Saturday, July 17, 2021

Let it go, let it go

We are under way eastbound in Gardiners Bay, bound for Block Island Sound and the Point Judith Harbor of Refuge. We've just wrapped up a week of visiting with friends, punctuated by boat repositioning and project work. It feels good to be back under way and to have a few hours in front of me to get the blog updated.

When last I posted here, we had dropped the hook in Port Jefferson. We splashed the tender early on, because I had an outgoing eBay sale that I needed to get over to the post office. But by the time dinner time rolled around, we had yet another thunderstorm rolling through, and we ended up just staying aboard for dinner. The storm hit hard and we got quite a good rinse. We decked the tender first thing in the morning and had a nice, calm cruise to Truman Beach on the eastern end of the North Shore (map). Yet another storm cooled things off a bit but brought little rain.

We weighed anchor when the tide was favorable, and shot through Plum Gut with nearly two knots behind us. We found ourselves almost immediately in a fog bank; at one point I had to make crossing arrangements with a large Coast Guard cutter less than a half mile away, and we never saw it visually. Fortunately, we came out of it before arriving at our chosen destination of Sag Harbor, where we dropped the hook in a mostly empty anchorage (map), a stark contrast from our last visit, where we had to squeeze in.

The famous original neon sign on the newly restored Sag Harbor Cinema.

While the earlier  Elsa forecasts had called for arrival of winds and rain perhaps as early as Thursday afternoon, we got a bit of a reprieve and were able to go ashore for dinner. Halfway along the main drag it started drizzling lightly, and we ducked into the first place that had an available outside table under an awning, which turned out to be high-zoot bistro Lulu's. French cuisine is never my first choice, but the food was good, we stayed dry even though outdoors, and we had good people-watching, if a bit spendy for what it was. That, of course, describes most of Sag Harbor.

Friday morning Tropical Storm Elsa arrived, with winds building steadily throughout the morning. We had carefully selected a spot well away from other boats where we could put out a full 7:1 scope, and the storm clocked us around in a near-perfect circle throughout the course of the morning. We had a lull in the middle as what was left of the eye passed over us. The storm just barely registered as a Tropical Storm for us, with our anemometer recording the highest winds at 43 mph.

By late afternoon, Elsa had left the area -- we never even heard "Let it go." By dinner time the sun was shining, and we headed ashore and found a shady table at casual eatery Sag Pizza. Consistent with the nature of this town, two draft beers, a salad, a small pizza, and an ice cream came to eighty bucks. Still, we are glad to have taken shelter in a town which at least has a few services. I availed myself of two hardware stores, the beer distributor, a wine merchant, and the local post office during the course of our stay

We seldom make such a clean pattern. The zig-zag from NW to SE happened as the eye passed over us.

Saturday our friend Cora picked us up in the afternoon and drove us to their house in Springs, about 20 minutes away, and we enjoyed a nice home-cooked meal and a very pleasant evening with her and Dave. We chatted well into the evening and it was well past dark when we got back to the town dinghy dock via Lyft, and we picked our way through a dark mooring field and the seawall to get home.

Sunday we had a reservation at the Mitchell Park Marina in Greenport. In hindsight, it was a bad idea to plan to arrive at this very busy marina on a weekend day; when we approached after a very brief cruise from Sag, several boats were already hovering off the marina waiting for day-use dockage. The marina staff seemed overwhelmed, and the narrow canal where our assigned slip was located already had boats lining both sides, with at least one boat managing to get itself sideways in the middle somehow.

To make matters worse, it was blowing stink, the current was running a full knot, and we needed to go to the pumpout dock before our slip. There was already a boat at the pumpout, so I circled around outside the breakwater waiting my turn, carefully avoiding the steady stream of ferries running back and forth to Shelter Island. When the boat at the pumpout pulled out, another boat zipped in front of us and got to it first. The marina was too busy with the constant influx of day use boats to pay any attention to the pumpout dock at all.

Sag Harbor town clock, with a large selection of beer behind it.

After twenty minutes of circling around in the chaos of poorly-skippered waiting boats and long-suffering ferries, we conceded defeat and gave up. We postponed our marina visit by a day and went instead to a small cove just west called Pipes Cove and dropped anchor (map). It was a bit uncomfortable with weekend boat wakes through the afternoon, but after a pleasant dinner aboard it calmed down considerably and we had a quiet night.

