Saturday, November 12, 2011

End of the 2011 Season?

Boooooooo.  I think my sailing for 2011 will be over in my Goat Island Skiff.  I definitely did not do many things I wanted to do this year, such as another camping trip in Casco Bay and a little more sailing.  Like last year, I did sail significantly more than I blogged about-- I'm not going to write about every outing, but there was less total epicness as last year.  Lack of work kept me more homebound.  I was just trying to save my $$$ the most possible and had a tough time justifying the gasoline expense.

However, I had a great time up at the Small Reach Regatta and my bro and I had a great trip on his Aquarius 23, as described in the two posts below.  It was decidedly a non Goat Island Skiff trip, and hence an aberration to this blog, but hopefully something you enjoyed.

Stay tuned, I'm really hoping to actually build a permanent boom for her this winter.  Really.  Honest.  

Fair winds, intrepid readers!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

BroVenture2011! Day 3 and 4!

Ahoy Intrepid Readers!  We continue now on our epic Long Island Sound journey (well, there are more sounds, like Fisher's and Block, but really, is there any other Sound like Long Island Sound!?  No.) as we return to our homeport in the Connecticut River!

To the startled reader, see the previous post for an explanation, this is a departure from my normal Goat Island Skiff adventures.

Day 3 Watch Hill/Napatree Point to Old Lyme:  This day dawned clear and bright, and we brothers arose to a beautiful beach, beautiful weather, and our beautiful selves.  I took our dinghy and paddled into shore to get egg sandwiches at the local coffee shop.  Note to reader, the coffee shop offers egg sandwiches that are unceremoniously microwaved and the coffee is better ordered as just coffee, because if you add cream and sugar, they will put so much syrup you'll doubt there is any coffee in the cup at all.

Windsurfer board?  Check.

Extra long canoe paddle?  Check.

Stand-Up Paddleboard?  Not really, but Check.
El Skippero (Mexican) chilling out.  
After a swim and a run on the epic beach illustrated in the previous post we decided to haul anchor and head Westbound.  Since the tide was high, we decided to be manly, and make a run across the dangerous shallow shoals that are festooned on the chart with things like "submerged pipes" and "rocks" and lots of shallow areas.

The Skipper had a hunch to hug a line of red buoys that headed out, this would have made sense in any kind of maritime setting since they would have been on our port side, but I was led astray by other boaters who were cutting across the nefarious shallows further inland.  I mused that the red markers (which were not official navigational aids, or marked on chart) were marking out a danger area instead.  My little brother listened to me for what must be the second time in his entire life and acting as Skipper, L made his own decision attempt the shallows closer inland than Napatree Point.

We ran aground, because I was wrong.  My little brother will never again listen to me.

When we ran aground, I jumped overboard and came up to my waist.  So yes, we really were aground.  L started to plot furiously his escape, as we were losing time and tide.  I started getting line ready to haul up his damnable centerboard which was stuck in the down position, rendering his shoal draft boat useless as such, we might as well been a fixed keel.  As I prepared the lines, L took advantage of a gentle swell and gunned it!  Dragging centerboard across the sand, hitting obstacles along the bottom, and caring for nothing save not having to call Sea-Tow to come save us, we made it to the channel that was conveniently marked by the red buoys that headed out to sea!  Relief!  

The winds were light.  After a short stint of attempting to spearfish, which included a philosophical argument on what direction a speargun should be pointed, we set sail for home.

Island Packet "Winter's Haven"

Island Packet "Winter's Haven"  Note cool person.

Watching "Winter's Haven" burn us.

The wind is picking up and we're beginning to start moving now!
About right after this above picture was taken, many things happened at once.  We started really moving, with the leeward rail in the water and L and I up on the windward rail like a real racing boat!  At this point, I realized we had 40 lbs of unsecured anchor and chain on the forward deck!  I made my way forward just as those 40 lbs of nefarious metal slid overboard and over a hundred feet of scope unwound in dangerous "Deadliest Catch" fashion!  OH NO!  I could only imagine the destruction if the anchor caught on the bottom while we were moving at 5 knots in the opposite direction!  Needless to say, I saved the day.

