Long Island Sound - By Sail and By Motor
15 July 2008 | Newport, Rhode Island
Because we made such good time coming into Long Island Sound, and because it felt so very good to be roaring along under sail, we changed our minds about destinations.
We had planned to stop in Port Washington in Manhasset Bay where we stayed last fall, but opted to try a new area instead. We pulled into Hempstead Harbor - the next one along - and anchored just behind the breakwater. There are lots of moorings, but lots of room for anchoring too, and it was just a quick duck in from the Sound for those of us in a hurry.
Jim took the jerry cans to Glen Cove for diesel and paid the most yet - $5.70 per US gallon! Yikes. I made a Thai chicken stirfry in a hot peanut-garlic sauce with rice and salad for dinner and we had a pleasant evening listening to the music drifting out from shore and watching the boats come back from their day of sailing. There are some very fine sailors here and it was a treat to watch them sail among the moorings, turn into the wind and drop their sails just as neat as you please in just the right spot. By coming here we missed out on dominoes with Susan and Mike (Tabbycat) back in Port Washington but it worked better for our course planning. They are making their way to Maine too so I hope we'll have another chance. I never did learn how to play dominoes and want to fill that gap. (I never learned bridge either, but haven't had a hankering to change that one!)
Sunday (July 13) was a gorgeous sailing day and in hindsight I wish we'd made it last longer. We went only as far as Port Jefferson, because we wanted to make the crossing to the other shore the day afterward. As it turned out, Monday was a verrry long motoring day, and we'd have done better to strike out in that direction on Sunday. Oh well, hindsight is hindsight.
We anchored in pretty much the same spot as last year - just ahead of the barge mooring - and to the port as we came in the entrance channel. The wind was blowing at 15 knots till well into the evening, but we had very little bounce. Because it was Sunday, there was a huge amount of peasurecraft traffic in and out as well as the ferries. Lots to observe. In contrast to our encounters of the barge kind last fall, the night was quiet. Barges and tugs moved to and from the mooring in the evening, and some barges that were tied up there when we went to bed were gone in the morning, but we heard no voices and saw no lights. I saw the mute swans go by early in the morning, but they didn't come close to Madcap. Last year, I got some great photos of them.
5 o'clock on Monday morning saw us lifting anchor and motoring out of the harbour. We wanted to make use of the ebb tide at "the Race" to increase our speed on what we expected would be a long day. It was interesting to see that we were not alone - 2 other sailboats and a trawler left at about the same time. Unfortunately the wind we had expected didn't materialize and we had to motor the whole day. The current helped to carry us along at about 7 knots for a good way, but so much for being fuel efficient on that very expensive diesel!
The Race is an intriguing spot. It is a narrow chasm near Fisher's Island that looks like nothing much on the surface, but contains rapidly moving water and can be a tricky spot. We got there just after peak ebb current and went through at 8.5 knots. What little wind there was, was behind us so we had no waves to speak of, just some mild swells coming in from the ocean, but by hand steering, we could sure feel the eddies and swirls of water in the chasm. The book says that coming the other way on a flood tide can be quite an experience as the water rushes in, crashes against the shoal and surges upward. Last fall, we sailed inside Fisher's Island, bypassing the Race so it was nice to experience it this time.
We had wondered if we might make Newport in one day and sure enough we did. The current helped even if the wind didn't, and after motoring the whole way, we pulled into Newport Harbour and dropped anchor off the Ida Lewis Yacht Club at about 7:15. It seemed like a real waste of the beautiful sailing waters of Long Island Sound, and we'll do it more justice next time. Schedules! Schedules! We wanted to be in Boston in time for Jim to fly to Ottawa on Friday.
This is such a great yachting destination. The houses along the shoreline are spectacular; the sail and motor vessels range from ordinary to extraordinary - some of the most beautiful boats I've ever seen. There are marinas galore, and mooring balls and there is still ample room for anchoring within a reasonable dinghy distance to shore. Two good dinghy docks are along the waterfront, and once ashore the opportunities for exploration, dining, drinking and shopping are huge.
These kids in the sailing school had to dog paddle before they could sail!
One of our favourite nautical bookstores is The Armchair Sailor on Thames St and that's where we headed first thing Tuesday morning. Jim had found a log book there last year that became his preferred one, and he couldn't ever find the same kind anywhere else. This time he bought two! We picked up some charts for the crossing to Nova Scotia and browsed among the hundreds of beautiful books. We were able to restock our Barrett's ginger beer supply at the nearby liquor store. I haven't figured out why they have it and not the grocery store since it's non- alcoholic, but since it is one of our most consumed beverages - with and without rum - it was nice to find.
Unfortunately (because of that darned schedule) we had to resist a walk through the rest of the town and head back to the boat in order to head for the Cape Cod Canal. Jim was dragging at my arm by the time we got to the dinghy dock!
Mary (Strathspey) had alerted us that the Banburys (We Be Free) were in the area for a Nonsuch Rendezvous, and several Nonsuches were headed out at the same time as Madcap; we didn't see them though and despite several calls on VHF, didn't hear from them either. We must have missed each other. Too bad - it is always fun to encounter folks from "home".