Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Town of Rainbows

Our time in Provincetown, MA (affectionately called P’Town)...

First time on solid ground in almost 7 days!  Landsickness - nothing a beer can't fix! :)

Quaint, bustling, historic, charming, lovely, diverse, a foodies paradise, picturesque, unique, open-minded, accepting, colorful, working harbor… just a few ways to describe P’Town, MA…

We had heard great things about P’Town and we were not disappointed. It’s a small town with a downtown area of about 2 blocks by 6 blocks. We grabbed a mooring ball in the harbor behind the breakwater. The harbor is full of fishing boats, power boats, and sailing vessels (many of them downright stunning).  The harbor is also home to an old whaling ship (or at least a replica), the Charles W Morgan, as well as a few schooners that are available for daily sails. What beautiful vessels, especially with full canvas flying!

Although P'Town can come across as a bit touristy at times, mostly due to the souvenir and T-shirt shops, the downtown area is also filled with amazing eateries, cute art galleries, and eccentric and interesting shops. The town is extremely dog friendly with nearly all shops provided dog treats and water bowls at their doors.

Bikes seem to be the primary mode of transportation and there are ample places to rent them at a decent rate. We talked about doing it but then opted to explore on foot instead. The town isn't that large and we were feeling a bit lazy. You can easily see the central part of P'Ltown on foot, but miss out on the surrounding beaches and nature preserves when limited to the flip-flop mode of transport.

P’Town welcomes all types of people and it was refreshing to see. As we pulled into the harbor you could see enormous gay pride flags being flown from backstays, sterns, and signal flag halyards. Around town you would see men holding hands, women holding hands, and drag queens on bicycles advertising that nights daily feature – it was wonderful and refreshing to see a town that was so welcoming, supportive, and open minded no matter who you are or who you love.  You look around and people are happy, friendly, and polite.  It was just lovely.

Just a few of the MANY flags flown in P'Town!
The Wharf - dedication to the Portuguese women who worked in the town. I love how the rest of the photo is very sepia-tone-like and then there are the colorful gay flags :)  
We walked around downtown and found a few items to add to the boat inventory. One was a non-breaking glass cutting board. This shop takes photos and paintings done by local artists, which are then printed on ceramic and glass tiles, cutting boards, and coasters. The beautiful photos are what drew us into the shop initially. When we discovered that all the products, specifically the cutting boards that we had been eyeing, were glass, we almost left the shop. We explained to the owner that we lived on our boat and that we prefer to not have glass on board. That was when she responded with “oh really” and then grabbed a cutting board and tossed it up and out about three feet in front of her. I almost had a heart attack!  Sure enough, “unbreakable”… Well, this was a game changer!  The selections were too many and we were having a hard time deciding when she mentioned that they also do custom work.  What?!?!  Oh, this just kept getting better!  In the end, we decided to support a local artist and picked up a cutting board with a wonderful painting of a dinghy at ebb tide.

We also picked up an air chair, a.k.a., a hammock chair, that for years we’ve been ogling at the Annapolis boat show. I look forward to the many afternoons and evenings that will be spent relaxing in that chair.  The only difficulty will be sharing it with J and taking turns enjoying it :) Perhaps we’ll have to find a way to rig (and then store) two of them!  Unlikely… I guess I will just have to share.

The marina was a bit of a disappointment @ $55 per night you’d think the amenities would be included   and comprehensive, such as clean bathrooms, showers, and maybe even a lounge and working wi-fi
.  Meh… The bathrooms were pretty dingy and the water for showering was metered - you had to purchase tokens, $1 per token for 4 min of water use.  There were no laundry services and wi-fi could only be used if you were sitting right outside the marina office. The fee included launch service, which really was the only plus as they were super responsive and very friendly.  If we ever stop back through, we’ll anchor off the breakwater and save the money.  A well set anchor and $6 in gas for the dinghy would have been as nice and have saved a few bucks. Live and learn. 

