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Old 01-09-2008, 06:56   #1
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skipgundlach's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2003
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Boat: Morgan 461 S/Y Flying Pig
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Island Time, PC- Saturday, August 30...

Island Time, PC- Saturday, August 30...

When we left you, we'd reached Nantucket. I'll spare you the
limerick :{)) Nantucket was interesting from a historical point
of view, and from the contrast to the mainland points we've been
in up until now.

Currents in the area are sometimes fierce, due to the small
distances between land masses, and as the tides change,
calculating where and when the current will be becomes much more
interesting than just whether or not you're in the Gulf Stream.
That's because, depending on where you are, you could be getting
an advantage - or disadvantage - of more than 5 knots, even up to
10 in a couple of the areas we've not had to transit. Typical
differences, however, are more than a couple of knots, and if
you're sailing against them, it can make a big difference in how
things go.

We had a very nice visit with Lydia's best adult buddy from her
early motherhood days, and her daughter and son-in-law, who have
their home on Nantucket. Nantucket is home to some pretty famous
people, and you basically can't buy a house there for under a
million dollars.

Fortunately for her buddy's daughter, she works for the town's
Land Trust, which provides her and her contractor husband a
lovely town-owned home at a somewhat discounted rate of rent.
The island is in the midst of deciding whether to even allow, let
alone encourage, development. Understandably, the locals want to
restrict everything they can, and the prices reflect that.

Being an island, like the Bahamas, everything has to be either
flown in or boated in, and while there is very regular ferry
service, it's expensive. There is some local produce available,
but basically you'll pay about a 20% or higher premium for nearly

A case in point was gasoline, which at the time of this writing,
had over a 25% premium over mainland pricing. Too bad for us, we
paid $26 for a 5-gallon jerry jug refill. Imagine owning a truck
or SUV and driving to work every day. Even though the island's
small, you'll still put on the miles. I did see something I'd
first seen 4 years ago in Scotland, a SMART car, recently
imported to the US. Later, I'd see an entire fleet available to
rent on Martha's Vineyard. I like them. They remind me of the
Isettas of my youth...

After 3 days of hedonism with her buddy, Lydia climbed back
aboard, and we set sail for Martha's Vineyard. It had been
described as an aging hippie-styled island, as compared to the
Neiman-Marcus style of Nantucket. I don't know that I agree with
either characterization, but it certainly had a different flavor
when we got there...

This trip (since we left Florida for Maine, and turned south) has
been in stark contrast to our first trip up the East coast of the
US. That trip had us totally bedeviled with stuff which broke or
needed fixing or just plain wore out. This one has had very
minor glitches, all of which have been very easy to remedy.
Instead, we've been able to focus on the navigation and sailing
enjoyment we signed on for, so to speak.

Despite cruising having been universally described as "boat
repair in exotic locations," we'd hoped to keep that part to a
minimum. After our wreck, the thought that a thorough shakedown
cruise, in an area within hailing distance of TowBoatUS and many
chandleries or (not a chandlery in any usual sense of the word)
simply West, BoatersWorld, Hamilton (the iconic marine store in
Portland) and the like, would make good sense. Our experience
has proven us right on that subject.

However, along the way, we've reinforced my opinion that the US
has enormous capability to enchant, captivate and otherwise
succor a cruiser. Even this trip is a "hurry up" for us, and
we're jumping over enormous areas which would be wonderful and
entertaining to explore, in our quest to make it to Miami or
south of there, where we'll pick up Lydia's mother for another

We'll go to the Bahamas after doing the Keys for a while (more
Island Time!), but I'm looking ahead to the possibility that, if
we can't achieve a 1-year visa in Bahamas, instead of just
diving to the T&C, we might come back to Miami, saving Lydia's
mom the extra airfare to get back to her Delta roundtrip point,
and then, get an early enough start that we could actually spend
some time sightseeing as we worked our way to Nova Scotia in
early August before heading south again.

