26 August 2014

Motor-Yachting to Connecticut - Stonington and Our First Land Visitors

Block Island RI to Stonington CT
It had to happen sooner or later this trip... a day with no wind. Such was the case getting from Block Island across the sound to Stonington, CT.  We have been in such a stretch of fantastic weather that we did not grumble.  And it was still sunny, dry with modest temperatures.

We stayed two days in Block Island anchored in Great Salt Pond. The second day was spent exploring the island by bicycle and by foot.  But first a visit from the coffee boat!
Fresh croissants and bran muffins at anchor
We rented bikes from a place near the salt pond. These were not great bikes as rentals go, but they mostly worked ok. We had four hours and no hospitals to visit this time, so we got lots of riding in. Once again, we visited Mohegan Bluffs and the Southeast Lighthouse (as we did a couple of years ago when here on Fujin - worth seeing again). Bob thinks he just volunteered to produce the website for the lighthouse historical foundation (they don't have a site).

Kodak Moment on the bike ride.  We passed by only about 15 or so of the 300 ponds on the island.
Looking way down stairs at Mohegan Bluff
Mohegan Bluff - erosion is very noticeable.  The southern coastline of Block Island loses and average of 3 feet per year.

Southeast Lighthouse was built in 1856 due to so many shipwrecks off Block Island shores the prior 30 years

Fresnel lens at the top of the Lighthouse.   Learn more here Wiki Fresnel Lens
The Southeast Lighthouse used to be located on this rock we are posing on.  In 1993 the entire 2000 ton structure was moved 300 feet back to where it is today due to the eroding cliffs. 

And another perfect Lobster Roll enjoyed on the front porch of the National Inn and Restaurant.
No mayo. No lettuce. No huge roll.  Just warm lobster, butter and a toasted hot dog roll.  Impossible to find in Massachusetts.
Off to Connecticut
We pulled the anchor pretty early the next day and took off for Stonington, CT. We noticed as we left that the speed transducer was not functioning. This time, it would be Linda's turn to dive under the boat and un-stick it.  There was very little wind in the sound and what little there was was on our nose so we made some electricity and hot water for a few hours.

Another sunrise - they never get old

Chief Navigator - always studying the charts

Temporary tie-up and fueling at Dodson's Boatyard Stonington.  We really liked this boatyard and the entire Stonington Harbor.  Also were able to give Argon a good deck and hull cleaning finally.
Stonington harbor is lovely and one we will definitely visit again. We took the opportunity to visit the fuel dock and top off diesel but more importantly water. We only took 7.6gal of diesel but both fresh water tanks were getting a bit thirsty. Water is turning out to be the one resource which gets tight on a long cruise like this. Our head flushes with fresh water which increases the usage even more. We're learning to take very quick showers and use as little as possible for washing dishes.  We are also evaluating whether to get solar panels or a wind generator.
Linda dives in to get ready for venturing under the hull to fix the speed transducer
Activities in Stonington
Mostly we just walked around. We had zillow running on the iPhone and were checking out home prices as we walked around the town. One could actually do OK selling a house in Arlington, and buying one down here. Along the way, we discovered New England Science and Sailing. An educational program that combines science and sailing for kids. How cool. So Linda rented a paddle board from them for a couple hours while Bob went back to the ship to do some work.

Bob is being very disciplined about his working from boat time.  Linda has yet to even log on (but will do so this afternoon, maybe.)
We enjoyed dinner and catching up with Ree and Sammy who joined us by land at Dogwatch cafe back at Dodson Boatyard.

Linda, Bob, Sammy and Marie
And onward now to Mystic!......

23 August 2014

This time for sure - Block Island

Today we got up a at a leisurely 05:30 after a fairly bouncy night on the free mooring outside of Menemsha. It was so bouncy in fact that we chose to sleep on the cabin settees rather than in the v-berth. The motion in the center of the ship is so much less pronounced than way up in the bow. We both slept very comfortably.

We were off the mooring and underway by 06:15 from Menemsha.

