Returning to familiar and well-loved places can be comforting and relaxing. We were ready to take a short trip on our new boat with the goal of relaxing. Our first 7 days aboard Unfunded Requirement were “delivery mode” – every day was a traveling day, anywhere from 5 hours to 11 hours, depending upon the next logical and convenient location. Now it was time to enjoy the boat and get to know her a little better. The only way to “know” a boat is to use it and spend time on it.
We sub-let our dock this summer because we did not have a boat – makes sense, right? Fortunately, we still have a permanent town mooring in the outer “field” although things have changed there in the past 3 years. It is no longer our private little “harbor.” In addition to the two transient moorings, there are now three other moorings with ours. Not everyone would want a mooring out here. It isn’t always a comfortable location when the winds and waves are from the west; and the ferry wakes always set the boat rocking. Although the neighborhood is getting crowded, it is still a sweet spot with a wonderful view of Ledge Light and UCONN’s Avery Point campus.
One of Al’s favorite things is to check the Ledge Light weather station on UCONN’s Department of Marine Sciences’ “My Sound” website. He can monitor the weather statistics (wind speed & direction, air temperature, humidity, dew point, and barometric pressure.)
He particularly loves to use the LedgeCAM, a webcam mounted on a UCONN building. When you have control of the camera, you can turn it and scan the area. Al controls it so that he has a view of our boat. He did it all the time when the sailboat was out there, especially during storms. One time I telephoned my mother and father in Pennsylvania and gave them step-by-step directions on how to use it. While on the phone I was able to wave to them. That was before the days of FaceTime and our iPhones.
The weather looked good so we decided to head to Napatree Point in Rhode Island, a favorite spot of ours. We often use the words Napatree and Watch Hill interchangeably. Watch Hill is the village in Westerly, Rhode Island. Napatree is a long 1.5 mile sandy crescent that extends out from the business district and harbor of Watch Hill and forms an anchorage area on its north side. Up until the Hurricane of 1938, Napatree was sickle-shaped and included a long northern extension called Sandy Point. The Sandy Point strip is now separated from Napatree. If you are ever interested in reading more about the 1938 hurricane, we recommend reading The Sudden Sea, Great Hurricane of 1938 by R.A. Scotti.
With the sailboat (and again with the trawler) we must take the route that brings us around the northwestern tip of Sandy Point. This marks the beginning of a shallow channel entrance to the Napatree anchorage and Watch Hill’s harbor. It is the only route that deeper draft boats can take to get there. “Deeper” is relative – the channel can be as low as 5 ft at low tide and must be navigated with caution.
One of the things we enjoy about Napatree is the front row seats for the Watch Hill sailing races, races for the little ones in dinghies, small sailboats and larger ones.
Napatree is a favorite spot for lots of reasons – it is within 2 hours of our homeport and offers beaches, kayaking, exploring, and a town.
A favorite Watch Hill sight is Aphrodite, a 74-foot 1937 Long Island commuter yacht built for financier Jock Whitney to take him back and forth from his home in Manhasset to Wall Street. In her prime, celebrities were her guests – Fred Astaire, Shirley Temple, Lawrence Olivier, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy . Whitney gave Aphrodite to the Coast Guard the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked. She served as a PT boat test vessel, a torpedo screen for the British liner Queen Mary and an escort for President Roosevelt’s Hudson River trains. The FBI once caught a purported spy on the boat. Her full history is nicely told on the blog, Messing About in Boats. After passing through many hands and years of neglect, she was restored from 2003-2005 and now summers in Watch Hill.
Walking about the village of Watch Hill is always a feast for the eyes. The homes are spectacular. We have noticed that there seems to be more “money” around than in days past. The Ocean House and Taylor Swift have had an impact.
We prefer a quiet drink at the Olympia Tea Room.
Our last evening was spent watching the sunset from the bow, followed by a game of cards.
Now that we have a boat with a shallower draft (4 feet vs 5 feet, and, yes, a foot can make a big difference!) we decided to try “the cut” instead of going back around Sandy Point. “The Cut” is a relatively new passage developing over time as storms and currents change the depth of the bottom, cutting a narrow but slightly deeper path in the shallow waters. We left Napatree close to high tide to ensure that we would have enough water beneath our keel. We still held our breath as we saw 3.9 feet on the depth finder at one moment. Taking this route shortened the trip home by about 30 minutes.
We enjoyed our first R&R trip in this boat. I really did rest and relax, but Al continued with his own style of R&R –” rip and restore.” I am saving his adventures for a separate blog post. 🙂