Sunday, August 23, 2015

Elizabeth Islands, Block Island and Eastern Long Island

When we last left you we were still in Hadleys Harbor.  We spent the day with Lee and Cheryl just relaxing, clamming and had a nice dinner on Shalaylee.  In the morning they left but we stayed since it was forecast for rain and for once they were right.  It was a quiet day with the high point being when we baked a cake.  It was nice to have a treat for several days.

Wednesday, the 12th dawned bright and clear, it is time to move on.  We raised anchor and left the harbor and headed into Buzzards Bay.  On the way we were passed by the three masted ship “Mystic”.  I would love to sail on one someday.  We motored down the bay to the Island of Cuttyhunk since everyone said we needed to visit there.  We stopped here on the way to Martha’s Vineyard but only anchored out not going ashore.  This time we moved into the inner harbor and anchored off to the side of the mooring field.  The first to hail us was Patrick who was next to us at Hadley Harbor.  We got the local information: where to get water, drop off trash, where the dinghy dock is and so on.  Several people had told us it was a nice stop but one day would be all it would take to see everything.  We stayed for four days.

We took a walk around the small village checking out the market and following Tower Hill Road to the top of the island to check out the view.  We made the mistake of not bringing cameras.  We came back the next day to take pictures.  The summit has a WW II bunker that has been turned into an observation platform.  There are trails leading to several other bunkers that were built during WW II as observation posts for subs and ships at the mouth of Long Island Sound and Buzzards Bay.  We also took the dinghy out of the harbor and went ashore along a sand spit that leads to the cut opening from Buzzards Bay to Vineyard Sound.  We didn’t find shells but a lot of variety of rocks.  On Saturday we took the hike down the island to the south end.  Here there is a pond used for raising shellfish and is also the location of the Gosnold Monument.  History has always interested me but there is so much that we are not told.  For example: Jamestown settlers landed on the James River in Virginia.  How did they know to go there and what was going to be there when they arrive?  It turns out that five years earlier Bartholomew Gosnold traveled the area, charted the islands, built a small fort and stayed on Cuttyhunk for about a month, traveled the coast extensively and was one of the captains that brought the settlers to Virginia.  Basically, historians need to pick a starting point to begin their records and gloss over what happened before.  From the monument we followed the shore back to town, climbing along a rocky shoreline to get back traveling about a third of the island in the process.  My poor knees, thank goodness Cori thought to pack us a lunch.

Sunday, 8/16/2015, it was time to move again.  We had received word from Dan and Marcia on Cutting Class that they were on their way to Block Island.  We made plans to meet up with them.  First we decided to make a stop at Newport again to provision and get cleaned up.  It was a motorboat ride until the wind came up and we could put out the headsail and motorsail.  We learned a lesson; don’t come into Newport Harbor on a Sunday afternoon unless you want to deal with traffic.  We dodged everything from small sailing dinghies to big sport fishers moving up, down and across the river.  Once anchored we were ready to launch the dinghy.  On our previous stay we had always gotten wet from the chop splashing into the dinghy.  We decided to stay dry this time and called for a launch to come pick us up.  At $3 each we thought it was a good deal.  They dropped us off at the Maritime Center; we stashed our stuff in a locker ($3) and walked up to the grocery store.  Once back from the store we hit the showers ($1.75).  Once we were all cleaned up we called for the launch to pick us up and return us to the boat.  For dinner we had the fish that Cori caught the day before while we were in Cuttyhunk.  That’s it, our entire stay in Newport; we left first thing in the morning.

We were off to Block Island.  Every sailor has heard of Block Island, it seems to be every east coast sailor’s destination.  There is a large natural harbor that is filled with boats and as we entered Dan came alongside in his dinghy to give us the lay of the land.  There are a lot of moorings here both private and public.  The public moorings were full (and expensive) so we moved to the anchorage area to choose our spot.  The anchorage gets as crowded as the mooring fields.  We found a spot we felt comfortable and dropped anchor, let out a lot of chain and set the anchor as hard as we could.  The bottom is not the best and boats are known to drag anchor and go for a walkabout.  The wind was kicking up and the harbor was getting rough so we chose to stay on the boat.  In the morning we launched the dinghy and headed to shore to check out the island.  From the marina that has the dinghy dock to town is about a mile walk.  Once ashore the breeze was not as noticeable and it was HOT.  We walked around town checking out the shops, watched people, and had lunch.  Block Island has been a vacation spot since Victorian times and it still is.  The ferries arrived regularly discharging their passengers heading to the beaches.  There are some very nice beaches but the town is very touristy.  We were back to the boat in the early afternoon then went to Cutting Class for a visit.  After drinks, snacks and advice we were back on-board for the evening.  We were planning to leave in the morning but by then the winds had died down and the harbor was not as rough.  Cori launched her kayak and paddled to shore to check out a beach.  I stayed on-board and took care of a couple of maintenance projects.  One of the features of Block Island is the coffee and pastry boat in the morning and then returning in the afternoon to sell fresh fish.  We had cinnamon rolls in the morning and bought some swordfish steaks for dinner.

