Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Days 36-38, August 4-6. Homeward bound

Exiting the New River near low is rather exciting. The whole estuary funnels through a narrow channel and can reach high speeds with rapids. Daybreak gives us another hour before dead low, so we've got about a foot of drop through the channel, and with the engine at idle we hit seven knots without even trying. Crazy.

As usual the wind died, so we motored in to Boston Harbor. Online we have met Richard, who owns a MacGregor 25 and has plans for cruising to the north. Most Mac owners just do weekends, so we're excited to meet another cruiser. We meet on George's Island at the old fort. His daughter is playing with a horn group, and with some costumes they march through the stone walls with trombones, tubas, saxophones and more. Much fun. Afterward, we row him out to Eclipse for a tour. He's planning to sail his boat, Kymopoleia, up the Maine coast to Nova Scotia and to a little French-owned island nearby, Miquelon. As fellow cruisers on a small boat we offered some pointers.

Anchored off Peddock's island with a sunset walk along the shores and houses. We're off again at dawn, taking advantage of the falling tide to exit Boston Harbor. Once the morning doldrums are over, we enjoy good sailing past Gloucester and into Rockport. Serendipitously, my daughter is visiting in the area, and we rendezvous with her and her boyfriend along the quiet evening streets of this very touristy town.

As usual the wind died, but this time we were socked in with fog for three hours. Being a Tuesday and far from any busy harbor, we only encountered one other boat. But we did see a minke whale.

Around the NH line, the wind finally strengthened so we could turn off the motor. Quiet. Then as we’re approaching Portsmouth harbor there’s a minke very close. And he stayed with us for about twenty minutes, surfacing and blowing and diving. So exciting! We could smell him sometimes and see his markings underwater.

In the harbor we meet with Mark for dinner, then settle into Chauncey Creek for the night.

Days 32-35, August 1-3. Martha and Cape Cod

We've learned how to effectively trim the boat so she sails herself mostly. We tie the tiller to one side with an adjustable knot, and a bungee cord to the other, and she just keeps going. With variations in the wind she'll head a little upwind or down, so we often make little adjustments, or to dodge a lobster buoy. It makes for easy sailing.

From Cuttyhunk east, through Woods Hole and across to Martha's Vineyard. While looking for a place to anchor for the night, a motorboat came up to us and offered an un-used mooring ball. Yay! So we stayed two nights, spending a day riding the island busses around while occasionally stepping off to ride bicycles to points of interest.

We folded the bikes to board the ferry to Chappaquiddick which saved $4, as they were now 'luggage' instead of 'bicycles'. Lunch at a pricy cafe (everything on the island is marked up). At Gay Head we joined the throngs to look out at the tall clay cliffs and lighthouse. Then down to the bicycle ferry at Chilmark, then back on the bus to Tisbury and our floating home in Tashmoo lake.

From here we mis-read the tide charts and bucked a very strong current through the cut at Woods Hole to get into the quiet waters of Buzzards Bay. At times the engine was at max with our speed at only half a knot.

But we got the right tide for the Cape Cod Canal, and flushed through early saturday morning at up to 7.3 knots. Cape Cod Bay offered us great sailing with a nice quartering tailwind. Thunderheads were building and winds more erratic so we ducked into New River Inlet, south of Scituate for the night. 

Days 31-. July 29-31. Elizabeth Islands

Crazy winds and big choppy waves keep us in Narraganset bay two days. But even though the forecast for Tuesday was for more of the same, the waves were big (3-4) but with long periods, making for easy sailing except that the wind, while predicted at 15 kts was only 5. We motor-sailed almost all the way to Cuttyhunk, only sailing the last two hours. Gusts to 20 or 25 predicted for the afternoon, so we stayed put and walked the beach. Gusts never materialized, and winds dropped to 10-12. So much for accurate forecasts.

Cuttyhunk is such a nice island with a relaxed atmosphere. We enjoyed walking the town and looking out from the high point at 200ft. 

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Day 31, July 28. Return to Narragansett

From New London where we dropped off our friends, we sailed to Stonington Harbor, and dropped the anchor. As dusk fell, a band struck up at a nearby marina. Intrigued, we rowed over and came ashore. We didn't talk with anyone, but it looked like a fancy affair with well-dressed people and some in costumes. We danced on the grass at the fringes and enjoyed the festivities, then when the band took a break, rowed back home.

Before sunrise we're off, out of Stonington and headed east. The wind is very light, so we're motor-sailing until late morning when the wind builds. As we turn in to Narraganset Bay where the waters are rough and choppy, the wind increases more until we're running under a double reefed main and no jib. But at least the waves subside. We drop anchor in the same cove near Wickford where we've been before

Days 27-30. July 24-27. Sailing with Friends

Tuesday our friend Ira joins us for a few days of sailing around Peconic and out towards Montauk. We don't get that far but have a great time paddling and exploring a beach and lots of sailing.