Dawn view of our overnight neighbor

Pretty skyline eastward as the sun rises

Dramatic clouds westward

We were in about a 1 kt opposing current for the first 5 miles or so until we got away from where the water is squeezed between Martha's Vineyard and the Elizabeth islands.  We watched Cuttyhunk Island pass by our starboard and looked forward to visiting there again later in the trip.  To our port we had beautiful views of the cliffs and SW tip of the Vineyard, Gay Head.

Gay Head Light

Looks like an inspirational poster. I don't know what the message is yet.

Passing Gay Head

Today's destination (again) was Block Island. We still had this steady N-E wind and so we were sailing pretty low. The N-Eer built up some pretty big swells (3-5') in the sound which rolled us around quite a bit for most of the 40 miles.  For most of the trip, we ran with a full main sail and the 90% Jib.

PFDs and Tethers were the rule today

Chin-Chin got quite a ride today and gulped a generous amount of water

Many hours of very alert sailing today from Menemsha to Block Island

Newport Bridge to the north
That's not land, and stop calling me a ho!
Finally after getting bounced around for several hours, Block Island was in sight.

The astute mariner would notice that we crossed the Traffic Separation Zone at a rather shallow angle. There was no activity in either of the shipping lanes during this time
Last time we went to Block Island (in Fujin) we got a slip in Old Harbor on the east side.  This time, we wanted to try anchoring in the great salt pond. This meant going around the north side of the island and then turning south. There is a narrow shallow spot that extends to the north from the island. We stayed about 1/2 miles to the north to avoid the 11 foot areas (11 foot with 5 foot swells... not much room). The bottom all around this spot is over 100 feet deep and so a huge amount of water gets pushed up on this shallow spot and some very big swells and breaking waves get built up here. Once on the other side of this spot, things get very smooth.

Feels very close to the beach as you head in the channel

Looking forward into the pond

Looking aft at the other boats following us in. Chin-Chin is full of water after the rough ride we had
The entrance to the salt pond is very narrow considering the huge volume of traffic that comes and goes. The salt pond itself is a huge area with thousands of boats in it. There are two marinas with slips, lots of town moorings and lots of room for anchoring. Being cheap bastards that we are, we chose to anchor.  Besides, by the radio chatter, it sounded like the town moorings were all taken.

Bob set up the hammock and Linda got first dibs on it.

Bob worked on a couple emails and was falling asleep at the computer so he laid down in the cockpit and was out cold for almost three hours!  Hey, it was a rough morning.

Night on the Town
We've had some cold-ish nights on this trip. Unfortunately, there have not been any nights where we could sleep in the cockpit. But the REAL cold parts have been that dinghy ride (always into the wind) coming back to Argon from whatever town we're in. Well, this time Linda got smart and dressed us both in our full foul weather gear for the ride. Here's us dressed up for dinner:

We ended up at Dead-Eye Dicks and sat at the bar for dinner. The food was good but this bar is really... a drinking bar. There were quite a few colorful individuals there in various states of intoxication. Food was quite good though.

Sunset overlooking the pond

Enjoying her Merlot at D-E D's
The Ride back to Argon was not so bad wearing our foulies.  Chin-Chin's motor was acting up a bit tonight but she got us home (good thing - would have been a long row).

22 August 2014

Leaving (too) early, New Anchorage, Guarding the President and Menemsha Sunset

Enjoying Edgartown
We spent a laid back afternoon bobbing on our mooring, swimming and just kicking back on Argon.  We eventually ventured in to town and enjoyed walking around in the late afternoon sun and Linda indulged in a pedicure. We continue to enjoy this fantastic spell of wonderful, sunny (and breezy) weather.
Strolling around Edgartown - these guys were really good playing outside  Chesca's restaurant

Back at the ship, we decide to be proactive and rig the spinnaker in preparation for an early sail tomorrow - see below

I've got a great idea!
Today (Friday), Bob learned not to plan for current in Vineyard Sound after a second glass of wine. We got up at 0300 (yeah, 3AM) to take off from Edgartown. The plan was to do a long downwind leg to Block Island taking advantage of a favorable and strong current in the Sound - We needed to leave very early in the morning to hit this. We even had the spinnaker rigged the evening prior to make for an easy hoist in the wee hours and coffee ready to make given the painfully early, but thrilling early morning departure. This was absolutely perfect timing... that is if your idea of perfect timing is to hit the strong vineyard sound current at peak opposing current. I'm an excellent captain (perhaps periodically dyslexic).

