This entry started as simply a video log, but I lost patience. Still, a partial video of the trip is at the end here.
After a 12 hour and 1 minute drive, UNA met Little T late on a Saturday at Stone Cove Marina in Wakefield, RI at the head of Pt. Judith Pond. A stone’s throw from there we “borrowed” a mooring for the night. Temps were cool, breeze light and southerly. Sleep came easily.
The following morning started calm, but a sea breeze filled in. Expecting to meet Peter and Mike in NIP later that day, we decided to beat down the Pond on an outgoing tide for sightseeing Pt. Judith Refuge.
The race past the ferry landing was moving rapidly. Power boats had little consideration for sailboats. Most didn’t appear to know the rules of the road or demonstrate any patience. No surprise. Perhaps they were concerned with the swift current too.
Mike, coming from Philly, was delayed en route through Connecticut. The plan devolves into Peter driving NIP to meet him part way in Stonington, CT 17 miles away. U and LT would catch up there. At noon however, the breeze out in Block Island Sound quits. Peter, waiting to confirm with Mike, is still at Stone Cove. We decide to sail back in and meet there. After slopping around until 13:30, an afternoon breeze stirs.
We ride the ebb tide back into the Pond only to find Peter has now decided to go to Stonington. At this point U and LT decide to sail to Block Island and clear the eastern entrance of Pt. Judith Refuge at 15:30. It is a late start, but the southerly winds help us along. What exactly the incoming current is doing is hard to tell. UNA points almost to North Pt on Block. Part way out, Little T is motor sails, passes us at North Pt. and heads into Great Salt Pond. For UNA, the wind dies. Not wanting to be swept past the island and still unsure of the current we tack just west of North and ride along the western coast to arrive in the Pond at sunset.
We raft to Little T briefly, talk about the great day (12 hrs of sailing), have a beer, fix dinner and cast off for the night. Anchored off Breezy Point, we can count over 150-175 boats moored or anchored. My last visit was almost 25 years ago. Much was the same, but newer bigger construction was evident, detracting from the island’s quaintness. Though early in the season, the place seemed more hectic, but still possessing the air of another land. Maybe it is the fresh sea breeze.
We decide to catch breakfast at the Old Harbor about 1.5 miles away on the opposite side of the island. First we needed to hail the water taxi. After repeated attempts via VHF channel 16, a nearby boater, sick of listening to us, hails the “launch”, a term which finally gets a response. Kevin is particularly annoyed at the “water taxi” operator’s haughtiness and resolves to catch him in a dark alley on a subsequent visit. How he would dispense of the body is a topic he sticks to for a good part of the walk to The Old Harbor. My dead phone is left with a Serbian named Milo behind the counter at a pier store for charging. Apparently there are many migrant workers from Serbia that arrive for the summer work and then leave (not sure anybody is really checking on that).
At Old Harbor, breakfast is on the verandah of the Surf Hotel which overlooks the harbor. Our good waitress is … ready? … Serbian. Omlette is perfect. High speed ferries blow in and out of the stone seawalls. With all the environmental concerns, it is hard to believe that these craft don’t power away everything on the sea floor. Getting run over by one of these fast boats is certainly a real concern. They can appear out of nowhere. The water is quite clear and the temps cool. Was a great way to have a meal.
Upon return to the “taxi” dock, Kevin gets geared up for dunking the taxi’s helmsman. I’m glad he’s back away from keel-hauling. I find Milo and my phone still there. He says his boss threatened to fire him for his small act of kindness. I apologize, buy some groceries and leave a tip. So much for the relaxed atmosphere.
Back at the “yachts” the wind has picked up. Noon weather predictions sound like we could get socked in, so we put in a reef, sail a loop once around the mooring field, slip past Cormorant Cove, and reach along Harbor Neck’s Coast Guard Station. We head for Stonington to meet Mike and Peter who had spent the night behind Sandy Point outside Watch Hill.
Not 30 minutes out the wind diminishes. We shake reefs and continue on a broad reach for 3-4 hours and make Watch Hill light as the afternoon breeze kicks in. Once in Little Narragansett Bay behind Sandy Spit we spy Nip’s two masts, raise board and rudder and slide over skinny water to be greeted by our missing buddies. The gulls immediately descend on their unattended picnic and try to take off with basket, cheese and summer sausage (that is a shooting offense). We trade stories, share wine, tell bigger tales and at sunset depart to settle in the boats for the night.
Mike and Peter draw a tarp over themselves and call it quits. However, around 02:00 winds grow, thunder and lightning is on the southern horizon and Kevin yells 1/2″ hail is headed our way. I survey bearings add 10′ to anchor scope and roll back into my bunk. Wind maybe hits upper 20’s. No hail. Tent keeps things dry and pointed into the wind. The sand spit kills any wave action. Mike and Peter on the other hand have a fire drill to lower the main mast for a ridge pole, install the tarp roof and nest back in.
Regretfully, Peter has to head back to the ramp across the little bay and on home with NIP. Mike gives Kevin and I a lift to retrieve our trailers. I grab some ice and a lipo battery for phone charging at Waverly’s Walmart. Back at the ramp, Mike continues on with Kevin in Little T. We sail into Watch Hill’s elite harbor and then tour Stonington Harbor.
Stonington has its share of beauties too.
By now it is around noon. With a good beat to Mystic, we buck the current, sneak to weather of White Rocks (not sure if the cormorants didn’t paint them), tack under Enders Island, round Mason Pt. and reach into Mystic’s outer harbor. It is one beautiful classic boat after another. We are a couple of days out from the WoodenBoat Show, but I believe most of the boats on view are permanent residents. We pass through the 2 draw bridges to anchor off Mystic Seaport Museum. Dinner is perfectly battered fish-n-chips at Latitude 41. We have a nice sunset view from the patio under the shade of a large tree. The evening is cool. I sleep until 07:00 when I hear an “oh sh*t!” as a single manned rowing shell discovers at the last moment they are aimed at UNA. Thankfully it is a miss. We take the water taxi Little T to a bagel shop for breakfast and then sail/motor back to the ramp at Barn Island near Stonington. Mike heads home and I pull UNA and do the same. Kevin stays for another night. Together we covered about 100 miles in the 3-4 days.
Another good trip. Thanks Peter!
2 thoughts on “Block Island Sound Surrounds”
Great little trip. I spent lots of time in Newport and BI racing and the pics bring back good memories. Loved the pics of Araminta and if you have an additional $75K laying around doing nothing, she could be yours and a wonderful counterpoint to Luna. The Maritime Museum is selling her – http://brooklinboatyard.com/araminta/.
Thanks Bob. Would be nice to at least sail Araminta. What are you sailing?