Thursday, July 23, 2015

Newport RI

Dan and Marcia on Cutting Class showed us on our charts some of the anchorages in the area they enjoy so we decided to stay in the area and check them out.

On Monday we dropped the mooring and headed out to move further down Long Island Sound.  As we moved into mouth of the river we made a pass by the lighthouse.  It is a granite building on a rock in the entrance.  It is pretty impressive.  We also were hearing warnings about a submarine in the area.  We could see it further out in the sound but were too far away to see much, even with binoculars.  It was about the same view of a sub that we had as we were approaching the river earlier in week.  We turned east and motored between Fishers Island and the mainland down to Stonington.  The harbor is well protected with two long break walls but is full of moorings, both private and for rent.  They do have a section marked off for anchoring so that is where we went.  We had only traveled about five miles so it was still early and we went ashore to look around.  There are a lot of old historical buildings dating back to the late 1700’s.

Tuesday we worked on a couple of projects, specifically charging the batteries and repairing the water heater.  This winter we started having a problem with the safety valve leaking when we would try to heat water when plugged in of with the generator.  While in New London we made a trip to Defender, a marine supply company we often order from, and bought a replacement valve.  Once the batteries were up to power I flipped the switch for the water heater and soon we had hot water without a leak.  Problem solved.  In the afternoon we decided to make a run to Watch Hill with the dinghy.  It is about a two and a half mile trip.  It is a very popular resort area with a lot of small shops, very nice beaches and old houses, Inns and hotels.  We took a short walk over to the East Beach and followed the path to the beach.   The path follows the fence that was built to keep the public from getting too close to Taylor Swifts house. 
It sits on the highest piece of land and has some impressive rock work all the way up the hill to protect from erosion and trespassers.  It also has a very impressive fence.  According to Google she paid $17.2 million for it, that’s hard to comprehend.  Cori did some beachcombing while the tide was out and collected some rocks for future projects.  Dark clouds were moving in so we decided to start back to the boat.  We were too late and were not even out of the harbor when it was obvious we would be soaked so we headed back and try again later.  We tied up just as it started to rain and headed into a bar/restaurant for a drink and snack while it rained.  Once it stopped raining we had a smooth ride back to the boat.

On Wednesday the forecast was for more rain but the morning dawned with thick fog.  By late morning it had burned off and we went back into town to look around again.  The guide books mentioned a fish market by the docks and we stopped by to check it out.   The fish all looked good but we opted for the scallops instead.  We had them for dinner and they were great.  In the evening it finally did rain but the area north of us got it a lot worse than us.

We decided to move again so in the late morning on Thursday we pulled anchor and moved back towards New London to an anchorage at Noank CT, a trip of about four miles.  Most of the anchorage area is filled with mooring balls but Dan had pointed out an area next to Ram Island so we dropped anchor there.  We hung out on the boat and watched boats come and go.  I am constantly impressed with the number of boats in the area.

Friday was our anniversary so we went into Noank to find a post office and have lunch.  We tried the lobster roll at Fords Lobster Shack on the waterfront.  From there we took the dinghy up the river about three miles to the town of Mystic.  We had been there about twenty years ago but not by boat.  The main attraction of Mystic is the Mystic Seaport.  It is a combination of 1800 seaport village and seaport.  They also do reconstructive work on old wooden ships.  They have a very impressive collection of wooden boats including the last whaling ship.  We didn’t stop but rode slowly through the harbor looking at the boats.  We tied up at the dinghy dock and did a short tour of the town, including a stop at the Drawbridge Ice Cream Shop.  The ride back got a little rough but was without incident.

Saturday was a big day.  We had been invited by Rob and Diane on Date Night to their annual clam bake.  We spent the afternoon visiting and learning how they steam their clams, potatoes, corn and lobsters in a fire pit.  We also got instructions on how to eat a freshly cooked lobster, messy but good.  Rob and Diane also being cruisers know what is important so Cori was told to bring the laundry along and she got that done while we were there.  Laundry is always a problem and priority.