But, I digress...

The trip from Nantucket to Martha's Vineyard is pretty easily
done in a daysail, assuming conditions and currents are right.
The wind was forecast to be fairly good in direction, and pretty
stiff. Unfortunately, as is frequently the case, it was a very
close point of sail, instead of an easy ride.

The forecasts had it at 15-20, N, but, ever the Murphy rule, as
we were coming out of the channel, we had to tack off to the NE
in more like 10-15 in order to miss the shoals. The area between
Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard is very highly populated with
shoals, and one has to pay sharp attention to where and when
you're sailing. That said, it was a marvelous sail, if a beat,
up to that point.

Making the turn, the wind piped up to the forecasted 15-20, but
we did very nicely on full main and genoa, making about 6-7 knots
beating into the wind. As we cleared the lighthouse at about 5
PM, the wind died altogether, and we reluctantly turned on Perky
to motor the rest of the way, into the harbor.

We'd stopped in the harbor just to overnight, on the way to
Nantucket a few days prior, so had a bit of experience in what
was there. On close examination of the charts in large scale, we
decided that we'd anchor, instead of very close to the entrance,
almost at the bottom. A small tour of the area, following the
directions of the local TowBoatUS affiliate, convinced us that
just north of the breakwater would be ideal.

In fact, it proved to be so, and we anchored in about 11 feet of
water, with low-low tide indications of about 8 feet, well clear
of our keel. Holding was excellent, and we nestled in next to a
wooden boat on his anchor, between the breakwater and the first
of the moorings in that area. We saw someone in a dinghy going
around where we thought was the end of the breakwater. Turns out
it didn't go all the way to shore, and that route to the dinghy
dock would be very convenient. Making our dinner, we watched a
movie, and went to bed.

While we thought we'd hit the ground running, inertia overcame
us, and we didn't get the dinghy down before nearly noon. We'd
learned that there were bicycles available to rent, and as we
have a folder aboard, we could both ride, to see the town. We
pulled the bike out, jumped in the dinghy and did a run around to
a marine supply house specializing in wooden boat supplies.

The area still has wooden boat builders, and the dacron 3-strand
which makes our lazy jacks (the typical lines and sheets on an
old wooden boat or current replica) was readily available, where
I'd not seen any before in all my looking. So, we got new line
for the main part of the lazy jacks, as ours is fading fast.
(You may recall that one of them parted and I spliced it before
rereeving it up the mast in Portland...) The next time we have
the sail cover off, I'll redo the main lift for the lazy jacks
with the new line.

Martha's Vineyard was, indeed, a much more laid-back place, and
while it didn't have the community-provided free restrooms and
showers, the ferry terminal had not only restrooms but ample
information about where to go, things to see, and how to get
there. Because we arrived so late, we elected to leave the bike
in the dink initially, and walk, rather than rent a bike with
only a few hours.

Martha's Vineyard is actually several communities, and the bus
system there will ride you for a buck or an entire day for 6. If
we get there again, we'll do the bus pass and never-mind the
bikes. We had a lovely walking tour, however, using the several
maps provided, and the guidance of the local information-booth
guy at the ferry landing.

The architecture, the history, and the extreme age of some of the
things we saw were impressive. We realize we have little to brag
about when compared to, say, Europe or England, but seeing the
gravestones, some of the dates on the houses and municipal
structures, and other history gave us a great perspective on the
privileges of modern life. The graveyard in particular brought
home the hardships of life in that area so long ago, as the "lost
at sea" or age 3 months or 12 years or the like was a very common
inscription on the gravestones...

When we returned home (Flying Pig is our only home!), we went by
way of the harbor, ogling the huge schooners there, and the
lesser schooners as well. The number of wooden boats in the
harbor exceeds our total encounters the entire time we've been
cruising (granted, not all that long!), and they're just
gorgeous. Building and maintenance of these beauties is an art
form not lost on the locals, and for the most part, the boats we
saw looked like they just came out of the building shed.

