Showing posts with label newport. Show all posts
Showing posts with label newport. Show all posts

10 October 2019

Aquatic Snowbirds (Again)

Just as the weather is starting to turn colder, we are preparing to migrate southward for our third winter cruising the Caribbean. This time, however, we are able to start off by skipping the difficult, lengthy off shore passages and just hop on a plane.

Captain Linda Perry Riera

We left Argon in Grenada this past April for the summer hauled out, strapped down in a hurricane cradle, and with a punch list of projects to be handled locally on the island. Oddly, we have been boat-less for a summer in New England. Our only association with Argon for five months has been through forced e mails, an occasional reluctant photo, or an eager invoice from the shipyard or a contractor in Grenada. More on the learnings and challenges related to these boat projects in a later post.

Our lives have been strangely normal and exceptionally satisfying spending time in our home in Newport, Rhode Island (USA) as well as lots of traveling to Boston, Massachusetts  for work (including renting an apartment in nearby Lexington for several months - thank you, Helene!).

When not working, Bob has his studio up and running with some sexy new gear. And he has enjoyed starting to record some great local talent. There have been a fair number of brown boxes with new equipment arriving and he has enjoyed setting everything up on this cool studio console that he built in the garage.

Bob's man cave.

Fasnet Pub Session Band.

I am loving my career shift as an independent consultant and despite slightly over-committed myself to work this summer, have managed to schedule in lots of wonderful visits with family and friends.

Great to have the three boys (and two of their three SO's) with us in Newport in June!

My only sail of the entire summer.... Rhodes 19 with Lori and Todd.

Fun weekend in DC with Kelly and the little ones!

My woman cave is coming along quite nicely. I have enjoyed tending to my flowers and shrubs, luring a myriad of birds, and killing invasive voles (well, I have not enjoyed the killing).

Linda's woman cave... Patio completed, new plants in, flowers eventually bloomed!

I have also loved getting in to an invigorating rhythm of ocean swimming. The water temp requires a wet suit at this time of year thus I may have only a few more swims in me before I cave in to the cold. Soon the warm turquoise waters of the Caribbean will be part of my regular winter routine.

Recent cold water swim in Jamestown, RI (USA).

Typical swim track. This one was 2000 yards in 63F (burr!).
Morning swim in Freeman's Bay English Harbor, Antigua last winter.

Now we focus our attention on tending to various life logistics as we prepare to be away for 7 or 8 months. 

Both Bob and I will again work while we cruise. Reliable internet connection has been a learning process - check out past blogs on our trials and tribulations to feed our data needs. This winter we will be trying Google-Fi. We will be sure to provide an update on a future post.

One of my remote office settings last winter. This gives WFH a new meaning (Anse La Roche, Carriacou).
But sometimes our WFH set up is more mundane (Antigua outside a local market).

I am committing myself to resume sailing related writing during this coming trip as last winter I was woefully remiss. Most writing will be in the form of reigniting this blog. I have an objective to create frequent short blogs... let's see how this goes.

Bob will fly to Grenada in just two and a half weeks. I will follow a week later. And we will both happily transition once again to life aboard s/v Argon!!


11 September 2016

we ARe GONe: The First Few Days

Sitting in the cockpit, sipping thick brown coffee softened with warmed milk, enjoying the tapering fog having just exited the Cape Cod Canal only 24 hours into our journey... wondrous. Sails are trimmed, autopilot is on, Bob is down below working. I can just think, listen, feel and write a bit.

Captain Linda Perry Riera

Buzzards Bay is uncharacteristically flat and welcoming - yes really. Normally when one exits the southern opening of this 7 mile long canal that connects Cape Cod Bay with Buzzards Bay there is a ferocious salutation of choppy waves and headstrong winds from the culmination of the vast volume of water in Rhode Island Sound and Buzzards Bay being forced northeast by the prevailing southwesterly winds. But today we benefit from the many days of more northerly winds from tropical storm Hermine and the bay is wonderfully serene. Argon is pointed 220T traveling at 5kts, in 11kts of a northwesterly breeze.
Healthy breakfast purring along Buzzards Bay.


We have transited this canal dozens of times and although one must motor (no sailing allowed regardless of wind direction) we always enjoy the scene of fishermen, cyclists, joggers, other boats, bridges, passing barges, and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

There was a cheerful yet intimidating overlay of emotion as this canal transit is representing a gateway of sorts; a demarcation between the routine and novel, the familiar and mysterious, the safe and adventurous.

