Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Marblehead to City Island

Hi Everyone:


Well things are settling down with Sue and I aboard Sogno, as we work our way down the coast toward our first major cruising ground, the Chesapeake Bay.  We are currently in the BronxCity Island to be specific – and since we have some extra time, we decided we had run out of excuses to start recording our adventures on the way down the coast.  (More about why we have "extra" time later.)


Before the Beginning


Somewhere along about Sept 10, we really started to realize we were running out of time to meet our Sept 17 departure target.  Let's just say that we managed to jointly work through our personal packing/cleaning issues as we approached Sat. Sept 15, our planned move aboard Sogno date.  We had lots of cleaning and restowing to do to make our home ready for our wonderful house sitters Jon and Shawna to move in.  Brian, the pack rat, had plenty of things to dispose of, which was really a challenge.  We almost finished by Sat. at 1pm, but had to call it quits on a few last things, until Sunday. 


We then dashed down to attend a 60th birthday party for our longtime friend Margaret who lives in Guilford, CT.  Thank you Bob and Margaret for thoroughly decompressing the Schannings at your great pig roast!  Thanks also for our overnight hosts George and Lee for your wonderful hospitality in Niantic.  A fabulous breakfast got us going for the trip back to Schooner Ridge on Sunday.


Sunday we finally moved all our stuff aboard Sogno, stowed most of it (sort of) and then had a farewell dinner at the Marblehead Yacht Club.  Not fancy by any means but our friends Dan and Elaine assured us we were DONE, and it was time for us to go.  We were running out of room inside, and the painted water line was about to submerge.  Any more time and we would probably sink poor Sogno who was stuffed to overflowing.


The Start (Mon, Sep 17)


We woke to a great morning with good winds out of the NE, which was perfect for getting to our first stop, Scituate, MA (just 20 or so miles on the other side of Boston).  Before then, we stopped at Marblehead Trading for some fuel.  When we showed up with 5 gal. Jerry Jugs to fill up along with our regular tanks, the attendant realized we were not just going out for some local cruising.  As we left with the Jugs securely lashed to our starboard rail, we got a very hearty, and welcome "Bon Voyage" from the dock hand.  I took a long look at the familiar Marblehead scenery, and found it hard to believe we might n ot be back to see it for 8 months.


Even though every thing was perfect for a good sail, we decided to turn it into a motor sail, to give the batteries a good charge. The trip was only about three hours, but the work involved in getting this first step had been way more than either of us had anticipated.


We had our usual nice time in Scituate, with a walk down the main drag, a stop at the hardware store, grocery store and of course the Satuit Tavern for some steamers and a beer.  It was an early night after one of Sue's many variations on a chicken theme for dinner.


Getting in the Cruising Groove (Tue, Sep 18)


Underway at 9am to get through the Cape Cod Canal.  For those not familiar with this Corp of  Engineers wonder, it is a sea level (no locks) large, deep canal that separates the Cape from the rest of Mass.  It was finished in the early 20th century, and is most noted for the 4 or 5 knot currents that can rush through it when either  Buzzards Bay or Cape Cod Bay has a higher tide, which occurs every 6 hours.  We had a great sail for 4 ½ hours before we had to turn on our motor for the canal passage.  We arrived to an unusually calm Buzzards Bay and continued our sail into Marion.  We spent some time looking for some moorings we could use, as members of the Blue Water Sailing Club.  Luckily we finally found one which belonged to members Ruth and Herb.  We left a message on their voice mail, and they returned it to say that we were welcome to use it, but had to promise we would call them in Florida when we got near their home in December.


It had been a long day, so after "Broccoli Alfredo" it was lights out at around 10.


Cruising where the Cruise Ships go (Wed, Sep 19)


Our next stop was Newport, RI.  We had less than an hour of sailing, when the winds calmed and we were motoring down Buzzards Bay. As we neared Newport, we were surprised to see a huge floating hotel exiting the anchorage outside the main harbor.  The Grand Princess was leaving and it made all the surrounding mansions seem just a bit smaller and a tad quaint in comparison.  We got a mooring in Newport, and discovered that things had gotten a bit pricier over the years!  We checked out the Black Pearl outdoor bar, and then proceeded to the Brick Alley Pub for dinner on the town.  A very popular spot, with large (actually too large) portions the rule.  We were stuffed, and managed to roll ourselves back to the launch before it shut down at 8pm.  Once aboard, the lights were out by 9pm.  We were definitely falling into cruiser's hours – a good sign!


Stepping Back into History (Thurs, Sep 20)


As we left Newport, the Crystal Symphony cruise ship was arriving with its USCG escort.  Newport seemed to be a very popular stop these days.


This time the sailing was limited by the direction of the wind, but we managed to turn it into a motor sail which improved our speed.  (We were motoring but getting some boost from the wind that was off our starboard bow.)  Our next stop was Mystic Seaport in CT.  Although we felt a bit nervous, we managed to squeeze into Fisher Island Sound at the Watch Hill passage, at the same time a tug and big barge were sharing the narrow pass.  In short order we were soon motoring up the Mystic River for our encounter with the two draw bridges.  We had to wait at the RR bridge for two Accella express trains, and one local to pass, before the keep er would open up the swing bridge at 4:45pm.  We then raced up the river to request opening of the second draw.  They only open during the day for a 20 minute period beginning at 40 minutes after each hour.  It turned out we were there with plenty of time to spare, and were soon tied up at the Mystic docks.  (There's more to it, but lets just say we had a good landing, but it took us time to sort out our position on the pier, and where the lines would go.)


