Friday, August 10, 2018

Back in New England

We are under way in Gardiners Bay, just south of Plum Island, bound for Block Island Sound, en route to Martha's Vineyard (I ran out of time to finish this post yesterday). We're now so busy during port calls that I need a day under way to catch up on the blog. We've made three of those since my last post, on our way into New Haven.


Vector anchored in Rye, NY, as seen from the Tiki Bar. This photo missed the last post.

We had a nice stop in New Haven, where we dropped the hook in the harbor just north of the town dock, home to the replica Amistad schooner, and across the channel from the busy commercial port (map). The city has three mooring balls here for pleasure craft, but they are in water too shallow for us and are also very expensive.


Vector, as seen beyond the harbor patrol and the Amistad, at right.

Shortly after getting settled in we dropped the tender and headed ashore to meet our friend Eric. There is a floating dinghy dock at the town dock and a small parking lot for the Long Wharf Park where he picked us up. We had a nice time catching up over pizza and beer at Modern Apizza. Afterwards we drove a bit through downtown and the Yale campus before returning to the park and our dinghy.


Vector against a backdrop of the commercial port. That's one of the spendy mooring balls that nobody uses.

Wednesday we weighed anchor in light fog and steamed back out of the harbor into Long Island Sound. The weather forecast was calling for winds building out of the south throughout the day, with things on the north side of the sound becoming untenable by nightfall and throughout the next couple of days. We needed to get across the sound before dropping the hook again.


New Haven receding astern in a lifting fog. 5 Mile Point Lighthouse is at right.

We had the tide against us the whole day as we headed toward the north fork of Long Island, and for a while it looked like we'd have to drop the hook near Orient Point rather than make our intended destination of Sag Harbor. But things improved toward the end of our easting, and then we shot through Plum Gut at lightning speed with three knots behind us.

Seas had gotten calmer and calmer as we got closer to the north shore of the island, but as soon as we turned into Gardiners Bay we again faced several miles of fetch, and the seas in the bay were three feet and confused. We realized a stop at Orient would put us in even worse seas in the morning, and so we opted to press on to Sag Harbor for a late arrival.

With the current now behind us we made up time, and by 5:30 we had the hook down in the Sag Harbor anchorage (map). The wind was so bad by this time that we came in as close to the breakwater as depth would allow, ahead of all the mooring balls, and squeezed in on a fairly short scope. We splashed the tender and headed ashore for dinner at the Corner Bar. We also had a nice stroll around town.


Sunset over Long Island Sound as seen from our friends' house in Southold.

Sag Harbor is a tourist trap, but a tony one, and the harbor and marinas are chock full of expensive luxury yachts. We recognized more than one megayacht from our travels in the Bahamas and Fort Lauderdale. Dockage here is outrageous and mooring balls are also expensive, but the dinghy dock is free.

Thursday we met up with our friends Cora and Dave, who split their time between here and San Francisco. We had a very nice dinner with them at the Dockside Bar and Grill (not to be confused with the Dockhouse, which is a take-out place near the pier). This restaurant is housed in the American Legion building, which retains for itself one small room.

As we were crossing Long Island Sound on our way to Sag Harbor, I spent a considerable amount of time on the Internet researching replacement tenders. The expensive goop we put in the leaking tube in Manhattan did nothing to stem the leak, which, if anything, has gotten worse. After struggling with it in New Haven, we concluded that it's probably time to just get a new dinghy.


Vector docked at Mitchell Park Marina in Greenport.

Having destroyed one propeller and propeller shaft on unseen underwater debris, and a second propeller on a loose trim tab, and being generally tired of worrying about prop strikes and beaching issues in general, I've been eyeing jet tenders for a replacement. And while I did not know this before Wednesday, it turns out that Williams Jet Tenders has a showroom in Sag Harbor, which says something about the number of expensive yachts here. (Their only other showroom is in Fort Lauderdale.)

So Friday we made an appointment with the Williams salesman to look at the model of interest. He had one new one in the showroom and a slightly used one at a marina. It was walking distance from the dinghy dock and we spent about 45 minutes in the showroom, sitting in the new one and looking at it from every angle.

We talked it over at dinner and came to the conclusion that this is not the right boat for us. The engine and jet drive just take up too much room, leaving barely enough for passengers or cargo, and none at all for life jackets, boarding ladders, and safety gear. The next size up would be fine, but it's too heavy for our crane and would make things very cramped on the boat deck with the scooters. Also, I can buy a lot of propellers for the premium the jet commands, and outboards are easier to service almost anyplace.


