Cuttyhunk and Martha’s Vineyard

The minute we get off the boat at Block Island, our dog M.E., makes a beeline for the cows. She absolutely loves them!  She practically drags me down the gravel road to the stone wall, behind which they abide. Then in her Jack Russell fashions, leaps up so she can say hello.

Each morning during the summer months on Block, Aldo’s bakery boat drives around the mooring field selling hot coffee and pastries. He yells “Andiamo…..andiamooooo”!  It’s always very tempting, but we manage to abstain.   (See below.)
Block Island behind us, we headed northeast to Cuttyhunk Island. Tucked between the southern Massachusetts coast and Martha’s Vineyard, it is a popular destination for boaters, but by no means populated.  The island is about a mile and a half long, and three quarters of a mile wide.  It is part of the town of Gosnold, Massachusetts and home to 52 of the town’s 86 year-round residents.  As for the topography, if you didn’t know better you might think you were on an island off the coast of Scotland! The dense scrub, along with the rock and stones, are a testament to Cuttyhunk’s glacial origins.

We enjoyed anchoring out there for one night, with a trip into the village for an after-dinner walk up to Lookout Hill for an incredible view of the harbor.

Thursday morning prior to Labor Day weekend, we took the one hour trip across Vineyard Sound to a wonderful anchorage, Lake Tashmoo, on Martha’s Vineyard.  It’s one of our favorite anchorages due to it’s excellent wind protection and good holding (with the right anchor).  Since we’ve been there many times, we knew we had to get there early, before all the weekend boaters arrived.  We were glad we did because, by Saturday morning the place was packed!  While it was a little cozy, we enjoyed getting acquainted with some of our neighbors, especially those with dogs.  There are always dog-boating tales to tell!

By the way, we were the best looking boat there.  When you decide to purchase your Krogen Express, be forewarned.  People stare.  They walk by on the dock and stare.  They stare from their boats.  They circle us in their dinghy.  On occasion  they even stop and engage us in conversation. “Wow, that’s a good lookin’ boat”, they’ll say.  Or, “what is that?”  Or “I just read about this boat in the September issue of PassageMaker magazine”. Sometimes we feel like we’re on display at the zoo! Going into the heavily populated mooring field at Great Salt Pond on Block Island, a couple were relaxing on their aft deck when suddenly they both sat up and stared as we passed by. Children not familiar with boats, especially, are fascinated that “there’s a boat on a boat!!”. They’re talking about the tender, of course.

When we arrived at the Vineyard it was hot, probably 84 or so, but we decided to walk into town with the dogs anyway.  It’s about a 20-25 minute walk into Vineyard Haven, one of the 3 towns on the Island.  We made a stop at the grocery store, and then headed back.  The dogs were exhausted by the time we got back to the boat.  But they’d had a good walk!

Unlike many boaters we don’t have a hauling cart on the boat.  Because we are displaying her at boat shows, we don’t like to fill up our storage spaces with alot of things we really don’t need.  Only occasionally does this make grocery shopping a little problematic.  Martha’s Vineyard is one of those places.  I wanted to take advantage of the local Stop and Shop, but I had to really pace my shopping, based on how much things weighed!  I know it sounds funny, but when you have to walk almost a mile and a half with your purchase, you think – long and hard – “do I really need this?” and “can I carry it for 25 minutes?”  As a result, we made a trip to the grocery store 3 days out of our 5 day visit. Unfortunately, purchasing ice cream was definitely out of the question!

By Monday morning, almost everyone had left.  We were the last to depart on Tuesday morning. But, after 7 days away from a marina (either anchored or moored) we were looking forward to washing the boat, washing the dogs, washing our clothes!  It was upward and onward to the Falmouth (MA) Marina.

Below is a picture of the dinghy dock at Lake Tashmoo.  The tenders are 2-3 deep, which can make getting off quite a challenge.


New York City and Connecticut

We last left you in Cape May, and for us that seems like ages!  The main reason we don’t update more is the internet; and quite frankly, I just get lazy!! What a blessing and a curse the internet is! We love it and depend on it; yet while cruising we don’t often have it, or it’s variable and spotty.  And when we do have it, it’s often at a location where we’ve had a long day on the water, get settled in for the night (either anchoring, at a mooring, or a dock), eat dinner, watch a little tv or read, and go to bed!  So writing up an entry for the blog gets put on the back burner. But today I feel that we owe our readers an updated entry.  So here it goes………..

The Jersey coast proved to be a fine cruise.  The water was great….from a light chop to almost smooth.  Now that’s the kind of day I like to have while cruising in the Atlantic Ocean!  And was it ever a clear day!  We could see the skyline of New York City from the farthest distance we’d ever experienced…….over 10 miles south of Sandy Hook, New Jersey.  It was incredible!  Even though we have cruised through New York more than two dozen times, it is still an amazing experience.

After a long day we settled for the night at one of our regular stops, a marina just northeast of the City near LaGuardia Airport.  The marinas in the NYC are few and far between, so we appreciate having this one which is convenient to the airport, Citi Field (where the Mets play), the Tennis Center for the US Open, and the subway for going into NYC.  In fact, it was our hideaway during hurricane/tropical storm Irene during 2011.

The next day we moved on to Port Washington on Long Island. This is one of our favorite spots to hang out.  The town provides complimentary moorings to visitors, AND there is a huge grocery store there.   So, stock up we
did! Our daughter, Joy, came out from the City for the weekend, and we had a delightful time.

