A visit with the Newport Harbormaster.

We had a great sail on Sunday from Bristol to Newport.  Although winds were 12-18 knots on the nose, we had already decided that we would tack tack tack until we got tired of it and then motor the rest of the way.

Working on roles that are less familiar for us, Jeff was at the helm the majority of the day while I handled the lines.  By the time we turned on the motor three hours later, Jeff was much more comfortable with our new chart plotter and I was pulling the iib lines like a pro as we quickly tacked.  I even managed to trim the sails so that Pegu Club was steering by herself.  This bodes well for future success with Bob, our Monitor windvane.

Jeff was determined to get past the abandoned pier on this tack.
He made it!  Part of an abandoned military base on the end of Prudence Island.

Anchoring near our original spot last week, we tucked in for the night and prepared to spend Monday running errands for most of the day.  With rain forecast for all day on Tuesday, we wanted to get everything done since we were planning to leave Newport on Wednesday.  By the way, conveniently there is a bus stop right in front of West Marine.  Something tells me corporate selected the site specifically for that reason!

As predicted, Tuesday proved to be windy and rainy with a thunderstorm thrown in for good measure.  Jeff was able to put our rain catcher (prototype version 1.0) to good use, quickly and easily collecting five gallons in the collapsible jug we bought the previous day at West Marine.  We’re definitely going to pick up a second jug.

While we were watching the rain catcher gather water, we noticed a boat dragging through the anchorage.  The owner was on board and he was having a conversation with the guy on the boat next to him, and he picked up his anchor and tried again farther away.  We pretty much forgot about it, spending the rest of the afternoon watching The Big Red One on our entertainment system (i.e. our laptop and Bose portable speaker), until we poked our heads out after the movie and saw that a change in the wind direction had now put the wandering boat about six feet directly in front of us with no sign of the owner.  Hmmm. Continue reading “A visit with the Newport Harbormaster.”

Relaxing in Bristol, RI.

On Tuesday we took advantage of a break in the weather to sail from Potters Cove to Bristol.  Bristol has a rather large anchorage that is quite exposed to the prevailing southwest winds, but with the forecast calling for light winds from the north for several days it seemed like a good time to visit.

The sun peeked out a bit on our pleasant four nm sail east across the bay.

IMG_0103We were feeling lazy so we went under headsail alone, beam reaching and broad reaching with winds ranging from 6-12 knots.  We had plenty of room to drop the hook and before we knew it we were settled in again.

The view from Pegu Club in Bristol harbor.

Bristol is a cute town of about 22,000 people, and it has the oldest continuously celebrated Independence Day festivities in the United States.  The celebration starts on Flag Day on June 14th where they have outdoor concerts, soap box derby races, and many other festivities.  A former co-worker had told me about their July 4th parade which he said was unbelievable.   Continue reading “Relaxing in Bristol, RI.”

Potter Cove, RI

We raised the anchor on Saturday as we prepared to leave Newport and head to Potter Cove on Prudence Island.  More commonly known as Potters Cove, it’s a very popular spot in the summer.  It was wonderfully quiet on a cloudy post-Labor Day weekend, however, where we had a planned meet-up with fellow Bristol owners Eric and Jeanette of s/v Delta-T.

We had discovered upon arriving in Newport that we needed to settle on a set of hand signals when anchoring.  Hollering at each other, repeatedly yelling, “What?  What???” drove that point home – not to mention the poor guy next to us watching nervously as we raised the anchor after the Harbormaster had told us to move!  This time, if anyone had been watching us they would have thought we had done it a million times (instead of less than ten).  No need to say anything at all, let alone holler at each other!  

With the wind on the nose we resigned ourselves to motoring, but fortunately it was a short trip at only 11 1/2 nautical miles. 

There is a surprising amount of tanker traffic on Narragansett Bay.

Arriving at the cove just a few minutes before Delta-T (who used our track on the inReach map to determine when they should head over), all we could see were erratically spaced mooring balls so we weren’t really sure where we should anchor.   Continue reading “Potter Cove, RI”

Newport, RI

While Connecticut was sweltering through another heat wave, we were in the coolest spot in the area – Block Island.  After enjoying a few days of lovely temperatures and nice breezes, we decided to head to Newport on Thursday, September 6th.  We would have loved to stay another day, but we wanted to take advantage of the favorable winds given that Friday they would be on the nose.

