We've spent three years cruising to the Bahamas on Pegu Club, our Bristol 29.9. Time to switch it up a bit and head to Southern California for the winter, tent camping our way across the United States.
After several weekends at Shenny, it was time for a change of scenery. We tossed around different anchorages we could try as the weekend of the 27th drew closer, but by the time Friday rolled around it was clear that winds would be light. Still wanting to go someplace, we decided to head off to West Harbor on Fishers Island. At only four nm we could ghost there if possible, and at least if we had to turn on Thumper it wouldn’t be for too long.
We left Shenny by 8:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, trying to catch the last of the light north wind before it died. We made it about halfway there before we were becalmed, so we fired Thumper up and motored the rest of the way to West Harbor. After finding a good spot in the anchorage, we relaxed for the rest of the morning and watched boat tv. We even got lucky enough to watch Aphrodite come into the harbor.
One of the things we’ve been looking forward to about having a bigger boat is the ability to host guests more comfortably and easily. Since we’ve been back from vacation, that’s exactly what we’ve done.
During the weekend of July 23rd and 24th we hosted our friends Vanessa and Kurt for the first time. They had been on Little Bristol a few times and had seen Pegu Club over the winter, but this was going to be their first visit with her all put back together.
The weekend called for sunny skies and breezy on Saturday with winds from the northwest overnight, then less windy on Sunday. Northwest winds meant that our traditional standby anchorage of West Harbor on Fishers Island was out (too exposed), so Jeff and I had decided that we would anchor out at Ram Island by Noank. It would be our first time there, but it looked nice and it was well-protected from the wind.
One of the many things that I love about Vanessa is that she truly enjoys spoiling us with homemade food when she sees us – whether it’s our house, their house, or the boat. It doesn’t matter. True to form, she and Kurt arrived on Saturday morning with a cooler full of scrumptious meals and snacks. We sailed out towards Fishers Island with plans to sail along the coastline, round Latimer Light, and head back towards Ram Island.
A brisk breeze pushed us from behind as we went down Fishers Island sailing with just the genoa out. I noticed the wind gauge and the whitecaps, but it wasn’t particularly pronounced sailing downwind. Once we got ready to turn around towards Ram Island, however – whoa Nelly!
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?
Fourth of July weekend arrived with sunny skies, warm temperatures, and on Saturday, a small craft warning. Sigh. We had planned to go for a sail around Fishers Island Sound and then anchor in West Harbor for the long weekend, but it looked like Saturday was now going to be set aside for small boat projects. Beginning on Sunday, however, things were going to be looking up!
The main thing we wanted to get accomplished on Saturday was to come up with a way to make our swim ladder more user-friendly. Pegu Club came with a nice removable swim ladder. As I had unfortunately discovered last August, it was really hard to climb out of the water because the ladder legs are all the same length while the hull curves inward. New ladders are pretty pricy, so we were hoping to come up with a cheap way to fix it.
Another great weather forecast greeted us for the weekend of June 11th and 12th. So far we’ve only had one washout this season, which is amazing.
This weekend we decided to return to Fishers Island and check out Chocomount Cove, which is near West Harbor. I was intrigued by the way it looked on the chart, and Active Captain reviews indicated that we would be alone (which isn’t so easy here in crowded Connecticut), so I was excited to check it out. Continue reading “7/11 – 7/12: Chocomount Cove, Fishers Island”→
Hooray! A three-day weekend with a fantastic weather forecast. How lucky and rare!
Our original plan was to spend the holiday weekend in Montauk on Long Island. A group of Shenny members were going to head over there and it sounded like fun. However, a bit of research led us to decide that we would be better off going on a different weekend. I was interested in going to see the lighthouse, but the shuttle bus wasn’t going to start running until July 5th. It makes no sense, but there you have it. Also, Lake Montauk is very large and without an outboard yet on our dinghy (also known as “The Ugliest Dinghy on Fishers Island Sound”), rowing wasn’t going to be practical. So we decided instead to head to one of our favorite spots, West Harbor in Fishers Island. Continue reading “Fourth of July Weekend”→
One of our big goals for this season is to anchor overnight, and get comfortable doing it. The key for our cruising plans is to be able to spend 99% of our nights on the hook, so this is an important skill for us to develop.