We drop her off, and two other friends join us after a kerfuffle with the bus. Two more days of very lazy sailing and beaches and swimming and just drifting when the wind dies.

For their last day, we make the crossing back to Connecticut, vying with the frequent ferries. It's the first time we've had four people on board overnight. One must be patient, and it gets tight at times, but we all worked together for several fun days in the sun.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Days 21-26, July 19-23, Exploring Peconic Bay

Great sailing in Peconic and Little Peconic bays. They're each about 6 miles across but the last half mile along most shores is shallow. Sandy bluffs and pebbly beaches are festooned with huge mansions overlooking the water. The towns are picturesque with little tourist shops and basic amenities. Marinas are expensive, so we mostly choose to anchor away from the crowds. But it's wicked hot. And humid. And sticky.

Saturday evening is a free concert hosted by the Perlman Music Program. Performers are students of the program, college age, and very good. We happened upon the 'contemporary' performance night. Each group of four or five chooses a piece written by a living composer to perform. Each group was usually two violins, viola, cello, and either a base or double base. They had two weeks to pull it together, and they all nailed it!

Monday we return to Greenport and tie up by a restaurant for dinner, then stay the night. Storms come through in the evening with torrential downpours and lots of lightning. But this front signals the break of sticky-hot weather we've been suffering through.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Day 19, July 17, Thunderstorms on Peconic Bay

We've been fairly focused on making miles each day (with some diversions) and now that we're in the protected waters of Long Island, we relax, sleep in, and start late. A nice wind carries us out into Little Peconic Bay, but a thunderhead is building quickly and headed our way. Sometimes these can bring violent winds, so we find a nearby cove and drop the sails. But the storm fizzles so we head out. Just as we're settling into sailing in much stronger wind, the dead t-storm is resurrected and bigger! Back into the cove. The storm misses us, but radar shows more headed our way so we stay put all afternoon.

Plenty to do while at anchor. Fix a broken batten, plan modifications for next season, and read. More t-storms likely tomorrow.

Day 17 & 18, July 15-16, Fishers Island and Orion Point.

It's a long run from Port Judith to Fishers with no places to stop along the way in case of bad weather. Nothing but a very long empty beach. But we have good weather today, although the wind is against us. So with an early start, it's a day of tacking and sailing close-hauled, which can be slow going. Eclipse doesn't point very well, and making some improvements on sails and rig are on our list of projects.

As the wind eases and we still have miles to go, and we opt for motoring. Our reward is a glorious sunset on every point of the compass as we enter West Harbor.

Tuesday we cross the Sound to Orion Point. At first we have a light wind from the north and make a little progress. That gets replaced by the mid morning doldrums and motoring again.

Just as we round Orient Point the wind returns. Now we can lazily sail west toward Peconic Bay. But first we stop in the busy but picturesque town of Greenport, once home of a repair shop the served both the coast guard and the rum runners. We visit the IGA for groceries, watch the antique carousel, and poke around town. It's getting very hot and tomorrow will be hotter.

From the free town dock in Greenport we continue west and drop anchor on the shore of the open bay.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Day 17, July 14, Wickford again

From our quiet anchorage outside of the busy inner harbor we row ashore and cycle to the local grocery. Today is Art Fair here in Wickford and traffic and parking are tight, so glad we're on bicycles, not cars.

Roger and Collette join us around 1pm for a fun sail out into the bay, around the lighthouse and back, followed by dinner on the Bar B in our cove. Fun to spend a day with old friends.

After dropping them off at the dock, and motoring back to the cove we hear live music! By the time we take a mooring and row ashore, it's quitting time for the band, and everyone is heading home. Bad timing. We row back to our floating home. 

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Day 16, July 13, Wickford RI

Just west of the museum is Prudence Island and Potters Cove, a popular destination for pleasure boats of all types. We sailed in and borrowed a mooring, then rowed around the cove in the dinghy and took a walk on the gravel beach. Upon returning to Eclipse, we were informed that we were on someone else's mooring and they wanted it. No problem, we anchored nearby for a bit, but as the wind was building nicely, we set sail again.

Destination Wickford, totally upwind, and a strong wind it was. With two reefs in the main and one in the jib, progress was slow. Other sailboats with real keels just sailed by us. But we weren't in a hurry, and arrived in Wickford about 5pm. Dinner was fish chowder as the sun set. 

Day 15, July 12, Hereshoff

Heavy rains in the night. Moisture management is a big concern on a small boat like ours, and rain seeps in. Which means we're doing laundry, which was needed soon anyway.

It's a short sail today, across Mount Hope Bay, under a bridge, around the point and docking at the Hereshoff Marine Museum, where the great classic racing sailboats of bygone days were conceived of and built. Fifteen bucks allows you to tie up to their dock, but that gets you into the museum as well. Good deal.

