7 Days at Block Island

7 days on Block. Sounds heavenly, doesn’t it? True to form, this summer’s weather brought us a bit of everything. Hot and humid, clouds, fog, rain, winds, calm, sun, dry.  What more could anyone ask for?

At Shennecossett Yacht Club, we spent the night on our mooring, away from the dock. The  sun set over SYC on one side while the moon rose over Pine island on our other side.  Home port can be just as lovely as distant shores.

The sun sets over UCONN's Avery Point campus

The sun sets over UCONN’s Avery Point campus

A full moon over Pine Island

A full moon over Pine Island

Monday, July 22– We had an uneventful trip to Block, mostly under power.  It was nice to see the familiar sights as we entered New Harbor at Block Island (Salt Pond.)

The Coast Guard station at the entrance to Salt Pond (NewHarbor) Passing ferries, to and from Old Harbor

The Coast Guard station at the entrance to Salt Pond (New Harbor)
Passing ferries, to and from Old Harbor

Anchoring was a challenge over on the far side near the restricted and clamming area. It took us three tries! The CQR plow anchor wasn’t holding the mud, so we switched to the Danforth and it caught. After that arrival, we just relaxed – we were here! There’s nothing better than sitting in the cockpit and just watching the sights, new and old.

Monday collage of Salt Pond

The big gray tug, a lovely little sailboat anchored off of Breezy Point, the Mystic Whaler, and a hot air balloon that never got any higher than this.

Tuesday, July 23 – Clouds and rain were predicted (what a surprise), so we went to town. We wandered around, looking at changes since last year. We stopped at the library so Al could use the wifi with his iPad (couldn’t get a good connection on the boat.) While he surfed and checked his mail, I went to the library’s basement where they had discarded books for sale-  50 cents each or 3 for a dollar. What a bonanza! Bought 6 books, all guilty pleasures (crime and legal stories by authors like Jeffrey Deaver, Steve Martini, and Steven White.) At that price, no guilt involved!

The Empire Theater, built in 1882, is a family owned business and is at risk of closing down unless it can convert to digital projection by Labor Day, 2013. They need to raise $55,000 dollars for the equipment. I remember going to the movies there many years ago. If there had been a decent film playing this week, we would have gone again.

Around Town

The Empire Theater, statue of Rebecca, and Block Island as the center of the world

We had lunch at Finn’s so that Al could have his first clam strips of the summer (yuck, but he loves them.)

Lunch at Finn's

Lunch at Finn’s

 Wednesday, July 24 – Hurrah!! Finally a beautiful day. Yeah! – a  beach day. Packed the blanket, towels, umbrella, sunscreen, books, lunch and off we went. Most people had the same idea and the beach was a colorful sight with umbrellas. But alas, the beach was much shorter since Storm Sandy. We sat there, listening to the sound of the breaking waves on the sand, and watching the waves come in threes. The water temperature was nice, not too cold, so swimming was a delight.

Dinghy beach - where the boaters "park their cars" Colorful umbrellas on Scotch Beach

Dinghy beach – where the boaters “park their cars”
Colorful umbrellas on Scotch Beach

Watching the waves

Surf at my feet

Surf at my feet


There's always time to make a new stone tower

There’s always time to make a new stone tower


Back at the boat  again, there are chores to do. Scrubbing the sides of the boat and hanging towels to dry.

Al does his swimming while scrubbing the side of the boat

Al does his swimming while scrubbing the side of the boat
















Hanging my special GHS Math Dept beach towel out to dry

Hanging my special GHS Math Dept beach towel out to dry


There was a free concert sponsored by the BIRA (Block Island Residents Association) at the Fred Benson Town Beach. We packed drinks and snacks and dinghied over to “dinghy beach” again. Walked to the town beach from there and settled in. BIRA, Block Island Residents Association, sponsored the concert – Johnny and the East Street Rockers from Warwick, Rhode Island. The association’s dune restoration project provided the funding and labor to put up a mile of fencing to protect the dunes that had been damaged by Sandy. There was quite a crowd watching, listening, and dancing.

BIRA Beach concert


Block Island dunes - definitely worth restoring and preserving

Block Island dunes – definitely worth restoring and preserving

On our walk back we were treated to a beautiful Block Island Sunset once again. You never really tire of Mother Nature’s beauty.

BI Sunset BI sunset over Salt Pond

Thursday, July 25 – Back to an overcast and very windy morning. We planned to move to the SYC mooring today for the rest of the week (3 day maximum stay). It took a while to get both anchors up. The rope line of the Danforth was wrapped around and around the chain of the CQR. Thank goodness for Al – he can untangle anything. He untangled and pulled while I maneuvered the boat.  Nothing was going to be easy this trip – took me three tries to grab and pick up the SYC mooring- very windy and choppy.

We spent the day on the boat working with the Garmin 5212 chartplotter and the Garmin Homeport software on the Mac. With no manual and no guidance to the software, it took trial and error to figure out anything! How can products be marketed and sold with so little direction? Frustrating, but the time passed quickly and we did learn a lot.