The Skipper L pleased that I saved his boat from mishap.

Hero.  Note anchor now securely attached.
After saving the day, I decided to hang off a shroud, and promptly pulled it free.  That was another few minutes of drama, lemme tell you, but thanks to my ever-present box of tools I was able to fix it quick, 'cause I'm a hero.  Then I made dinner.  Beans.

Making dinner #1 underway.
Sailing into the sunset.
This time, with our new chart, we successfully navigated around several reefs and found a mooring off of Old Lyme for the night.  This was a good thing, because it was dark and we don't have running lights.

We made dinner #2.

L says: Day 3

We motored out of Napatree Point and promptly ran aground.  We were attempting to follow an unoffical "cheat" channel, passable at high tide, but Christophe thought boats had been taking another route, which I foolishly followed, rejecting my gut instinct.  I got us out by gunning the outboard and powering the keel through the sand and shallows... and totally redeemed myself!  We dropped the hook off Napatree beach looking to do some spearfishing, but the current was ripping and the spot was too exposed (though visibility was clear), and the shipmates had differing views over speargun safety, so we looked at cool Christmas light jellyfish instead.  We headed back into Fishers Island Sound, where the wind suddenly picked up and we had a strong reach that we rode all the way to Old Lyme - a good few hours of straight sailing.  At one point, with the boat deeply heeled, Christophe leaned on a windward shroud and it snapped, almost dropping him overboard.  Good thing the other shroud stayed put, or I would have been practicing rescue sailing maneuvers.  We pirated another mooring (3 for the trip) and we learned how to use the anchor sail, though it did not prevent a boat-rolling sleep session.

Day 4 Old Lyme to Essex:  The next morning we awoke to heavy swells and queezy stomachs.  L, who has everything in his boat, found an anchor riding sail so fortunately we were pointed in the wind.  Now, the funny thing is that he didn't know what it was.  I had expressed the desire to have one so we could stay pointed in the wind and not rub against the mooring ball (THUMP THUMP THUMP all night).  L asked, "Is it small and triangular?" I answered in the affirmative.  "I have one of those."  Again, L's magical-free-boat that came stocked with everything had an anchor riding sail that I have ever only seen in catalogs like the above link!

I can't express to you how useful this thing is.
After deciding to not really eat breakfast, we cast off the anchor and headed home to the beautiful Connecticut River.  The wind was fair but from the west, so we motored to the river mouth and then raised sail to glide northbound like Vikings of old raiding upstream villages!

The lighthouses welcome us and many other sea-weary sailors home.

173 years old and still a functioning navigation device.  This is called a durable technology.
Spanning the Connecticut River at it's mouth are two bridges, the Old Lyme RR Drawbridge, and the "new" Baldwin Bridge carrying I-95.  The drawbridge operator works closely with the trains (namely Amtrak) and boaters to get people through.  He actually had a gap of "about a minute" and opened the bridge to sneak through some boats between two trains.  This guy was good.  It was pretty awesome.  We waited for a longer opening time, I didn't want to be responsible for a train wreck.

Now, I think if the winds are favorable, a sailor should be sailing.  So we were going to sail through these bridges, dammit!  Vikings didn't putt-putt under RR bridges!

Approaching the bridge, full speed ahead!

Sailing under the span!  We made it!

HAHA!  Success!  Pillaging ahead!
Nefarious I-95 is carried by the Baldwin Bridge.  We'll sail under this one too.

More clearance on this one.
It's like the Hall of the Dwarf Kings.

Essex in View! Oh the Joy!
(Intrepid Reader who identifies which historical figure I'm ripping off gets free GISamateur parking)
'Nuff said.