Thursday 8/20/2015.  Time to move on, we pulled anchor to be surprised by a clam that had attached itself to one of the wire ties I use to mark the chain.  That was a first.  We headed out early since there was a forecast for rain but none of it materialized.  We tried sailing to Montauk on the east end of Long Island.  While crossing we were taking the waves on our side causing a lot of roll.  The wind died to less than 10 knots and everything was taking a bad beating so we fired up the engine and motored across.  The advantage of motoring is that I can also run the water-maker but we are burning fuel and not sailing.  Once in the lee of Long Island the swell decreased,  the wind came up 15-20 knots so it was back to sailing.  We bypassed Montauk Harbor and chose to anchor for the night in Old Fort Bay.  Next time we will have to go ashore but for now we just spent the night and moved on in the morning.  During the night we saw a bright yellow anchor light across the bay that looked unusual.  In the morning we saw that it was a Coast Guard cutter.  They are a little more armed with bigger guns then the smaller CG boats so we gave them a lot of space as we left.  We were on our way to Greenport.

We bypassed the Greenport harbor and its mooring field and marinas and dropped anchor in Pikes Cove.  Marinas and moorings are extremely expensive in this area so we choose to save our money and anchor out.

Saturday 8/22/2015.  We took the dinghy to town and hit the farmers market for some fresh vegetables and eggs then walked around to check out the business district.  Greenport is a very old town with a long history of shipbuilding, whaling and oyster harvesting.  Had we been here over the 4th of July we would have seen the tall ship rendezvous and the arrival of the Hermione, a replica of the ship Lafayette took to the Colonies to aid with the Revolutionary war.  As we were leaving the harbor we were flagged down by a small sailboat that could not get into the harbor.  It was powered by an electric motor and something was wrong.  We hooked a line and towed them to their dock.  Our good deed for the day.  After lunch we headed back to town to check it out some more, visiting more shops, a museum and Cori’s favorite, the local microbrewery tasting room.  Before leaving we made a run to the marina to buy gas for the outboards and the generator.  While there the attendant gave us the schedule for the Monday night concerts in the park so I guess we will be here for a few days.

It is Sunday 8/23/2015 and we are spending the morning with the generator running and the water-maker pumping out fresh water.  We are able to make about three gallons an hour.  What doesn’t sound like much but it is helping us avoid stopping at a marina.  We have not been to a marina to charge batteries and take on water since the beginning of July, our longest stretch yet.  Usually we try to stop about once a month to let the batteries get a good deep charge.  Since then we have been relying on solar, charging while we motor and the generator.  For water we are making our own, filling jugs when we go ashore or as we did in Edgartown, pull up to the water raft and fill the tanks.  We are staying as self-sufficient as we can.

We plan on staying here a few more days taking the dinghy on excursions to check out the area then head back to New London to return borrowed cruising books then continue back towards New York City and points South.  We still do not have good Wi-Fi service so pictures and map updates will have to wait.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Martha's Vineyard and Woods Hole update

It has been a while since our last post.  It is not because nothing has been going on but that we have not had a strong signal to get online to upload a post.

Final report on Newport:  We spent a morning walking the Cliff Trail.  This is a public trail that winds along the waterfront in front of some amazing mansions.  We get to share their view.  Parts of the trail are paved walkways and others are climbing over the rocks along the shore.  The problem is that once you walk to the end of the trail you still have to walk back.  It got to be a bit much but worth it.  The annual Newport Folk Festival was scheduled for the weekend.  The anchorage was filling up.  I tried going over to the fort to check that out but that is the venue for the festival and it was not the same with all of the tents, portable toilets and stages being set up so that I left and will come back another time.  Saturday we pulled anchor and headed out.  We raised the sails and sailed down the river and then turned east with our next destination the small island of Cuttyhunk.  Cuttyhunk is at the bottom of the Elizabeth Islands, a chain of islands that are owned by the Forbes Family and being held as a nature preserve.  We dropped anchor off the entrance to the harbor to spend the night.  In the morning we pulled anchor and set sail for Martha’s Vineyard.