The town has some historic significance. The Mayflower stopped here in 1620, making their first landing, and stayed for 5 weeks in order to make repairs, before continuing on to Plymouth.  The Pilgrim Monument, able to be seen from 20 miles off shore on a clear day, commemorates the Pilgrims First Landing.  The construction of the monument began in 1907, was finished in 1910, and had cost a total of just over $91K to build.  The cornerstone was laid by President Truman, but the monument was not finished until three years later, meaning the actual dedication was made by President Taft.

Pilgrim Monument

Jason and I took a tour of the Pilgrim Monument museum and adjoining art and whale museums (it was a whaling town in the 1800’s, though whaling proved to not be as profitable as mackerel and cod fishing), and then hiked up to the top of the monument, which is the tallest all granite structure in the U.S. at 252 ft.

As you make your way up the spiral-esque (hello vertigo!) ramps and stairways, there are donated granite blocks from various states, cities, and towns. As we made our way up, we stumbled upon this – apparently we settled here in 1624 :)

The view looking up from the bottom!

The view looking down from the top! 

Hey - we know that name!! :)

The sights from the top are amazing - on a clear day you can see Boston to the NW and Cape Cod Canal to the SW.

View from the top of Pilgrim Monument.  Tango is out there in the mooring field.

We stopped in the local library to read up on the Northern right whales, their habits, identifying marks, etc. They roam the waters of the Cape Cod Bay during Spring/Summer and the bay has a Northern
Right Whale habitat sanctuary
which we are keeping all things crossed that on our way north to Maine, we may get lucky with a sighting or two!

As we strolled from the marina to downtown for some lunch we ran into Jim, Jody, and their super cute pups, Jib and Burgee from S/V Tarantella, a Taswell 43 (made by the same manufacturer as Mason sailboats, PAE).  We met them in Port Jeff and they are headed to Maine for the summer as well.  We mentioned our handy Maine/Mass cruising cheat sheet we got from George on S/V Peace and Quiet and offered to share it with them as they were trying to decide where they 
were going to head to next.  

We decided to meet up for dinner later that evening to share this great resource and get to know each other a little better.  On a local recommendation we went to a Portuguese restaurant called Napis.  Delicious food and the guys imbibed our waiters highly recommended signature drink, the “Paul-tini” – a mix of raspberry vodka, triple sec, and I can’t recall the third ingredient.  It was very tasty and extremely refreshing!  We had wonderful service, the atmosphere was cozy, the food was terrific, and we had great company.  Before we knew it we were closing the place!

Jim offered to scan the document for us so we headed back to their boat for a night cap and an opportunity for him to get it scanned. Plus, it allowed us to get a much needed puppy fix. Jib is a 16 year old West Highland Terrier and Burgee is a Scottish Terrier. Both are extremely cute and very affectionate. After some time, we said our farewells to all, gave the pups some final rubs, and agreed to meet back up in Maine.

The next day we planned to head north for an overnight sail to Boothbay Harbor, ME. We estimate it will take us approx. 30 hours to get there.  Next entry, will be from MAINE!!! YAY!!!

Gorgeous sunsets...

Goodbye P'Town!

Okay............  :)

Inching our way to Maine!

We had an easy 20ish NM downwind sail from Cuttyhunk, Massachusetts to Onset, Massachusetts through Buzzards Bay; ASSWOP did most of the work. 

ASSWOP doing all the work :)

The more we sail and more experience we gain, the better we learn Tango's intricacies. We learn what works and what doesn't for sail combinations and helm balance. The sailing we've been doing has been much different than what we were used to. Sure, we've done plenty of weekend sailing and the occasional 7-10 day trip, but that was all limited to Bay sailing (other than our honeymoon and J with Dudes' DelMarVA) so the conditions were much different.  We learned on our previous passage from Fishers Island to Cuttyhunk that in 20+ knots of wind and 6-10 foot following seas a reefed mains'l and heads'l isn't necessarily ideal for a broad reach to a run.  ASSWOP seemed to struggle in these conditions and, though she did her job, it wasn't as "efficient" as it could be, or at least we felt it wasn't. So, after a bit of research we read that perhaps going under heads'l alone would be better. Sure enough, they were right!  So for our passage to Onset, we sailed under heads'l alone and wow, significant difference!!  We may have sacrificed a few tenths of a knot in speed, but the ride was much more comfortable, and ASSWOP kept us on a much tighter course.

