September 27 – October 13— Four Fall Day Sails, Two Work Days and One Other Day

In normal years the winds grow stronger in September and October. But so far in 2021 that has largely not been the case. So while I enjoyed my companions on each day sail, the winds have been less than stellar.

And the riddle of the mainsail batten slide has not yet been solved, though some progress has been made. The photo above shows the “stack” of black slides on the rail on the aft side of the mast. The smaller ones attach to the sail by a webbed strap. And the larger ones by a black plastic piece. The latter are needed to bear the weight and force of battens which give shape to the sail.
And it is one of the larger heavier ones that came off the track, and apart, being held, upside down (they swivel) by my friend in this next pic.

Harken now sells a newer model, in which the clevis and cotter pin connection has been replaced with a bolt and nut. And my contact there referred to ball bearings, that may have escaped. I will have to take this one off the sail, examine more closely and ask about older models.

First, a two hour circumnavigation of Hart Island with the Old Salts. John and David:

Janet:

And Clare.

I missed a picture of Sarah, but caught her the next time.

Next I sailed with Lloyd and Rhoda on their Catalina, “Jazz Sail”. We sailed almost all the way around City Island, to the north side of the low bridge, to fuel the boat. And again, I missed taking their picture.

Third was the best sail of the four, wind wise, with three friends, Darshan, Jose and John.

We were close hauled to the Whitestone Bridge and then broad reached back.

And the fourth sail was with the Old Salts again, aboard Bennett’s “Ohana”. It turned out to be the last Old Salts outing of the year because of my error in not checking on a spare fuel filter and hence not having a usable engine the next Wednesday. This was more of a float than a sail; we motored out to the Sound seeking the 5-7 knots of wind that had been forecast, but even with the big colorful code zero sail aloft, we never achieved boat speed of more than one knot — and then the “wind” died — and we were floating out toward Block Island with the tide before turning on the diesel. But good company and having no fear of heeling we broke out the wine while underway. Here are Beau, Phillip and Bennett,

and Sarah, David and Anne.

In my idiosyncratic and highly personal system for categorizing days, a Sail day is any day that I sail (or float) or live aboard any boat. Any day that includes such activities with others is given the highest priority of Sail day. Next come the Work days, those spent working on ILENE but not sailing or living aboard her. And the lowest category is the Other days, involving work on other boats or at the club, meetings, social or cultural events and the like.

My Other day was planned as a work day, but There was very good wind and Bennett sang a siren song that I had not the will to resist: “Let’s sail”. So the W day became a S day. But hold on— it became an O day in the end with some repairs we did to Ohana: sanded primed and painted the shift lever box at the starboard side of the binnacle and mixed up and applied some two part epoxy to fill small holes in the topside gel coat to port.

The two W days, a total of seven hours, were very much a contrast between success and otherwise. My mission on the first was to filter out the water and transfer diesel fuel from the forward fuel tank to the aft one. By engine hours since the last fill up in New London, it was running low. But the “repaired” brass hand pump I intended to use, still did not work. So I put in the two gallons from the yellow Gerry can, closed the ports and put the cockpit sole back into place. And I bought a newer stronger, battery operated pump to do the job next time.

The other task was the oil change, but having drained the old black oil and removed the dirty filter, I found that I did not have the clean replacement filter needed so work stopped until the replacements I have since ordered arrive. So it was not total failure: progress was made — but neither task was completed. A third task also was not completed but resulted in a pleasant unanticipated prize. I took everything out of the two storage spaces behind the cabin’s starboard settees in a search for the rubber cover for the “fast idle” button on the gear shifter. I had found both the metal button and the cover and put the cover in a safe place, but that place was not one of the two I searched. The prize?  I had lost a box full of fuses about three years ago and had bought a few small new ones in the interim. But the lost box was in the searched place, atop a fuel hose so I had not found it until now. I better organized the rats nest, e.g., all small pieces of wood combined in one bag, all cherry bungs in another, etc.

Before the second work day, I had been filled with trepidation and regret that I had ruined the water maker by not flushing it often enough and would be unable to winterize it without paying Bryan, the friendly mechanic, to drive to City Island from Newport to do it for me as I had to do several years ago. The Spectra Ventura 150 is an expensive toy and I’d hate to lose it. But with careful preparation and reading, I got the job done with only two short free calls and a thank you text to Bryan. I had been losing sleep with anxiety, and shame and hence was elated. I also completed the other scheduled task of the day: scrubbing dried fish guts from the starboard midships topside, the seagulls’ chosen restaurant this year. I’ll never accuse our cats of being messy eaters again.