That was good, because at 7am we were awakened by voices outside our portlights asking if anyone was home. I staggered onto the deck to find three oysterman standing in their oyster boat who had bad news: we had dropped our anchor in the middle of their oyster farm. I pointed out that it was not on the chart, and they sheepishly admitted that, yes, it was uncharted and they were trying to get NOAA to put it on the charts. We had carefully anchored between two other marked aquaculture sites; after more fouled-anchor experiences than I care to recount, the last thing we would ever do is deliberately anchor in a fish haven.

They were very apologetic, but they wanted us to weigh while they were still there to untangle their gear from our ground tackle as it came up. We got dressed, poured some coffee, and ran through our startup procedures while they waited patiently. Much to everyone's relief, our chain and anchor came up clean with no gear attached. We moved 1,000' and dropped a "coffee hook" (map) so we could enjoy the rest of the morning before giving the marina another go.

Monday morning offered a stark contrast from our Sunday arrival. There was little wind and no chaos at all. We pulled right up to the pumpout dock, took care of business, then drove around to a mostly empty canal and tied up alongside the marina's east pier (map). We were tied up just in time for a previously scheduled lunch outing with our friends.

Sunset over Long Island Sound from the "beach" in Southold.

The next four days were a whirlwind of daily visits and evening meals with our nieces, their parents, and various extended family members at their vacation home in Southold. We mostly rode back and forth on our scooters, which sorely needed the exercise after a long stint on deck. In between visits I knocked out projects while I had a good delivery address, and we reprovisioned and filled our tanks. I also made an overdue pilgrimage to Costco, piggybacking on someone else's excursion to Riverhead, and stocked up on meat.

One of the projects we tackled was to deal with my hanging locker, which is what you call a closet on a boat. We had noticed a mildew problem developing in there, a common issue on boats and especially in lockers against the hull. We pulled everything out of the locker, and Louise ran everything that was machine-washable through the wash. I installed a pair of pancake fans at the toe-kick to increase ventilation, and we cleaned the surfaces and sprayed them down with Concrobium.

Having everything out of the locker was a great time to go through it all and pare down. I got rid of a half dozen shirts and various other items. The tuxedo was in good shape, owing to being stored in a clothes bag, but two sport jackets are now hanging in the engine room until they can be drycleaned. My last remaining suit (of perhaps a dozen in my closet when I was working) was another matter. Also stored in a bag, it was in fine shape, but, umm, a relic of the 90s, when it was new. I suppose you can say it's "gangsta" ... if by that you mean that Al Capone might have worn it.

Check out those lapels.

Our reservation at the dock ran out Friday morning, and we scrambled to get the scooters on deck and several boxes of donations over to the local charity before dropping lines. Checkout time is technically 11, but we cast off a half hour early to avoid being boxed in by day boats tying up at Claudio's on the other side of the fairway. We backed out of the canal without drama and went right back to Pipes Cove to anchor for our final night (map). Our friends picked us up at the town dinghy dock for one last evening.

This morning we awoke of natural causes -- no oystermen required. We drank our coffee in thick fog, the radio cackling with visibility and position reports from the endless onslaught of weekend pleasure boats running in and out of the harbors. We stayed put for a couple of hours until the fog lifted, with a dense fog advisory expiring at 10:30. We weighed anchor with the very last of the outgoing tide helping us out of the harbor and past Gardiners Island.

Before we even got to the Gardiners Island buoy, we ran right back into the fog, and when visibility dropped below a quarter mile we activated the fog horn. Fortunately it was short-lived, and we were out of it in a half hour or so. Now we are pushing against a knot and a half of current, an unfortunate consequence of where we are in the tide cycle, and the late start to the day.

The plotter is estimating an arrival at Point Judith sometime after 8pm, which means dinner will be under way. Our other option would have been to anchor north of Fishers Island, which is just about four miles off our port beam as I type this paragraph at 3:30. But the forecast says we'd be pinned down there for two days, so we are opting to press on now while we still can. The Harbor of Refuge can get lumpy in southerlies; we are crossing our fingers for a comfortable night.

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