My life has had several demarcations (strangely that seem to occur approximately every decade or so) that I normally identify only in retrospect. Some of these demarcations have been punctuated by blessed events, and some have been marked by tragic events; each demarcation represented a meaningful transformation of sorts. I presuppose that this is both a prospective and spirited demarcation. A clear division between phases of life. What will lie ahead?

Good Bye Boston And Life as We Knew It

As we prepared to pull out of slip D17 at Constitution Marina for the last time, the Sluice Gates of the Charles River opened to our dismay. This brings an ugly sludge of algae byproducts down the marina fairway soiling the waterline of boats and, most relevant to us this morning, churning up quite an aggressive current in the opposite direction of our exit.

Because of the strong current from the release of the locks, instead of turning hard to starboard to pull forward out of the fairway, I did not fight the current and instead let it take the bow while helpful hands on the finger pier held in my stern to ensure we did not get pushed in to our neighbor. I then hard reversed out of the fairway pushing against the rushing water to make a final successful exit. Must admit it was a bit nerve-wracking to have such a challenging final departure.
Constitution Marina and Zachim Bridge as we pull away in the thinning fog.

Lifting clouds revealing the familiar and beautiful Boston skyline as we tack gently out of the harbor and up the small boat channel.

Ok, Linda... enough with the sentimental good bye pictures! Nix's Mate with the veiled, receding Boston skyline as we pull away.

Milestones and Deliverables No More

Our only time-dependent obligation currently is to be docked in Portsmouth or Norfolk Virginia by (about) mid October. Wow. After so many years of heavily scheduled lives with endless multi-tasking, we are unencumbered by deliverables, milestones, and schedules. Well, Bob still has 25-30% of a job so I guess he's not off the hook. Will this be an uncomfortable transition or effortless? I suspect the later. Of course there are various mini time considerations such as meeting up with friends, knowing when happy hour is, being aware of timing of wind shifts, tides and currents (btw... we missed in the Cape Cod Canal current Day 1 - but, hey, that was just fine with us; we are in cruising mode!).

Skies cleared as we pulled away from the Boston Harbor Islands. Approaching Minot light sailing close haul in 11kts of breeze on flat seas.
Enjoying easy sailing...

... while Bob gets some work done below.

Cape Cod Canal

We were being proudly purist sailors leaving Boston Harbor tacking in to light winds against a flooding tide, hence our initial couple of hours had a very lean velocity made good (VMG). But that was just fine. We are sailors, damn it!, and sailors sail, we do not motor (well, unless we have to, and boy that diesel comes in handy sometimes) and although we were planning to transit the Cape Cod Canal catching the progression of the water southward that evening, arriving late simply meant that we could drop anchor on the near side of the canal, get some sleep, and continue on in the morning when the flow was in our favor again.

We dropped anchor on the northern side of the Cape Cod Canal off Sagamore Beach at about 2030 the first night of our trip. The canal tide would be in our favor again in the morning. A scrumptious dinner of chili rellenos ended our evening. I think that look in Bob's eyes is famished sleepiness.

Another foggy morning as Bob directions me on where to steer Argon so we can haul up the anchor and continue on through the opening of the canal just a  mile or so away through the lifting fog.

The Cape Cod Canal is 500 foot wide, 7 mile long, 40 foot deep man-made waterway allowing mariners to avoid the often challenging waters around the outer eastern arm of Massachusetts's lovely Cape Cod and shortening the trade route from New York City to Boston by 100km. Interestingly, especially to my many genealogy-loving Perry family members, the idea of constructing a canal here was first discussed by our Perry great, great, great... grandfather, Miles Standish, in the early 1600's. Several waves of planning and evaluations took place over the ensuing 250 years until finally construction began in the early 1900's via a privately funded and owned effort. The initial canal was only one fifth the current width, more shallow, and had a slightly different southerly footprint through Phinney Harbor. The canal experienced several accidents during it's first several years of operation damaging its reputation and limiting revenue. Many boats chose to risk the longer, more difficult passage around Cape Cod until, during World War I, a tug boat with four barges was torpedoed by a German U Boat east of Cape Cod with several crew perishing. This triggered the US government to take control of the canal leading to a swift expansion of the width and depth and altering of the southern entrance by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Interestingly before the modifications in construction, engineers from MIT constructed a large scale model (one mile long!) to study the hydraulic effects of the tidal currents on the new design. The Cape Cod Canal was then able to provide more swift and safe transit north and southward in New England to all commercial and recreational boaters. Now it is very uncommon to travel around the outer Cape and only the largest vessels such as enormous cruise ships and tankers avoid the canal.