The spot we were anchored in had a problem causing us to roll with current and wind so we decided we would leave Sunday.  The morning dawned with fog.  As the fog was burning off the locals were coming to the anchorage to swim and go ashore on the island.  Once the fog had cleared enough we pulled the anchor and maneuvered among the boats to head east again.  We had plans to try to make it to Newport RI but soon the fog moved in again.  Thick fog!  We turned on the radar to try to track the boats around us and we heard a lot of talk on the radio as people were moving about and reporting the conditions.  At times it would thin out and we could see the traffic around us, a combination of sailboats, fishing boats, powerboats and boats just sitting and fishing.  As the fog thickened again we decided to call it quits and go back into Stonington.  Our chart plotter marks a trail everywhere we go so we were able to follow out previous track into the anchorage.  We were not able to see the breakwalls or the boats in the harbor for the fog so it was good that we had been there before and that we had radar.  The fog thinned out a little and we were able to pick a spot to drop the anchor.  The fog cleared in the late afternoon and many of the boats around us left but we decided to stay for the night.

Monday morning I slept in and eventually we pulled the anchor and headed out for Newport RI.  The wind was light and from behind us so we decided to fly the spinnaker.  We would make better time if we motored but we were not in a hurry.  We were able to sail at 3-4 knots and just relaxed for the day.  Since we were not going to make it to Newport by evening we stopped off at Point Judith and dropped the anchor.  There was a lobster boat working in the area and Cori flagged him down to see if he had any to sell.  We bought three for $20 and cooked them up for dinner.  They couldn’t get any fresher.

Newport was just around the point and up the river so on Tuesday morning we pulled anchor and motored up the river.  When we arrived in Newport we called the harbormaster and got direction to the anchorage.  After anchoring we launched the dinghy and checked out the shore facilities.  We checked out the Mariners Center which has a dinghy dock, lounge, showers, laundry and Wi-Fi.  From there we walked around town for a awhile.  The number and size of the boats here is mind boggling.  There are very active sailing schools so there are a lot of small boats out learning to sail which is fun to watch. 
This is the former home of the Americas Cup so there are several of the Cup racers here and some of the largest sailboats and motor yachts I have ever seen.  The largest motor yacht is the Rock.It which according to Google is owned by one of the U2 band members.

Wednesday we went ashore again to get some provisions.  We also visited a nautical consignment store but didn’t need anything.  We had lunch at the White Horse Tavern which bills itself as the oldest Tavern in the county, operating since the 1600’s.  The wind was kicking up the water in the harbor so it was a wet ride back and we decided to spend the rest of the day on the boat.  One of the yacht clubs marks sundown by shooting off their cannon as they take down the flag.  Cori joins in by blowing her conch at sundown also and tonight it was a beautiful sunset.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

New London CT

Tuesday, the 7th, our time at the marina was up and we had to move on.  We left the marina and sailed out of the bay and turned up into Long Island Sound.  Our destination for the night was Huntington Bay and then into North Port Bay.  When we arrived we moved around looking for a spot to anchor and finally picked one at the east edge of the bay off from the public beach.  In the morning we left North Port Bay and once into Huntington Bay we tried to sail out.  The winds were light until we got into the sound.  From there we had several choices of locations for the night.  We decided to make the run across the Sound to the Connecticut side.  The wind was almost directly behind us so we put up the spinnaker and had a great ride across to Stratford CT.  We tucked behind Charles Island to anchor.  It was not as protected as I like but it turned out fine.  In the morning we got a swell from the Sound and started rolling.  We pulled anchor and headed out of the anchorage just as it started to rain.  It turned out to be just a short shower.  The winds were light and variable so it turned out to be a motor trip.  Again we had several anchorages to choose from depending on how long we wanted to motor.  We finally made the decision to continue to Old Saybrook.  It brought us closer to New London for the next days trip and we were able to use one of the free mooring balls at North Cove Yacht Club.  We arrived just at high tide so we were able to get into the cove without touching the bottom.  Once we were tied up and relaxing we got to watch the bait fish swarm.  All over the cove the water was being churned up as the bigger fish were feeding on the smaller fish.  In the morning we had an early start to take advantage of the high tide and stopped at the the closest marina for fuel.  We had last bought fuel at in Norfolk VA.

We only had about fifteen miles to go on Friday to arrive at New London CT.  With the current and trying to sail all of the way it was a little longer but we were able to sail again.  Once withing range of the harbor entrance we got our instructions to the mooring ball.  While in the Bahamas we met Dan and Marcia on Cutting Class.  They live in Mystic and their yacht club has two mooring balls that are free to use for three days.  As their guests we are able to use the facilities.  They picked us up and gave us a tour of the area, a stop at the grocery store and then to their house to do a load of laundry and go over charts to learn their favorite spots in the area.  In the evening we joined them for the yacht clubs Friday night barbecue.

