Friday, July 30, 2010

Where There's Smoke...

This is our year of fires, first one at Cuttyhunk, and now at Duck Island Roads near Westbrook, CT. While anchored there we had a front row seat. In the pictures below you can see the smoke changing color as the fire fighters douse the flames. The next day on the new we heard it was a "multi million dollar" home. The fire fighters did at great job keeping the fire contained to the one building.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Coecles Harbor---Just Do It.

We should have played closer attention to the forecast when we took off from Stonington to Coecles Harbor on Shelter Island in glorious, bright sunshine and temps in the low 70's. It started out at 11 knots and grew to a steady 20, but with gusts to 26. It was rollicking, and First Edition's rail was buried for the first time since we have owned her. Although it was exhilarating, the jerry jugs of diesel and gas tied to the railings were also getting too much dunking, and I could not stand the thought of competing with BP, or losing the stanchions. So we reefed.

It was hard sailing with the wind (guess what) really too close to sail. We entered Gardiners Bay through Plum Island and Great Gull (no scary science projects noted for the deMille fans) and did not get any relief from the land protection I had hoped for. Five and a half hours later we reached Coecles.

We have been here many times and it is one of my favorite destinations. But beware, it is one scary looking entrance, with shoaling coming at you from both sides. The markers are not where they are shown on our Navionics charts, so pay attention! First Edition's 5 1/2 foot draft has no problem except at dead low (although not actually experienced, the math suggests this).

It is quite a dinghy ride into Coecles Harbor Marina where you can land your dink for a good walk into town. Ask for directions if you need provisions, lots of winding turns through a stunning rural community; a very well stocked IGA is about 1/2 hour away, walking. If you are lucky, you will pass a farm stand, and buy a one pound, $4 heirloom tomato. If you are unlucky, you will drop it on the way back. It was delicious, nevertheless, with some basil that I pinched off of Terry on Kismet.

I love it here.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


In anticipation of a visit from Michael and Judy, we were "guests" of Dodson Boat Works at Stonington, CT, a leisurely hour sail from Fishers. Dodsons is a well run yard, with mechanical services, clean and private showers, a laundry, and a fabulous restaurant, The Dog Watch Cafe.
The $14 lobster roll has to be shared for lunch, it is monsterous. There is an ample parking lot for crew. This does not come cheaply, though, a mooring will run you $48 with tax, including unlimited launch service. The town of Stonington offers very little other than charming, well kept homes and a few restaurants, no provisioning.

We met the Lands for lunch and took a riding tour of Stonington and nearby Mystic, dodging raindrops but enjoying their airconditioning as record temperatures were reached. We spent a lot of time reviewing our house plans over cocktails and very much appreciated their input, as the Lands have exquisite taste. I remain totally befuddled by the entire process but am blessed with the counsel of good friends, especially when bearing Solitude. (For the uninformed, Solitude is an exquisite white wine that we can no longer find in the Northeast. Michael has connections.)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Certainties on Fishers Island

It is only a couple of hours from Block to Fishers, and it is almost certain that when you get there you will have two things: fog, and nasty swans. This visit was no different. And we probably should add fetch to the list, although we have anchored here in calm bliss. Not this time.

Fishers is the location of the summer home of Pete Campbell's in-law's, (think Mad Men), and if you have seen the show and can imagine an island full of Pete Campbells, this is the place.  Except during the week there are very few men here, as most are working (sic) in Manhattan and I suppose they take a ferry for the weekend, although I have never seen one here! So, just a lot of Mrs. Campbells running around in their tennis whites.

A short walk from the dock, where we always tie up although there is no obvious "Welcome Cruisers" placard, turn right and you will get to the rather complete and yes, pricey, grocery store. A longer walk will take through lovely old homes and flower gardens, and "in town" you will find an ice cream parlor.
You will always have a thunderstorm here. It is another rule when visiting Fishers.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Old Friends, New Friends

Weather kept us one more day at Block, and after staring at this gorgeous boat anchored next to us for the last two days we decided to dinghy up and say hi. Low and behold, Kismet is a Hylas, granted, one of our descendants, but a gorgeous gal owned by Bob and Terry Hood from Merry Point, Virginia and Pebble Beach, California. Bob and Terry had pulled in a few days ago direct from Norfolk and we are so sorry we had not had more time to spend with them.