And suddenly, just like that, we were home.  It was a fun 4 days.  If I could do it again, I'd tow the Goat Island Skiff behind the boat so I could some small boat sailing and keep these posts at least a little more relevant to it's title.  That, and there would have been some good sailing around Napatree Point, and to be honest, I miss my little handsome boat.

Otherwise, great adventure all around, some good stories, and some good weather.  Sure beat 4 days being a Landlubber!  Oh how I pity you landlubbers.

Until next time Intrepid Reader!

L says: Day 4

We reached the Connecticut river and began motor-sailing north, which against the ebb tide meant barely making progress.  The wind picked up near the bridge, and we took advantage by jibing in circles around the other boats that were patiently waiting.  As the bridge rose we sailed through, and were soon back at Essex dock.  The finale of the trip was anchoring my boat in Booty Cove (note: secret spot, not charted.. I will say that I am anchored between a bald eagles nest and a hobo camp).  There was an old man crabbing that tried explaining to Christophe that an osprey flying overhead was actually an eagle.  We whalered back to shore, the boat safe and sound and us with only minor dehydration and sunburn!  BroVenture 1 - Tragic Outcome 0

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

BroVenture2011! Day 1 and Day 2

Ahoy Intrepid Readers!

This post is going to be a departure from the usual postings at GIS Amateur Style, because:  1. It is not about my Goat Island Skiff or about another Storer boat, 2. It includes guest commentary as in, my very own brother L, who will add his perspective and wit to BroVenture2011!

BroVenture2011 is similar to VisionQuest/ManQuest2010 which is detailed here (my version) and here, except that it is not a 4 day quest in my Goat but a 4 day cruise in my brother's boat, the legendary Aquarius 23.  I say legendary because people now like to make them into cheap motor boat conversions.
A little background:  My brother got his boat for free.  It included a new 8hp Mercury outboard ("The MVP of the trip!" according to L), gas tanks, stereo, coolers, new cushions, anchors, fishing gear, foulies, and numerous other odds and ends that make a sailboat a cruising vessel.  Don't ask how he scored such a boat with equipment for free, just accept that he can make things like this happen and you probably can't.

Anyway, my brother and I are adventurers, and Vikings.  We like salt water, we like sailing, and we like doing things our own way and we needed to go on a trip together.  He's had this boat for years, lived on it, etc. and we never sailed together.  Time for that to end.  We planned a four day cruise in our homewaters of the mighty and great Connecticut River to "the great wet barnyard of Long Island Sound" (Fitzgerald).  Destination... well, we dreamed of Block Island.

Day 1 Essex to Niantic Bay:  RAIN.  It RAINED.  It rained all day.  We got the boat set up, in the rain.  My brother when he installed the roller furling system several weeks prior installed it backwards with the drum facing forward.  The jib halyard went up the mast.  I stuck L into a bosun's chair and hauled him skyward in the rain on a line of dubious quality so we could rig the jib.  No pictures, it was RAINING.  Everything got wet.  Nothing was going to dry.  We went home twice to dry out and eat soup.  Finally, we left harbor and headed down the Connecticut River southbound to the waters of our youth, our Long Island Sound!

Long Island Sound with less than optimal weather...
My brother the Skipper at the helm in his new rain jacket, the $0.60 poncho!  Note poncho as day goes on...also note our tender to get from anchorage to shore! (being towed) 

Lynde Point Light (1838), 65' tall flanking the northern end of the channel leaving the CT River

Saybrook Breakwater Light (1886) 50', famous and on the license plates on the southern end of the channel. Her blinking green light will see us over the far horizon, good-bye beautiful and mighty CT River, you are ended here.
Once out of the Connecticut River we sailed eastward.  We didn't really have a plan, I guess Block Island would have been ideal but with the late start and the scheming weather maybe it wasn't the greatest of ideas.  Regardless, we sailed east!