However, the boat anchored next to us is a work in progress, and
looks more like the typical full-time cruiser, which he is. Bob,
a retired homeless-shelter chaplain, and his son Zack, were
aboard. He's gone totally economical, using oil lights, and
having a battery only for starting his engine and the very small
demands of an anchor light and a couple of other small loads.
Like us, he turns on the motor only when absolutely necessary,
and if the wind's not blowing, or not blowing the right way,
doesn't go! Still, it's a wooden boat with loads of character.
Somehow, as efficient as they are, the plastic boats just don't
have the same flavor and appearance as the enchanting wooden boat
which abound in this part of the world.

Another restful night at anchor, the wind came up and provided a
bit of North swell, which rocked us gently. Once again, we
studied the charts for current information, and looked at NOAA's
reports for information about planning our progress to Block

As to the title on this log entry, our on-board systems include a
12V computer provided by IslandTimePC. All the comforts of home,
but we also have the advantage of our wifi antenna and
distribution system. As such, we've never been skunked in our
ability to get internet connectivity, and Martha's Vineyard was
no exception. So, we were able to look at all the current
weather information in programming our departure for Block Island
expecting to arrive by dark.

We'd originally thought that it would be more prudent to leave at
dusk, and make it an overnight run, but the currents for that
time would have been contrary for us, and, as well, on
recalculation, I felt that we could easily make the run in
daylight. If we'd averaged only 4 knots, it would take us 15
hours, and if 7 knots, only 8. That would put us there before
daylight, and not a great entrance, and, worse, a challenging
anchorage, so we decided instead to leave early the next morning.
Winds were forecast such that we should have a trip of about
10-12 hours. Of course, "forecasts" are usually, at least in our
experience other than with Chris Parker, our passage guru, at
best a guess. This was no different...

We left the anchorage at about 7:30 in a light wind, with a
slight heading current. Full main and genoa, we ghosted along as
the wind got lighter by the moment, mostly behind us, rather than
the forecasted lovely beam reach. Finally, I rolled in the genoa
and pulled out the asymmetrical spinnaker, and went wing-and-wing
with a preventer on the main to hold it out slightly against the
wind, preventing an unexpected jibe.

However, the wind continued to die, and our spinnaker wasn't
staying full, so at 11AM I dropped the main in order not to
blanket the air getting forward. As dead downwind isn't the
fastest point of sail anyway, we jibed a bit, putting the wind
about 30 degrees off our port stern, and our speed picked up.
Picked up, that is, from a boring 2 to a screaming 3 knots! But,
the sail stayed full, and, briefly, even, came abeam, where we
could develop a bit more speed. For a brief time, we were making
6 knots in 4 knots of apparent wind :{))

Along the way, we were passed by a boat with a true spinnaker,
and they were able to go directly downwind, right where we were
going. We could see them, still, throughout the day, but by the
end, they were nearly out of sight. As we got closer to the
entrance of the harbor, in a very close call on whether we'd make
it before dark, we gave them a call, just to chat them up to
exult over the rare time when we can run the spinnaker all day
long. Imagine our surprise when it turned out to be another of
our angels, our first direct helpers in Key West, not even a
couple of days after our wreck!

They were pushing south, so unfortunately we didn't get to take
them to dinner to thank them for all their kindnesses, but it
sure is a small world out there. We keep bumping into people we
know, or, more frequently, people who know us...

Back to the story, however, at about 4:30, the wind started
picking up, and for a while we were enjoying a real sleighride,
making 8 knots in 12 knots of apparent wind. However, that also
meant, since we were going basically downwind, that the wind had
picked up to about 20, and we reluctantly doused the spinnaker at
about 6PM as the apparent wind piped up to over 15 knots.

