September – Beginnings and Endings

I love September. Maybe because it is my birthday month; maybe because it still brings me a sense of beginnings, as in the beginning of a fresh new school year. (Although 15 months have passed since I retired, my inner calendar is still based on the school year.) And, maybe it is because September can have the best weather of the whole year (except for hurricanes, but we won’t go there.)

A lovely bouquet from my Captain greeted me on my birthday morning.

A lovely bouquet from my Captain greeted me on my birthday morning.

Newport Boat Show – We spent September 12th, my birthday, at the Newport Boat Show. On the drive to Newport, we fondly remembered last September 12th (2013) when we left our homeport to begin our Bahamas adventure. We will not be going south for this winter. The new Kindred Spirit is still too new to us, and we would like to be more familiar with her systems and possible eccentricities before undertaking such a voyage, especially since we are newbie trawlerites (would that be the right word now? We still think of ourselves as sailors.)  Al also has a two-page “Winter Project List” that will turn this boat into one of his unique and special Kindred Spirits. Therefore, I have gone back to work– yes, that four-letter word. I need something to keep me occupied throughout the winter and a little extra money never hurts. I am a part-time elementary math tutor in my former school district, just three days each week. I think it is a perfect full-circle, and I get to work with little people!

Newport is a favorite place for us, both as a harbor and as a get-away on land in the winter. It was a spectacular day for a boat show. We toured new trawlers to get project ideas for Kindred Spirit; but, truthfully, we didn’t see many new ideas. We have a pretty good idea of what she needs and what we want. We still don’t understand why boat designers and manufacturers seem to miss what appears to be obvious to us.

This is one of my favorite views of the Newport Boat Show - flags decorating masts and flying in the breeze.

This is one of my favorite views of the Newport Boat Show – flags decorating masts and flying in the breeze.

A  little fish tank right not he dock by the boats. Some manufacturers go all the way with their displays!

A little fish tank right on the dock by the boats. Some manufacturers go all the way with their displays!

A rum cake vendor  in the tent. We tasted this rum cake and honestly, my Bahama Rum Cake recipe (from Great Guana Cay) is much better!

A rum cake vendor in the tent. We tasted this rum cake and honestly, my Bahama Rum Cake recipe (from Great Guana Cay) is much better!

SYC Membership Booth – Shennecossett Yacht Club has a booth at the boat show. We “worked” it for two hours and enjoyed Karen’s company very much. She does an amazing job putting this all together.

SYC Membership Booth – Shennecossett Yacht Club has a booth at the boat show. We “worked” it for two hours and enjoyed Karen’s company very much. She does an amazing job putting this all together.

Birthday dinner at the Mooring Restaurant.

Birthday dinner at the Mooring Restaurant.

Our only purchase at the show was sunglasses (2 for $30, and they are decent. Really!) Al can take a selfie with his long arms much better than I can!

Our only purchase at the show was sunglasses (2 for $30, and they are decent. Really!) Al can take a selfie with his long arms much better than I can!

All the Boat show goodies and give-aways. Even if you don’t need them, they are fun to collect.

All the Boat show goodies and give-aways. Even if you don’t need them, they are fun to collect.

One last weekend — We needed and wanted one last weekend away on the boat before the season ended. There was a nice weekend weather window for a quick trip to Watch Hill again.

A beautiful September morning in Fishers Island Sound

A beautiful September morning in Fishers Island Sound

As we have done many times before, we passed by Latimer Reef Lighthouse. I did a little research to find out more about this tiny lighthouse. Built in 1884, north of the eastern end of Fishers Island, Latimer Reef Light is an example of a “sparkplug lighthouse,” a prefabricated cast iron structure built at offshore locations and brought to the location by barge. The whole structure rests on a solid foundation, usually concrete or stone. Latimer Reef was named after James Latemore who, during the Revolutionary War, attempted to spy on the British fleet tom a small skiff at anchor in Fisher’s Island Sound. A lookout on one of the British vessels spotted Latemore in his small craft, gave the alarm, and chased after him. Latemore ran aground on the reef now named for him, and was captured by the Biritish. He was hanged at sunrise and given a watery burial in the Sound.

