Due to vacation availability and our schedules, June 24th through July 2nd marked our first vacation in eleven months – we were WAY overdue! The plan was to head to Block Island on Saturday morning and then spend the rest of the week in Narragansett, but we have learned in the past that vacation plans are written in sand. This one proved to be no different.
We started improvising right away on Saturday when we woke up to pouring rain. Because we had spent the previous weekend at the SSCA Gam in Essex, we still had several things to take care of before we could leave: put in our reefing lines, insert cotter pins and tape the turnbuckles, top off our water tanks, fix the wind instrument, buy a dinghy at Defender, etc. Wait a minute! Buy a dinghy at Defender? Yes, after thinking about it for several months we had reluctantly come to the conclusion that we needed to sell our beloved Pegu-teeny and buy a – gasp! – inflatable.
With Pegu Club only being 29.9’ long, our 8’ Pegu-teeny takes up too much room on the foredeck despite our best efforts. It’s a safety thing when we head out into the ocean, and as much as it kills me to do it, we simply can’t take her. I’ll admit that I even briefly thought about buying a bigger boat simply so we could keep Pegu-teeny, but decided that was a bit ridiculous. We seriously researched having an 8’ nesting dinghy (that closely resembled a Fatty Knees) built by Gig Harbor Boatworks, but the shipping costs from Washington state to Connecticut were prohibitive. As a result, on Saturday morning we bought an 8 ½’ Achilles hypalon dinghy that easily fits in our quarter berth when it’s deflated. Everything is a compromise on a boat, but this was a big one for me. Maybe someday when we swallow the anchor we’ll buy another Fatty Knees with a sailing kit to get our sailing fix. Sigh.
By the time the rain had stopped we thought that maybe we could head out to Stonington late Saturday afternoon, but it was rather late when we finished all of our tasks so we changed our plans again and decided to go from Groton to Block on Sunday.
Sunday morning we waited for a fair current and were rewarded with a splendid sail from Groton to Block Island, arriving in five hours. It was sunny, it was warm, and we were flying in 10-15 knots of wind over the beam. After picking up a mooring I checked my e-mail and was thrilled to discover that our friends from SV Minx had also arrived that afternoon in the Great Salt Pond! We met Tanya and Jay several years ago – before we had even bought Little Bristol – and had tried to see each other last year when they were spending the summer sailing in New England but it hadn’t quite worked out. We were hoping to meet somewhere in Narragansett but didn’t expect to both end up in Block Island at the same time, so this was a great surprise!
After we had Pegu Club settled in, Jay picked us up in their dinghy and took us back to their boat where we had a lovely evening drinking wine, catching up, meeting their new cat, and talking about sailing and cruising. On Monday morning they both came over with coffee for a tour of Pegu Club, and Jay and Tanya gave us tons of helpful tips for getting the boat ready for cruising. It truly was a fantastic way to start our vacation, and we are looking forward to seeing them again in Annapolis in October when we fly down for the boat show.
After spending the day relaxing on Block Island, we prepared to set sail again on Tuesday morning. We had changed our minds on Narragansett (we’ll be spending time there on our vacation this September) and had decided to go to Long Island instead. Because the weather forecast called for scattered thunderstorms, we were going to take the long way to Long Island, via an overnight in Stonington since it was a shorter distance.
Watching the skies darken in the distance, we were midway between Block Island and Stonington when we heard thunder, so we decided to reef. Shortly after that I saw my first lightning bolt while on a boat. Wow! It’s much more intimidating when you can see it from the cloud down to the water as opposed to on land where the bolt disappears behind buildings. It was far away, but it got my heart racing. While I was down below getting something, Jeff called down that he had seen two bolts. Gulp.
We were floating with 4 knots of wind and Jeff had just suggested that we turn on the motor when I felt a breeze. “Let’s hold off – I think the wind is picking up again.” That’s when we hit a new milestone for us – our first squall. The wind built from 4 knots to 18-20 knots in about 35 seconds and it started to pour rain. The water went from flat calm to little waves everywhere, and I found myself amazed watching Mother Nature in action but also quite nervous, wondering if the wind would get even higher. I didn’t even notice or care that we were getting rained on (wearing our rain gear helped). Fortunately that was as breezy as it got, and we adjusted our course to sail away from the weather. Once the squall passed it took all of the wind with it, and we unfortunately ended up motoring the rest of the way to Stonington. Figures. We have yet to be able to sail both ways when we visit Block, and something tells me we never will.
To be continued. . . .