As we were still basically downwind, even the genoa wouldn't stay
filled, so we bowed to the reality of impending dark, and once
again turned on our faithful iron genoa. The good news was that
by the time we turned the corner, the wind was now on our beam,
and the genoa blasted us along toward our destination. Once in
the area of the breakwater, the wind, protected by the land, had
died, and we rolled up the genoa as we slid into the anchorage.

By 7:40, we were anchored in about 40 feet of water, enjoying our
protected location. As large as the Great Salt Pond in Block
Island is, there is a very limited area in which one may anchor.
Fortunately, we'd arrived before the crush of Labor Day revelers,
and had a clear space available, guided by our friends Jay and

The next morning, we heard calling from a boat which was motoring
around the anchorage. Aldo's bakery, headed by the driver who
was singing Italian opera, had a wide variety of their wares
aboard, including hot breakfasts, coffee, and more pastries than
I could eat, even if I wanted to (which I surely did, as good as
they all looked) if I only sampled each one. We settled for a
blueberry, for me, and a cranberry-walnut, for Lydia, muffins to
go with our cinnamon hazelnut coffee we'd just brewed. They were

A diversion here to speak to our means of making coffee, as the
subject has come up in a couple of the areas which see these
logs. We use a stainless steel, thermos-style (insulated),
French press to brew our coffee, which we grind fresh each pot.
Lydia succumbed to convenience, and we have an electric Starbucks
grinder aboard.

However, it's only one of the food-processor equivalents; it has
a fast-whirling blade which chops up the beans. I also had, and
used, until she came aboard, a manual grinder which I found at a
West Marine Bargain Center (sometimes found behind a very much
larger store, it's where oddballs and mismatches go to die, but
sometimes you find extraordinary bargains). That's a burr
grinder, and coffee purists will tell you that it makes a very
much superior grind to the sometimes-burnt (due to overheating
and running it too long) results from the usual electric
appliance. So, if you're really serious about energy
conservation, a manual burr grinder is the way to go, giving you
your morning exercise - mine took 150 strokes to grind my two
heaping scoops, and both arms got a workout, since you have to
hold it still while you grind - and a *very* good grind on the

Finally, we found this French press in a LeCrueset store. Nearly
any of the French presses we'd seen previously were glass, a
definite no-no on the boat, so I was overjoyed when I saw it.
Not only do you get a superior cup of coffee, it keeps it warm
enough for the second mug if you're a solitary drinker. In my
case, it's usually a matter of keeping the second pot warm while
we have our first cuppa. It's a liter pot, and it perfectly
fills the two wide-bottomed stainless steel insulated mugs we use
with nothing left over, so I usually make the second pot
immediately when I pour our firsts. Generally speaking, that's
the one I'll drink while I'm looking at the morning emails, with
Lydia's cooling just a tiny bit, to make it immediately drinkable
when she makes it up. Then, we've got our second cup waiting
without having to boil the pot, first (regular teakettle, with a
measured amount of water). Back to Block Island...

Despite our best intentions, though, inertia overcame us and we
didn't make it to shore, this time, until nearly 2PM. In our
defense, that was partly because we'd found in chatting up the
local TowBoatUS rep that we could hail the Block Island Boat
Basin to make a reservation to land at their single-space (tight,
at that!) face to take on water. So, we did, and they said it
would be ok if we could come in the next 10 minutes. Wow! Up
comes the anchor, surprisingly, clean, though some of the chain
was very black fine mud, and we're off.

Oops! It's about a 30-foot long dock, with slips on both sides.
On the right side, there's a power boat with the nose sticking
about 10' out into the space our stern would like to occupy, and
on the other, another power boat with the nose flush to the dock
face line. Well, nothing to do but execute a Captain-Ron style
approach, taking advantage of our starboard-propwalk setup. We
didn't smack the dock as he did, but we did kiss it, and I
maneuvered Flying Pig on the way in such that the dinghy hung
over the other guy's nose, the platform was just starboard of his
bow, and our bow was well away from the other power boat. They'd
sent out line-handlers, but there wasn't much point, as Lydia
never hands over the line until we've stopped, anyway :{)) -
usually she just lassoes the cleat and brings the line back
through the chock to tie it off there.