Latimer Reef

Latimer Reef Lighthouse

We didn’t do anything special or unique this weekend, just enjoyed the crisp sunny day with a walk on the beach out to Napatree Point.

Walking to Napatree Point

Walking to Napatree Point

Out at the point - ~a very frayed hunk of netting or lines that we remember first seeing over a year ago in this same spot.  ~Someone’s stone designs on a large rock canvas.  ~A  piling that still stands after the Great Hurricane of 1938 took everything else.

Out at the point –
~A very frayed hunk of netting that we remember first seeing over a year ago in this same spot.
~Someone’s stone designs on a large rock canvas.
~A piling that still stands after the Great Hurricane of 1938 took everything else.

Here was something new – The US Fish and Wildlife Service is tracking migratory birds with light-weight radio transmitters here at Napatree.

Description of the bird tracking station

Description of the bird tracking station

The tracking antennae

The tracking station with six directional antennas to collect offshore data from migratory birds tagged with light-weight radio transmitters.

September is also Ovarian Cancer Awareness month, which certainly has special meaning for me.

My Teak Toes for September

My Teak Toes for September

“Teal Toes” is a small, but unique way, of communicating the need for more awareness about ovarian cancer. In October, pink is everywhere to publicize breast cancer awareness. Such awareness efforts over many years have increased public knowledge, the survivor rates, and promoted advances in research and treatment for breast cancer. Ovarian cancer is less common, but far more deadly, and just doesn’t receive the same attention. The color teal represents an important aspect of ovarian cancer – Take Early Action and Live. From the Teal Toes website:

  • Too many women with ovarian cancer do not get diagnosed until their cancer has spread. Their survival rate is only 45% within the first 5 years.
  • The survival rate improves greatly – to 93 percent – if the cancer is diagnosed at an early stage before it has spread. Only 10-15 percent of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed at this local stage.
  • Approximately 75 percent of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage after the cancer has spread beyond the ovary.

This summer I became a volunteer in the national program, Survivors Teaching Students: Saving Women’s Lives. “The goal of Survivors Teaching Students is for future physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and physician assistants to be able to diagnose the disease when it is in its earlier, most treatable stages. This program brings ovarian cancer survivors into the classroom, where they present their unique stories along with facts about the disease. Students are able to interact with and learn from actual patients.”

Every 6 weeks survivors meet with 3rd year medical students at UCONN Medical School to

http://www.ovariancancer.org

share our personal stories and help the students understand more about the disease and how it impacts our lives. I have found this to be a very rewarding experience, something positive that I can do to improve the survival statistics for ovarian cancer. Women and medical professionals need to be more aware and more knowledgeable about the symptoms of ovarian cancer. Although this cancer is known as “the silent killer”, it is not silent. There is no screening test for ovarian cancer and the symptoms can be vague and misdiagnosed, but there is often a “whisper” – we must learn to listen to these whispers.

OK. I will step down from my soapbox. Back to our last Watch Hill weekend.

Watch Hill Yacht Club is still having sailing races. The spinnaker runs are always so colorful.

Watch Hill Yacht Club is still having sailing races. The spinnaker runs are always so colorful.

The Watch Hill Carousel. Someday I am bringing the grandchildren here!

The Watch Hill Carousel. Someday I am bringing the grandchildren here!

Made in 1876, the Watch Hill “Flying Horses” Carousel is the only surviving flying horse carousel in the country. The twenty horses are not attached to the floor but instead are suspended on chains from a center frame. When the carousel rotates, the horses swing out from the center or “fly”. Each horse is hand carved from of wood and is embellished with real tails and manes, leather saddles and agate eyes. Watch Hill became the carousel’s permanent home in 1883 or 1884. It was extensively damaged by the New England Hurricane of 1938, which devastated Watch Hill. The horses were recovered from the sand dunes and the carousel was restored to operation.

