14 July 2015

Sailing - Managing Electricity

Long Island and Electron Management

Week Two of Summery 2015
We mentioned  a couple of posts ago that we have a few General Principles for our Summery 2015 Trip:
  • Maximize sailing to motoring ratio.  Being mostly met but we'd like to further improve.
  • Minimize pre-set "have to be x by y" and let the wind and our moods dictate where we go and when.  Being mostly met.  
  • Relax, reflect, re-energize, and re-connect.  Check.
We continue to abide by these GPs and are very much sailing when and where the conditions and our mood dictate.  When we departed City Island NY on Thursday, the wind was very light but enough to keep us humming along at 5 kts.
Although the wind was on our nose and we needed to tack to make eastward distance, it was so relaxing that we just sailed for hours with no destination, knowing that there were plenty of options on both the eastern NY/western CT and Long coasts.

Looking at harbor options in both Connecticut and Long Island New York.
We were enjoying sailing so much that we eventually set our sights on anchoring in Port Jefferson with an estimated late night arrival time of 2300.  And, since we splurged on four (expensive) dock nights at Liberty Landing, we were looking to practice our frugal anchoring skills in many upcoming harbors  However, we needed to change our plans, again.... sounds like a theme, eh? :-).

A Storms A-brewin'
We had not checked the weather forecast for several hours and were comfortably sailing along when we heard an alert on VHF channel 16 indicating severe thunderstorms heading east/northeast towards New York City.  We were sailing in the western part of Long Island Sound less than 15 miles from NYC.
Severe thunderstorms coming our way.  Had to change plans and find a closer harbor with protection from the southwest.  We quickly turned south to tuck in to Lloyd Harbor off Huntington Bay arriving about 2000.
We set the anchor in the sparsely occupied harbor careful to avoid the charted cable area and had good protection from the storm approaching from the southwest.  However, other than some modest wind and rain, the storm was unimpressive.  But we spent a nice evening at anchor cooking on board.  We examined the weather, wind and currents for Friday and decided on another early morning departure at 0500 assuming a long sail eastward to the Shelter Island area of Long Island.

Near Perfect Leg from Huntington Bay to Plum Gut
Our alarm went off at 0445 and we lifted anchor at 0505.  Fantastic sailing conditions dominated our trip eastward on Friday.

Watching the sunrise as we set sail with perfect 10-14 kt winds out of the north with a favorable current as we head east for a 60 nm leg.
We oscillated a bit between the jib and the genoa as the winds shifted in magnitude but we were able to average well more than 7 kts as we rode the current.  The only issue is that we were a bit lax in studying the tricky transit between Plum Island and Orient Point (called Plum Gut) and, despite the brisk pace all morning, we were about an hour off in our estimated arrival to Plum Gut.  Plum Gut, like The Race just to it's northeast, has dramatic changes in depth and severe currents.  The simplistic geological explanation is that Long Island Sound was originally a fresh water lake.  About 3500 years ago, the eastern part of the lake was breached and became connected with the Atlantic Ocean.  The breach areas have strong currents and it is important for smaller vessels to time transits and navigate these gouges carefully.

When we realized we were off in our timing to Plum Gut, we were incentivized to be even more fastidious than usual about our sail trim to squeeze out every tenth of a knot out of Argon.
Instead of arriving at or near slack current, we found ourselves fighting against lots of chop and almost 3 kts of current.  We also had double duty ferry traffic to contend with.  We were only an hour and a half late for slack, but in this area, that's pretty late. Wind was light and so at least we did not have wind opposing current to deal with.  Actually the ferry wakes were probably the source of most of the turbulence.
After plowing through Plum Gut's brisk current, we were rewarded with an introduction to the beautiful and expansive area around Shelter Island.
Exploring Shelter Island Counter Clockwise
We played each day by ear and kept toying with whether to keep our stay in the Shelter Island area brief (i.e. one night) or extend to several nights.  We figured that it was unlikely we would be back along the Long Island coast any time in the next couple of years so we ended up doing a multi day harbor hopping loop around Shelter Island stopping at the following places:
  • Coecles Harbor
  • Dering Harbor and Greenport
  • West Neck Harbor
  • Sag Harbor
The track below shows our 80nm leg on Friday 10 July with Bob's super duper whiz-bang sailing tracker (also available for weddings and bat mitzvahs) including our multi-day loop around Shelter Island and the above harbors.