We decided to tackle the challenge of sailing around the outer Cape once (so far) a couple of years ago. We made it so I suppose it can be considered an achievement, but it nearly ended in disaster. Our experience is shared in a the blog post from August 2014 A Tale of Two Extremes: Argon Sails the Outer Cape. Suffice it to say we are very grateful for the safe (and swift) passage option offered by the Cape Cod Canal. And I like to think we are wiser sailors today for the experience.

The familiar entrance to the Cape Cod Canal with the fixed FL R 5s 43ft/15M "6" at the end of the breakwater to the right, and the R "4" at the entrance for clear guidance. The current rips strongly at here at peak ebbing and flooding.
Passing under the Sagamore Bridge. I have probably driven over this bridge only 4 or 5 times (very unusual for someone that has lived in New England so long given the popularity of the Cape) but I have transited under it with my sailboat (motoring) dozens of time. I much prefer by boat.
Bourne Bridge in the foreground congested with traffic. Rail road bridge in the background. One must keep an ear to the VHF and a watch on the RR bridge height to be alert for it dropping to allow a train to pass.
Our displays show the effects of the strong tidal current. The 9.0 is our speed over ground (SOG) while the 7.9 is our speed through water (STW). Argon is traveling faster over ground than through the water due to the approximately one and half kt current going in our direction helping to push us along.

The Cape Cod Canal has the largest tidal differential of all canals without the use of locks. The strong tidal flow results in up to a 5kt current. Most mariners will time canal transit as not to oppose this strong current for efficiency. Vessels with modest propulsion such as small power boats and sailboats (Argon has just a 55hp diesel) should always transit at slack or positive current.

Hello Rhode Island

Having fun sailing wing on wing down Buzzards Bay galloping towards the Rhode Island coast guarding the main sheet should I accidentally jybe as the enormous main sail teeters slightly on  the lee.

Our second evening welcomed one of our favorite anchorages: Third Beach in Newport. Many are familiar with First and Second Beach in Newport that are easily seen driving along 138A. However, opposite and northeast to Second Beach, opening in to the southern out pouring of the Sakonnet River is the more secluded and pristine Third Beach with warm water and soft welcoming sand.

Pleasing anchor at Third Beach for our second night of our briny wanderlust.

And then there is Newport with All of Her Boat Porn

We love Newport. She is cocky and opulent but the huge percentage and variety of sailboats and the ingrained mariner charm weaved everywhere is intoxicating. And as we become even saltier sailors, it is wonderful to anchor for free in a place that easily gets a premium price of $220 to park a boat of our size for just one night.

Newport will get increasingly busy in the coming days as she prepares for the annual Newport Boat Show (NBS). Argon was featured in the NBS show last year as part of the Tartan display. See the former post Argon Does NBS September 2015. We will likely stay here in Newport a few days as I have filled our social calendar once again.

Lovely Narraganset Bay approaching Newport, RI.
Many sailing vessels that dwarf Argon in size and opulence.

Look closely... a cutter with a solent rig. Very unusual but cool.
Chillin' at anchor in Newport Harbor after a nice, very short work day.

Media Attention and More Socializing for Argon

Our lifestyle, sailboat and sailing plans have gotten a bit of attention recently. A couple of months ago we were interviewed for and mentioned in a Sunday Boston Globe article featuring living aboard: What is it like to live aboard in Boston? Unfortunately (or fortunately) we were sailing the lovely coastline of Maine during the photo shoot so no pictures of Argon.

Earlier this week Argon was in a movie shoot for an upcoming independent film being shot at many Boston locations: Argon on the Big Screen.

Most recently, we were visited and interviewed by the owner of Black Rock Sailing School, Brenton Lochridge. Black Rock is an award winning sailing school based in Boston MA, Warwick RI, and Tortola British Virgin Islands (BVI). Black Rock provided critical instruction for us including docking skills, ASA 104 Coastal Cruising in the BVI, and the especially highly recommended ASA 105 Navigation course.  