I have had the little white GurglePot for years and could not resist adding the larger blue one as a companion. I love the sound that water makes when it is poured from these pitchers.

I have had the little white GurglePot for years and could not resist adding the larger blue one as a companion. I love the sound that water makes when it is poured from these pitchers.

Even during a relaxing weekend, Al will find some boat task that needs to be done; and enjoy doing it!

Oil changing time– Al’s nifty oil changing bucket. On the sailboat, he used a “pump boy” to change the oil. This Cummins 220 holds a lot more oil than the Yanmar 44 so the pump boy is too small for the job. Instead of buying an expensive oil changing device, Al made one out of 5 gallon bucket. Works just as well!

Oil changing time– Al’s nifty oil changing bucket. On the sailboat, he used a “pump boy” to change the oil. This Cummins 220 holds a lot more oil than the Yanmar 44 so the pump boy is too small for the job. Instead of buying an expensive oil changing device, Al made one out of 5 gallon bucket. Works just as well!

Boats are still bobbing on their moorings in the Watch Hill Harbor.

Boats are still bobbing on their moorings in the Watch Hill Harbor.

We decided on a bright and early start Sunday morning so that we could use some of the favorable current (we still think like sailors, remember?) We were towing the dinghy this trip, something we don’t usually do. We both share the “blame” for what happened next. The towline to the dinghy caught on the propeller and shaft when the boat was put in reverse. And may I just say that an engine makes an awful sound when something bad happens? Who could imagine how quickly a big engine can suck that line under? Remember we are still sailors — a bigger engine and larger propeller will take some getting used to.

Al preparing to go under and cut the line off the propeller.

Al preparing to go into the water and cut the line off the propeller.

He was able to do that in about 30 minutes, but the line was so tightly wrapped around the shaft that he could not stay under long enough to remove it all. Time to call Boat US, the “AAA” of the waterway.  Not something we wanted to do, but that’s why we pay for this service, right? Just in case…….

TowBoat US to the rescue!

TowBoat US to the rescue!

Captain Alex and Captain AL consult

Captain Alex and Captain AL consult

Alex in his wetsuit and with plenty of air hose for the job.

Alex in his wetsuit and with plenty of air hose for the job.

End of story? We were able to get back to our home mooring but could only run at 1100 rpms, about 5.5 knots. As slow as a sailboat, which did not bother us. (Remember, we are still sailors at heart. ) The engine made nasty noises whenever she was pushed above that speed. Al investigated and then researched online. He hypothesizes that we now have a transmission issue, which cannot be addressed until the boat is hauled out for the winter and on land. Which is scheduled within the next week. The season is ending………

Block in September

Ahhhh, September.   September is a beautiful month, especially for boating. But only other educators will understand what a little thrill it was to vacation in September. We took our new trawler on a little vacation, beginning Labor Day weekend at Stonington. After two days in Stonington, we left on Labor Day and headed to Block Island, arriving just as everyone else was leaving. 😉

Block Island, the island on the right side of the picture

Block Island, the island on the right side of the picture

These are photos of the channel entrance to Salt Pond during the “rush hour” at the end of the holiday weekend. One of those times when you are very glad you are going in the opposite direction of everyone else.

Labor Day Rush Hour - a little foggy as we entered the channel and then the sky brightened as we looked back after entering Salt pond.

Labor Day Rush Hour – a little hazy as we entered the channel and then the sky brightened as we looked back after entering Salt Pond. A steady stream of boats, leaving.

Block Island is a favorite place for boaters here in New England. We usually stop there 2-3 times each summer for a few days. This summer’s boating season began late for us so a week at Block would be our only significant trip.

An aerial view of block Island, looking south. Salt Pond, or New Harbor, as it is also called, is the body of water near the center.

An aerial view of block Island, looking south. Salt Pond, or New Harbor, as it is also called, is the body of water near the center. The shape of the island is seen on everything – clothing, jewelry, stickers, you name it.

We began the week with three days on the Shennecossett Yacht Club mooring, joining Sonic Sea Dog (Rich and Nancy) and Jallao (Dean and Mary Jo).