Coecles Harbor:  A+++

Greeted at the narrow inlet to Coecles Harbor by swimmers along the channel.

This about sums up this anchorage - priceless.

Coecles Harbor proved to be quite lovely and serene.
Blue Blazers in Dering Harbor
We are members of the Tartan Owners of New England (TONE) but had not yet participated in any of their events.  We knew there was a TONE gathering at one of the harbors of Shelter Island so we decided to see if we could be a last minute addition to the group.  We were eagerly welcomed and hopped over to Dering Harbor at Shelter Island Yacht Club (SIYC) on Saturday where there were about 8 other Tartans moored as part of the event.  Bob is generally not very keen on yacht clubs and he was quite, uh, unenthusiastic and unprepared regarding the dress code.  We were assured that Bob could borrow a jacket from the club.

Bob showing off his borrowed blue blazer from the yacht club.  It actually fit him perfectly and Linda was tempted to ask if we could purchase it.
Very efficient and busy ferries x4 shuttling between Shelter Island and Greenport continuously.  We visited Greenport in the afternoon.
West Neck Harbor:  Definitely Achieved a 10 on the Relaxation Scale
We left our SIYC mooring early Sunday catching a favorable current in a very light breeze allowing Argon to amble around the contours of the island at a lazy 2-3 kts.  Upon strong recommendation from several of our dinner companions the prior night, our destination was a small inlet partially enclosed by Shell Beach.

Shell Beach loops around the southern part of West Neck Harbor and is known for its shimmering peach and pink shells.

Navigation aid made from beer kegs marking the channel to West Neck Harbor at the very tip of Shell Beach - definitely important to keep this green can well to port went entering.   

Sunfish race West Neck Harbor.

Bob programs to relax.

Linda reads her Kindle to relax.

And Linda swims to relax.

Bob Being Cranky
As lovely and spectacular as Long Island is, it's apparent that there is a different boating culture around here. Different = rude, dangerous and generally inconsiderate of others.  No-Wake is just a suggestion. We noticed also that the Ferrys rarely use sound signals when departing to alert surrounding boaters. Even when not in No-wake zones, we're getting used to power boats plowing up huge wakes as they blow by us much closer than necessary at 20 kts.  We saw one sailboat about to enter a very narrow shallow channel at West Neck only to be passed by a very fast trawler throwing up huge wakes. The sailor shook his fist a bit and did a loop before attempting the entrance again.

This kind of thing happens very rarely around Boston in our experience.  For one thing, the no-wake areas are pretty aggressively enforced, but generally power boaters around us tend to "get it" when it comes to their affect on the craft around them and are much more considerate.

We got passed by a 130-ish footer called Blind Date just as we were in two of the Shelter Island Ferry paths.  Blind Date threw up the biggest wakes of the trip thus far. One actually broke over our transom. I never do this but I hailed him on 16 "thanks for the wake, Blind Date""Sorry Capt".  Ok, well at least he's sorry.  I was surprised he was still in VHF range when he answered.

 Blind Date threw up wakes so big that they crashed in over our transom and in to the cockpit.
We saw Blind Date later on a slip in Sag Harbor.  As we passed by in our dinghy Bob threw up as big of a wake as could be mustered with 6 horse power.  Oh, well.

Sag Harbor
Sag Harbor used to be a major whaling port with a much more salty persona than today's affluent shopping and dining town that is part of the very upscale Hamptons.  The preponderance of mega yachts reminds one of Nantucket.  As we have splurged on high end dock slips much of the first 10 ten days of this trip, we seek now to to focus more on finding protected, quiet (and free) anchorages.  Although moorings are plentiful outside the breakwater of Sag Harbor, there is also a ample room for anchoring at least midweek.