We decided to anchor for the evening in Onset, just inside the Cape Cod Canal, and wait for favorable currents the next day. 

The view from where we dropped anchor in Onset, MA

The canal can be pretty ugly and treacherous (can reach 5.2mph during the receding ebb tide) if not timed correctly, so thanks to some great advice from fellow sailors whom had done the canal before, we waited for slack tide and used the outgoing current to our advantage. 

The mouth of the canal is home to the second longest vertical lift bridge. At the time of its completion, it was the longest vertical lift span in the world, but is now the second longest as the Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Bridge between New Jersey and Staten Island, New York is now the longest. 

Since the Canal is narrow and can have such crazy currents, you're not permitted to sail through it, so we motored the seven miles from Onset Channel to the opening at Cape Cod.  We expected it to take approx 2hrs to get from the harbor at Onset, into and through the canal, but with the favorable currents, we made it in a little under 90 minutes.  Tango got up to 9.1kts - gotta love currents (when they are with you, that is).  

The canal was quite picturesque, with trails, the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, and beautiful homes and cottages lining its sides.  Outside of dealing with overtaking and oncoming traffic in a narrow channel and eddies from strong currents, it was an enjoyable transit.  There is a walking/biking/running path that seems to run the entire length of the canal as well as a few campgrounds for summer enjoyment.  

Cute, "small" houses that line the Canal

Beautiful walking trails

Murals along the Canal

Mass Maritime Academy (MMA)

Overtaking "pleasure" craft... this thing was ridiculous!

This guy was fun to share the Canal with!


Standing waves at Canal exit... The picture really doesn't do it justice.

Once through the canal, we found ourselves in the wide open Cape Cod Bay.  Across the way you can see the Pilgrim Monument, which could easily be used to navigate our way to Provincetown.  We read that in the Cape Cod Bay there is a Northern Right Whale Sanctuary and had hoped to see some.  Unfortunately, in this transit, no such luck.  Just the usual fishing nets and buoys.   

Our sail across the bay was like the day before, broad reach to a run, but with a bit less wind.  We sailed all the way, some might say stubbornly as we were sometimes making only 2.3kts over ground, until we rounded the green marker at the tip of Provincetown.  As we approached, there were two tourist-laden schooners, majestically sailing across the harbor, and two replica whaling ships at anchor- they were absolutely beautiful!  Welcome to P'Town!

Approaching P'Town - Pilgrim Monument in the background

Lovely Schooners

Whaling ship, Charles W. Morgan

As we made our way to the breakwater, we hailed the Provincetown Marina to get our mooring assignment. We were both really looking forward to exploring this little town that we had heard so much about! 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Fishing Bay, VA to Fishers Island, NY- ~425 NM – 4 Days

Day 1 – 6/21/14

We departed Deltaville, VA at 10:10 AM.  The night before we set the lee cloths/boards and laid out all our safety gear. Sean and I applied Scalpomine patches, just to be safe, as we both have had some green experiences in the past and didn’t want to take any chances on this offshore jaunt.  Sean woke at 0200 with some lower intestinal issues and hives (eek!). Not sure if it was the patch or something else (he thought maybe a food allergy) but by the morning, he seemed to be fine.  Since we weren’t in a rush, we took our time getting out of Deltaville.  Had a leisurely start; good breakfast, got everything stowed and talked over our plan of attack for the next 4 days.  We discussed the watch schedule - I would have the 1800-2100 watch as well as the 0300-0600 watch – the golden hours, lucky me!  J was to take the 2100-2400 and the 0600-0900 and finally Sean had the 2400-0300 watch. 