On the Shennecossett mooring ball. We are in the center.

On the Shennecossett mooring ball. We are in the center.

Gale Warning (LeeAnn and Greg) was also at Block so the six of us had a chance to spend some time together.

~Dinner on the aft deck of Kindred Spirit  ~ a beautiful day at the beach - Dean, MJ, Greg, LeeAnn, Al and Michele

~Dinner on the aft deck of Kindred Spirit
~ a beautiful day at the beach – Dean, MJ, Greg, LeeAnn, Al and Michele

 This was an extraordinary week in September, summer weather, but no summer crowds. There were just enough people to give a vibrant feel to the island without the suffocation of a typical summer week.

Scotch Beach - one of the best in New England

The swimming in the ocean waters off of Scotch Beach was nearly perfect, the best swimming since our time in the Bahamas — crystal clear, blue-green, and just a bit cooler.

A very creative man built this sand sculpture. His description of it? Neptune is protecting his beer from the shark!

A very creative man built this sand sculpture. His description of it? “Neptune is protecting his beer from the shark!”

A little girl working on her sand fort.

A little girl working on her sand fort.

Al has been waiting for the year that he turns 65. Why, you may ask?? A season’s clamming license at Block was only $1 for folks 65 and older – something to anticipate, right? The fee for the license was raised to $10 before Al reached 65. But this is his year, and Al wanted to clam. The $10 was worth it in fun and good eats!

Getting his license at the Harbor Master's shack. Yes, Al's license is "golden."

Getting his license at the Harbor Master’s shack. Yes, Al’s license is “golden.”

Al's first clam! A memorable moment.

Al’s first clam! A memorable moment.

Al and Dean clammed three times during the week. Reminded me of the hunting and gathering days in the Bahamas when Al and Dan went lobstering.

Al and Dean clammed three times during the week. Reminded me of the hunting and gathering days in the Bahamas when Al and Dan went lobstering with their spears.

The clamming limit for each day is 4 quarts so he used a gallon jug to keep track of his catch. When they finished, the clams are hung off the boat in a net until ready to be shucked.

The clamming limit for each day is 4 quarts so he used a gallon jug to keep track of his catch. When they finished, the clams are hung off the boat in a net until ready to be shucked.

Dean is the expert shucker and chef when it comes to seafood. Lucky us -- Three dinners! Stuffed clams, Pasta Al-Deano, and clam chowder.

Dean is the expert shucker and chef when it comes to seafood. Lucky us — three delicious dinners! Stuffed clams, Pasta Al-Deano, and clam chowder.

 In the old days, we would rent bikes and spend one day biking around the island to Mohegan Bluffs on the southeast side and into town. With all the space we have on this trawler, we are able to bring our own bikes along with us.

Another use for the flybridge - perfect place to carry the bikes.

Another use for the flybridge – perfect place to carry the bikes. Look how nicely they fit on the flybridge while underway.

Getting the bikes to shore in the dinghy

Getting the bikes to shore in the dinghy is a tight squeeze, but it can be done.

Bikes are locked to the fence behind The Oar so that we can use them whenever we want.

Bikes are locked to the fence behind The Oar so that we can use them whenever we want, even just a quick ride to town to shop or to the grocery store.

Dean, MJ, Al and I decided to bike out Cornfield Road to the North Light. The overcast sky eventually gave way to sunshine, but it was still humid.

Stone walls and stone towers around the Block.

Stone walls and stone towers all around the Block.

Almost to the North Light, we pass Sachem Pond. So peaceful.

Almost to the North Light, we pass Sachem Pond. So peaceful.

Looking out to Block Island Sound, we could see sails.

Looking out to Block Island Sound, we could see sails.

Block Island North Light, now a museum. After the 5 mile bike ride, we walked another half mile to it.

Block Island North Light, now a museum. After the 5 mile bike ride, we walked another half mile to it.

More up hill biking on the way back, so we stop for a rest.

There was more up-hill biking on the way back, so we stop for a rest.