Anchor set and snubber secure outside the breakwater of Sag Harbor.
After exploring the town by foot Sunday evening in search of a restaurant that did not have $50 entrees, we settled on an excellent Japanese restaurant Sen .  Bob's choice of Monday's restaurant was also a winner, Page at 63 Main .  Time to do more cooking on Argon to stem the cash outflow.

Quintessential is a catamaran anchored off our stern:  98' lenth, 52' beam.  Note the dwarfing of the tiny people on the fore deck.  
We stayed anchored in Sag Harbor for two nights so Bob could get in a couple more work days in his floating cubicle.  Linda continues her work hiatus but made lots of headway all day Monday from the boat checking off a long list of home logistics (banking, insurance adjustments, paying bills, etc.).

After examining winds, weather, currents and calendar, we decided to depart Sag Harbor and Long Island at about 1100 Tuesday targeting Block Island with Linda semi-solo sailing so Bob can work while underway.  We think there will be decent 4G service to keep Bob connected for the first 4 or 5 hours of the journey.

However, upon waking extremely early Tuesday morning, we encountered a couple of problems....

Still Working on Anchoring Skills
As winds shifted, the swing of boats brought our neighbor very close to covering our anchor.  In hindsight, we should have known this was a risk and should have moved our anchor the prior day.

We tried not to make too much noise as we carefully moved along side the much larger Campai on our port side to re-set our anchor.
Electron (mis)Management
We made a rookie error yesterday in not managing our power consumption closely enough.  With Bob working all day from his very powerful lap top along with all sorts of other lap tops and gadgets sucking up electrons, we ran down our two main batteries a bit too much sending the low voltage alarm off at 0530 just as we were changing anchor spots (the windlass likely set us over the threshold).  Not a big issue as we can just run the engine and let the alternator do its job.  However, we were temporarily concerned and confused when the charging display was not registering.

Running the engine to get the voltage up.  Initially the voltage change seemed to be much too slow.  Time to seriously start thinking about solar panels.

Examining the manual to confirm the expected displays on the charger and inverter.  Bob has stored all of the many Tartan 4000 manuals and documents on Google Docs for easy access.
We are frustrated by the relatively high energy consuming anchor light and really need to get Linda up to the top of the mast to swap in a LED.  We have also been considering adding solar and/or wind for additional amperage and are still researching and asking other sailors about the pros and cons of each but at least one of these options is surely in our future.

Semi-Solo Sailing to Block Island
We departed Tuesday promptly at 1100 with Linda at the helm while Bob continued his workday down below.
Dangerous Gardiner's Point Ruins about a mile off shore with very shallow waters up to the island.

After a frustratingly slow start, the wind picked up upon rounding Gardiner's Island as the Sound opened up and it was full on making 8+ kts and Linda handling all the sails and steering for most of the 40 nm journey.

Linda sails while Bob works below.  Brisk wind and choppy seas did resulted in tilted and rocky work conditions.

After several hours of choppy water and spells of 4 - 5 foot swells, Bob needs to come up for air and to settle is stomach. 

Feeling much better and with calmer seas.  Approximately six hours in to the journey.

Beautiful skies but something is brewing.

Weather radar showed a couple of pockets of severe thunderstorms as we approached Block Island.  We motored the final five miles and prepare to get hit by some weather, but once again, we were spared the severe part of the systems.
We arrived at the anchorage in Great Salt Pond Block Island dropping the hook before 1800 and in time to purchase some stuffed bread from the visiting Adiamo Bakery boat.  It occurred to us that Block Island, two weeks in to our trip, is the first familiar harbor we have stopped at; all of our other ports of call have been new experiences.  We settle in for a relaxing evening at anchor, and at home.  Time to cook dinner on board, examine the wind & weather forecast, work on the blog, and talk about what we might want to do or where we might want to go tomorrow.

Another track from Bob's super duper whiz-bang sailing tracker application showing the Sag Harbor to Block Island leg.

1 comment:

  1. After reading this entry I came across this link that arrived this morning. Thought you might find it interesting.
    Cheers Phil


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