Piloting out of Edgartown Harbor at 0320, confident in Bob's plan

Sailing at night = cool.  Sliver of a moon was mostly obscured by clouds thus it was extremely dark.  (We still have not discovered our mistake.)
We realized it would be stupid to try to make any progress toward Block against the 2-3 kt current so we considered alternatives. Linda noticed there is actually a pretty big anchorage right outside of Vineyard Haven. This is good to know as this is a nice free way to stay there!  Anyway, we dropped the hook in there and took a nap while waiting for the current lessen.

Bob prepares the anchor as we watch the sun rise

Sunrise Friday morning as we anchored in Vineyard Haven to await a proper current (~4 hours)

Young children should leave the room for this part
While heading into the anchorage, Bob noticed something in the water and was trying to decide if it was a bird or a Lobster Trap. Guess again... it was a young deer struggling against the current about a mile off shore!  This was pretty tragic to see because he was getting swept out towards the sound. We considered trying to help the fawn using the dinghy but were concerned about fighting the current (and a terrified, kicking deer).  We also scanned the area hoping there might be a small power boat nearby we could radio to for help - but there were none at this early morning hour. We hope he made it back to land.
Don't think this guy had much of a chance

Plan B
So we decided to cancel plans for Block Island today and instead set a course for Menemsha on the North-Western point of Martha's Vineyard. We've heard good things. We will repeat good things. Also, President Obama is in a town not far from here on vacation so there's been a coast guard cutter and several go-fasts along the shore all day. The best part is that Linda found the elusive perfect lobster roll in this tiny fishing town. Too bad we had just finished lunch when she made this discovery (she had a lobster roll anyway).

A couple Coast Guard go-fasts near Menemsha Harbor

This particular fishing boat was somewhat scary and very rusty

Interesting mix of fishermen and tourists at Menemsha

Lobster Roll Shopping; Also bought some freshly caught cod and stuffed scallops.

Menemsha is very pretty

Being Townies
After walking around, Bob headed back out to the mother ship to get supplies (wine and glasses) and we hung out on the beach for a while. Bob also visited the Chandlery which was more like a building that a garage sale threw up in.

We have been searching for an anchor snubber hook at every port - no luck yet
The away team returns to the mother ship with the shuttle craft

Bob bearing a bottle of rose and a pair of plastic wine glasses to enjoy on the beach along the jetty
Dinner on Argon Tonight
Menemsha has a couple excellent fish markets. We got some extremely fresh Cod and some fixings.  Linda made a wonderful five star dinner.

Near Scutra-quality dinner (Scutra is our favorite Arlington restaurant)

And That Sunset
Well, unfortunately some low clouds on the horizon obscured it, but Menemsha is one place on the east coast you can actually see the sun set into the ocean.

Watching the sunset from the cockpit

(Linda) Planning For Tomorrow
We're going to try for Block again Saturday morning - this time at 0600 instead of 0300; will be a 40 nm trip with ETA 1400. We will face the same opposing current early in the morning but the wind will be higher and we've only got a few miles of the narrow part of the sound where it runs fast. Also, we're about 14 miles closer than we were yesterday. Wind is expected to be North East.

Studying potential harbors
This trip is remarkable so far for how little we've spent on overnight fees. So far, we've only been on paid moorings twice for a total of $65 ($25 the first night in Chatham and $40 in Edgartown)! And no overnight dockage yet. Tomorrow, we will probably anchor in Block Island's Great Salt Pond so that should be a freebie too.

End of week one of LASVA.