We cast the line off the Shenny mooring ball and pointed Pegu Club towards Newport with 15-18 knot winds from behind.  Downwind is the slowest point of sail and we don’t have much experience with it, so we struggled a bit at first trying to find the sweet spot between getting some speed and aiming somewhat towards Newport.  After rigging up our preventer we finally settled in and jibed our way across Block Island Sound, pulling into Newport around 1:00 p.m.

Continue reading “Newport, RI”

Jamestown and Bristol, RI – 9/11 through 9/14

The wind forecast for Thursday promised to start out easy and then build steadily into the low 20’s through the day, with accompanying building seas, so we woke up bright and early to try to get a jump on things before it got too frisky.

We motored out of the Great Salt Pond and then kept motoring for about an hour until the wind  started building enough to sail.  And they certainly built!  Pegu Club was flying down the waves at over 5 knots (her max hull speed is approx. 5.7).  I could see the waves were increasing, and we had a few that were definitely 6 feet – our highest ever.  I’ll admit it, at that point I was a bit scared.  We had never been in waves like that and while they weren’t supposed to get higher, I was worried they would.  There was a moment where I thought about suggesting that we turn around and high-tail it back to Block.  But then Jeff noticed something off our stern – DOLPHINS!!

I was SO excited – I immediately forgot about how nervous I was – and started squealing “Dolphins!!”.  There was a pod of eight or nine of them, and they were surfing along in the waves.  Of course I had to get the camera, so I jumped up and handed the tiller to Jeff so I could hurry down below, Jeff hollering “Be careful!” behind me.  The waves were making things just a bit rocky, but I had hand-holds so it was fine.  Coming back into the cockpit though, I realized there was no way I was going to be able to simply stand there and take a few shots.  We were rocking way too much for that.  So I held up the camera in the approximate area of where they were, didn’t even look through the viewfinder, and took one shot.  It wasn’t until later that I was able to see if I had taken a picture of anything besides the sky or water:

You can also see one in the water towards the bottom on the right.
Dolphins! You can also see one in the water towards the bottom on the right.


The dolphins surfed with Pegu Club for a few minutes before heading off, but in the meantime I had forgotten all about how nervous I was.  Jeff said later that this portion of the sail, with the waves and the wind, was his favorite part of the trip.  We’ve both come a long way since last year!

After we reached Point Judith we had to turn towards Jamestown, which unfortunately put the wind right behind us.  We decided to drop the main to avoid any accidental jibes, kept the jib up, and turned on the outboard so that we could get there as soon as we could in an attempt to outrun the increasingly windy conditions.  It was a windy, choppy slog to Jamestown with whitecaps all around, but soon we were able to radio Dutch Harbor Boat Yard to get our mooring assignment.  As we approached it was REALLY windy (turns out it was in the low 20’s) and I radioed for specific directions to our mooring ball.  The nice girl on the radio said, “I can’t really hear you because of all of the wind, but I think you’re looking for directions” and proceeded to give us excellent details as to how to find the mooring.  We had never tried to catch a mooring in these kinds of winds, and in a strange harbor no less, but Jeff caught it on our first try.  Yes!  We flung off our lifejackets, high-fived each other, and opened up a well-earned beer and cider.

Dutch Harbor Boat Yard is on the west side of Jamestown, on Conanicut Island across from Newport.  Approximately 1 mile wide, Jamestown is VERY cute with many restaurants and a good grocery store where we could stock up.  After recovering and eating some lunch, we walked to the other side of the island to scope things out and get a ferry schedule, for the next day we were going to take the ferry to the Newport boat show.

Newport Bridge from Jamestown
Newport Bridge from Jamestown
Sunset at Dutch Harbor Boat Yard, Jamestown, RI
Sunset at Dutch Harbor Boat Yard, Jamestown, RI

Friday was yet another beautiful day, and we made the most of it at the boat show  I wanted to pick up a spring/fall sailing jacket, Jeff was looking for some tech long-sleeve shirts, and we both thought it would be fun to wander onto the new, big boats that we would never have a hope in hell of owning (nor would we want to).  I confirmed that I don’t like motor boats nor catamarans.

Some of the boats were mind-boggling.  There was the  the 60+ foot Oyster with the electrical panel that looked like it belonged on the space shuttle (I said to Jeff there was no way you could “do it yourself” for that one, and he pointed out that anyone who could afford a $3,700,000 boat wasn’t going to be the do-it-yourself type).  We also saw an Island Packet that had the chart plotter positioned so that when you sat down behind the wheel, all you saw was the chart plotter screen.  Why would you do that?  Don’t you want to see where you’re actually going vs. staring at a screen?  What was particularly surprising was that several of these six and seven figure boats had that unmistakable smell of “boat” from the head.  It made me all the more convinced that our composting toilet (which is still AWESOME!) is the way to go.