The wind picked up and soon we were making good speed and time.  Thunderstorms boomed behind us and ahead of us, yet we successfully dodged the worst of it (or they dodged us) and we luckily did not get embroiled with something we couldn't hack.

Ponch isn't looking happy
Wind is up and boat is heeled over!  Notice spacious accommodations and beefy muscle mascot!  Goat Island Skiff doesn't have cozy bunks!   

The weather behind us
Here is some movie glory for you Intrepid Readers!

Right about this time, I decided to go below to rummage and stow some loose gear, when I hear a FWAPFWAP and a "OH NO" from my brother.  I rush topsides thinking he's over the side only to see him looking back at the chart book floating on the surface of the waves.  It's waterproof, so we aren't worried about it getting ruined-- I swing the boat around and we make haste to recover the book (we need charts so we don't hit one of the hundreds of reefs in Long Island, Block Island, and Fisher Island Sounds) when the book literally just disappears.  In an instant we learned that waterproof chart book also meant non-floating chart book and in but a blink, Long Island Sound became quite larger, the sun was that much closer to the horizon, the anchorage was that much further away, and we were without a chart back-up.

In a fit of fury over the chart loss, the poncho gets what it had coming to it.

Feeling free from clammy poncho and musing on the idea that liberation is impossible when charted, L reflects on what an Electric Blue Sunset means...
 The night fell fast, and while we were almost at The Race (read the second sentence of this entry) we decided that without a chart, continuing on to Block Island in the dark was foolhardy and unwise.  Somehow, and someway, we two brothers made an intelligent decision.  L pointed the boat back to Niantic Bay in CT, where we were certain we could snag a mooring for a few hours and get some shut eye and wait for the sun to reappear on the morrow.  This passed as expected, and Day 1 was complete.

L's Commentary on Day 1! 

My sailboat, sometimes and appropriately called "Blow Me" for this season, was perfectly set up for leisure, not so much for sailing.  To be prepared for Broventure 2011, it needed some work - jib raised, rudder fixed, sheets set up, etc.  All of this was done in a stormy downpour.  I was hoisted up the mast for some roller furling work.  This was a first for me on my boat and I felt with every sway of the boat I was about to break my mast at the step.

We didn't have great wind once we hit the sound, but we still managed to make it a good ways towards Orient Point, before we decided on actually making a plan.  But those plans were hampered by the chart blowing overboard.  The good news was the clearing weather, especially because my 99 cent poncho had slowly shredded into nothingness.  We pirated our first mooring in Niantic Bay, late - the only reason I knew it was there was because I had stayed on it once before when my motor failed and the winds died.  

Day 2 Niantic Bay to Watch Hill/Napatree Point, RI:  I awoke early to find a gloriously sunny day and a stiff breeze out of the north.  Without wasting a moment I decided to get underway even though my brother was still asleep in the V-berth.  Why wake the Skipper when I can easily sail this boat off the mooring myself?  We were just a few yards from some other boat that looked expensive, so I attempted to start the Mercury as a back up if needed.  This didn't happen, my brother apparently is the outboard whisperer.  Regardless, after some chiding from the V-berth (I woke him up) I had slipped our lines and we were eastbound!

L at the helm as we blast out of Niantic Bay
Off of Groton, we ran into the Silent Service:

Spooky and large she came from nowhere.  Pretty damn cool.  One ass (probably from NY) tried to race the sub and was quickly subdued by the Coast Gaurd.  MorAN!
Our quest that day was to get a new chart, since our debacle the day before left us with no chart.  One option was to head to Noank, a little village between Groton and Mystic.  Noank had a few marinas, and also it had a clam shack.

Noank Harbor
In Noank we did indeed find another waterproof-non-floating chart which I purchased.  Then we had some huge hamburgers that we literally inhaled.  This left us feeling quite stuffed and stupid, so we motor sailed out of Noank and decided to head for Watch Hill, RI.