This is the weekend for New London's Sailfest so we took the dinghy up the river to check it out.  There were a lot of vendors and a carnival but the best was being able to go aboard the Armistad.  The ship is a replica of the original slave ship Armistad  and was used in the movie of the same name.  In the evening we joined several others from the yacht club for the fireworks display.

Sunday morning we went into the marina to get together with Chuck and Sandy from the yacht club to go over their cruising guides for the area.  While there we got invited to join some of the others on the beach on the other side of island next to us.  It was a short dinghy ride around and felt good to just sit on a beach, visit and get out into a cooling breeze.  This will be our last night on the mooring ball and will be moving again tomorrow.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Enjoyed the 4th

We have had a very enjoyable Holiday weekend.

We arrived in Port Washington on Sunday an took a mooring ball.  We were told that there are a number of yellow mooring balls that are free for a two day stay.  We motored into the mooring field and picked out a ball.  After the current on the Hudson it was nice to have calm water.  When the guy that collects the money for the moorings came by he explained that we were not on one of the free balls.  We were planning to stay on the ball for three days so we paid the $25 for one night which included unlimited water taxi trips.  

On Monday we used the taxi to go to town and check it out and hit the grocery store.  In the after noon we moved to one of the free moorings and launched the dinghy.

On Tuesday we spent the morning on the boat watching the sailing school boats and the coming and goings of the other boats.  In the afternoon we took the train into the city to so some more sightseeing and to have dinner with our friend John who was in town from Houston.  We had a great dinner at Frankie and Johnie's Steakhouse and got caught up on what is happening with Michelle and Jet in Houston.  The train was nearly empty on the trip in but very full in the evening but it is a fun and relaxing way to get into and out of the city.

Wednesday we moved to the marina to plug in and wait for company.  Cori had caught a cold or something and has not been feeling well and spent the day napping, I spent the day reading as usual.

Thursday was a relaxing day with light winds so we took a dinghy tour of the bay.  Some great boats and amazing houses.  We watched the sailing schools for a while and then back to the boat.

Friday Cori's sister Heather and her friend Bobbie arrived.  One of the dock hands told us where to watch fireworks so we made a run for BBQ for dinner and hit the grocery store again and then went sailing.  We left the marina and motored out of the bay and set the sails for the town of Rye, sailing across and up the Sound.  We joined a number of other boats, dropped our anchor and waited for sundown.  We had a display from the yacht club and when that finished we had a display from the amusement park.  While these were going on we could see at least ten more displays going on all around us.  After the show we pulled anchor and motored back to the marina.  We made it through the mooring field in the dark and pulled into the marina.  Docking was a challenge.  Every time I got the bow into position the current would push the stern over and we would have to start over.  Fortunately there is a lot of space between the docks and there were a lot of empty slips so we were able to maneuver without worrying of hitting someone.  Cori finally got a stern and bow line to the dock and we were able to walk Hi Flite into her slip about 12:30 am.

Saturday, the 4th, we had plans to go into the city for dinner and fireworks.  Instead of the train, Bobbie drove us into Brooklyn and parked near the Brooklyn Bridge.  Instead of using the subway this time we took the opportunity to walk across the bridge.  Unfortunately it started to rain as we started across.  Once on the Manhattan side we took the subway up to Grand Central Station ans then walked to Times Square since it had stopped raining.  We had an early reservation for dinner at Carmines and then took the subway back to Brooklyn to wait for the fireworks.  We got there early and staked out our spot and waited for it to get dark.  The people watching was amazing.  The crowd grew until there was little space left over.  Security was everywhere and did a good job of monitoring and controlling the crowd.  We were not in a spot where we could see the light show an the Empire State Building but we had a great view of the bridge and the new Freedom Tower and where the fireworks were expected.  When the fireworks started we had a building blocking our view.   We shifted with the crowd and ended up with a great view of one of the best fireworks displays we have ever seen.  After that we worked our way back to the parking garage and headed out.  The traffic was not as bad as we had anticipated so we made good time getting back to the boat.

Sunday we got up and said good-bye to Heather and Bobbie.  Later Cori got into her kayak and gave the boot stripe a good cleaning.  The boot stripe is the white painted line just above the waterline.  It needs cleaning from time to time but now it was the dirtiest it has ever been.  While she was doing this I changed the oil and filter and adjusted belts.  We are ready to continue on with the trip but will hand here until Wednesday.  The best deal we could get at the marina was to stay for six days so we will hang out and relax.