Based on our experience in every single sailing vacation we’ve had, I’m giving up on making destination plans as long as we’re on a schedule. We have yet to actually go where we were planning or hoping, and this vacation was no exception.
Initially this was going to be the year we made it to Martha’s. But then we needed to have measurements taken for our new sails, and scheduling dictated that it was going to occur one week into our 11 day trip. Scratch Martha’s off of the list.
How about Narragansett instead? That would have been lovely, but the week was filled with repeated small craft advisories and we would have had to come back with the wind on the nose and 6 foot seas. Forget it.
Fine. We’ll go to Long Island. Nope. See the above small craft advisories with wind on the nose and choppy seas.
So where did we go? Well, it ended up being strikingly similar to our last vacation with stops in Stonington, Noank and Fishers.
Overall it wasn’t too bad. We started out sailing to Stonington on Saturday the 2nd, hoping against hope that perhaps the forecast would change and we could head to Narragansett on Sunday. Our Shenny friends on SV Infinity were also at Dodson’s, so we spent happy hour together and had a good time hanging out.
Sunday it rained all day, and by Monday it was clear that Narragansett was off the table, so we thought we would brave the chop and headwinds and spend the day trying to get to Long Island. After 30 minutes of beating into 18+ knots and 3 foot chop spaced around 3 seconds apart, we decided this was no way to spend a vacation. We went back to Stonington and spent one more night at Dodson’s before heading to a mooring in Noank on Tuesday. It was a quick, sporty sail with lots of chop on Fishers Island Sound and winds in the high teens, but soon enough we were on a mooring for three nights.
Wednesday called for thunderstorms all day, so I wasn’t surprised to hear the rumble of thunder mid-morning. I checked out the Weather Channel on the iPad only to be greeted with a severe thunderstorm warning for Noank with cloud-to-ground lightning and directions to take cover. Ooops. Switching to the Weather Channel’s radar, I saw a bright red blob heading straight for Noank. Holy crap!
Within two minutes it hit. The rain was coming down so hard, and the wind was so strong, that I couldn’t see the boat next to us. Lightning was cracking all around and I am not ashamed to admit that I was pretty scared. Hoping that the mooring ball would hold, I was standing in the middle of the salon, arms wrapped around myself, trying to make myself as small as possible to avoid the lightning. And where was Jeff? In the head of course. “Oh great,” he thought to himself as all hell was breaking loose. As he put it later, “You just can’t rush these things!”.
Fortunately I was able to track the thunderstorm on the app and was able to give myself repeated pep talks. “It’s halfway past us.” “It’s almost over.” After around ten minutes it was finished. Phew! We found out later that Electric Boat a few miles away had measured a 95 mph gust. We estimated it was “only” 45-50 mph for us. That was still plenty! Another boat in the mooring field was struck by lightning (that crack was particularly loud), and one boat broke off of a town mooring and washed up on shore. Yep, it was quite the thunderstorm.
Fortunately Mother Nature seemed to tire herself out with the predicted all-day thunderstorms never appearing. We spent the rest of the day hanging out in the boat, avoiding the rain, and making brownies in the Omnia.
The Omnia got a workout this vacation with brownies and baked ziti.
Thursday was bright and sunny, so we had breakfast in Noank and then took the dinghy up the river into Mystic to hang out. It must have been a day for running into Shenny friends, because Vincent, our former mooring neighbor, walked into the breakfast joint we were at in Noank, and Bill and Sue turned up at the bar in S&P in Mystic where we were enjoying a mid-day cocktail. Random – and fun!
Although the wind was supposed to quiet down a bit by the end of the afternoon, it didn’t happen (of course) so we braved an extremely wet dinghy ride back to the boat. Fortunately we had brought our foulies so we stayed relatively dry, and I giggled every time I looked at Jeff’s stoic face as we bounced our way back down the river. Yes, we are a couple of lunatics.
Drying out in the cockpit with some cocktails, the night’s entertainment was provided courtesy of Jeff, who spent a good hour intimidating a seagull who was clearly debating whether to land on the dinghy. Between Jeff’s repeatedly charging at the bird while waving a boat hook (to look extra large, of course), and his improvised threatening-seagull squawk, he had me in hysterics all evening. Ultimately, Jeff prevailed in the epic battle and the seagull headed off to find an easier target.
Friday found us facing the same heavy winds and waves, but we needed to get back to Shenny so that we could get measurements taken on Saturday for our new sails. Beating back to Shenny, we were hoping that by the time we were ready to leave again Saturday afternoon, there might be a change in the weather pattern.
Alas, by the time it changed it was really too late for us to go anywhere. A return sail was made to our favorite fallback – Dodson’s – and we wrapped up our vacation in West Harbor on Fishers Island where we were joined in the mooring field by a few other boats that were clearly heading south for the winter.
As we enviously observed them, we reminded ourselves that before we know it, we’ll be one of those boats too, with every day a vacation day. Back in the real world, however, it was time to head back to Shenny and get Pegu Club ready for the trip down to Branford where she’ll be hauled out for another busy offseason of boat projects.