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. http://www.stoningtonsrotary.org/news.htm

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!!!

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