What do you do in the fog and rain? Bake cinnamon buns and bring out  the  rain bear!

What do you do in the fog and rain? Bake cinnamon buns, bring out the rain bear and read!

 Friday, July 26More rain and wind. Couldn’t get off the boat all morning. Now we are really feeling “boatbound.” Dan and Marcia (Cutting Class – yes, retired teachers!) were on their way to Block for the weekend. Yeah – company! Rafting two boats on a mooring in the wind is not ideal, but Dan and Al managed to it accomplish it safely and quickly.

Kindred Spirit and Cutting Class on the SYC BI mooring
Saturday, July 27 – Hurrah! Another day of sunshine and no humidity. Obviously going to be a beach day! But first we walked to Negus Park for the Saturday Farmers Market.  Local artists of all mediums were displaying their talents – painting, pottery, metal work, sewing, jewelry, baking, cooking preserves, floral, herbal, produce.  One of my favorite things to do on Block Island.

Nice way to spend a Saturday morning.

Nice way to spend a Saturday morning.

We spent the afternoon on the beach, swimming and walking, and watching people and ocean waves. Although we intended to go to The Oar for dinner, Cutting Class and Kindred Spirit  enjoyed a happy hour together that morphed into a potluck supper. This is what sailing and cruising is all about –  people and places.

Al, Dan, and Rich enjoying a nice evening on the back deck.

Al, Dan, and Rich enjoying a nice evening on the back deck.

 Sunday, July 29 – Foggy morning (I feel like that is all I ever write, fog, rain, fog, rain…) We took a walk on the outside beach of the Coast Guard Station. Someone(s) had built a little “shelter” from driftwood and named it Confrey Cottage. The inside was layered with stones on which people had written their names and the date. Wish we had a marker pen with us!

A walk along Coast Guard Beach

We said goodbye to Cutting Class and headed out into ….. yes….. FOG again.
Saying goodby to Cutting Class - Dan and Marcia, Rich and Beth.

We needed the radar in Salt Pond and when we left. A small boat sailing near us contacted us on the VHF to ask if they could follow close by since they had no radar or GPS. Of course! We kept them in sight until the fog  finally cleared and we parted ways.
BI Salt Pond Fog Once we were back in Fishers Island Sound, the day became  sunny and we enjoyed a nice sail home. Yes- that last photo is really a very colorful cloud in the sky.

The big bell marking the entrance to Wicopesset Passage The current on the green can Sails are up!  What a cloud that one is!

The big bell marking the entrance to Wicopesset Passage
The current on the green can
Sails are up!
What a cloud that one is!

The Guys’ Sea Trip – Delivery to Maine

The “guys” went on a road trip by sea. Al’s friend, Gil, needed a crew to help him take his 32 foot Catalina to Camden, Maine, where his wife, Judy, would then join them, by car.  The crew of 3 (Gil, Al, and Walter) left SYC early on Monday, July 15th, the 2nd day of a 7-day heat wave here in Connecticut — high 90’s and humid every single day.

Al, Walter, and Gil

Al, Walter, and Gil

Leaving SYC behind. Passing Watch Hill COast Guard Station

TOP – Captain Gil at the helm, leaving SYC behind.  BOTTOM – Passing Watch Hill Coast Guard Station.


















The first day of 10 hours of motoring brought them to Cuttyhunk Island.

CLOCKWISE from upper left -  Coast Guard Station at Cuttyhunk,  Dawn, Sunset, morning light on the hull.

CLOCKWISE from upper left – Coast Guard Station at Cuttyhunk, Dawn, Sunset, morning light on the hull.

Second day was a short one up Buzzards Bay to Onset. After a night in Onset to refuel, it was time for the Cape Cod Canal. Timing is everything in the Canal – catch the right current!

Cape Cod Canal

Upper – In the Canal
Lower – Canal Pilot Boat

Leaving Onset was the beginning of the long leg – 33 hours. Once through the Canal and past Provincetown, the sails went up. The evening began calmly, but everything changed around 10:30 pm. The seas kicked up to 4 -8 feet, followed by thunder and lightening. There they were, on a small boat with a mast, the only tall thing around for miles. Al found it fascinating to watch the lightening strikes on the water, but was always conscious of just how dangerous this could turn out to be. Once the heavy rain began, the seas flattened, making things a little easier. That new foul weather jacket was put to good use.

There are no photos of the journey through the night. Morning came and so did calmer conditions. The sail boat in the distance was a happy sight – where did they come from and what was their night like?

thru the nightThe coastline of Maine appeared, as beautiful as people say it is.

Maine coastline

The sights and sounds of Camden’s harbor —

Sights and sounds Camden

Boats, boats, and more boats —

Camden boats fish kayak sail

A few scenes from the town of Camden.
Don’t you just love the young entrepreneurs in the lower right? Al supported their business by purchasing 2 sand dollars and 4 pieces of sea glass, for $2.00 total.  That is my favorite photo from his entire trip.