We were not and tired so our biking adventure ended with ice cream followed by Coronas at The Oar. ;-)

We were hot and tired after the 5-mile trip back so our biking adventure ended with ice cream followed by Coronas at The Oar. 😉  Does that count as lunch??

It was quite a week! We walked, clammed, kayaked, biked, swam, and also visited Old Harbor, the shopping part of Block Island (“town”).

A little park along the Old Harbor. The quote on the bench says:

A little park along the Old Harbor.

The quote on the bench captures the moment (in memory of Esta and Jack Gray):

“Fine to see the boats go by, ships in harbor, birds on high.
Rippling waves, sparkling seas, rocks where seagulls sit at ease.
Sunny breakers, cooling breezes, sky blue waters, 
sheltered lees.
With all these joys the world is blessed, so do sit here and take a rest.”

The Farmers Market

The Farmers Market at the Manisses parking lot.

A few of the stores in town

A few of the stores in town – cute gift shops, “Juice n Java” the “alternative” coffee house, and “Red Right Return”, an antiques and second hand shop. 

We ate dinner at Dead Eye Dicks, a short walk from the dinghy dock at New Harbor (Salt Pond), and had delicious lobster rolls and lobster salad. It is a special treat for me to eat there because one of my former students is a waitress there in the summers.

Dead Eye Dicks 19 years after 7th grade math class, teacher and student.

At Dead Eye Dicks with my favorite server.
19 years after 7th grade math class –  teacher and student, Michele and Ashley.

Another sunset at Block Island - see the flag silhouette in the sun?

Another sunset at Block Island – see the flag silhouetted in the sun?

Al and Dean sound the conch horn at sunset. Yes, this is becoming quite a tradition.

Al and Dean sound the conch horn at sunset. Yes, this is becoming quite a tradition.

Our 7 days came to an end, sadly, and it was time to return home. I think this was one of our best times at Block. Block shines in September!

Leaving Block Island - no rush hour this time! The channel by the Coast Guard Station is open and clear.

Leaving Block Island – no rush hour this time! The channel by the Coast Guard Station is open and clear.

Good By Jallao! Thanks for sharing good times with us again.

Good-bye Jallao! Thanks for sharing good times with us again.

Blue skies and calm seas

Blue skies and calm seas

My vase of hydrangeas stayed fresh and pretty for the entire week.

My vase of hydrangeas stayed fresh and pretty for the entire week.

Tale of a Bow Thruster and a Reunion in Stonington

Messing about in boats includes trouble-shooting and repairs, as well as the creative side of renovations. “BOAT” is sometimes referred to as Break Out Another Thousand. A “new” (new to the owner, not necessarily newly made) boat usually results in unanticipated issues that suddenly appear, and must be addressed. So far we have been fortunate with the new Kindred Spirit. We are renovating and adding things because we believe we need them for seaworthiness, safety, comfort and convenience. The things that need repairs and fixing have been minor and due more to dis-use than over-use or age.

The propeller of the bow thruster at survey time.

The propeller of the bow thruster at survey time.

The surveyor pointed out that the propeller on the bow thruster would need replacing soon. Duly noted. What is a bow thruster? A bow thruster adds easy control of the bow (front of the boat) at slow speeds to counter the effects of wind, current and prop walk. It makes it easier for the person at the helm to maneuver a boat into tight dock spaces or moorings. The propeller of the bow thruster is driven by an electric or hydraulic motor that gives a gentle push (thrust), enabling the bow of a boat to move sideways, to either port or starboard.

Most sailboats do not have a bow thruster, although larger, newer ones are coming equipped with them more and more. Single engine boats, sail or power, are sometimes difficult to maneuver in close quarters, especially in reverse because the engine’s propeller often walks to port or starboard then (that’s what is called “prop walk”.) Some people consider use of a bow thruster to be “cheating.” 😉 Al is masterful at controlling, maneuvering, and docking any boat and has never had a bow thruster. But, if the boat has one, why wouldn’t you use it?? We are not ashamed to take advantage of it when needed.