Inspecting the new chart and realizing that only by sheer luck did we not manage to impale ourselves on numerous reefs!
Our destination ended up being the anchorage behind Napatree Point near Watch Hill, RI.  I have often seen this anchorage while flying in the area and always wanted to go there-- now was my big chance!  This place did not disappoint.  At all.  Holy Balls it was amazing.  The anchorage was superb (to the horror of my brother I deftly sailed us through the mooring field and pricey boats to the mooring ball where we sat temporarily before we anchored-- I don't mess around with cheating outboards, I do it like the Vikings did it.  My brother is now emboldened to emulate his ancestors, this is what big brothers are supposed to do, inspire the younger ones).

I missed the glorious lighting of the place so one picture is not mine:

Watch Hill from our anchorage note dinghy
Our Intrepid Vessel at anchor

Watch Hill Cove from the bluff
Napatree Point from the bluff-- one of the most glorious beaches I have ever been to, ever, anywhere, anyplace.
 Because the lighting was less than optimal I'm going to assist your mind's eye.  This is not my picture I took it from Stonington Rotary's webpage.

Yes, it really looks like this!  HOLY SHAMOLEY
EPIC BEACH.  The sand was amazing.  The water was crystal clear.  And best of all (LISTEN UP NORTHERN NEW ENGLAND) the water temperature was 74 DEG. F  (23 C).  I'm moving.

After investigating the beach, the town, and some other stuff, we retired to the boat to whip up some dinner. L made pasta with tuna and sauce and we drank beer and watched the earth spin our side of the globe away from the sun.

Make me dinner!

The Skipper enjoying the fruits of his labor.
L's Commentary on Day 2!

 The next day I awoke to Christophe The Mad Sailor, raising sails and attempting to sail off the mooring, which he did well, but the sound of him strangling my outboard trying to get it on woke me.  His words: "I wanted to wake you by rolling you out of bed!"  I was groggy, in part because the mooring we were on used my boat as a sparring partner all night.  If only I had known what to do with that small mizzen sail I had aboard.  But that came later. We had some serious wind cutting across to Mystic, good enough that my one martini glass broke free and smashed across the cabin like it was thrown by an angry housewife.  After a chart purchase and a half lb burger at Costellos, we cut into the channel leading behind Napatree Point, where Christophe adjusted the jib sheets and showed me how much better it was by sailing the entire channel to

another pirated mooring.  Nice.  

The harbor was beautiful, and we ended up 
anchored just off the beach. 
My windsurfing board served as our humble tender, 
but we engineered a system for us to take turns paddling it to shore.  We had a 
Laurent food specialty for dinner - the bowl of food; if you need to ask what's 
in it, you ain't ready. Night was spent with sunset gazing, still waters, quality 
beers and a cigar.  Win!

Stay tuned for days 3 and 4!!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Small Reach Regatta 2011!

Hello Intrepid Readers!  Me, myself, and I, along with my wife and my Goat Island Skiff have just returned from a long weekend at Lamoine State Park in Down East Maine, just across Frenchman Bay from Acadia National Park!

Not only was the location spectacular, but we sailed in company with dozens upon dozens of other small sail and oar boats!  Yes Reader, I can feel the perspiration on your brow already, for I am referring to the legendary Small Reach Regatta!  WOOT WOOT!

Due to constraints on my end I made it to Lamoine on Thursday morning as opposed to Wednesday night so I missed the meet+greet, but that's OK.  I enjoyed three days of sailing and camping and am already looking forward to the next SRR.

Remember:  You can click on any picture and then enlarge it to get a bigger one if you want bigger pictures.  I can also email you the original huge pictures if you would like a copy.  Just leave a comment and we'll get in touch.

Day One:  Lamoine State Park to Bean Island.  Winds were light.  I was the last boat off the beach and made good time but made a strategic error and stayed out to sea in hopes of better airs.  There was some venturi effect around the last point (Hancock Pt) and I was promptly passed by several of my peers as they blasted around the point.  Oh well!  We got to the backside of Bean Island, beached, and ate lunch!