After checking in, Sue led the cleanup gang, before we could have cocktails and a steak dinner on board Sogno.  We then went up to the Seaman's Inne, and got "shanghaied" by a wonderful couple from Cos Cob, CT, who were also on a dock near us aboard Devil Moon.  (That should have been a clue).  We went back to see each others boats, and talk about heading south.  We didn't get back to Sogno until 12:15.  So much for cruiser's hours!


Membership has its privileges (Fri, Sep 21)


The next day we had a chance to enjoy the many exhibits at Mystic.  We have been members for a year, so we finally had a chance to really see things we never seemed to have time for when we came down for day trips.  We really liked the Restoration Shipyard and were amazed at all the things they can do when restoring vessels in their collection.  We also had our first chance to check email and do the internet thing at the members lounge area, complete with fresh coffee.  (Badly needed after the late night on Devil Moon).


We also arranged to have our first repair done, replacing a broken batten. (This is a flat "stiffener" made of fiberglass, which is used to keep the sail well shaped.  There are four of them on our mainsail, and the top one had snapped.)  We ended up finding a very helpful sailmaker (UK Halsey) that managed to replace the one that had broken, plus give us some spare material we could use, if we had any problems with the other battens.)


We finished the day, with a relaxing walk down the river to the town, and dinner on a patio next to the river walk.  Cruising was getting very addictive.


Rocking at Sachem Head (Sat, Sep 22)


We left at 7:40 for the first Bridge opening and slid through the already open RR bridge without a problem.  Soon we were trying to sail on Fisher Islands Sound, but the wind was quickly gone and we were motoring into Long Island Sound with a 1.5 knot current against us.  We passed by New London, but no submarines were to be seen.  Then we passed Niantic, Old Saybrook, Clinton, and Madison, CT – all places where Brian had first learned to sail with his friend Bob.  We were on our way to Guilford, to check in to see how Margaret and Bob were doing after the 60th birthday bash. 


We arrived at Sachem Head Yacht Club, and Brian was immediately slimed by the first mooring we tried to tie up to.  The pennant (rope) attached to the float hadn't been used in years and was covered with all kinds of gunk.  The second mooring went much better, and we soon dinghied into the dock to be greeted by Bob and Margaret.  They immediately helped us with provisions and showers.  We took them back to Sogno for cocktails in what was now a rollicking good swell from the exposed SW, with rain threatening from the North.  We stuck to our guns (I mean glasses) and were able to enjoy a decent sunset, before we went ashore for a delicious dinner at Bob/Margaret's, even though they were leaving on an early flight the next day.  We were back aboard Sogno by 9:30 and were glad to see the seas had calmed considerably.  We had a restful night.


Long Island Soundings (Sun, Sep 23)


We had our best sail of the cruise, with strong winds that got us most of the way to Eaton's Neck, Huntington, Long Island.  We motored into a quiet little cove that we shared with just a few boats and the local Coast Guard station.  It was a very narrow channel, but it turned out to be very well marked, and after some anchoring adventures, we were all set for a restful night with nothing but sand and marshes around us.


Seaport of the Bronx (Mon Sep 23)


Long Island Sound was dead calm as we made the short run to City Island, which is a world of its own connected by a small bridge to New York City and the Bronx.  We arrived at the Harlem Yacht Club, and received a very friendly reception.  After some needed showers, we checked out the local scene.  After testing some mussels at one spot, we finally decided to go Italian and had most of a very nice restaurant to ourselves looking out on the New York City lights in the background.  Tomorrow would be another big day with the always impressive trip down the East R iver and Manhattan,


Homeland Security (Tues, Sep 24)


Well today's entry is pretty short.  As we were heading out at 8:00am word came over the VHF radio,  that the Coast Guard was shutting down traffic on the East River near the United Nations.  All the world's leaders were seemingly conspiring to stop our voyage!  We should have known, but we had no choice but to turn around for another day in City Island.  The outlook appears good for tomorrow that a partial opening will occur, and we're hoping to find our next spot in Staten Island.


On the bright side, we finally found the time to organize our blog a bit, and give you an idea of what we're up to.  Our goal is to update this once a week.  No promises, but we do want to share our experiences with all our friends.  You've encouraged us, given us advice, and helped us out in many countless ways as we got ready for the big trip.  We hope you'll enjoy it and drop us a line occasionally to let us know what you'd like to hear more about.


 Sue and Brian


A.Falk said...

Hi Susan & Brian:
great to hear from you and to be able to read about your adventures in so much detail! I will be sure to work with Dale so that we can syndicate your blog within the MSPS website!
I'm sorry that we missed each other before you departed - would have loved to buy you a couple of D&S's and wish you fair winds and calm seas.
As it stands, I will now extend my wishes to you via this comment on your new blog... :)
Looking forward to the next installment - I'll be sure to add this to my Feed Reader!
All the best,

Anonymous said...

Hi Brian and Sue
Just a couple of lines to wish you all fair winds at your back and wishes for a fun and event-full voiage.
I will be checking in from time to time to enjoy your blog.
Be well

Ed Libby

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