When we returned to our mooring from a weekend at Napatree, a line caught in the bow thruster’s propeller and jammed it. Uh oh. Al jumped into the water to take a look below the surface to see what damage there might be.

Al is not fond of swimming in cooler New England water, but when it comes to messing about with his boat, he did not hesitate.

Al is not fond of swimming in cooler New England water, but when it comes to messing about with his boat, he did not hesitate.

He removed the propeller, a little 3-blade plastic thing, and saw that everything was ok. Next step was to investigate the motor that controlled the thruster. This is a boat so that required lifting the mattress up off the berth and removing the support boards. Nothing is ever simple on a boat.

Lifting up the mattress on the berth and crawling into the space below to take apart the motor.

Lifting up the mattress on the berth and crawling into the space below to take apart the motor.

Diagnosis? After taking the propeller apart and dismantling the motor, Al determined the problem — the key on the drive shaft coupling on the motor had slid up and was no longer engaging. So the problem was not the propeller.  Since the propeller was already out and needed replacing, per the surveyor, Al figured he might as well install a new one at the same time now.

Fast forward four days to Stonington, our next little trip. We scooted over to Stonington to meet with Cutting Class and Magnolia, our Morgan sistership, who was on her way home to Annapolis from their northern journey to Maine. Stonington is a great little town but we don’t often stop there since we are usually on our way to Napatree. We anchored beyond the moorings near Cutting Class and Magnolia.

Cutting Class anchored on the left and Magnolia on the right.

Cutting Class anchored on the left and Magnolia on the right.

Stonington combines active fishing boats with a very active marina, Dodsons Boatyard, filled with sailboats and powerboats. The town is quaint and picturesque; so much so that the film, Hope Springs, starring Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, was filmed there in 2012.

Views of Stonington from our dinghy as we rode into town.

Views of Stonington from our dinghy as we rode into town.

~An aerial view of the Stonington harbor ~ The DogWatch Cafe, a great restaurant at Dodsons Boatyard. ~ Stonington Harbor Light, built in 1840, now a museum.

~An aerial view of the Stonington harbor
~ The DogWatch Cafe, a great restaurant at Dodsons Boatyard.
~ Stonington Harbor Light, built in 1840, now a museum.

Dan and Anthony’s eyes lit up when Al asked if they could help him install a new bow thruster propeller. The “boys” had a job to do. The kind of job that nautical types love – fixing a boat problem. It was like a playgroup for grown-up men.

Anthony manned the dinghy and managed the tools, including the new propeller (notice that this one is a 6-blade.)

Anthony manned the dinghy and managed the tools, including the new propeller (notice that this one is a 6-blade.) Dan and Al donned snorkel gear and worked in the water.

Time out. Things weren't going well they got out of the water to strategize.

Time out. Things weren’t going well so they got out of the water to strategize.

Al and Dan were in the water, and under the water. Yes, Al is holding Dan under so that he does not float upwards too soon. They took turns.

Al and Dan were in the water, and under the water. Yes, Al is holding Dan under so that he does not float upwards too soon. They took turns.

The job is done! And successfully.

The job is done! And successfully – no parts were dropped into the water.

All three couples had a celebration reunion on Kindred Spirit.  Anthony brought a bottle of champagne to toast the new Kindred Spirit. Champagne named "Michelle."

All three couples had a celebration reunion on Kindred Spirit. Anthony and Annette brought a bottle of champagne to toast the new Kindred Spirit. Champagne named “Michelle.” 🙂

The next day, Al decided to work on reinforcing the transom. Anthony was eager to help (boys will be boys…. or is that captains will be captains?)  So once again, out came the tools and the messing about playgroup began —

Al and Anthony work on reinforcing the transom.

Al and Anthony work on reinforcing the transom.

The next night we had dinner with Anthony and Annette at the Dog Watch Cafe, followed by ice cream. Of course.

That night we had dinner with Anthony and Annette at the Dog Watch Cafe, followed by ice cream. Of course. We wish them well on their travels south!