile Harbor sunset, and it was time to go home the next day.
Unfortunately, the weatherman got it wrong. In speaking with a co-worker later that week, Sunday ended up having great wind. Monday was supposed to be a steady 15 knots from the southwest. What we ended up with was about 8 knots from Three Mile Harbor to Plum Gut, and then 0 knots all of the way home. Yep, we finished with a hot, windless motorfest. Oh well. At least we had been able to sail for the first part of the day. We really couldn’t complain given that it had truly been a wonderful vacation.
We arrived back at Shenny thrilled to turn off Thumper, and we relaxed for the rest of the day watching the young kids learning how to sail at Shenny’s Sailing School. Maybe one of them will be sitting on their own boat someday, talking with their husband or wife about their plans to sell everything and go cruising in three years and nine months – but who’s counting!