A quick washdown to take off the passage salt from deck and
bimini/enclosures, filled both tanks, and we cleared the dock.
While there were no other boats waiting, I'm sure they were
apprehensive that traffic would soon be overwhelmed. The day
looked to be spectacular in its offing, and we hurried back to
our anchorage. As we'd come in under falling dusk, we didn't
really get to wander around for the "best" spot, so, especially
since many boats, our friends' included, had already left, we
chose a spot a bit closer to the mouth, where, instead of over 30
feet deep, it was only about 25. Unfortunately for us, though
the anchoring was totally uneventful, we spooked a boat which had
out more chain than we. They felt they might swing into us if
the wind changed...

So, up it came, already set so hard the windlass grunted as we
came over the anchor, and off to the largest area we could find.
That worked out to about 40 feet or so depth, but, since it
doesn't do us any good in the locker, we just put out copious
chain. That much chain, relatively gently laid as we reverse,
makes for a great back-down set. Our normal anchor-set routine
is to let it grab with only a little scope, so we don't have the
potential for fouling the anchor with too much chain immediately,
and then let it out as we either drift or power back, with
intermediate tightenings of the chain with just the momentum of
the boat doing minor sets before backing down on it to make sure
it was firmly set...

So, anyway, with well over 100' out, we could get up a lot of
momentum in our backdown maneuver. It's always very satisfying
to see the chain straighten out, and then have the boat come to a
very firm and positive stop :{)) Chuffed with our success, part
of which was my first actual use of the helm anchor switch (never
went forward this time), we commenced to getting the dinghy down.
I've been dissatisfied with our securing modus on the dinghy, it
previously being just lines from the front and rear of the boat,
and had bought some ratchet straps at our last visit to WalMart.
They worked a real treat, as our Kiwi buddies say, and the dink
is totally immobile under way. Taking them down, and installing
the outboard and fuel tanks was routine, but took a while, as it
always does. This, too, was a first - we'd not put the straps on
until our passage over from Martha's Vineyard...

Well, between unanchoring, and reanchoring twice, and getting the
dinghy down, it was now past noon, so we had a sandwich and
headed into town, late, again. Despite our late start, we
managed a walking tour of the old town, finding it charming,
enchanting, and good exercise. We, of course, had to stop at
Aldo's to see what this was all about. Turned out the prices on
the pastries were exactly the same in the store as were charged
on his delivery boat, a marvelous concession. It reminded us of
the Caribbean islands, where fresh bread is frequently flogged in
the same fashion, though not usually with a lyric tenor singing
Italian opera!

However, they also sold ice cream, so we splurged and split a
hand-packed pint. As a very serious ice cream consumer in my
landside days, I learned quickly that when one went into a
multi-dollar-per-scoop establishment, even though a pint might
well exceed a half gallon of store-supplied, very good, ice cream
in cost, it was far more efficient to get a larger serving that

And, I've also learned that if you tell the scooper up front that
you won't need a lid, typically they'll pile it on so that it
looks a bit like a wider-based version of a waffle cone's pile at
the end. So, we enjoyed our Peppermint Stick, Chocolate Heathbar
Crunch, Pistachio and Rum Raisin archeological expedition (dig
further, find a different layer), and walked back to the docks.

A brisk ride out to the dinghy and a late supper had us to bed
early, as to catch the tides and currents would require a very
early start as we headed off to Long Island Sound. The forecasts
were absolutely perfect for a lovely sail to the Connecticut
River, our destination on the way to Deep River where a client
from my prior life awaited our arrival, so we went to bed
dreaming of beam reaches.

We'll leave you there, and pick up with our Long Island Sound
adventures later - Happy Labor Day...

Stay tuned :{))



Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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