Knock on wood! In our travels from Fishers Island to Block Island and on to Old Saybrook, nothing on Second Star broke. That of course doesn’t mean everything is in perfect working order, it just means the project list didn’t get longer. We’ll count that as a success as the first few weeks of our journey was plagued with breakages big and small.
What we haven’t done much of is sail. The wind gods have seldom blessed us with fair winds. On the short hop (about 18 nm) from Fishers Island to Block Island the winds were almost favorable, but not quite. Between the tides and the wind sailing would have added time and distance that we didn’t want to add.
We arrived at Block and found a municipal mooring on the day after Labor Day, a day when the island begins to recover from the onslaught of summer tourists. A few miles before entering the channel to Great Salt Pond our VHF radio started ringing startling both of us. It was our first experience with Digital Selective Calling (DSC) and it did not go well. After a second try I answered the call from Jeremy aboard Mug Up, a boat from our home marina in Fair Haven, welcoming us to Block Island. It is time to read the VHF manual.
Moorings were plentiful in the pond. As we secured Second Star a dingy arrived with Jim, Laurie and their dog Poppy to welcome us. Jim is a fellow Sabre owner and we knew each other from the Sabre Owners forum. No sooner than Jim and Laurie leaving, arriving were Jeremey and Jillian with their three offspring to welcome us to Block Island. The cruising community is a welcoming and friendly group, a group we are coming to love and feel a part of more each day.
While moored at Block time was spent at the Scotch Beach (an eastward facing miles-long sand beach), exploring the main town of Old Harbor, and just hanging out. Sitting in the cockpit and relaxing we were visited by a pair of dolphins swimming through the mooring field. Their graceful swimming was mesmerizing, we and others nearby were out with our cameras trying to capture their grace and beauty. According to the Harbormaster visits by dolphins are infrequent, but not unknown.
We had planned to only spend a couple of nights at Block, however a frontal system and Hurricane Larry had different ideas. On the day of our planned departure, there seemed to be as much water above as below us. In the pond the winds were quiet, however outside the pond winds from the frontal system combined with high seas from Larry shrouded in fog made leaving a non-option.
Long Island Sound is roughly shaped like a football, narrow ends and a wide middle. The tides ebb and flow through three narrow openings, Hell Gate on the East River at the west end and The Race and Plum Gut on the east end. In each of these openings the currents can reach three to four knots, sailors have to time their passages or have their speeds reduced to near zero. Our route west after departing Block Island would take us through The Race. The race is an interesting geological formation. In addition to a narrow opening into the Sound there is a deep trench more than 100 feet lower than the surrounding seabed. When the tides flow they go deep into the trench and then well upwards creating unusual wave patterns.
Leaving Block Island on Saturday, the 11th, we found the winds were almost favorable for our trip from Block Island to Old Saybrook. All day there were just 20 or so degrees off from being sailable. Sailing was an option, however doing so would have added considerable distance to our trip. Arriving at The Race midday we had a favorable tide, adding about 2 knots to our speed. It is an eerie experience motoring though an upwelling with undulating water and eddies while surrounded by erratic waves and chop. By late afternoon we were secured to a mooring in North Cove and settled in for a couple of nights.
A note about our posts.
We really enjoy hearing comments from our followers. It helps to motivate us to write more. Almost by necessity our posts are not in real time. We try to make them timely, however sometimes that is really difficult. After spending eight to ten hours on the water when we stop, about all we want is a beer and bed. Boat chores, sightseeing, and just enjoying where we are consume a lot of time. Sometimes writing falls lower on the to-do list. The Spot Tracker is the best way to know where we are in close to real time. If the tracker hasn’t been updated in a day or more, relax, we probably haven’t moved or forgot to turn on the tracker (see that long straight line out of Block Island, that’s an oops we forgot something.)
Finally, if there is some aspect of the trip or about living aboard you’d like to know more about let us know. We’re happy to share what we have learned, what we are learning, and what we need to learn. Send us an email or leave a comment below.