Archive for the ‘Rhode Island’ Category

Long Island Sound, Block Island Sound, Rhode Island Sound and into Buzzards Bay… we’ve covered some distance this week, but also paused for several days for our very first Gam.  More on this in a bit.  From Port Washington, after a brief pause in Port Jefferson, we headed across Long Island Sound to Connecticut… where we’ve visited by land but never by boat.  From here on out, its new territory for us.

Our first impression was less than positive when we were waked hard by a ginormous sport fisher as we passed through the breakwater entering the Connecticut River.  It rocked us so badly that a Brita pitcher of water (that ordinarily lives quite safely on a silicone mat on the galley counter) got tossed, crashing to the sole (floor).  Our sole is teak and holly laminate insets screwed into the fiberglass mold beneath… with gaps all around the insets (not a great design) where the contents of said pitcher promptly found its way.  While our Cheshire was still rocking I mopped up what I could, but after getting the anchor down a bit later it was time to unscrew the floorboards and do a deeper cleaning.  We don’t do this often so as not to strip out the fiberglass screw holes and in fact had never done these two pieces… the galley and sole in the forward cabin.  Major yuck, but all clean now.  Filed under “it’s not all sunsets and rum drinks”…

Just prior to being waked and a few days later on our way back out, I managed to get some shots of the couple of lighthouses that mark this entrance to the Connecticut River. Looking at the photos later, I was intrigued by the differing perspective, inbound vs outbound.

Inbound, with Saybrook Breakwater Light in the foreground…

P1060477 Saybrook Breakwater and Lynde Point Lights CT

inbound, Saybrook Breakwater and Lynde Point Lights CT

… and outbound with Lynde Point Light on the right.

P1060488 Saybrook Breakwater and Lynde Point Lights CT

outbound, Saybrook Breakwater and Lynde Point Lights CT

I have to remind myself sometimes when photographing these caisson style lights (Saybrook Breakwater Light is one) that in years past, lighthouse keepers and their families actually lived in these structures.  This one is at least within sight of land; many are not.  A bit of research led me to a New York Post article from last year detailing plans for this one to be converted to a clubhouse for its current owner’s grandchildren.  Lynde Point Light on the other hand, belongs to the Coast Guard and is not open to the public.

Not far from these lights, we tucked into North Cove near Old Saybrook CT where we picked up a mooring ball (provided by the town, overseen by the nearby yacht club and free for 72 hours).  After cleaning up our mess (see above), we went ashore and had a lovely walk about town complete with a pause at Penny Lane Pub to celebrate our 7 year anniversary of moving aboard our Cheshire.  The following morning we ferried bikes ashore and enjoyed a nice pedal around the area, and visits to the local hardware store, a grocery and Denali, a nice outdoor store with locations around CT and RI.

From Old Saybrook, it was only a short run up the Connecticut River to Essex for the SSCA Gam.  What is a gam you might ask? From Merriam-Webster…

But what is a gam? You might wear out your index-finger running up and down the columns of dictionaries, and never find the word. So says the narrator, who calls himself Ishmael, of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. These days you will indeed find “gam” entered in dictionaries; Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines the noun “gam” as “a visit or friendly conversation at sea or ashore especially between whalers.” (It can also mean “a school of whales.”) Melville’s narrator explains that when whaling ships met far out at sea, they would hail one another and the crews would exchange visits and news. English speakers have been using the word gam to refer to these and similar social exchanges since the mid-19th century.

I thought the reference to whaling was appropriate as we’re on our way to Maine.  In any event, this gathering was one of a number of annual events put on by the Seven Seas Cruising Association, in addition to a scattering of weekly/monthly breakfasts/lunches that some local groups host.  We caught a few of the lunches while in Marathon a few years back, and joined a breakfast in Punta Gorda last winter.  The Essex Gam though was our first.

This gam was a fun combination of informal potluck gatherings, a dinner with a keynote speaker (Paul Farrell, author of “Tugboats Illustrated”), and two days of talks on everything from cruising destinations (the Great Loop, the Northwest Passage and the Windward Islands),  to weather (finally got to meet the infamous Chris Parker in person), to boat bling and maintenance (canvas work, sails, rigging, etc.).  We skipped out on a session on how to choose and maintain an inflatable dinghy… irrelevant for us with our indestructible Portland Pudgy.  Instead we met cruising friends Dawn & Paul of s/v Bubu3 who were in the area by car for an awesome Sunday brunch at the infamous Griswold Inn, said to be the oldest continuously operating tavern in the USA.

IMG_5437 brunch at the Griswold Inn, Essex CT

brunch at the Griswold Inn

There was supposed to have been a US Coast Guard Search and Rescue Helicopter demo, but it got weathered out due to a low cloud ceiling; apparently they’re pickier about weather for training exercises than for actual rescues.  We did get to poke around a smaller CG vessel though, which was a bit different (more high tech and more armed…)  than when Mike was doing small boat stations on the south shore of Long Island many moons ago.  The weekend wrapped up with an after hours potluck at the nicely done Connecticut River Museum.

Following our several day pause, we were anxious to get moving again.  There’s certainly much more to explore along these coasts of Connecticut and Rhode Island, and we hope to be back at some point, but for this season we’re on a mission to Maine.  We had a lively sail to Point Judith RI, a harbor of refuge along this coast.  Along the way though, we skirted New York waters again on the north shore of Fishers Island and got a shot of Latimer Reef Light, another of the so-called Coffee Pot or Spark Plug” style lights.