The forecast for the weekend of June 6th was calling for two days of winds from the north – very unusual for this time of year. Initially we had planned to anchor for an afternoon, and then if it went well try an overnight another time. Earlier that week I suggested to Jeff that we just go for it. Anchor for the afternoon and if we were feeling comfortable, just stay the night. He was up for that idea, so the next task was to find a place to anchor.
We have several spots in mind that we want to go this season, but they were all selected with the thought that we’d have the prevailing southwesterly winds. Since these winds were going to be from the north, then clock around to the southeast, then back to the north again, they weren’t going to work. The winds weren’t going to be heavy at all, but we wanted to find somewhere that would give us protection for all of the forecasted directions.
We checked out Active Captain and found a potential anchorage near Rocky Neck State Park in Niantic – Black Point. It wasn’t a place that we would ever stay at in a southwesterly, but it was well protected in the north and east. After another check of the weather on Saturday morning, we decided to go for it. Continue reading “Anchor aweigh!”→
With the calendar finally turning to April, we only have four weekends to go before launch. Even though Jeff was fighting a head cold, he was still game for getting a few things done on Pegu Club so we made our way down there last Saturday and Sunday. Now that he has weekends off, we’re able to get so much more done. And when the season starts we’ll have double the sailing days!
On our drive down to the marina we could see a reddish hue on some of the trees along the freeway, a precursor to budding leaves. We were pleased to discover when we arrived that the the last of the snow had melted at the marina, and the mooring balls had been placed in the water. It’s definitely getting closer to sailing season.
We started off by wrapping up our small electrical project – we think. The battery on our boat has two small boxes attached to the terminals:
We were never sure what they were, but in researching how to wire the fan we discovered that they allow us to connect four items directly to the battery. All four slots are being used, so we bought another set for the computer fan. Since the fan needs to be on 24/7, there’s no need to use the off/on switch on the electric panel so it makes sense to simply wire it directly to the battery. The fan came with an inline fuse, so we spliced it into the marine grade wire that we had previously purchased and the ran the line from the fan to the battery location. Hopefully there will be enough space on the terminal to add the new ones. We’ll find out when we put the battery on the boat in a few weeks. If it fits and it works, the project will be crossed off the list.
In addition to the wiring we made some more progress on our thruhull/seacock installation. Pegu Club can’t go in the water until this project is finished, but it’s been too cold until recently for the sealant that we’re planning to use (3M 5200) so the project has been on the back burner. Now that temps have risen into the upper 40’s and 50’s in Groton, it’s time to get cracking.
Thru hulls are generally too long when you buy them, I think because the hull thickness varies on different boats and there are different styles and sizes of seacocks that people buy. The excess gets cut off after a dry fit, so we got to work on that so we could finish the installation the following weekend.
Jeff discovered that the original hole needed to be SLIGHTLY larger so he busted out his trusty Dremel and did some slight sanding. We hadn’t brought a mask with us, so he used his always-present hankie bandana-style.
Once that was finished we measured several times, checked our math (dusting off our fractions skills from elementary school – converting, adding, simplifying), and used a marker to draw where he was going to cut the thru hull (which he cut at home).
Back at the marina on Sunday, Jeff sanded the inside of the hull where the backing plate would be installed, along with the outside of the hull where the thru hull flange would be. A potent cocktail of dewaxing chemicals was used to clean the area (a proper mask with filters was used this day), and then one more dry fit confirmed that we would be all set to finish the installation next weekend.
This project has gone much more smoothly than we anticipated, undoubtedly due to Jeff’s extensive research. The new seacock, thru hull, and backing plate provides for a much beefier-looking system than the prior factory installation. The old setup didn’t have a backing plate, which I think is the primary difference. Anyway, our plan for the next boat is to replace all of the seacocks and thru hulls (unless the prior owner has already done it), so this project is a good confidence booster. Provided that Pegu Club doesn’t sink within minutes of her being splashed into the water!
Finally, Jeff had a bit of energy left so we removed the brackets holding our old anchor and took the old chain and rode off of the boat. Then we measured out the new rode placing a zip tie every 25 feet and using a different color at the 100 foot mark.
Hopefully that will make it a bit easier to keep track of how much we’ve let out when we anchor. The new chain and rode went onto the boat, and we called it a day.