As we got underway we confirmed that the fuel leak repair had, in fact, held and we no longer had a leaking issue – yay!  The engine seemed to be running better after J scraped her prop and bottom.  On the way to VA we were only able to get her up to 2800 RPMs but after a quick scrape she got up to 3400 RPMs and purred like a kitten.  It is crazy how much growth had developed in such a short time.  J dove on her when we spent time in Horseshoe Bend about 4 weeks prior and it was surprising to see barnacle growth, albeit small barnacle growth, develop in that amount of time. 

As we made our way down the Bay we ran into more pods of dolphins. Nothing close to what we saw going into Deltaville, but we saw probably a dozen or so smaller pods.  Seeing them never gets old!  I feel like a little kid on Christmas every time I see them.  It was pretty zany – if you were below you could hear them pinging the hull.  The first time we heard it we had the engine running and you could hear it over the engine! 

Our first day was a long one.  We didn’t make it out the Chesapeake Bay until 9pm that night.  The winds forced us to tack back and forth down the Bay, not allowing us to make much headway.  As we approached the Chesapeake Channel - due to the boat traffic, lack of light, and point of sail - we opted to turn on the engine as we departed the Bay and went over the Norfolk tunnel.  J gave the Bay a ceremonial mooning - he won’t miss the Bays shifty winds :)  As we left the Bay we had to continue Southeast for almost three hours as J navigated the shoally shoreline.  Then we were finally able to start making some northerly progress, cut the engine, and set ASSWOP by the time Sean took over at midnight. 

Day 2 – 6/22/14

J and Sean had the first two watches.  By the time I came up at 0300 ASSWOP was set and doing an awesome job!  Talk about an amazing piece of engineering.  Best upgrade to Tango, ever!  My watch was pretty uneventful until the wind shifted and ASSWOP starting to struggle a bit.  Before I could disengage ASSWOP the heads’l got backwinded and Tango started to go in 360 degree turns.  It was bizarre. I didn’t have steerage and the only way we could maintain full sails was to be heading south, completely opposite of where we needed to be.  J had to come up and give me a hand – it took us 45minutes to get back on course.  No clue what the deal was but was grateful we were back on course and making progress in the right direction :) Other than that, my first watch was relatively uneventful and ASSWOP had no other issues. 

As the sun came up the winds were blowing 15+kts, with gusts to 22 from the NE with 4-6 foot seas.  We had some brisk sailing close hauled but were forced to tack to the ESE in order to make any headway to the NNE.  For every two miles we made going NNE, we had to sail a mile to the ESE.  It was a long day and we made slow progress.  By night shifts we had only gone as far north as Chincoteague, MD.  Unfortunately both Sean and I felt a little green pretty much all day.  At one point we considered turning into Ocean City or Cape May but after thinking it over we decided to push on.  I knew that if we went ashore we’d feel better for a day but then as soon as we went back out, it would happen again.  Sadly the patches weren’t working as well as we had hoped.  So, I broke out the arsenal.  I had the wrist bands, the ear plug in the non-dominant ear and the ginger chews.  No clue if any of them actually helped but luckily I started to adjust and acclimate to the motion; Sean wasn’t so lucky.  Throughout the entire passage he felt a little green.  The good thing is that neither of us ever actually took to chumming – no one wanted to relive previous offshore adventures. 

Day 3 – 6/23/14

As I went into my AM watch, the seas had calmed as did the winds.  As we passed Ocean City, MD a little after 0400 we were able to adjust our heading for a straight course to LI! 

We saw more dolphins off the coast of Ocean City and Cape May and quickly learned that ASSWOP really prefers at least 10kts of wind to steer well.  She maintained a decent course with 9kts, but anything under that she had a hard time. I'm not sure how much of this was ASSWOP and how much was our continuing to learn her ladylike idiosyncrasies.  

After my watch I got my appetite back and had a craving for Ramen noodles.  It’s been so long since I have had these but they are still just as good!  They make for a great breakfast/post watch meal!  I think I had them every day after that as well :) 

We were sailing a NE course with ocean swells hitting our beam and forward quarter.  We put out the poles and brought in 6 bluefish, aka the piranha of the Atlantic - all of which we tossed back.   Wow, do they have some crazy teeth!!  We also hooked something large enough to run out line on full drag until the line snapped.  We have no idea what it was but it was “the one that got away.”  We had another lure that was missing one of its hooks and had some significant teeth marks on its underside.  Not sure what grabbed that one either, but whatever it was had some pretty large, sharp teeth and was strong enough to pull off one of the hooks. 