P1060500 Latimer Reef Light NY

Latimer Reef Light NY

Point Judith has an interesting history.  In the early 1900’s the state dredged the breachway and the Army Corps of Engineers built a 3-mile long stone breakwater on the outside.  Those who are interested will find a bit of history here.  The Google Maps screenshot below captures it well.  We were a small boat amongst much larger commercial traffic and ferries upon our entry, but found a nice anchorage on the pond.  Point Judith Light is an active Coast Guard Station, so there’s no access by land, but I did get some photos on our way out the following morning.

From Point Judith RI we made our way east and northeast into Buzzards Bay headed for an overnight in Hadley Harbor in the Elizabeth Island chain of Massachusetts, where we shared an anchorage with a most interesting vessel, the SSV Tabor Boy.   A ninety-two foot, gaff-rigged, two-masted schooner, it belongs to Tabor Academy, a boarding school in the area.  Beautiful boat, but they presented more than a little bit of a challenge as they sailed in repeating triangles around the entrance to the harbor as we approached.

P1060534 SSV Tabor Boy

SVV Tabor Boy

The following day we made a short run up to Onset Bay, along the way passing a most unusual Art Deco looking lighthouse, the Cleveland Ledge Light.  It was the last commissioned lighthouse in New England and the only one built in the so-called Art Moderne architectural style.  As of 2012 it’s now privately owned with plans for renovation as a vacation cottage, though it doesn’t appear as if much renovation is underway.  On the other hand, the nearby and more traditional Wings Neck Light is privately owned and apparently available for weekly rentals.

We arrived in Onset Bay, once again meeting up with cruising friends Bob and Sandra who we’d seen just a week ago in Port Washington.  Last night they treated us to an evening of dinner and games aboard s/v Carpe Diem.  Today we wait out some weather and plot our adventures to come.  As always, thanks for coming along and stay tuned.



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dead calm on Block Island Sound

Our run from Montauk, NY to Block Island was uneventful for the most part, dead calm to start, but then picked up a bit when we got into open water.   Entering Great Salt Pond, nestled in the center of Block Island, from this relative calm was a bit jarring to be honest.  It was crazy busy when we arrived, just after the 4th of July weekend, but it only got better as our week went on, relatively speaking.  There are still more boats here, moored and anchored, than we’ve seen anywhere else ever; thankfully there’s a fair amount of space.  It’s not just those who come by boat though; with at least three different ferry routes, there are a lot of tourists who come for a day or more, with plenty of bike and moped rentals to accommodate them.    Mostly we managed to avoid the hordes and t-shirt shops and did some exploring of the outer edges of the island which is a whopping 10 square miles in size.  As is our usual, we came for a day or two and ended up staying a week.

We shuttled our bikes ashore for our first day of exploring and  began with a stop for breakfast, Payne’s Killer Donuts (no Pusser’s here but the donuts were most delicious!).  Florida could actually take some lessons from these folks who recognize boaters as valuable visitors.  Several dinghy access points, public restrooms, trash and recycle drop-offs, bike racks everywhere…

After donuts, we pedaled through town and down to the Southeast Light,  sharing the small winding road with more walkers, runners and cyclists than we did cars.  We arrived at the lighthouse well before their posted 10am opening, oops. but it actually worked out nicely; we  walked around the grounds which we had to ourselves and grabbed some photos sans other tourists.  We would stop back later to climb the tower and check out the museum, at which point the ferry boats must have arrived.

In photographs, this  Southeast Light doesn’t appear very tall, but is visible from quite a distance given its position atop a high cliff.  It was first lit in 1875, and eventually decommissioned in 1990.  In  1993, when erosion threatened to send it toppling over the cliff, it was moved 360′ further inland via rails, had a first order Fresnel lens retrofit and was relit in 1994.  The Keepers’ Cottages are currently undergoing renovation, possibly to open as a B&B at some point.


We pedaled on a short way to Mohegan Cliffs, where one tribe of native American Indians, the Niantic, drove an intruding tribe, the Mohegan, over the cliffs to their deaths.  No such death and destruction during our visit; in fact the steps made the climb down and back very doable.

A bit further west we found Rodman’s Hollow, a Nature Conservancy bit of land that had both trails to the bluffs as well as some inland loops.  It’s only one of several areas of the island that are protected and managed by the Nature Conservancy.  In fact more than 40% of the island is protected.  Apparently you can buy trail maps in town, but we opted to save a few bucks and wing it.  We didn’t get lost.

The Captain had opted to leave his Tilley behind… tough to bike in a Tilley, but improvised nicely to keep the sun off his neck.  Our trusty Keens proved to be fine hiking shoes for these trails.

A few days later we opted to hike to the north end of the island to see another lighthouse.  Cool and overcast, the conditions weren’t great for photography (in fact I opted to leave the good camera behind and shoot only with my iphone 6), but it made for a comfortable hike.  Clayhead Preserve, yet another Nature Conservancy site, included a bluff trail that led to the Block Island North Light.  This is the fourth light to be built on this location, though dates to 1867 and is very much still in the process of being renovated.  The Keeper’s Cottage houses a small museum, but no climbing this one.   Adjacent to the Block Island National Wildlife Refuge, a variety of gulls keep watch over this place, including Herring Gulls and new-to-me Great Black Backed Gulls.  Block Island in general is said to be quite the place, particularly during fall migration, for all kinds of birds.  This visit though, the gulls were pretty much dominated.

One night early in our stay we caught the opening concert of the season for Block Island’s Blues on the Block series… every other Wednesday, blues on the beach.  Tonight, our (hopefully) last night in the area, we had dinner ashore with Rick and Lynne of s/v Acacia, a couple we literally met on the dinghy beach a couple of days ago and hope to cross paths with again before the season’s out.  The sun was setting as we returned to Cheshire, so I had a chance to catch our Cheshire in the day’s last light… a nice ending to our stay, I think.

Tomorrow, assuming the weather forecast holds, we’re headed to Martha’s Vineyard.


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