On Sunday, the 26th, we dropped anchor in the designated anchorage outside the harbor.  The harbor is filled with mooring balls that are more expensive to use then I care to pay.  We had a short dinghy ride into the harbor and then followed it up to where our friend’s Lee and Cheryl keep their boats.  On returning from the Bahamas they started shopping for their next boat.  They are now the proud owners of a 55 foot Fleming.

I won’t bore everyone with a detailed breakdown of our activities, we spent eight days, but just know that we had a great time.  We spent a lot of time with Lee and Cheryl; they took us around town, introduced us to a number of their friends, and brought us along on their new boat “Shalaylee” for a ride to Falmouth for a provisioning run.  Cori also has relatives on Martha’s Vineyard, Pamela and Agatha, and we were able to get together with them.  They took us for a tour of the island and gave us a lot of background.  There is also a good public transit system so we were able to take the bus around the island to visit the towns.  We took the dinghy around exploring a lot of the protected waters and were able to ride up to and under the “Dike Bridge” made infamous by Ted Kennedy.  It has been rebuilt and has guard rails on it now.  The island is the location for the movie “Jaws” so we now need to watch the movie.

It wasn’t all sightseeing and being tourists, we also got some projects done.  We were running low on water so I decided it was time to fire up the watermaker.  I rebuilt it prior to the winter with all new seals and membranes but had never used it.  After several attempts to get it primed it started pumping water.  We now have our own supply of water although it is slow.  Cori spent a day at Lee and Cheryl’s with their granddaughters helping them make bracelets from some of the shells she collected in the Island, an Arts and Crafts day.  We were thinking of replacing our anchor chain while we were in New London but decided to wait until we passed through on the return trip.  After thinking it over I decided to switch ends since half of the chain remains in the locker unused except in unusual conditions.  I pulled all of the chain onto the deck and the next morning we pulled the anchor and went into the harbor to fill the water tanks.  They have a raft moored in the harbor with water plumbed to it for boats to pull up to take on water and get washed down.  While Cori filled the tanks I swapped ends of the chain and then we gave Hi Flite a good bath.  After that we went back out to anchor and get everything ready to move on.

On Wednesday, the 5th, we pulled anchor and motored with light winds to Woods Hole.  It is important time your transit through Woods Hole Channel due to the severe currents, some of the strongest in the world.  We arrived at slack tide, when there is the least current, and moved through to Hadleys Harbor.  We were advised to make a stop here since it is reported to be a beautiful stopover.  At the harbor we moved further into the lee of one of the islands to a very protected cove with about twenty moorings, free on a first come basis.  This is part of the Elizabeth Islands, but this one has houses on it that are available to family members through some sort of foundation.  I heard several conflicting stories.  The Islands have been owned by the Forbes Family for at least eight generations and with the exception of this one are a nature preserve.  We planned on staying one or two days but have been here five days so far.  We were lucky when we arrived to get a mooring since there has not been an empty one since.  As soon as one is free another boat picks it up.  We have checked out the area with both the dinghy and kayak.  Our neighbor, Patrick, told us that here are clams for the taking and he would loan me his hand tool and show me where to search.  Where I went I didn’t find clams, although Cori did the next day, but I found a colony, if that is what it is called, of mussels.  I picked mussels until I thought I had enough, it turned out to be just over a hundred.  After Googling how to clean and cook them we had them for dinner.  The next day we were back to show Patrick where the mussels were and he showed Cori how to find the clams.  We collected a bucket of clams that we have made two meals of and still have some left over.  While dinghying around we also found another area to collect mussels.  We also put the 9.9 motor on the dinghy and made a trip to Woods Hole.  It was slack tide when we went over but we had to fight the current coming back.  I had always heard about the currents here but now I have been able to experience them.

It is now Monday, the 10th and we are still here.  We planned to leave this morning and make a stopover at Cuttyhunk to go ashore but got a message from Lee and Cheryl that they were coming over for a day or two, so we decided to stay.  After the weekend the moorings started to clear out but to be sure we tied the kayak on one to hold it for them.  Good thing, because they are filling up again.

The beauty of this trip is we have no schedule and no itinerary.  We can go where we want and stay as long as we want.  We have been blessed with perfect weather, very few days of rain, usually overnight and the winds are fairly constant 10-15 knots from the Southwest so we are able to do a lot of sailing instead of motoring.  We have decided that Martha’s Vineyard will be the furthest north we go this year and will start back south stopping at some of the places we missed along the way.