Starting South… Again

September 23 – 28, 2018 

     We had made it to Maine, and now were coming to grips with the reality that we weren’t going to be going any further north, or east for that matter.  The implacable sound of the ticking clock was quickly being drowned out by the sound of alarm bells.  The time had arrived to get moving. 

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Warm thoughts… cold toes

     The plan was essentially to retrace our previous path.  Seguin Island, Onset, Cuttyhunk, and Block Island would all provide potential bailout points for temporary rest; but the strategy was to keep moving as quickly, efficiently and safely as possible with Annapolis and then Harrington Harbor North Marina as the destinations.  The only detour we had planned was a mandatory stop at New York City.

     We ultimately had to make the decision if we were going to get to The Big Apple via Long Island Sound and the East River, or go all the way around the outside of Long Island offshore.  Offshore added a bit of distance but afforded the simplicity of us not having to account for shifting currents nearly as carefully as going inside.  Changing tides would have a much more profound effect on currents through Long Island Sound, and especially the East River.  Three to five knot currents in places on the river would be great as long as they were in our favor.

     For now, that question could wait a bit.  Immediately, it was all about making a run for Block Island, before a final verdict was needed.

     Though we were determined to sail to Seguin Island, the unrelenting fields of lobster pots, combined with a mediocre breeze trying to remain nearly dead on our bow, eventually forced us to surrender to the necessity of supplemental engine power.

     We arrived at Seguin utterly exhausted from dodging lobster pots.  Concurring that we were not mentally prepared to continue overnight, we decided to grab a mooring ball there for the night.  In truth, that decision had probably already silently been made long before our arrival at Seguin.

     There was only one other boat there, and it left the bay just as we were approaching… awesome.  

     However, conditions today were much rougher than during our previous visit.  Waves were breaking over the submerged rocks at the tip of the of the rocky peninsula that made up the east side of the small bay, right next to our mooring, resulting in rather substantial swells entering into the bay.  We were mostly abeam of the swells, causing Exit to roll back and forth continuously.

    Dena and James had also left Robinhood Cove, and arrived at Seguin shortly after we did, proudly sailing aboard their new sailing yacht S/V Cetacea. 

     Technically, the name hadn’t been officially changed from Island Moon, so James jokingly referred to themselves as Island Buffoon on the VHF.  Nevertheless, Cetacea was technically a sailing yacht as Dena and James had purchased a small oriental carpet which sat at the bottom of the companionway steps (apparently the sole factor that distinguishes a sailing yacht from a sailboat)… pretty posh.

     We were quite keen to have one final big shindig together, as this would likely be the last time we would see our sailing soulmates for quite some time.  On the other hand, we were much less keen about going through the hassle of getting the dinghy’s outboard engine out of the locker, where it was stowed, and hoisting it into the dinghy.  The solution:  we dropped the dinghy into the water and commenced with a special forces style assault of Cetacea, rowing like hell through the waves.

     Dena secured our dinghy painter to Cetacea as we came alongside and promptly declared Kris The Queen of Understatement.   Kris had indicated to them over the VHF  that conditions in the bay were “a bit rolly” not too long before.

     Copious amounts of Kraken were consumed, and a raucous time was had by all. 

     But, alas, in due course it became time to make our way back to Exit to prepare for our departure the following morning.  Sad but enthusiastic “until next times” were exchanged and, with much effort we eventually managed to haphazardly and semi-effectively row back to Exit.

     Early the next morning, Cetacea had already sailed away by the time we untied from the mooring ball.  It would be regular texts keeping us in touch until our next meeting.

     We set a course for P-Town.  Though the rhum line we were following was straight, the track we made on our plotter looked more like a rum line.  It zigzagged erratically, like a drunken sailor.  Only, in this case, it wasn’t last night’s rum that was to blame; it was the damn lobster pots.  

     We’ll forever remember Maine for its ruggedly beautiful landscape, guarded by a never ending gauntlet of lobster pots.

     As we approached Cape Cod Bay, we decided to bypass P-Town entirely, opting instead to head straight for the Cape Cod Canal.

     Ten to seventeen knot winds allowed us to sail for twenty one of the twenty three hours it took to reach the canal entrance.  Then, to add to a perfect day of sailing, that night a stunning full moon lit the way for us.

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Full moon rising right at sundown

      We arrived at the canal entrance a couple of hours after sunrise; but an opposing current forced us to drop anchor for two hours in a bay just off the entrance while we waited for the current to shift in our favor for our trip through the canal. 

     Just before noon, we set the anchor at Onset, in almost the exact same spot we had occupied one month before.

     We still had plenty of provisions and a nearly full fuel tank, so the next day all we needed to go ashore for was a quick fill of our four water jugs to supplement the rain catch we had gotten the night before, as well as a return trip to Marc Anthony’s Pizzeria.

     When we departed Onset we headed for Block Island, the last stop in our push for New York City.  Once again, a following breeze between ten and twenty knots allowed us to sail almost the entire fifty seven miles.

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Kris trying to absorb some sunshine during the off-watch

     Just before the sun began to set, Exit entered the large bay of Block Island, known as the Great Salt Pond.  We were flabbergasted to find that, instead of the hundreds and hundreds of boats we had encountered previously, we were now one of only four boats anchored in the entire bay. 

     While we sat in the cockpit enjoying sundowner drinks, Kris pointed out that, without all the ambient noise created by thousands of people aboard hundreds of boats, we could actually hear the surf on the the opposite side of the small island.  It was a completely different experience this time.  In many ways, it seemed like a completely different place.

     Heavy rains forced us to delay our departure from Block Island for an extra day; not a problem.  We had been making good time and it looked like we would still make New York City by the end of September.

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