Ilene’s hauling date has been set for October 20 or 21.

 249 total views

Statistical Report on ILENE’s Cruise

In prior years these statistical summaries have been published much sooner after the conclusion of the cruise; this one ended five weeks ago. All the data here is compiled from the blog and the ship’s log.

We left the Harlem mooring field on June 21 and returned on August 30 so it turned out to be a 71 day cruise, a bit shorter than planned. The plan, as in 2020, had been to visit Newfoundland but the Canadian border remained closed until almost the end of our cruise. Plan B became Maine, where we have been several times, but a severe infestation of the caterpillars of brown moths was found there this year and the hair of those moths create a severe poison ivy reaction which caused my Mate to scratch Maine. In the end this Plan C cruise focused on Massachusetts. We did not set out to visit every possible port in Massachusetts (as we had in Rhode Island two yearso ago), and there are far too many of them for us to strive for such a goal.

In fact, of the 71 days, 48 were in Massachusetts ports. The remaining 23 involved (a) 14 days before arriving in Massachusetts at Padanaram, (b) five days for a dip of ILENE’s keel into into the waters of New Hampshire between Newburyport and Gloucester MA, and (c) four days returning from our last Massachusetts port, Cuttyhunk.

We made 40 passages, visiting 34 different ports, three of them twice (Newport RI, New Bedford MA and Port Jefferson NY.) and moved the boat on 40 days, including three day sails with friends (from Newport RI, Hull MA and Vineyard Haven, on Martha’s Vineyard, MA).

We visited surprisingly few new ports this year, only six of them, and all of them in the Boston Harbor area: North Weymouth, Peddocks Island, Spectacle Island, Hull, Georges Island and Dorchester. All the others were old friends.

Total distance travelled (per the tracker on the Multi Function Display) was only 848 NM, so an average of 21 NM per travel day, ranging from the high of 59 NM from New London CT to Port Jefferson to a passage of only 1.5 NM from the dock in downtown Portsmouth NH to a mooring at the Portsmouth YC, closer to the mouth of the the Piscataqua River.

And subtracting the 40 movement days from the total of 71, means we enjoyed 31 lay days. These were in seventeen different ports, eleven with only one lay day in each, but six ports with multiple lay days, including six in Newport.

And about the sailing: well, we moved on 40 days, but the hours spent underway totaled only 149, or 3.7 hours per passage on average. And it is worse than that because only 60 hours were enjoyed sailing without the diesel; during the larger part of the underway hours, 89 hours or three fifth of them, we were either motoring or motor sailing. The statistics in this paragraph are approximations but I try to not sugarcoat the bitter pill. Still, there were several glorious sailing days, which makes the waiting for them worth it. To get more sailing in on a cruise we just have to go further away, like to Newfoundland next year.

I have also guesstimated the length of each of our dinghy trips, mostly short ones, and I added up the estimated minutes of each such ride and have concluded that we ran the outboard for only about six hours this season.

We spent only four nights on docks, one in the Marina of Sandwich MA which offers no moorings and is the only place to stay at the far end of the Cape Cod Canal, and three on a rickety public dock but giving great access to downtown Portsmouth, NH; we don’t like docks. I was surprised to learn that we spent only nine nights on our anchor; we could have done more anchoring. And that leaves 58 nights on moorings. But we only paid for 44 of those nights. In Port Jeff there are many vacant ones. In Hamburg Cove the owner never came by to collect. At North Cove in Old Saybrook, Manchester by the Sea and the Savin Hill YC in Dorchester MA they allow free guest moorings by policy; thank you! The last, 71st, night of the cruise, was on our own (free) mooring in the Harlem mooring field. But actually, a correction. “We” in this night-counting context, usually means Lene, the cats and I, because we live aboard. But on this cruise, while that count is accurate for ILENE, we live aboard creatures spent three nights in a hotel in Fairhaven, MA while hurricane Henri blew by.