Flashback photo from March 2012 when I took ASA104 in the BVI with Brenton and three other students. Brenton's ASA 104 course was intense with constant sailing, drills, theory, and quizzing as we darted among beautiful islands. The live man overboard drills as well as all manual navigation (no electronics) were particularly instructive.
Brenton conducted a brief interview with Bob and I as part of his video profiling of Black Rock Sailing School graduates: Video interview by Brenton Lochridge from Black Rock Sailing School

Great visit and fun interview with Brenton and Paul of Black Rock Sailing School.

Brenton and Paul of Black Rock Sailing School visiting on Argon. We hope to meet up with them in Bermuda in November and the BVI in the winter as they lead more ASA 104 classes among the lovely Caribbean Islands.

We were able to get our final canvas project completed while anchored in Newport. Phil Kinder of Kinder Industries came aboard to finalize the screen to our companionway. Kinder Industries crafted all of Argon's canvas work including the dodger, bimini, solar panel attachments, side panel cockpit enclosures, etc.
Phil Kinder installing the snaps for our new companionway screen.  Bob calls this our "Zika Screen"

Bob's NY hometown friend has become quite the passionate sailor over the past several years. Bob and Greg Ruf enjoy exchanging sailing projects and stories. Greg documents his experiences sailing his O'Day 23 at s/v Piao and Ruf Seas sailing blog. .

Bob shuttling more guests to Argon.

Argon at her anchorage with Newport Bridge in the background.

Now it is time to communicate with our trusty weather router, Ken McKinley from Locus Weather, as we start to look for a good weather window for the ~240nm off shore passage to the southern tip of New Jersey, Cape May, marking our entrance in to new waters as we point southward. In the meantime, we are enjoying the absence of schedules!

Until next time.... we AReGONe!

22 September 2015

Tartan 4000 Newport Boat Show

Captain Bob Damiano

Putting Argon in the Newport International Boat Show

"I know this is a lot to ask since you live on the boat" the email began.  It ended with being asked to let Argon be featured in the Tartan Booth at the 2015 Newport International Boat Show.

How could we say no?

Getting her there

Although the show didn't start until Thu-17-Sept, we were asked to have the boat ready to be positioned by the afternoon of Sunday the 13th.  So I found two hardy sailing buddies and we sailed (and motored) Argon to Newport departing Boston after work on Friday at about 17:00. The crew consisted of my buddy from the old country (Binghamton), Greg and former marina neighbor Dan.  Greg has an O'day 23 in Marion and look - here is is blog.  Dan has just returned from a ten month sailing adventure on his Cape Dory 30.  And yes, he has a blog too.

Dan and Greg
The wind was supposed to be moderate and from the north. This would have been a nice broad reach all the way to the canal.  The wind lied - by about 90 degrees. Mass bay is not a lot of fun in Easterly or Northeasterly winds. This was pretty much ENE the whole time.

As we left the channel between Boston Light and Hull, we were in some very big waves and swells.  I took two Meclizine.  The waves were broadside at first but started to come around to our port quarter.  Ugh.  At this point, even though there was enough wind to sail, we were getting rolled so badly that it was impossible to keep the sails full.  Finally, we motored from about Scituate to the canal. Dan took a nap during all this rolling. I was amazed he didn't end up on the floor (we don't have lee cloths yet).

As much fun as I was having, Linda was about to embark on a week of couch surfing while her house is being sailed to another state. The plan was that Linda would stay around Boston to work and I  would work from the boat in Newport.

We made it through the canal by about midnight and found ourselves in a relatively smooth Buzzards Bay. At one point, there was actually enough breeze (out of the north finally) to sail a little bit.  Ultimately, we ended up motoring most of the way to Newport.  I didn't sleep so much.

We arrived in Newport at about 0600 and dropped the hook in Brenton Cove behind Fort Adams. Then we all took a nice nap. I waited until 0800 to call my contact at Newport Yachting Center and by 10:00, we were pulling into our temporary slip.

After a lovely brunch at Diegos, Greg's wife LeAnne joined us and took our weary crew home. I returned to Argon and became fairly unconscious. Linda joined later that day and we had a nice weekend in Newport.

