Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Underway At Last !

Newport, RI
41 28.78 N 71 19.52 W

We departed the Farm River last Wed morning (6/23). During the previous two days we had completed the last of the provisioning, postal address changes, banking, turning the car over to Mark’s son Alex and last but not least, collecting Barnacle from the marina and stowing him aboard. We could have easily stayed tied to the dock one more night to enjoy the air conditioning as it was quite hazy and humid on Wed. with morning fog, but we were eager to finally cast off. Everyday we delayed also allowed more opportunity for Barnacle to accidentally bolt off the boat back onto land.

We cast off around 9AM and once we left the river we encountered dense fog with less than 500’ visibility. Approaching the Thimble Islands, the fog began lifting and visibility improved. We sailed about 44 miles that Wednesday, arriving at Mystic in the afternoon. Our destination was a small anchorage in the Mystic River just north of Mystic Seaport. The trip upriver from Long Island Sound takes about 25 minutes. It is a scenic trip passing many marinas, mooring areas and tidal marshlands on either side of the channel. There is also the railroad swing bridge and the highway draw bridge that typically require waiting for their timed openings. All our previous times at this anchorage were in off-season September, so we were surprised to find about 7 other boats also anchored here.
The Seaport was hosting a Wooden Boat Show over the weekend and most boats were anchored for that event. In addition to the wooden boats in the anchorage was another Manta sail cat; # 19, Salty Paws. We met Bentley Smith and had him over for dinner that evening. The following night, Thursday, Mark’s former boss at the CT State Parks, Pam Adams and her husband Tom picked us up at the dinghy dock and took us out for a wonderful evening and dinner at the Dog Watch restaurant in Stonington.

On Friday, we made the 9:40AM highway bridge opening, motoring back down the river. Thankfully, visibility was much better, with less haze and humidity after yesterday afternoon’s thunderstorms cleared the air. Once we got into Fisher’s Island Sound we raised sails, although winds were still somewhat light. We made about 48 miles around Pt. Judith and up the west passage of Narragansett Bay by 4ish. We anchored in Wickford, RI positioning ourselves on the south side of Quonset Point Naval Station to view the air show scheduled for both weekend days. Pam & Tom Adams had coincidentally planned to take in the same air show on their friend’s Gene & Mary Ellen’s boat and they rafted up to us after the air show. We enjoyed cocktails, snacks and impromptu dinner. A good time was had by all.

Sunday morning was a short motor further up the west passage to East Greenwich, RI skirting around the security zone set up around Quonset Point and passing hundreds of other anchored boats taking in the 2nd day of the air show. We anchored a few hundred yards off Goddard Memorial State Park. After lunch we kayaked up to the head of the East Greenwich harbor, while watching the air show Thunderbird jets scream by on after burners directly overhead. Peace and tranquility returned after the last of the day boaters left the anchorage at sunset on Sunday night.

Monday was predicted to be hot, hazy, humid with strong afternoon t-storms and we wanted to position to a more secure anchorage in anticipation. Our destination was Potter’s Cove, a small secluded cove, located on Prudence Island on the east passage side of Narragansett Bay. It was only an 8 mile (1 hour trip) but we took a quick run over to a nearby marina to empty 2 bags of garbage  generated over the past 5 days (from a lot of bottles consumed), buy a bag of ice cubes (from a lot of mixed drinks consumed) and top off the water tank. Yes – we have a water maker and a freezer that makes ice cubes, but we were trying to conserve on battery power and this was more convenient.

Potter’s Cove is one of our favorite anchorages… as long as it’s a weekday as weekends are too crowded. We were not to be disappointed in sharing the cove with only about a half dozen other occupied boats. It is fairly well protected, has good depths and ample mooring buoys to pick from. While the southern portion of the island is lightly inhabited (no more than a few hundred year-round residents), the northern portion of the island is a designated nature preserve. We kayaked around the cove in the afternoon and got a good workout on the return trip to the boat as strong winds set in prior to the predicted afternoon thunderstorms. The worst of the lightning passed to our north but we got a good soaking rain and some wind, then followed by a nice sunset. Tuesday we dinghied to the island and went for 4 mile walk up through the nature preserve. The heat and humidity were oppressive with hardly a breeze at all and the green headed horseflies and mosquitoes were out in full force.

Today we departed Potter’s Cove for a 12 mile trip down the east passage to Newport. We have much business to take care of while in Newport and intend to stay through the July 4th weekend before continuing further East. We have to pick up our re-serviced life raft, buy a case of water maker filters from the dealer in town, pick up our forwarded general delivery mail being shipped from our mail forwarding service, do laundry, groceries, etc. We are anchored in the general anchorage area at the southern end of the inner harbor. A fireworks display is scheduled at Ft. Adams on Sunday night that should be ideal for viewing from Carina.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Farm River

41 15.22 N 72 51.39 W

The Farm River Marina has been our home for the past 4 summer seasons. The Farm River divides the towns of East Haven and Branford, CT. It is a beautiful tidal estuary that provides short, easy access to Long Island Sound. A 2' depth bar across the river at low tide tends to keep the river free of the typical big-boat traffic. Since we draw about 3'9" we have to time our departures / arrivals to 2 hours before/ after low tide to navigate the river. The CT coastline takes on a distinct geologic appearance in this locale with hundreds of "pink granite" islands and outcroppings; the Thimble Islands, to our east, being the more well known of these islands. The river narrows about a 1/2 mile upstream and then winds a few more miles north through beautiful tidal marshlands, perfect for exploring by kayak or dinghy.

The marina property is State owned but managed by Quinnipiac University, who is only permitted to rent out 20 boat slips. Thus the marina has proven to be small, quiet and intimate for us - particularly since we are the only folks who have lived aboard our boat exclusively for the past four seasons.
We have also made fast friends with our fellow marina slip owners over the past four years. Since we all share the common bond of boating, we have established endearing relationships with our marina neighbors more so than we ever did with our neighbors back in our dirt dweller lives. We could not have asked for a better bunch of folks to hang out with for the past 4 seasons and we'll miss you all after we cut the dock lines !