And about our food, no not the individual delicacies, but where we ate, aboard vs. ashore. All meals were aboard ILENE (four with breakfast guests) except: four breakfasts (6% of the 71), thirteen lunches (18% of them) and twenty one dinners (30% of them), plus six coffees and three ice creams. So of 213 meals away from New York on this cruise we ate 175 of them (82% of them) aboard. I had thought we ate out more this year until I checked the blog and log. The most memorable meals (not that Lene and I do not enjoy each others’ company) were those shared with friends, and in their homes or on their boats: with Dave and Debra in Lyme Ct, with Hugh and Arlene in Scituate, with Meredith and Robert in Newport, with Jamie and Lauri and new friends ashore at Jim and Anne’s home and on Harry and Kati’s Saga in Manchester by the Sea, with Jeff, another Saga owner, in Salem, with Kyle and Mark both in a restaurant and in their home on Martha’s Vineyard, and with Ken and Yael in New Bedford. That is eight such social meals.

Now the book is closed on ILENE’s 2021 Cruise. Thanks for your interest.

 274 total views

Sept 11 – 26 — Five Sail Dates and One Work Day

I just can’t get as excited about a day where we end up where we started, but still it’s great to be out on the water and we get to sail with friends rather than kittie cats.
1. Lene and two other actresses, Elaine and Andrea, joined me for the afternoon, followed by dinner at the club. The remaining four days my guests included men who were a big help to my sore right arm providing winch grinding assistance. All five trips are in local waters where we are constrained my land masses requiring various tacks and gybes, resulting in reticence to use the Genoa. Most of the photos are taken after the sail, on the launch or at the club, because the Bimini, with its blessed protection from the sun and rain, also cuts of the light.

Next came a new friend, Samuel, for the longest sail in this time period, five and a half hours. We traversed Hart Island Sound, penetrated deep into both Manhasset and Little Neck Bays, via the Kings Point Channel, and got to the shadow of the Whitestone Bridge before heading back to the mooring. Dinner after made it a full day.

The Old Salts came out on Wednesday afternoon after lunch, six souls plus me, and we were underway for 2 hours. Sadly, my photographer self was asleep at the switch, but you have seen pictures of most of them from prior years.

Sail four of this period was with Julian and David, new friends. David had sailing experience and Both men took the helm. This day the winds were quite light and we had to use the Genoa to get speed, touching 6.1 knots. Our course, and we avoided the places where land diminishes the wind, involved four tacks.

The work day was mostly involved with getting the dinghy and its outboard put away. The former is sitting on the seawall, inverted and deflated, awaiting help from the crew of volunteers who will help me get it situated on its sheet of plywood atop the dinghy rack. I got cheerfully volunteered help from launch operated John for the one short one minute task that I absolutely cannot do alone: lifting the outboard from vertical on the   transom of the floating dinghy to horizontal on the dock.  I also taught myself how to use the squelch and scan features of the cockpit VHF radio. Three and a half hours.

And the fifth sail was with Lene, Jeff (who has sailed with us for fifteen years, and A new friend, Jake. Jeff likes big winds and he got what he sough this year with gusts to 20 knots. We were close hauled in Hart Island Sound, beam reached to off Rye Harbor and had one long starboard tack back past Big Tom. And with single reefed main and small jib we were fast. Four tenths of an hour at the beginning and end of the four hour sail were engine hours.

And some damage: I do not yet know the cause or how to fix it. The luff (front vertical edge) of the mainsail is attached to a track attached to the aft edge of the mast by about a dozen “batt cars” and sliders. The topmost batt car, just below the head of the sail, came detached from the track!  I was able to squeeze it back on for the day but it came back off at the end of the day. I’ve got to take pictures and measurements and figure out how to replace or repair the attachment. The part was put onto its track in 1999 and has been exposed to the weather ever since. I think that Harken has moved on to a newer technology so replacement, if needed, may be a problem.

The season is not over yet; thank goodness!

 788 total views

August 31 – September 10 — Life Slows Down after Cruising

Faithful readers who await my traditional post-cruise statistical summarization please be patient.

These eleven days began with packing an amazing amount of stuff and transporting it and our furry felines back to our urban apartment. They also saw sorting through more than ten weeks of mail, observance of Rosh Hashonna, a five course dinner I cooked for nine the night before, a dinner with Bennett and Harriet of “Ohana” at their home, repairs to home and to car, and a visit by hurricane Ida to New York City with deadly torrential rain. The Club’s parking lot, see below, was flooded but not the clubhouse itself. Nor’easters do more harm with their strong, prolonged, unidirectional (rather than cyclonic) winds; they push the Atlantic Ocean into Long Island Sound from the east so fast that the water has no place to go except up^.