On a mooring or while at anchor, we are dependent upon our tender (or dinghy) for transportation to land.  And that is critical when you have two dogs on board!  But they do quite well with it. M.E. is an experienced dinghy rider.  Zoey is getting better.  At first she didn’t know quite what to make of it. It takes us about 5 minutes (literally) to put it in the water, and off we go.  Our weekend in Port Washington was unusually hot for this time of year, so John and I enjoyed a swim off the boat on Sunday afternoon.  Joy headed back in to the City that evening.

Long Island Sound’s surface water area is 1300 square miles.  It is 21 miles wide at it’s widest point, and 113 miles long.  Depths vary greatly in the Sound, averaging 63 feet deep with a maximum depth of 320 feet at the Race (see below about the Race).  The past several years we have cruised along the north shore of Long Island.  There are some great anchorages there, but this year we took a detour and headed northeast to Black Rock, Connecticut.  There we met up with long time friends for dinner.  It’s always so good to see familiar faces along the way.

From there we were Block Island bound.  This is another one of our favorite spots to stop.  And again, we were able to reconnect with some marine industry friends that we have known for years.  Along the way, we passed the Little Gull Lighthouse off of Fisher’s Island, New York.  The fog horn was blowing.  (I wish you could hear it!  I just love that sound!)

Then we passed through a part of the Sound referred to as “the Race”.  The Race is located between Fisher’s Island and Little Gull Island.  It’s about 3-1/2 miles wide and serves as the main entrance into Long Island Sound from the Atlantic on the eastern end of Long Island. Depths in the Race range from 320 feet to less than 50 feet.  These dramatic changes, along with the massive water exchange in and out of the Sound create a large rip line.  And, in turn, this significantly affects cruising speed, either negatively or positively depending on tides.  But we timed it perfectly, naturally, because that’s the way this captain planned it.  He did his homework.  We left at just the right time from Black Rock, and we got a huge boost going through the Race.  We increased our speed by almost 50%.

Next we are headed to Cuttyhunk Island. We’ll be back to you soon!


New Jersey

We have arrived in Cape May, on the southern tip of New Jersey!  This will be our jumping off point for the commencement of our trip along the Jersey coast starting tomorrow.  The New Jersey ICW has continuous shoaling challenges with depths of only 3′ in some areas making it prohibitive for many boats to use it.  So a boat with any keel at all must cruise on “the outside”, that is, in the Atlantic Ocean.

When cruising in economy mode, this 120 +/- mile trip is one l-o-n-g (10-11 hours) day.  A few times we’ve done it at night.  But the last couple of years we’ve broken up into two days, stopping in Atlantic City.  It makes it so much more enjoyable, especially with two dogs on board.

Prior to reaching Cape May, we took a few days “off the water”, and had some work done on the boat at one of our favorite yards, Washburns in Solomons, Maryland.  Those of us who have been there numerous times don’t really give it much thought, but the site of the yard was the nation’s first naval amphibious training base, training some 68,000 sailors, marines, and coast guardsmen and soldiers between 1942 and 1945. Seventy years later the buildings remain and are still actively used by the yard personnel.

Heading north through the northern Chesapeake Bay we then entered the mouth of the C&D Canal, docking at Chesapeake City.  (See my entry dated September 12, 2012 for information about and history of the C&D Canal.)

No sooner were we were tied up at a dock positioned right on the Canal, a  RORO vessel rolled past!  A RORO (“roll on, roll off”) is designed to transport wheeled cargo, such as automobiles, trucks, and railroad cars that are driven on and off the ship on their own wheels or using a platform vehicle.  If you have ever seen one of these ships in open water, you know how big they are.  But when one is in a narrow Canal and right in front of you, they are positively massive.

And then, we witnessed the pilot exchange!   I provided the pictures, but I give Wikipedia the credit for explaining how it works:

“Today’s canal is a modern sea-level, electronically controlled commercial waterway, carrying 40 percent of all ship traffic in and out of the Port of Baltimore.

Since 1933 the Corps’ Philadelphia District has managed canal and highway bridge operations from a two-story white frame building on the canal’s southern bank at Chesapeake City, Maryland. Cargo ships of all sizes, tankers, container-carrying vessels, barges accompanied by tugboats, and countless recreational boats create a steady flow of traffic. Through state-of-the-art fiber optic and microwave links, dispatchers use closed-circuit television and radio systems to monitor and safely move commercial traffic through the waterway.

Navigating oceangoing vessels requires extensive maritime skills, with strong currents or bad weather conditions adding to the risks. A United States Coast Guard certified pilot is required for vessels engaged in foreign trade transiting the canal, the Delaware River and Bay, and Chesapeake Bay. Many shipping firms use pilots from the Delaware River and Bay or Maryland pilots’ associations.

Typically a Delaware River and Bay pilot boards a ship as it passes Lewes, Delaware, entering the Delaware Bay, and guides the vessel up the bay and into the canal to Chesapeake City. A Maryland pilot then takes over and continues the ship’s transit into the Chesapeake Bay to Baltimore or Annapolis, Maryland. The procedure is reversed for eastbound ships. At Chesapeake City a “changing of the pilots” takes place, while the pilot launch maneuvers alongside a vessel as it continues its journey without stopping. The pilots use the ship’s gangwayJacob’s ladder, or port entrance to climb aboard or leave the vessel.”

I apologize for the fuzzy photo.  It’s hard to photograph a moving object!   But it was thrilling to witness.
We’re on to NYC next!