Putting the Show Together

Whoops - overnight we got up against this ring on the show float. Touch-up kit is coming

Detailing crew making us look good

Tartan flags flying

The Tent

Getting Stuff Done

We were on a mission this year to get Argon ready for Offshore Adventures next year.  This mainly involves setting fire to large piles of cash in exchange for more gear.  The show turned out to be an ideal place to shop for two reasons:  1. show prices - not insignificant discounts on some things and 2. The vendors can walk right over to our boat to consult, measure, ruminate, etc.  By the end of the show, we were significantly more cash-poor and gear-rich. I think that's a good trade-off.


We had a perfectly fine Plastimo 6-person offshore liferaft. We've had it since Fujin. This raft is packed in a Valise (a bag) and sat in our sail locker. It was time to have it serviced so we figured we would bring it to LRSE's booth and let them take it back to the shop. The LRSE guys got a kick out of seeing how long it took me to wrestle it out of the locker. Definitely not the 20 seconds that Offshore racing rules require.

On Sunday (last day of show), we went to LRSE to talk about having the raft re-packed in a canister that could be mounted on the cabin house.  After talking with them, it turned out to be smarter to just go with a new Viking raft that has a Rail-mounted canister.  So we did.  Cha-ching!

The nice thing is that this will open up a ton of room in our sail locker with the side benefit of keeping us a little safer.  The new raft will be easily deployable within a few seconds and it will not take up any room on the boat.

So, we planned on selling our Plastimo un-serviced for a few hundred bucks (.3 boat dollars) and moving on. The only problem with this plan is that LRSE is so efficient, that they had already begun servicing our Plastimo.  So now, we're selling a freshly serviced liferaft!

Our Plastimo raft on the shop floor at LRSE.  For $ale

Solar / Satellite / Sails

We visited Cay Electronics for Flexible Solar panels and a KVH Satellite Voice/Data system.  Argon will be getting a Fleet One Satellite dome from KVH. Matt McKenzie from Cay walked over to Argon with us and took a look. We were able to discuss options for wiring, placement, etc.  Cha-ching!  Cha-ching!

We needed to figure out a way to mount this thing above our Radar antenna.  Well, Edson Marine's booth is right down the aisle from Cay's and we ended up getting help from none other than Will Keene, the President.  Will came out to Argon and did some engineering drawings on a notepad. While there, we also discussed replacing the cheesy Whale manual bilge pump with an Edson High Capacity one.  Edson is one of our very favorite companies to deal with. They have absolutely world-class customer service. It was turning out to be really good to have the boat there. This kind of attention from vendors would never happen otherwise (or would take weeks to schedule).

Tech talk with Bob and Will Keene, Edson President.
edit: And look what just came from Edson
Did I mention that Edson is awesome.  They cooked up an engineering drawing of their proposal for a mount for the KVH Dome.

We will also finally be adding some Solar. We're going with Solbian high-output flexible panels (the sp series).  One flexible panel on the dodger and probably two on the bimini.  This should give us about 110A-H on a sunny day.  And yes... cha-ching!

Storm Sails

Next to the North Sails booth to talk about getting a Storm Jib and Storm Trisail made. This always requires lots of customization. Once again, we had a North rep on Argon, measuring, talking, drawing, and consulting.  Wow (and Cha-ching!)

We were very happy to see so many people boarding Argon and hearing all the nice things being said. We heard over and over something like "all the other boats look the same.  these are really classic". I tend to agree.  Did they trash the boat?  Not at all.  We did find one little bit of trash in one of our cabinets.  Big deal.

Mr. Jackett
One of the cooler aspects of the whole thing is that Tim Jackett himself was manning the booth. He is back with Tartan as COO and chief designer. He designed Argon and he is brilliant.

Us with Tim Jackett

Speaking of Fujin

On Saturday, we actually got a chance to go sailing on Fujin again.  She's now named Starbird and moored in Tiverton, RI.  We've become friends with her new owners and still keep in touch.  We had a lovely low-wind sail in the Sakonnet.

Starbird on her mooring

Bob getting hands dirty

Bob with Melinda (new owner)

Linda and Melinda

Update 24-Sep-2015: Argon Back Home
Argon is finally back in her home slip in Boston. Our broker Bill and his buddy Richard sailed (motored actually) home overnight from Newport.

Stalking them on AIS an hour after they departed

Argon entering our fairway

Bill's Groovy Boots