I also did about six hours of work on ILENE, mostly cleaning and measuring for replacement parts, on two work days.

And one sail day, with Lene and Marie and Tom, but it turned out to not be one. I congratulate the fortitude of my crew — no requests for adjournment, whining, or whimpering.
The launch got us to the boat just exactly before the rain started. Not heavy, but steady. We put up the clear plastic cockpit side enclosures (which had not been used at all this season or last) as well as the canvas dodger-bimini connecter. And then spent three pleasant hours in the cockpit eating the delicious lunch that Marie had prepared.

I’m thinking we have 5-6 weeks of day sailing left in this season.

 1,500 total views

Days 69-71 — Aug 28-30— To New London, Port Jefferson, and Home to City Island

Once we got moving, we moved fast, covering 39, 54 and 37 NM in the final three passage days of this cruise. We was helped by NE winds, the opposite of the prevailing Southwesterlies, especially the first day.

That day we were underway 6.5 hours with only .6 engine hours, and 5/6th of them were due to lallygagging while exiting Mackerel Cove. Heading toward Point Judith with main and small jib on a very broad starboard reach, we were making 8 to 8.5 knots in big seas. Even set to the powerful sea state three, Auto was having trouble holding our course so I furled the jib. After Point Judith, we made the cowardly 270 degree tack to avoid having to jibe, putting the wind very broad on port. The wind direction helped us decide to enter Long Island Sound via Watch Hill Passage rather than The Race: steering twenty degrees further to the right, avoided a dead run.  We considered Stonington, but were making good time so next considered East Harbor and then Hay Harbor on Fishers Island. We had helpful tide. For a while we were on a dead run but the mainland of Rhode Island itself sheltered us a bit, the wind got lighter, the seas lower and we went a bit further to New London.

We took one of the sixteen moorings of the newish municipal Waterfront Park. It is right by the RR station which means a lot of noise for the grade crossing. Last time we were here we were the only boat and the adjacent solid concrete pier was temporarily converted into a stage for one of Shakespeare’s comedies that night. Now, a large clam bar restaurant is on the pier and a visiting rock band entertained its patrons. We were one of five boats and a large old semi-derelict schooner called “Prodigal Sun” was nearby. I chatted with a man who was using her to compete in a big money prize bluefish competition. The five I mentioned did not include the magnificent US Coast Guard ship “Eagle”Several restaurants were nearby and we dined at an American style place where dancing would be taking place later on.

Next morning the wind was still from the NE, but weaker so we had to motor the whole way, with some help from the wind. Exiting New London we passed one of her other famous residents, port to port. You can see sailors standing on her aft deck. Not much of her is above the waterline. We also passed The distinct three story cubical New London Ledge Light to port and the slender white column of New London Harbor Light to Starboard.  New London is very easy getting into and out of.

I like to look up the name, size, course and speed of nearby boats using the AIS feature displayed on the chart plotter. A boat about a mile on our port beam was named Sangaris. The only Sangaris I know is a sturdy seaworthy Amel owned of Craig and Cathy, of the Harlem, which they have cruised throughout the Mediterranean and Europe. We visited them in Florida in 2015 and they stayed a few nights in our apartment. A VHF hail confirmed and we resorted to cell phone communications. They had spent the night at Fishers Island and, like us, were headed for Port Jeff.

We got there first but a funny thing happened while we were trying to anchor.

With the anchor about twelve feet down, but not yet on the bottom, the windlass froze: no up and no down, just a click. I think I accidentally pushed both the up and the down button simultaneously.  My first thought was to get us unto one of the eighty vacant moorings on a Sunday evening and then to raise the anchor back on deck. We do have a second anchor, but I was not thinking of that. We used a line and the jib halyard winch on the mast to raise the anchor out of the water, but it came up backwards and needed help to twist facing right-side forward for its shackle to get lifted past the roller. Craig came rowing over in his dink, turned it and we were able to pull it the rest of the way back by hand. I would have started to think about how to fix it when we got back to the Harlem the next day. But Craig, an engineer who can fix anything, trouble shot the issue and the burned out fuse was located. No replacement fuse? No problem, let’s look for one not in use! And three inches away was the fuse for the former Lectrasan sewage treatment system that I removed about 15 years ago. It had nothing to protect, was moved to the electric circuit marked “windlass” and the windlass worked again.