We did wake up to one of those early morning calls from Rick on Sojourner, who had pulled in the anchorage and spotted us. We walked the town with Rick and shared a Narragansett at The Oar, our favorite watering hole for over twenty five years.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Death Defying Acts on Block Island

We must have been nuts when we left Wickford, as the seas and winds were exactly as forecasted, all wrong, and big. So, once out in the middle of the Rhode Island Sound we chose Block as our destination, as it was the closest port absent just turning around. So we had a few hours of very uncomfortable conditions.

Once we got here we anchored in that 40 foot spot in the anchorage, so we had to let out just about all of our chain. Since the winds were forecast to be strong and SW for several days, we figured we would not come down on our neighbors, and, so far, so good.

We have decided we probably have to give up on our recollections from times gone by.
With great memories of a nice long bike ride with Len and Vickie, oh, probably 20+ years ago, we rented bikes (this time, $12 for 4 hours---don't rent at the Boat Basin which is so much more expensive, walk into town and shop around for your prices). I swear, I almost died. As we were flying down this road, it dawned on me, what goes down must come up.  I was so exhausted I did not want dinner.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


With the likelihood that the winds were really honking out on Rhode Island Sound, with gusts to 30 being talked about, we opted to go inland up the West Passage to the sleepy little community of Wickford. Unless some nasty sailboat powering like a bat out of hell beats you in, you may be lucky enough to pick up one of the 5 free moorings right inside the breakwater, which, incidentally, is underwater at high tide despite what the charts say. We called the harbormaster to see if there were any rental moorings, and he said he would come out to the mooring field and chase off any boaters there who had exceeded their permitted 24 hour stay. Once there, he determined everyone was a new arrival, referred us to the yacht club for a $40 contribution, or suggested we just anchor outside of the breakwater, 1/4 mile down, in good mud. And that's what we did, although we found it to be a bit rolly.

Wickford is a favorite destination of one of our friends, and while it is a pretty little village chock full of Revolutionary War-time buildings and a very helpful harbormaster, a one night stay just about did it for me.
There are a few cute shops, a package store, a market selling deli and ready-to-serve meals, baked goods, and ice cream but no produce, and a Rite-Aid, but nothing in the way of real provisioning. There is no laundromat. There is a seafood market right as you come in from the mooring field. tYou can tie up at the public dock for two hours, but no water is available and I can't see why you would bother.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Last year while here I could barely get out of the dinghy and daughter Beth could not believe how every joint she touched during my adjustment was blazing hot. So I am thankful for a good doctor, medications, and a supportive husband. This year the only thing wrong at Newport was the weather.

Anchoring spots are few and far between, and can be found near the Ida Lewis Yacht Club rock, behind a clearly buoyed cable line (be aware, though, there is another unmarked cable running through the anchorage marked on the chart; we have seen folks caught on it). You have to be brave, and skillful in choosing your spot. After much ado, if you sailors know what I mean, we made peace and dropped the hook.

We spent two days here sitting out one passing storm after another, but managed to get in lunch at the Black Pearl (chili, the best), a long walk, and a stop at the seafood market by the wharf where we bought steamers. Those one armed lobsters purchased at Cuttyhunk could be found here for $6.50 a pound, copious amounts of sea bass, swordfish and other delectables are available for reasonable prices and offerings are fresh, fresh, fresh!

There is a water float available to all to top off the tanks and loads of moorings, but come early to be assured of one. Shopping here is endless, but it is a very long walk to the grocery store and I have no idea where laundry can be found.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


So many wonderful memories of Cuttyhunk, the long and treacherous walk to the top of the hill for the most incredible views, the $10 mooring, the fabulous and cheap lobster available at the dock, the tiny little muffins delivered by the harbormaster when he or she picked up the mooring fee in the morning. Well, at least the panorama remains the same...

Moorings are now $40, or $35 if you choose one outside the harbor (although the moorings are marked "$40" so perhaps it was discount day for us). You can offload garbage here for $5 a bag, and culls (one armed lobster) can be obtained for $9/pound. Ain't no muffins anymore.

But the walk, less tedious now that we walk everywhere and our old legs are accustomed, will still lead to beautiful vistas.  Be sure to oil up with insect repellant as the deer tick bearing Lyme disease are reportedly abundant. We even got to see the Coast Guard station fire at Menemsha on Martha's Vineyard, with black smoke billowing from the fuel depot. It was interesting to hear the Mayday call put in to the Coast Guard by the Menemsha Harbormaster, you could feel his heart beating faster than a tiny bird being held in your hand.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


We had a good sail to Mattapoisett in Narragansett Bay to visit Peter's high school pal, Chuck, and his wife Kristin. Every visit with these guys results in at least one foolish session of over imbibing, followed by a morning where we had no idea what happened the night before. This visit was no different.
I would not feel so bad about this had Chuck not previously agreed to donate a part of his liver to me should my medication destroy mine. (Although he was under the influence at the time of this promise, he claims he stands by his generosity.)