This is the SRR:

The beach.  Find the Goat!

Goat Island Skiff surrounded by awesome.

Some Caledonia Yawls on the left and a Pacific Pelican on the right!

After lunch I meandered around the island and relaxed, and was one of the last sailboats off the island.  I didn't feel like rushing, but watched some of the fleet head out.

Oughtred JII (2)

A Superseed which supersedes the Melonseed.

Free Parking for Intrepid Reader of the Month if you can tell me where we saw this one before...
 Then I busted off of Bean Island and did a circumnavigation only to get becalmed on the way back.  No big deal.  A little bit of rowing and I made it to some wind and we were off again!

Clint Chase Boatbuilder and Better Half in Drake with downwind sailing rig up

CCBB and Co.  Notice patriotism.

Just awesome.  
Day Two was a sail down to some geological formations called the "Ovens" which are caves in the cliffs.  Allison and I ventured down to see and promptly ended up getting sucked into an oven, which meant down came the sail and out came the oars, toute suite.  Afterwards, a spirited upwind slog to Thomas Island for lunch!

More Awesome. A Don Kurylko Myst.

Fog rolling in over Frenchman Bay

Hooray Lunch!  Pathfinder, center.

The Fleet.
Goat Island Skiff heading back.  Me.  So I get a big picture. (Photo by Steven B)

Goat Island Skiff back at Lamoine on the Beach.  Acadia in background.  YEAH!
Day Three was an upwind slog up the Skillings River.  The final destination was going to be a small cove all the way up at the top.  It was a double whammy, we had the current with us initially but it turned about half-way up for us.  Allison and I doubled down and made it happen, slipping into the cove, rafting up with some others, stuffing PB+J into our mouths before setting back down river before we got caught in the mud.

On the way upriver, there was one portion of the fleet ahead of us, a small pack of three, and everyone else behind us.

Acadia in the clouds with the rest of the fleet behind us.

The pack of three consisted of a Coquina, a Core Sound 17, and our Goat Island Skiff.  The three of us tacked and tacked all on top of each other but keeping company, until the skipper of the Coquina decided to use the traveler on his rig, and he just blasted out of there.  I mean, he took off. 


Coquina Again

So gorgeous.  This is about where she took off once the Skipper started using the traveler.  BOOM!  Gone.
That left us and Joe, who was skippering his son's Core Sound 17, which was a High School project.  Note cannibalized sails off other boats.  Love it!  The slog was a slog, but made bearable with the Coquina and Joe to share most of it with.

CS17 and Joe

Joe is a 4 realz Pirate!

Our constant shadow.
Up at the top of the river, we rafted up!

To my Port.

To my Starboard
The way back was better.  Current and wind at our backs we speedily made it out of the river and back to Lamoine where we frolicked some more with the good wind and rapidly clearing skies.

Goat Island Skiff heading downriver. (photo by Steven B)

Heading downriver.  The boom is a little high the downhaul slipped forward.  This was rectified. (Photo by Steven B)

Crotch Island Pinky-- A Dutch family borrowed this from The Apprenticeshop and proceeded to sailed the Living Baloney out of it!  So awesome!

Acadia and the fleet that didn't make it ahead of us now.

The Author of this blog

Superseed that supersedes the Melonseed with Acadia

The Fleet is spreading out

Sea Pearl Scout

Dragging my fingertips in the water hiking out like a hero.
Well, it was an awesome weekend, for sure!  I can't wait to get back next year and do some more sailing with other boats!  I sail alone all the time, and for one weekend, I can sail in a huge fleet of sail and oar boats and dominate the waves!

Crotch Island Pinky at sunset

Sunset over the harbor.
For some more incidental pictures, and the ones above, please see my album with my entire collection.

Until next time Intrepid Readers!