In the morning we dinked over to Sangaris for a social call before the our 11:00 am tide based departure. It was pure motoring on the final day, directly into very light winds until Matinecock, where the course changes about twenty degrees to port and the main, which had been put up, was finally able to boost our speed. Cathy and Craig had a car at the Harlem and gave us the keys to use to drive into Manhattan to get our car. Then back to City Island for our last night of sleep aboard with the kitties.

Rest assured dear readers, this blog will be continued.

 1,775 total views

Days 66-68 — August 25-27 — Cruising With Yael and Mendy: Cuddyhunk, Newport and Mackerel Cove

Passage from New Bedford to Cuddyhunk, 14 NM, was all by Yanmar after a stop to fuel and water ILENE. Not a peak sailing experience for Yael, though different from her time with us in Casco Bay in 2013; this time she had the sensation of being on the open seas and in mist, briefly out of sight of land. This is Fort Rodham (no relation to Hillary Clinton) which we visited by Car with Ken. With winds from the west, we anchored outside Cuddyhunk, on its east side and dinked in. It is an unusual place. No cars, just golf carts. We visited both of its two stores: the small general food store and the souvenir store, where, with a bit of help from Uncle Roger, Yael scored a CUDDYHUNK T shirt — a conversation starter for her friends back in Israel. On the short walk up to the top of the island, we passed four adjacent buildings on the same side of the street: Historical Society, Town Hall, Library and School, with the church and parsonage opposite. The summit provides great views of Gay Head on Martha’s Vineyard named after the gay colors, red, of its cliffs. and of the Cuddyhunk.   Block Island and the tops of the towers of Newport’s bridge were not visible because of the haze. ILENE is the white speck on the right, anchored outside the Island Yael cooked our dinner with meat she had brought with her and experienced a cockpit shower under cover of darkness, and the other boat was quite far from us.

A calm night and then off to Newport, 25 NM away. The Yanmar continued to sound ragged so I was glad to have enough wind to motor sail, and after a few hours the wind grew strong enough that we were able to sail without the motor. And that finally gave Yael the feel of real sailing. We were making six knots, which is not a thrilling speed but gave her a taste. Rounding Brenton Reef and heading up into Narragansett Bay brought the wind back to our quarter and slower speed. We got a good mooring and started sightseeing. The International Tennis Hall of Fame , the Touro Synagogue (it was closed) plus galleries and some window shopping. Here’s a better picture of Yael and Aunt Lene But instead of public transportation, Yael’s brother, Mendy, who has sailed on ILENE many times, drove from New York and joined us for the night to drive her home the next day. Our cockpit dinner, after sundown, was memorable in the food, the company and the lighting. Mendy chose to sleep in the cockpit, where I have several times failed to get a good night’s sleep.
After blueberry/mango pancakes, we drove to the Cliff Walk, walked about a half hour on it. Relatively light winds deprived our visitors of the sight of the surf pounding on the rocks below. Then we toured the Vanderbilts’ “cottage”, The Breakers, a monument to conspicuous consumption in the gilded age of the 1890’s, before our niece and nephew drove home to Brooklyn.

We took off from the Newport mooring in the early afternoon headed for Mackerel Cove on Jamestown Island but the engine sounded even worse and I looked back and saw only tiny infrequent spurts of water coming from the exhaust pipe with the fumes. The heat alarm did not sound, but I knew this lack of water was bad for the engine so I shut it down and we sailed across the eastern passage of Narragansett Bay, very slowly,  at .9 to 1.7 knots against the tide, with only the small jib. We took a mooring at The Jamestown Boatyard. What to do? Mixing elbow? Impeller in cooling water pump? Blockage in the raw water strainer?  I tackled the strainer first, because it was easiest and it was the only area into which I had to look.  I found this plug of packed seaweed in the entrance to the raw water strainer, removed it, cleaned out the basket, put it all back together again, and the hum was restored. So we thanked the Boatyard for the hour’s use of their mooring and took off for Mackerel Cove with many small power boats but plenty of room to anchor in 14 feet or water. The bridge from the Island to western RI and the masts of many boats moored in Dutch Harbor on the west side of the island can be seen across the narrow strip of land at the NW end of Mackerel. The anchor light warned any other boats not to hit us, but all the smaller party boats left before dark and though a bit rolly, it was a calm cool night. But it was the night that Lene persuaded me to take her home sooner than planned.