Camden town collage

This was Al’s first overnight voyage, with rotating watches, and the additional challenge of some rough weather. He thoroughly enjoyed it. When is it my turn???? 🙂

SYC Dock Races

SYC (Shennecossett Yacht Club) held it first “Dock Races” on July 13th. The day was typical of our recent weather, changing from moment to moment – cloudy, sun, downpour, humid always. Fortunately, the downpour waited until after the racing was finished and we were all under the tent, eating.

Each dock had teams of two-person crews, a sail boater and a power boater. This sounded like a great way to bring rag baggers and stink pots together for some fun. Al and Dean, already a “hybrid” friendship, signed up for D Dock. The race was run as a relay with two boats from each dock with staggered starts. Each boat was individually timed to determine the winner. The course was short and the whole race lasted only 20 minutes! 🙂 The crews and spectators had such a good time that everyone voted to have a longer course for next year and to encourage more participation (especially the power boaters!) After the race, we all gathered for food, race analysis (even a short race has to be analyzed!) and conversations.

The D Dock team of Al and Dean, along with Joe and Rick, came in second. Not bad, guys!

Our Dock – D

The Crew - Dean (power) and Al (sail)

The Crew – Dean (power) and Al (sail)


And off they go

And off they go


Boats passing (The other boat, “Doug”, was the winning boat, skippered by Bijan.)


Back at the dock

SYC Dock Races - food

After any race, there has to be food, drink, and socializing!

First Trip of the Summer

I had anticipated a wonderful week of sailing to celebrate the importance of July 1st this year. July 1st had dual significance for me – it is the 2nd anniversary of my ovarian cancer surgery and 2 years of remission (Kenny Chesney’s I’m Alive), and the first day of my retirement, or the first day of the rest of my life Jason Mraz’s Living in the Moment.) Alas, the New England weather gods did not seem to recognize that importance. Fog, humidity, thunderstorms and sporadic downpour plagued us. After a 3-day delay, we finally left the dock on Wednesday, July 3rd, and headed towards Montauk, Long Island.  Although there was no wind at first, a breeze began shortly after we passed through the Race. We joyfully turned off the engine, and SAILED. Without the noise from the engine, the sounds of the whooosing waves against the hull filled our ears.

MONTAUK, NEW YORK   The RVs all along Ginn Beach greeted us as we approached the entrance to Montauk.
IMG_1664Once in the channel, we saw the familiar working boats and playing boats. Montauk, on the easternmost tip of the South Fork of Long Island, is know as “The End.” It is famous for its fishing, boasting more saltwater records than any other port in the world. The Montauk Point Light was the first lighthouse in New York state and is the fourth oldest active lighthouse in the United States. Without wheels, we don’t get to visit the land sights around Lake Montauk.
CIMG3884We enjoyed three days of relaxing at Montauk. Of course, that relaxing included a meal at The Inlet restaurant.
Peacefully resting at anchor in Lake Montauk.
Saw this sign on the fishing  docks. Wonder how they enforce that regulation vigorously??
WATCH HILL, RHODE ISLAND   We continued onto Watch Hill next, close to our homeport of Groton, but still a favorite place to hang on the hook. Watch Hill has two beautiful beaches and is home to the famous Ocean House Resort. We still remember the original building. Although we can’t take advantage of the luxurious new Ocean House (except for one anniversary dinner), we appreciate the carefully authentic recreation of the exterior. It is truly beautiful. 

Anchoring at Napatree always treats us to beautiful beginnings and endings to each day.

WH Dawn and Sunset

Long walks on the beaches are for exercise, discovery (sea glass), and creation (a simple stone tower on a log.)
beach discoveries
There is nothing more calming and rejuvenating than a walk on a beach.
  •      The surf on the rocks at Napatree Point
  •      The osprey feeding their young in their nest
  •      The dunes recovering from the impact of Sandy’s force.
WH Beach pics
We could have called this the lost weekend  – we have never lost so many things!!
  • I found a large beautiful piece of blue sea glass on Ginn Beach, and it fell out of my pocket somewhere. 🙁
  • Al lost his hat, but recovered it from the water.
  • Our beach umbrella silently “slipped” out of the dinghy on our way back from the beach.
  • The strong winds knocked the boat hook off the boat (it had been supporting a sun shade over the aft cabin.)
  • My best sunglasses disappeared. I was convinced they must have slipped off my neck and gone overboard on a dinghy ride. I was quite surprised to find them hanging from a light in the cabin. Hmmmm – Is this what happens when one retires??
  • BUT it was the dinghy that caused the most trouble. It slipped its tie twice. Yes, twice. Once in Montauk from our friends’ boat; and then again in Watch Hill from our boat. Sounds like careless tying, but really, Captain Al is quite good at his knots. Gremlins? Al had to dive in and swim after the dinghy. Have you ever heard Eileen Quinn’s song, “Come Back Dinghy“? I guess it happens to us all at one time or another.

CIMG3918SCORE:  7 things lost = 2 + (2×1) recovered + 3 lost forever.  Really missing that sea glass piece. You can always get another umbrella or boat hook.