Sunset over the sound from last night's anchorage at Fishers Island.

Saturday was a dreary day. The winds had pretty much abated, but a rain system had moved in, and we figured to just spend the day aboard getting some things done. The rain did not, however, stop the enormous paddleboard race through the harbor, which turned out to be a high-dollar charity event. We enjoyed watching from the dry comfort of our saloon, and we got to listen to the music at the $50,000-a-table party, under a tent on the beach, that started at 7pm. We had a nice dinner ashore at the American Hotel.

Sunday we weighed anchor for the two hour cruise to Greenport, where we had reservations at the Mitchell Park Marina (map). We arrived right at check-in time of 11am, but the previous tenant in our slip was late getting out and we had to hover outside. We were tied up by 11:30 and immediately started loading fresh water and doing laundry. Other than three touch-and-go stops (fuel in Palm Beach, dinner in Atlantic City, and pumping out at 79th Street), this is the first dock we've seen since leaving Nassau in June.

We were expecting to meet our friends in the evening, which is why we chose to arrive Sunday, but they got a late start out of Rockville Center and would not arrive until close to midnight. Instead we enjoyed a nice dinner in town at the Agave Grill just across the street from the carousel. We've been to Greenport many times but this was our first in the evening.


The view from Vector at Mitchell Park. Megayachts MitSeaAh, Adix, and Kefi ahead.

The north fork is doing what it can to emulate its counterpart to the south, and Mitchell Park hosts some very large yachts. At least four were tied up when we arrived, including the 213', three-masted schooner Adix. Sunday morning the marina was very busy, with day visitors arriving in droves. Greenport is a popular day stop, and the village charges a buck a foot from 11am to 10pm.

Starting Monday morning and right up through Wednesday afternoon we were completely occupied with our now-adult nieces, one of whom was celebrating her birthday, our good friends their parents, and the birthday girl's boyfriend, along with a varying entourage of their Long Island relatives throughout the visit. We enjoyed sunsets over the Sound, wine tasting at the ever-growing collection of local wineries, and way too much food.


Wine tasting on the north fork. Yes, I'm squatting.

We dropped the scooters first thing Monday morning, for the first time since leaving the Turks & Caicos. It took me an extra half hour to air up tires, top up oil, charge batteries, and get them started, but for the most part they were ready to go. Sadly, the mirror stalks on my brand new scoot are now pock-marked with rust.

We finally had a quiet dinner alone again Wednesday night at Andy's. Wednesday is prime rib night, but after too much good food over three days, including homemade birthday carrot cake, we could not do it justice and all I had was a salad. Yesterday morning we spent the time leading up to checkout decking the scooters, topping up the water tank, fueling the tender, and offloading trash.

This final item proved to be something of a disaster. The dumpster was nearly empty and I asked the marina if I could put the old water heater, still taking up space in the engine room, in it. They agreed, and while in a perfect world I'd rather see the metal recycled (it's mostly valuable aluminum), keeping it aboard until we find a place to do that is problematic. With a little time left before checkout, I decided to extract it through the hatch and take it to the dumpster on our folding hand truck.


This chintzy lighthouse was for sale in a Southport gift shop. The coordinates are in Key West.

Flipping it upside down and heaving it up onto some boxes in the engine room so I could reach down to grab it from the aft deck, I managed to pull a muscle in my back rather seriously. There was no way I could finish the job, nor could I get it back down to floor level, so Louise tied it to the ladder to be dealt with another day. I used our last half hour in port to rest in my chair with an ice pack after taking 800mg of ibuprofen.

There was a brief moment where I was concerned I would not even be able to drive the boat, and I'd have to beg the marina to let us stay another night without moving (the slip was already booked to another boat). But by 11am the spasms had subsided enough to drop lines. Fortunately we had already loaded the scooters and competed the departure checklist before I injured myself.

Things were a bit chaotic in Gardiners Bay; even on a Thursday the weekend warriors were out in full force, and the channel between Greenport and Shelter Island gets very busy indeed. But after crossing past Plum Gut and south of Plum Island things calmed down a bit and I was able to start this post. Plum Island is in Southold, the very same town where we'd been visiting friends, but is owned by the federal government and is home only to the Plum Island Animal Disease Center.