 1,435 total views

Days 62-65 — August 21-24 — Retreat Back To New Bedford and Lay Days In Hotel There

Because of New Bedford’s powerful “doors” that can close the 150 foot wide passage through its sea wall against hurricane storm surge, New Bedford seemed a good place to hole up when hurricane Henri was poking its way north and threatening to land any place between New York City and Boston. We scored the mooring next to the one on which we rode earlier this month at Pope’s Island Marina. Here is a view of ILENE from Pope’s Island with the sea gates in the background.

Tide slowed our crossing of Vineyard Sound but the current changed while we were in Woods Hole and was favorable for the crossing of Buzzards Bay. Here is Nobska Light at the SW corner of Cape Cod.  The 20 miles took about 3.5 hours. Again, all diesel, though I put out the Genoa, twice, with no effect.

On the mooring, we worked about four hours finalizing ILENE to face Henri.  Pulling the 55 pound Rocna up over the bow rail and lashing it to the deck to prevent its low hanging blade from chafing through the bridle.

The bridle was coated with rags at the chock, also as precaution against chafe.  The dink was lashed down to the deck athwartship, twice and secured fore and aft to the mast and anchor windlass. The club burgee and U.S. flag and its pole and other items that catch wind were removed.  The sails, dodger and Bimini were left up but the stack pack containing the main sail was lowered, compressed and trussed to provide a smaller sail area.

And then we packed cats, their food and litter, and all we would need for three nights away, and persuaded the launch operator to pick us up and take us to the very nearby Seaport Inn and Marina, about a half mile away by foot, less by water, where we holed up to weather the storm. That hotel is in Fairhaven, a historic town on the east bank of the Acushnet River, with New Bedford on its west bank; sort of like the relationship between Brooklyn and Manhattan, separated by the East River.

The storm made landfall on eastern Long Island and Stonington Connecticut, so we were spared the brunt of its wrath. The preparation and precaution were thus, in a sense, wasted energy; but better safe than sorry. Our insurance carrier would be happy to know of our efforts. The crew were not happy being locked in a room with us.

We ate at a variety of local restaurants, though many others were closed. The Black Whale earned its high price with excellent and imaginative preparations – we ate there twice. Fathoms, a sports bar on Pope’s Island, served simple tasty food: haddock and/or cod, baked or fried. Both of these places get their street cred by being owned by fishing boat captains, suggesting the freshest of seafood. We went to a Chinese Restaurant and a wonderful breakfast place.
The harbor was crowded with recreational sailors like us, and while normally a good portion of the huge commercial fishing fleet is at sea, they were all crowded in port, breasted out from each other. We only walked the coastal streets of Fairhaven, which appears to be a place with a low cost of living in historic homes mixed with commercial activity devoted almost totally to the sea: from a propeller shop to a marine insurance firm.

We devoted a huge amount of time, probably more than twelve hours, on planning for our time with niece Yael, who last sailed with us in Casco Bay, Maine, in 2013. What day she would come? How would she get to us — by train, bus, car, and ferry (and the schedules and prices of each)? What ports to visit with her and the mileage for each passage? We can do sixty NM in a day, but that’s not ideal for a young woman who wants also to enjoy the pleasures of the land as well. And how could she could get back to Brooklyn before the start of Sabbath on Friday evening? In the end, her father, Ken, drove her to New Bedford on Tuesday, August 24. But before they got here we restored ILENE. The only part of this work that I feared was lifting the heavy bulky outboard from the lazarette and placing it back onto the dink’s transom, without dropping it onto ILENE’s gelcoat or into the briny. This is what kept me awake the night before. In the event I asked a stranger, Chris, of “Deja Vu”, who was passing in his dink, for a hand, and it got done. Thanks again, Chris!

Once Ken and Yael arrived we hung out, toured the sea wall, had a less than good dinner at the Whalers Inn, provisioned, and settled in for the calm warm night. We plan to make passages on the next two days, of 14 and 30 NM, to Cuttyhunk and Newport, from which port, according to the current umpteenth plan, Yael will take public transportation back to New York City on Friday the 27th.