When we were waiting for the ferry to return to Jamestown, I started chatting with a gentleman next to me who had also been to the boat show.  He asked if we saw our next boat, and although he was initially skeptical when I said no, I went on to explain that we really prefer the older boats with their lines, layouts, etc.  I must have passed the “test” because he began telling me about his boat – a 12 meter Hinckley from the 1930’s up in Maine.  I can only imagine how beautiful it must be.  He tried to convince me that we really should look for a 40 foot boat so that Jeff can have more headroom, pointing out that there wasn’t much difference in cost between a 35 footer and a 40 footer.  Easy to say when you own a 12 meter Hinckley circa 1930!  Anyway, he was very nice, and it was a a pleasant way to spend the wait.

After we returned we took advantage of the laundry facilities at the marina and also charged some electronics.  While we were waiting for the clothes to get out of the dryer we tried out the tacos at “The Shack”.  It’s literally a shack at the marina, and I had read that they were amazing.  There is supposed to be a wonderful restaurant in Newport called Tallulah on Thames and this is an outpost of that.  It has tacos and a few other things, literally in a shack.  They. Were. Amazing.  We were wishing we could stay another day just so we could have tacos again the next night.  However, Bristol awaited and with that was going to come the opportunity to meet a few other Bristol owners.

Saturday arrived with strong winds again, right on the nose.  We would have taken our time and tacked our way up the Bay, but our meet-up awaited.  We crossed under the Jamestown Bridge (our first time going under a bridge) without incident, although we did keep the outboard on given the wind direction and the choppy waters.


Heading under the Jamestown Bridge.
Heading under the Jamestown Bridge.
The camera makes it look close but it was really 135′ high.

As we approached Bristol we were greeted by Eric, Jeanette, and Chris, two Bristol boat owners that we had met through the Bristol Yahoo Groups.  The group is very active and has been a great resource for us.  There are early plans to have a Bristol rendezvous in 2016, possibly in Bristol, which would be a lot of fun.  Eric and Chris have sailed for many years, and we were in awe of their abilities – quick tacks, sliding right next to each other without colliding, etc.  We’re hoping some day we’ll be that good.

Chris keeps his Bristol 26 moored at Bristol Marine which is where we would be spending two nights, and Eric and his fiancé Jeanette keep his Bristol 32 in Barrington which is pretty close.  We discovered that Chris bought his Bristol through the same broker that runs Narragansett Sailing (where we took our ASA 101 course a few years ago), and Eric also knows the broker because he is at the same marina where Narragansett Sailing is located.  It’s a small sailing world.  Anyway, we spent part of the afternoon hanging out in Eric’s cockpit, getting to know each other and talking boats, and then Chris kindly took all of us out to dinner at a yummy Irish pub in Bristol (the 5 of us squeezed into his car was pretty entertaining).  We had a great time.

Delta-T and Whitestar meeting us in Bristol
Delta-T and Whitestar meeting us in Bristol
Jeannette captured Pegu Club under sail.
Jeannette captured Pegu Club under sail.
Jeff and I dinghying over to see Eric, Jeannette, and Chris.
Jeff and I dinghying over to see Eric, Jeannette, and Chris.

That evening was the first rain we had seen on the whole trip (except for in the middle of the night in Stonington), so Jeff and I played some rousing hands of Go Fish and then hit the sack.

The next day we said our goodbyes to Eric, Jeannette, and Chris as they were going sailing and we planned to explore Bristol.  We had a great breakfast at the Sunset Cafe and then spent quite a bit of time at the Herreshoff Marine Museum.

The Herreshoff Manufacturing Company was run by two brothers – John and Nathaniel.  John ran the business side despite going blind when he was 14, doing cost calculations in his head.  Nathaniel designed the boats and was an amazingly innovative sailboat designer, including designing eight America’s Cup defenders.  The museum has over sixty of their boats along with other displays, and it was fascinating.

This America’s Cup boat was NOT designed by Hereshoff.

After getting our fill of the museum we continued to poke around Bristol and then headed back to the boat.  We had yet another gorgeous sunset.  I can’t believe how many we’ve had on this trip.

Sunset in Bristol, RI.
Sunset in Bristol, RI.
This is actually the same sunset as above, but facing the opposite direction,.  Amazing!
This is actually the same sunset as above, but facing the opposite direction,. Amazing!

Newport awaited the next day.