Ahoy from the crew of the BlueJacket!
I've been quite remiss in writing, but we've been super busy and every time I think that things will slow down, something else pops up. Anyhow, before I get further behind, I'm going to get a newsletter out.
I'm happy to report that BlueJacket is back in the water and all of the work that I undertook this past winter went well. The new headliner looks fantastic and I've managed to refinish most of the molding, the sole (aka the floor) and some of the cabinetry. Believe me, these were time intensive projects and I'm still working on various parts of the interior. I also rebedded all of the port holes, did a finishing compound job on the top sides (that was a long job), got the hull sparkling and painted the bottom. Believe me, the girl is looking fantastic! I also installed an AIS (Automatic Identification System) transponder so that ships and other boats can see us. There are lots of other projects underway, but I won't bore you with the details...yet... :-)
The weather in New England has been far from summer-like (in July we're 7 degrees below average) and as a result the month of June was pretty much spent sitting at the dock doing projects. On those rare days when the weather was nice, we did manage to get the boat out for a few shake-down cruises. One wonderfully quaint town that we explored and which is only a few miles away from the marina, is Bristol, RI. The town itself is quintessential New England and has a vibrant downtown. We stopped in Bristol on the Saturday before the 4th of July and one of the things that we quickly learned was that they take the 4th of July very seriously. They have celebrations that run for the entire week before the 4th and we just happened to stumble into an event known as Water Wars.
Water Wars is a competition between the various Bristol fire houses. They have a variety of competitions, but the one that was probably the most interesting involved teams of 4 fire fighters covered in protective foam and fiberglass shields on their backs. They're so heavily wrapped that they can hardly walk and need assistance to get onto the field. The two teams huddle with their backs facing toward the other team and attempt to aim a fire hose at the other team, which is about 100' away. There's a coach standing next to their team telling them how to aim the hose. They fire the hoses at one another until a team either collapses or 10 minutes elapses at which point the winning team is the one whose water stream was on the other team for the longest. This is a brutal competition, with people breaking ribs in the past. When it's over, they often collapse on the field and need to be helped off!
Bristol was also having a carnival, which was fun to walk through and we also attended a hotdog eating contest. While we weren't present for it, their parade is broadcast throughout the state and you're reminded of it every time that you drive down their streets, as the parade route has a red, white and blue centerline down it.
The weather gods appeared to be smiling on us for the 4th of July weekend and as a result we planned on heading to Block Island, which is an island about 8 miles off the coast of RI and CT. The anchorage is always a zoo, so I thought that I would head over early and get a mooring ball. I planned on going on Wednesday, but Sue had family picnic that she wanted to attend, so I recruited a friend of ours, John Lewis, to help move the boat. John used to sail in college and really wanted to get out sailing.
When I got up it looked really dark to the west and when I checked
the radar, it showed a long line of thunderstorms that were color
coded yellow with dark red in the middle, so we decided to wait for a
couple of hours until it blew through. It eventually did and we headed
down the Narragansett. The winds were really fluky, so we went from
great sailing to nothing to wind on the nose to downwind sailing.
As we departed the Narragansett, it started looking quite ominous. We dropped the sails and started motoring to Block Island, which was about 20 miles away. After about 1/2 of an hour lightening started crashing down and the winds picked up. When the rain arrived, it was an absolute deluge and lasted for the majority of the trip to BI. It's amazing how heavy rain flattens the seas, as they weren't bad at all. It was one of the wettest trips that I've ever had!
I think that John was freaked out by all of the close lightening. My view was "what else are we supposed to do? Head into a port and anchor? We've got the same chance of getting hit there as we do at sea." I was just hoping to punch through the other side of the rain. We didn't punch through, but we made it in one piece and I definately owe John a good day of sailing!
I thought that if we arrived on Wednesday that we would be there early enough to find a mooring ball. Wrong...According to some people who had arrived on Tuesday, the last balls quickly disappeared that day. I have no problems anchoring, but I just worry about the rest of the yahoos who never anchor and end up anchoring on top of you and/or dragging. I picked a spot towards an anchoring boundary, thinking that no one would be able to get behind me. That lasted for about a day...Then we had a small boat with no name, port or registration drop their hook very near us. I anchored in 33' of water and had 160' of chain out. They had a lot less than that and used rope, so they swung very differently. We never touched, but we sure came close. For cheap insurance, I put fenders out on their side.
The number of boats which arrived for the 4th was absolutely amazing. One guide book that I have states that Great Salt Pond (aka New Harbor), can hold 1000 boats. I'd be willing to bet that there was close to that. I just kept watching as boat after boat came through the channel and looked for a place to anchor. One of the more amazing sights is all of the boats rafted in Old Harbor. I have no idea how they form or disentangle themselves when they're done.
Not to be outdone were the marinas, who charge $8/ft and stack boats up to 7 deep. We noted that the first 4 boats got power and the rest didn't. I guess that's to make up for all of the people walking over your boat to get to theirs. Why doesn't this look like fun to me?
Block Island always had a great parade and fireworks. They didn't disappoint again and the people watching was great.
On Sunday we had great westerly winds and decided to head out and head back towards home, with the intention of not getting there...We had 15-20+ kts dead on the stern and had a sleigh ride. We decided to head to Cuttyhunk, which is part of the Elizabeth Islands off of RI and MA and was 33 miles away. We averaged 7 kts for the trip and we hit 10 kts on one surf!
Cuttyhunk is a small island with a nice pond in the interior that they've dredged for a mooring field and anchorage. You can also anchor outside of the pond, but it was blowing 20+ kts and we wanted to head into the town. As a result headed into the pond and were lucky enough to be offered a private mooring ball for free. There's not much on Cuttyhunk other than houses, a great raw bar, a small grocery store and a few restaurants. It's definitely a laid back place.
The next morning we woke up and once again found sun shining, but no wind. Martha's Vineyard lays about 7 miles away, so we decided to head that direction. We headed to the town of Oak Bluffs, which has a wonderful village consisting of ornately decorated cottages which are absolutely wonderful to look at.
The following day we thought that we were going to anchor at Woods Hole, but when we got there we found that the mooring field had completely taken over the area where you used to be able to anchor. On top of that they wanted $65 for a mooring ball, so we said forget it and headed towards home.The winds, which had been very light, stiffened up considerably and we had a great sail. Unfortunately the weather gods didn't listen to the TV forecast and the scattered showers that were predicted turned into 3+" of rain that started about 1/2 an hour before we got into our anchorage at 3rd beach and lasted all night...
If you're looking for something fun and unique to do, I'd suggest checking out Newport polo. I hadn't been to a polo match since I was a kid and as a result I didn't know what to expect. They have games late on Saturday afternoons and we had a blast. It's only $10/pp and you just bring chairs, a cooler with food and drink and have a good time watching the game. It's not at all pretentious and attracts people from all walks of life. We'll be back!
If you're interested in going out sailing, just let us know and we'll see what we can work into our schedule. Sorry for the long letter. I'll try to be more diligent about writing. Hope that you're having a good summer.
-- Geoff & Sue
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