 775 total views

Days  59-61 — August 18-20 —To Vineyard Haven, Lay Day and Day Sail There

From Lake Tashmoo to Vineyard Haven (only shortly more than a mile by land, was 4.6 NM by sea, going around West Chop. And it was all motor with no wind. We dropped our Tashmoo mooring at 7:30 to have some tide on the way out, and the depth alarm, set to honk when there is 6.9 feet of water or less, gave a brief report.

But something sounded wrong about the engine. It ran, but not smoothly, and noticeable white smoke came out with the cooling seawater discharge. I shut it off once we were safely out of Tashmoo and let the boat drift for the three minutes it took for me to check the oil, find it low, add a quart and test again. That seemed to bring things back to normal, but the question remains: what caused the Yanmar to eat a quart of oil all of a sudden.

Secure on a reserved mooring outside the protective seawall, I asked myself why we had paid for a mooring — because only a hundred yards further from town we could have anchored and saved the $70 per night. Our neighbors, at dusk, with their anchor lights on Our first and last nights were calm, but the middle day and night were quite windy, in fact we cancelled our dinner reservation and did not leave the boat that day. Some cleaning and lots of thinking about the potential visit from niece Yael, and later about how to preserve ourselves and our boat in hurricane Henri, which is scheduled here soon and has forced changed plans. I also checked the antifreeze reservoir and transmission fluid levels and added some of each fluid. This on the advice of the knowledgeable and ever helpful Professor Dean.

On the arrival day we dinked in and while Lene did three consecutive loads of laundry, I visited the new Martha’s Vineyard Museum. This is now its back side, with the main entrance where the parking lot is Here’s the view from the museum, with West Chop at left, a bit of the pond in the foreground, ferries in the Sound and Cape Cod at the horizon. Well the museum is actually quite old but until recently was in a couple of rooms in snooty Edgartown and largely ignored by all. Now it in the former Naval hospital reminiscent of the privately financed Snug Harbor on Staten Island. It is attractively displayed and interactive. They had the Fresnel lens of Gay Head Lighthouse and it’s ingenious mechanism to regulate a steady rate of revolution. A time lapse video of the tower’s movement, about 100 feet inland, in 2015, to prevent its tumbling into the sea due to gradual erosion of the headland on which it sat was interesting. So our paper charts, printed before 2015, show the lighthouse in the wrong location.

The museum celebrated the diversity of the island’s inhabitants. One display was erroneous, however, which I brought to the attention of the Executive Director. MV like Nantucket (and New York’s Long Island) is a product of the last ice age, in which a glacier as high as the tallest buildings in NY pushed up mounds of earth and rocks before melting away. But the exhibit said that the melting was slow and “raised sea levels three feet per year for 13,000 years.”  Maybe it was three millimeters, but the math is just plain wrong.

 

Our last day here, after filling water bottles, a stop at an ATM and at Shop and Stop, I brought Mark and Kyle out in the dink. We breakfasted on sweet potato/mango pancakes and, after hoisting the dink, we set out for a sixteen mile day sail, largely back and forth, a couple of times, across Vineyard Sound. Many points of sail, for our guests who are learning to sail, and many wind conditions in the strong tidal current that flows through the Sound. We used main and small jib, but achieving 9.9 tide enhanced knots SOG, we reefed the main. .

 

But our next port of call is to be hurricane-sheltered New Bedford, and the issue became what to do with the dink.  Having two strong men aboard was a huge help. We raised the outboard from the dink’s transom and muscled it slowly, in stages, to and into the big starboard lazarette where it stands, cushioned in place by the fenders. It’s fuel tank is moved under the helmsman’s seat. Then we used the spinnaker halyard to lift the dink above the starboard line lines, center it over the foredeck, flip it upside down and partially deflate it. It still needs to be lashed securely to the deck. I had heard of this process, but never done it before.

 

After which, Kyle and Mark invited us to their lovely home in Oak Bluffs, to meet their two big dogs and two cats. And we used their shower, took a walk with a dog to the Pond, where they plan to keep their boat, and enjoyed take out dinner and conversation. And the launch brought us back to ILENE for our last night in Martha’s Vineyard.