Lunch underway was grilled turkey burgers and thankfully Sean and I both had our appetites. I was feeling good enough to go down below and make some pasta salad to be enjoyed by all for dinner that evening. Unfortunately we lost the wind in the early evening so we decided to turn on the engine to charge our batteries, heat our water for showers (an underway treat), and make some positive headway. 

My first watch from 1800 to 2100 was uneventful. It is very bizarre to see glass out on the Atlantic.  No swells, no wind – just calm…  We were under power for 16 hours so none of us slept well on our off watch periods – the engine was way too loud to be able to sleep. 

Day 4 – 6/24/14

Still under power for my second watch and now we had absolutely no wind.  While I didn’t have wind and swells to contend with, my watch proved to be interesting with other boat traffic.  I had one ship to starboard that seemed to be approaching but it didn’t show up on our AIS and didn't respond to VHF when I hailed it. Apparently they didn't feel like talking.  With no moonlight, just pitch dark skies, it was very difficult to see what direction they were heading.  I am not a fan of boat traffic at night, especially when you can’t tell what it is, tanker or fishing vessel, or where it is going.  We have a little reference chart showing light configurations but sometimes it’s hard to tell what you’re looking at.  After a while, the sun started to come up allowing me to see that there wasn’t anything to be nervous about as we had plenty of distance between us and were not headed on a collision course.  Along with the sun came some ocean swells. We were getting tossed around quite a bit and with the lack of wind, our mains’l was flogging all over the place.  When J came up to relive me we put in a single reef which helped to stabilize us a bit.  Before we left Maryland I ran out of time and was unable to sew the new slides on the trys’l. This would have been a great opportunity to use that sail as it is of a thicker grade of Dacron than our mains’l and can take more abuse.  With the beating she took, I’ll be doing a thorough inspection of the sail once we get to port and finishing the trys’l will be done before we head back out.

By early morning we were 39 miles off shore and hoping for more wind as the day progressed.  By mid-day we were able to sail a broad reach and use our whisker pole for the first time.  It’s a bit of a pain to set until you get familiar with it.  We hope that as we continue north that we’ll get additional opportunities to use it and get more comfortable with it. 

We spent the afternoon sailing and fidgeting with the whisker pole.  I was still feeling pretty good so I went below to make some dinner and do some dishes.  I was pleasantly surprised that I had no problems.  I think it just takes me a day or so to acclimate. 

Once you are more than 25 miles off shore you are allowed to discard dunnage overboard, with the exception of plastic.  Since our trash bin was getting pretty full, I went through our trash and tore into small pieces all our paper products, I took the tops and bottoms off of the metal cans and I filled any glass containers with sea water and it was all tossed overboard. It’s an interesting experience to be tossing trash overboard. Somewhat unsettling actually…

For dinner I made artichoke chicken and had used marinated artichokes in small glass containers. I set aside one, then washed and dried it, and put in one of our boat cards with a note that said “If found, please make contact”.   We’ll see if it makes its way to a distant shore – it would be pretty neat to hear from someone. 

As my first watch approached we decided to alter course from a broad reach to a beam reach and stow the whisker pole. With little experience using it, I wasn’t comfortable being topside by myself with it deployed.  If I had to make changes or take it down I would have had to wake J to help and, with the lack of good zzz’s the night before, I didn’t want to disrupt him. We figured it was just easier this time around to stow it.  As my first watch came to an end we were off the coast of LI – whoohoo!  Although, it was a bit bizarre to look at the chart and see Patchogue, NY; which isn’t far from my family, but still far from our destination :)

