17 July 2015

Sailing Block Island and Newport

 Rhode Island and a Day of Quips

Block Island and Aldo Bakery
Having missed flanking storms once again, we arrived in Great Salt Pond Tuesday evening, looked around a bit for a place to drop the hook, setting in 23 feet for the night.  We are very impressed at the generous amount of space left for anchoring in this well-protected harbor.  In addition, amentities such as launch, water/ice, and popular Aldo Bakery service the entire harbor including anchored boats (anchored boaters are sometimes thought of as freeloaders even though we spend plenty of money on land).

We purchased Italian stuffed bread Tuesday night and pastries Wednesday morning from the Aldo Bakery skiff that makes rounds to all the moored and anchored boats selling their goods.
Who Has Superior Itinerary Planning Skills?
After studying wind, distance, and current, Linda recommended a 1045 departure from Great Salt Pond the next morning.  The current would be turning in our favor at about 1130 and the wind would start to pick up about then at which time Linda thought we could hoist the spinnaker for a downwind, gentle sail to Newport.  But by 0800, Bob was itching to get moving and since we've had mixed luck with the accuracy of wind forecasts (we use a combination of GRIB files and general weather reports), Bob recommended we haul anchor and get moving.  We ended up motoring the entire 20+nm journey, mostly in heavy fog, and against a current... arriving at the opening of Newport Harbor just as the fog lifted and a nice wind was at our back.  Oh, well.  Next time Linda might be more forceful in her recommended sail plan.

Awoke to a misty and foggy morning.

Very still,foggy, and beautiful in Great Salt Pond Block Island.
We left by 0800 hoping the fog would be short lived but it thickened as we ventured deeper in to the sound.  Visibility was was down to just a couple hundred feet at some points in the journey as we motored from Block Island to Newport.  We initiated sound signals to alert nearby boaters of our presence. Our radar was on and we were both on very high alert keeping watch and listening.  We strongly prefer sailing in fog when possible as we can listen better for power boats but the air was completely still.  We adjusted the gain and range of the radar a few times as we seemed to not be seeing some of the nearby vessels and were taken by surprise more than once when a power boat was suddenly way too close for comfort.  Even the green can navigation aid that Linda could see us approaching on the GPS came in to sight suddenly and very near.  It was most definitely not a relaxing journey for the first couple of hours until the fog began to lighten up.
Sound signal for motoring vessels in fog is one prolonged blast every two minutes.  If we were sailing not under power, we would have been sounding one prolonged followed by two short blasts to announce us as a sailing vessel.  We have come to favor this manually pumped horn over the more common cans of sounds.  
Cocky Newport (we mean this with affection)

Point Judith as we start to enter Newport Harbor (and the fog lifts and the wind picks up.... about 2 hours too late; or rather, we were a couple hours too early).
Newport is a favorite destination and this was our second sailing trip here this season (the former trip was in May for the Volvo Ocean Race; see prior blog post Overnight Sail to Newport May 2015).  Newport harbor is busy with a strong domination of sailboats vs. power boats and many high end racing boats.  There is a strut and cockiness that the serious sailors bring to the culture and tone of Newport.

Upon arriving, we stopped by Newport Yachting Center, topped off the diesel, filled our water tanks, disposed of garbage, and gave the deck & hull a good rinse before securing a mooring from Old Port.  The weather was very hot again so we took a swim off the back of Argon before venturing in to town on the dinghy.  Speaking of the dinghy.....

Bob no longer hates the dinghy.  Our new dinghy, Neon, in a very nice AB brand with an aluminum V bottom.  We have a 6hp motor that our power boat friends probably laugh at but suits us just fine and is much more powerful than our prior 3.5hp.  In this pic Bob is scrubbing Neon's bottom to keep her looking spiffy.
In addition, the dreaded davits which we thought would be in the way, look awful, and generally be an inconvenience are actually terrific.  After a bit of practice and fumbling, we now have a method that easily hoists the 150lb Neon keeping her secure in even moderately rough seas; and she is very easy to let down. Check out our davit project pic here Davits for Argon .  And, kudos to Kato Marine who were terrific to work with.  Thus Bob no longer hates the dinghy. And having a dinghy, especially on longer sails, is great for exploring nooks and crannies in harbors and avoiding the sometimes costly launch trips with limited hours of operation.

Back to Newport....
Given that we are in bustling Newport, we opted not to cook on the boat.  We had two thumbs up dinners Wednesday and Thursday night, both away from the America Cup / Thames Street main touristy area:
  • Perro Salado:  We've visited here many times now Perro's is a favorite go to place.
  • Malt:  On Broadway among the tattoo parlors, smoke shops, and consignment shops.  The anti-Newport neighborhood.
We were happy to have Linda's niece, Sam, take a drive over and visit us in Newport for the day.
Sam and Bob enjoying the dinghy ride in to town.

Sam relaxing on Argon before she and Linda ventured back in to town to get their nails done.  Sam opted for blue fingers nails and Linda for pink toe nails.
Not sure if many of our readers know both Bob and Sam personally, but they they both have a similar type of slightly off-kilter humor and throw puns back and forth as if they are a seasoned theatrical routine.  By the afternoon they were quipping back and forth non-stop with one liners and puns.
Sam:  "Why are rock bands called rock bands?  Because they get stoned."
Bob:  "No, because they are taken for granite."

The Bob and Sam Show Thursday's at 9:00p.m.  Try the veal.

Bono is apparently in town among his Boston concerts with his mega yacht, ROCKIT.  U2 can become a rock star, get stoned, and be taken for grantie.  Get it?  Ha.  (Linda is not so good at this.)
We did a lot of walking around Newport including a stroll through the impressive Newport Shipyard that boasts many enormous and opulent sailing vessels and a few mega power boats.
Sam and Bob standing alongside Zenji.  Note the deck hands on the vessels and how huge the boat is.  Zenji is a184 foot ketch / cutter built by Perini Navi that used to be owned by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.  It sold for about $25 million and is now a charter boat.  You can charter Zenji for only $200,000 per week including a crew of 8 to sail her and serve you.

Massive travel lift at Newport Shipyard to haul boats out of the water and put them back in.  The diameter of the tires are taller than Sam.

Beautiful dusk, Newport Harbor off stern of Argon.

Newport Bridge in the background.

Off to Quissett Harbor, or Not
We left Newport early Friday morning initially intending to do a 40nm slow downwind sail to Quissett Harbor (part of West Falmouth, just north of Woods Hold on the Cape).  But the wind did not want to kick up so we hooked to port and tucked in to another of our favorite spots, Third Beach, at the western entrance of the Sakonnet River.  We anchored by noon and had a kick back lazy day.
Little bit of spinnaker sailing in to the Sakonnet River. It was Linda's turn to rig and she did just fine.

Watching wind surfers around Third Beach wondering if we are still young enough to try one of these days.
Beach stroll late in the day.

Kicking back at anchor.  Another good night to sleep under the stars.
We examined the conditions and decided to plan to send off early Saturday morning for a long sail to Red Brook in Pocassett Cape Cod as we aim to be north of the canal by Sunday.  Plans certainly could change.

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