 1,010 total views

Days 57-58 — August 16-17 — To Lake Tashmoo in Martha’s Vineyard and Lay Day There

As exhilarating as the passage east to Nantucket was, the reciprocal course back west to MV was, well, boring. The reason was a lack of wind, a total lack of wind until we got to the waters off West Chop, for the last two miles, when 12 knots came up, opposing the tide, which had turned against us. The waters were roiling.

We had not noticed Lake Tashmoo until our most recent prior cruise to the Vineyard; too shallow, it seemed. The lake was a lake until a channel was cut into it from Vineyard Sound. The same sort of thing as at Cuddyhunk and the Great Salt Pond of Block Island. Except here the cut, between a pair of breakwaters, is narrower and shallower. We did a small 360 degree turn when we saw a ketch’s masts exiting the Lake, to give her time to get out so the two sailboats did not have to pass each other in the narrows at the same time. We had slowed during the passage to make our arrival closer to high tide and made it through the channel without seeing less than eight feet of water. Last time we were here we saw folks wading, up to their knees, very close to both sides of the channel. This time it was marked by three or four privately maintained reds and greens until the lake opens up.

We did some boat work both the afternoon of the day of our arrival and the lay day.  On the latter, we did not even leave the boat. On arrival day we dinked to the overcrowded Lake Tashmoo public dinghy dock and walked a bit more than a mile to nearby Vineyard Haven where I met Mark and Kyle. They have moved from Vermont to MV, bought a house here, taken sailing lessons, and are planning to buy a 30 foot Catalina Sloop. Hard to believe, based on more frequent Facebook contacts, but we last saw them in Casco Bay Maine in the summer of 2013. Then they spent a few days aboard ILENE.  We had dinner with them in Vineyard Haven and planned a day sail with them in a few days. They brought us stuff that had been delivered to their home and gave us a ride back to the dinghy dock. It was a quiet time in Lake Tashmoo. Wildlife

 897 total views

Days 55-56 — August 14-15 — To Nantucket and Lay Day There

The passage from Tarpaulin Cove was generally east in predicted light winds from the SW. We hoisted anchor at 9:45 and took our expensive ($85/night!!!) Nantucket mooring, 35 NM and six hours later. We were made to feel lucky to get the mooring; they had us on a waiting list!

It was a fun sail with the motor running only 2.3 hours, mostly on takeoff and landing, with a bit in the middle when the full sails, together with the favorable tides we’re giving us only three knots. The best part came after this lull when I was aroused from my interior cleaning chores by flapping sails. What’s up ?! The wind had changed and we were on a dead run. So I let out the Genoa, jibed the main and we were sailing wing on wing. And at 8 to 8.5 knots SOG — for an hour!  That was a rare thrill. Many ferries passed us going to and coming from Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

After being shown our mooring, D3, we drove to the water dock to refill the tanks after loss of water in Mattapoiset. There we were engaged by Chris and Annie from an interior state (Tennessee?) who are not boaters. The morning of our lay day we went grocery shopping and window shopping and made a mistake. Lene suggested: Why not spend a few bucks to take the launch and save the 25 minutes of effort to raise and lower the dinghy? Plus the dinghy dock is at the southern end of the waterfront but the launch’s dock is right next to the supermarket. Good idea! But we forgot about the high cost of living in Nantucket. The launch costs $6 per person each way!!!  This is a big money town and folks spend it on sailboats

and powered behemoths line this row of four of them with two big domes high.

all but one of the powerboats was registered in the Bahamas by rich people avoiding taxes.

This was my fourth stop in Nantucket, Lene’s third, so we had seen most of the sights. During our most recent prior visit, in June 2017, we enjoyed several days before taking off before daybreak for Nova Scotia. The town of Nantucket is the only town of any size on the Island, unlike Martha’s Vineyard – twice its size, which has several large towns.

This Island is shaped somewhat like an inverted, fattened, mirror image of the Nike sneakers “swoosh” logo and is said to be 14 miles long and three wide at its widest point. We had a pleasant lunch at Breeze, the restaurant of the Nantucket Hotel  We toured the beach of the tiny village of  Siasconset at the far eastern end of the island by the local bus system. The Island only reaches 30 feet above sea level but beautiful views of the interior heath suggested greater elevation. I waded in the light surf of the Sconset beach. And what a coincidence, we were greeted by Chris and Annie who were staying with friends out there.

Sunset with Brant Point Light, at the far right, occulting red.

 888 total views