While it was a bit nippy from the wind, it was nice not to be freezing, and it was really nice not to have to shovel a path to the boat. I think it’s safe to say that winter is finally over!
Our big goal for this season is to get comfortable with anchoring – including overnight. Given that we have yet to anchor at all on our boat, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that our goal this season is to anchor! As future full-time cruisers, anchoring is a skill we’ll definitely need. There are big savings from not needing to stay on a mooring ball or in a marina every night, so we figured we might as well start working on it now. Plus, this is an upgrade that we can take with us on the next boat for use as a backup anchor.
Pegu Club came with a standard Danforth anchor which we aren’t comfortable with using overnight.
The Danforth is actually not a bad anchor for the generally muddy bottoms that are found in Fishers Island and Long Island Sounds, but they have a reputation for not resetting when the current changes or the wind shifts. We can get some fairly strong currents (and changeable weather) around here, so we weren’t too keen on testing it out only to find ourselves dragging in the middle of the night.
A new anchor design was introduced several years ago. Generically referred to as “new generation” anchors, they do an excellent job of holding and resetting when necessary. From what we’ve read, as long as you anchor properly to begin with, new gen anchors aren’t going anywhere until you’re ready to leave. We had thought about getting one last year but blew the boat budget on other things (Hello, composting toilet! Whoo-hoo!) so we are very much looking forward to getting a new anchor this year. As is typical however, given that we’re relative newbies with a 40 year old boat, it isn’t as easy as simply driving down to Defender and buying it. There are a lot of decisions to be made first:
(1) Which new gen anchor to get? There’s Mantus, Manson, and Rocna – all virtually identical, with near universal acclaim from their owners. Mantus unbolts for easier storage, but we weren’t crazy about having an anchor that could unbolt, so that was out. Manson has a dual shank configuration depending on the bottom, but we’ve read mixed reviews as to whether or not that should be relied upon vs. just using a tripline, so that was out. That left the Rocna. The people that have it, love it, so that works for us. Based on the weight and length of our boat, we’ll need one that is 22 pounds.
(2) How much rode do we need, and of that amount, how much should be chain? Full-time cruisers typically go with all chain because they’re anchoring in all kinds of wind – from dead calm to tropical storms and stronger. We’ll be fair-weather anchorers until we’re out full-time, so all chain is overkill for the time being. Not to mention we don’t have a windlass, which means Jeff will be hauling the anchor up by hand. I’m calling him the “human windlass.” Anyway, we’re going with 25′ of chain and 275′ of rope. This will give us a lot of flexibility for the depths that we can anchor in.
(3) What kind of chain and rope? For the chain, do we want BBB or high-test? Rocna recommends high-test, which is stronger, so that one was easy. For the rope, do we want three-strand or eight-plait? Eight-plait is a bit more expensive but it doesn’t twist and knot-up, and it doesn’t get as stiff in salt water, so we went with the eight-plait.
(4) Should we connect the anchor to the chain with a shackle or a swivel? Our research indicated swivels have the potential for more complications. We like to keep things simple, so we are going with a shackle.
(5) Should we get a snubber? After more reading, apparently we don’t need one if we aren’t using all chain. Who knew?
(6) Finally, how are we going to store the anchor on the boat? We thought about getting a bowroller, but Jeff decided that we didn’t have enough room on the bow for one. Fortunately, Mantus makes a universal bracket that fits all new-gen anchors and attaches to the bow pulpit. Of course, it took several more hours of internet research before we were able to figure out whether it would attach to our bow pulpit (since it’s a single rail vs. double), but we finally found the right image the Mantus website which showed us it would work.
I have to say, I was starting to get a bit frustrated with all of the decisions. It seemed like every time I thought we were all set, we discovered something else that needed an answer (shackle vs. swivel, snubber, etc.). Then we needed to research the best prices. I griped to Jeff that just once I would like to be able to decide to get something for the boat, and simply go out and get it. He pointed out that doesn’t really happen when you have a 40 year old boat. Given that the next boat won’t be much younger, I guess I’ll just have to get used to it. At least we have a lot more anchor knowledge so hopefully it will go a bit more quickly with the next boat! But that’s o.k. It will all be worth it when we’re sipping cocktails on Pegu Club in a cove, all alone, watching the sunset – for free.