"Dance Monday" at Mitchell Park. We heard this band quite clearly in our saloon.

Crossing Plum Gut we were tossed around a bit by the current that races through there from Long Island Sound to Gardiners Bay. After passing Plum Island we were tossed around even more, by the much greater current that races between there and the Gull Islands. Great Gull Island appears to be home to a number of kestrel nesting boxes on posts.

Neither of those racing currents can hold a candle to the one actually called "The Race," between Little Gull Island and the western tip of Fishers Island. The bulk of the tide for all Long Island Sound races back and forth in between these two points, with the central area of The Race scoured to a depth of 300', whereas depths on either end of the scour run in the hundred-foot range. The cross current here nearly spun Vector all the way around, and with no way for Otto to keep up, I had to hand steer across the worst sections.

We cruised along past the south shore of the exclusive Fishers Island and crossed one more high-current channel between Fishers and the southwestern tip of Rhode Island, then turned into the bight just south of Watch Hill, in Westerly, Rhode Island, to drop the hook. It would have been a great spot, just south of the beach and in sight of the high-zoot resorts, but there was no place in the bight to escape the swell rolling in off the ocean.


Simmons Castle at the eastern tip of Fishers Island. Built by the mattress-company baron.

With no good stops further east, we backtracked three miles to the eastern tip of Fishers Island, dropping the hook in a small embayment just off the northern shore, in sight of one of the very exclusive golf courses (map). We had a pleasant and quiet evening, having dinner on deck consisting of the copious leftovers we brought from Southold.

I say "from Southold," but in fact, Fishers Island itself is also in the town of Southold, even though we were a full 30 miles from our friends' house in town. This notwithstanding the fact that the only way to get to Fishers Island is from Connecticut, on a ferry that leaves from New London.


Watch Hill Light in the morning sun.

This morning we woke to a bit of a roll, and so we weighed anchor after our first cup of coffee and headed east, passing the very spot we had to forsake last night just a half hour later. We were apparently anchored in heavy sea grass, as the anchor came up wearing a hula skirt. As I am wrapping up typing we are just a half hour from our turn at Gay Head at the western tip of Marthas Vineyard. We have no plans to stop on the island, having visited on our last pass, but rather we will drop the hook for the night in Menemsha Bight.


The Ocean House Resort near Watch Hill. Starting at $1k per night.

In the morning we'll weigh anchor for the last leg to Nantucket Island, our destination for this part of the trip. We missed Nantucket on our last pass through, and promised ourselves we'd make it up this time.

While we were docked in Greenport with a good address, we had a number of packages delivered, and in the few spare moments we had, I knocked out a couple of projects. That included replacing the aging synthetic winch cable on the davit crane, adding a bluetooth transmitter and wireless headphones to the new TV, and repairing the old Furuno chartplotter that's been sitting, inoperative, under the helm console.


Hula skirt on our anchor. We've been told this anchor won't hold in grass.

This last project has simply been waiting on a reasonably-priced keypad circuit board to pop up on eBay. I'd had to rob that board to repair our flybridge plotter back in Vicksburg; now that I have the old plotter working again it's for sale on eBay.


I had to steer around this 600' tanker which was anchored right on our route line.

Update: We are anchored in Menemsha Bight, on Marthas Vineyard, just off the town of Menemsha (map). From here we can see the harbor and the beach, which was packed when we dropped the hook. While we could easily get ashore here for dinner at the lone restaurant in the harbor, I'm still too sore to handle launching and retrieving the tender, and we still have leftovers, so we had a nice dinner on the aft deck.

In case you are wondering, yes, it does often take me all day to get a blog post done, especially with interruptions. In addition to lots of traffic early in the day, today's interruptions included discharging the waste tank outside the three-mile limit, and dealing with a plotter hiccup in which we drove off the edge of the earth.


The town of Menemsha from our flybridge. If you zoom in you can see a packed beach.

This latter issue took two hours to resolve; apparently I did not have the current chart region loaded in the plotter program, and it took most of an hour to download the 1.2 gigabyte file on a slow cellular connection offshore. I had to revert to a backup chart program, and it, too, needed some updates under way to be correct.

1 comment:

  1. Your blog is great. I read a lot of interesting things from it. Thank you very much for sharing. Hope you will update more news in the future.
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