Chuck and Kristin live in a delightful funky home that is called The Butterfly House by the locals, as it appears to have wings if viewed from afar. One of the less attractive qualities in a confused Grandfather's Clock that will really mess up your head as it chimes the incorrect time over and over. This is not a good thing particularly in the middle of one of "those" nights.

Butterfly House is bordered by beautiful views and inhabited by beautiful people. We already miss them.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Ahhh...Block Island

Thirty two and a half hours after departing Atlantic City we entered the channel to New Harbor on Block Island. Hoping that by July 5th the holiday crowd would have cleared, we were disappointed to find the anchorage overflowing. We managed to find a spot; "there's always room for one more".

NOAA had predicted winds of 10-15 gusting to 20 for this trip, with seas 2-3 feet. Wind was off of our stern quarter, so we set the preventer to avoid the boom from being thrown over by the wind to the other side of the boat. We started out with one of those "so that is why we do this" wonderful sailing experiences.

But the wind built, and along with it, the seas. The 10-15 predicted became 20 gusting to near 30, and the seas were 6 feet, sometimes 8. This is not so bad when coming from behind your boat, unless the preventer fails, then you get a crashing, booming, scary-as-hell event you care never to experience more than once. So OK, it happened.

Fortunately, our boat is a workhorse and built like that infamous brick house. She did just fine. Of course, we decided to take down the sails and surf the crest of the waves, putting Mooch on the spot for excellent performance. Mooch (the engine) makes weird noises that I am absolutely in tune with when waves are from behind, but 8 foot waves make an extra weird noise, so I fretted over any little thing I could think of that might cause Mooch to go on holiday: dirty fuel, overheating (he never has), and oh yeah, our past due 1000 hour check up. Waay past due. And of course the Cap decides at this point to take a nap, leaving me alone in the cockpit. After about an hour I started to breath normally. I am a better woman for it and Mooch, once again, did not let me down.

So here we are at one of my favorite places on earth, and the trip is already a distant memory.

above, rounding Montauk Point

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Friday, July 2, 2010

Goodbye Chesapeake, Hello New Jersey

We made up an anchorage on the Sassafras River after bumping once or twice, and had a delayed departure the following morning when those nasty northerlies churned up a great big Chesapeake Bay chop. We had another nasty incident with one of the Pigs, our freezer, with that now troublesome piece of debris clogging up the works. Through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, we anchored for the evening at our usual spot, Reedy Island in Delaware without any company. Then we hauled anchor at day break and had a glorious sail up the Delaware Bay, an uncommon experience. Riding the current most of the way with a beam reach put the Captain in heaven and gave Mooch a well deserved break.

We ran out of luck near the end of the Delaware and had a final slow slog into Cape May where we took one of the final comfortable anchorage spots. Well, comfortable except for the bouncing around in front of the Coast Guard station as the inconsiderate power boaters zoom by. Fortunately, this should die down as the sun sets.

It ain't the Bahamas, but at least in the Jersey waters you can put your feet into the water...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Magothy to Rock Creek and House Plans

We left Annapolis surrounded by hundreds of floating dead fish and 100 degree temperatures, perhaps the cause of the mass suicide. Because it was so hot, we anchored directly on the Magothy River off of Deep Creek but little relief was provided by any sort of breeze. We then scooted over to Rock Creek off of the Patapsco River and anchored by the Maryland Yacht Club. We have found the club to be very accommodating to us, maybe because of our City Island Yacht Club affiliation, permitting us to tie off the dink and access our rental car, and providing entry to Enterprise at their electronic gate.

We had a long ride to Irvington, Virginia to meet with our architect, Bill Prillaman, who has done a masterful job of tolerating us over the years as we have dreamed up and discarded plan after plan, while getting ready to cruise and while living our lives as vagabonds. Now that we are serious, he has delivered us a design plan that we are delighted with, and are proceeding to tweak just a tad to get it perfect for us. The plan: clear the lot this summer, start building in the late winter or early spring 2011.