The young man who comes out to help tie us up is planning to become a boat designer, and he's impressed with Eclipse as a relatively small live-aboard sailboat, able to make long journeys. We invite him to join us for dinner, but he's working late into the evening. Instead we share dessert.

We enjoy the museum with its history of winning races and breakthrough designs. And of course lots of varnished and gleaming wood and brass in their collection of classic boats that came from this factory.

The local Dermatologists have booked an evening event here, and since they have a live band (duo) playing danceable music, we have to crash the party and dance.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Day 15, July 12, Fall River

Heavy rains in the night. Moisture management is a big concern on a small boat like ours, and rain seeps in. Which means we're doing laundry, which was needed soon anyway.
Chavez Market: Local Portuguese Supermarket

Impressive ship models at the Marine Museum

Knots, knots and more knots at the Maritime Museum

Ship model made from whalebone

TA Restaurant: Delicious Portuguese Seafood Stew

Pork and potatoes in a spicy garlic sauce

Sausages, sausages and more sausages at Chavez Market

Day 14, July 11, Sakonet and Fall River

Dense fog in the morning. We dropped our borrowed mooring, moved closer to the beach, and anchored. Just then the Harbor Master started his rounds and told us we couldn't anchor there. But since we're just on the hook for a short time to use the bathrooms, he let us stay. Timing was perfect, as had he found us on his mooring just ten minutes earlier, he might've chewed us out for that too, or charged us for overnight rental.

Good winds blew us right up the Sakonet River to the city of Fall River. We rarely get to run (sailing with the wind directly behind) so this was a change of pace. But the pace was too much as the wind kept building. First one reef, then we dropped the jib, then a second reef was needed to sail comfortably without being overpowered.

With storms in the forecast and no place to anchor anyway, we paid $75 for a dock at Borden Light Marina. These occasional dockage fees are generally our biggest expense on trips like this. On the plus side, it gives us access to wifi, laundry, showers, and the city. So we unfolded our bicycles and went exploring. The Marine Maritime Museum was very interesting with displays of interest to Fall River history, although I found two errors; and we visited an Indian grocery store.

Then off to dinner. Fall River (indeed much of this area) has a sizable Portuguese population, with excellent restaurants. T A Restaurant was our choice and was every bit as good as we expected. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Day 13, July 10, Seals and Newport

Weather just like the previous days; light morning winds, dead calm, then great sailing all afternoon. Getting a late start meant we had cleared Cuttyhunk by barely half an hour before the doldrums hit. But for entertainment we watched a pod of harbor seals on Penikese island.

Eventually we got some good wind and sailed briskly with a reefed main all afternoon and into the cove behind Third Beach near Newport, RI. And we have live music on the beach! As it turns out, it's a church revival band, and while the first hour was all instrumental, as the sun was turning rosy, voices were added singing Alleluia! Gloria! Praises! Probably 150 people gathered.

Day 12, July 9, To the ends of the Earth

This is becoming a pattern. We get up and there's a nice breeze so we set sail. About 9:30 it dies. Then around noon it builds until we have to reef the main. But today we were smarter! When the wind died we dropped anchor in a deserted cove with sandy beach on a private island. Naushon island, along with Uncatena and most of the islands in the Elizabeth Islands Chain are all owned by the Forbes family (of Forbes magazine). Big signs at every beach declare it as private. I can't imagine why anyone would want to take a piece of land away from everybody else. Ah well.

The wind picked up again and we were off! Easy sailing as the wind increased until whitecaps just started to form. Time to reef. Yesterday I had installed a pulley (cheek block) and cleat on the boom as part of an improved reefing system, and it worked great! Not only that, but it held the sail to a better shape than before.

We arrived in Cuttyhunk Harbor around 5pm and found an empty spot to drop anchor. The harbor is quite full, but since Eclipse draws about 18” with centerboard up, we can anchor where others can't. In Partial Eclipse (our dinghy) we rowed to shore with our folding bicycles, and perused the island. Like so many islands along the Atlantic seaboard, this one had lookouts during WWI and WWII. We cycled the twisty roads to the old lookout, gazed out over the sea, then cycled through town and in and out and around the island. There are natural ponds, small forests, lots of rabbits, flowering trees and shrubs and annuals, and nice but simple houses, not ostentatious.

After ice cream, we returned to Partial Eclipse, folded the bikes, and returned to Eclipse for a beautiful sunset. 

An old World War II lookout tower affords a view of the entire island of Cuttyhunk

View out over the harbor of Cuttyhunk

Quaint streets of Cuttyhunk

How we get around the island.

Gary rowing Partial Eclipse in the Lagoon at Cuttyhunk

Sunset over Cuttyhunk

Can you find Eclipse in the Lagoon the left?
Atlantic ocean on the right

Days 36-38, August 4-6. Homeward bound

Exiting the New River near low is rather exciting. The whole estuary funnels through a narrow channel and can reach high speeds with rapids...