When J came up at 2100 to relieve me, we looked at our course and the winds and determined we could either maintain our current heading only to have to turn up later and potentially motor for 6hrs to get to Montauk, Pt, or we could turn up now and run wing and wing.  I wasn’t thrilled about running wing and wing, especially with a rolling, following sea in the pitch dark with only one person topside. But J said he wanted to at least try it so I stayed topside and helped him adjust sails.  Adjusting for wing and wing can be tricky, even in day light with little swell.  We got the main over and were trying to set the preventer but the boat started to get tossed around from the swells, the boom was flogging and lines were everywhere and J almost got tied up in the main sheet – it just wasn’t a good combination.  So we quickly 86’d that idea and decided that it wasn’t worth it.  We fired up the iron genoa and altered coarse for a more direct route to Montauk Point. 

As I took over for my second watch we were getting pretty close to Montauk Pt and we wanted to make sure we timed our arrival to reach the Point during daylight so I slowed her down a bit as we made our approach.  While coming in slower would allow us to time our approach it also meant we got tossed around a lot more.  This would have been another great time to use our trys’l for stability instead of using our main.  Thank goodness our mains’l is being replaced soon as this trip definitely took some life out of her.  Due to the seas and being under power we couldn’t use ASSWOP and our auto pilot would have had a hell of a time in the swell so I hand steered the whole watch. Talk about a long watch! 

We rounded Montauk Pt and made our way up to Fishers Island where we planned to anchor for a day for some much needed R&R before heading down the LI Sound to Port Jefferson, NY.  Navigating through Fishers Island proved to be interesting, especially when you are not familiar with it.  The waters are riddled with rocks so you have to keep a watchful eye as to where you are going. 

We decided to drop anchor in West Harbor.  We dropped the hook at 1030, almost exactly 96 hours from the time we left Deltaville, VA.  It was a cute and quaint little harbor area, well protected from the southerly winds.  There were no facilities on shore, so we didn't bother to deploy our dinghy, just remain on Tango and catch up on some sleep and let our bodies readjust to a world with less motion.  We had initially planned to only stay a night, but some thunderstorms were forecast for the following day, so we decided to take two days.  It worked out well as we all needed the recovery time. 

Love/Hate Relationship with LI Sound

Port Jefferson, NY to Fishers Island, NY

We planned to leave Port Jeff early on the 5th to take advantage of the outgoing tide, but neither of us slept well the night before due to the swells and wind coming through the North West inlet of Port Jefferson.  Since we’d eventually be against an opposing tide on our way to Fishers Island no matter what time we left, we opted for a couple hours of additional sleep before heading out.

We tossed off the mooring at 0735 and had 15kts of wind on our nose heading out of the channel.  Again, we got lucky and timed our departure perfectly with the ferry schedule.  As we came out of the channel we turned up and began our 57NM trek back to Fishers Island, NY.  Fishers Island would be a good stopping point before we made our way further north, and it provided good holding and shelter from southwesterly winds. 

We took advantage of the outgoing current and made good headway in the morning.  Unfortunately, as late morning approached, I started to feel less than great.  Seems I spent a little too much time on land :) Actually, the day prior to our departure I had started to feel like I was coming down with a little something, so maybe it was that.  Either way, it sucked.  I tried all the tricks, but nothing really seemed to help. I’d lay down for a bit and feel better, but once I was back up, I’d start to feel sick again.  This made for a very long day for Jason as he was forced to man the helm for the majority of the day.  To add to it, the Sound decided it was going to give us a reminder of Chesapeake Bay sailing and give us shifting, inconsistent winds.  We’d go from 6kts on our stern to 20 kts on our beam back to 20+kts on our stern. At one point we were on a broad reach with 30kt gusts.  Winds were forecasted to be gusting to 25kts so we reefed from the start and I am glad we did.  We toyed with the option of shaking out at least one of our reefs when the winds got down to 6 kts, but decided against it since the winds were being so unpredictable.  This proved to be a wise choice as the winds later approached 25 kts again. 

The rest of the sail was basically a repeat of the morning – inconsistent and shifty winds.  We pulled into West Harbor on Fishers Island at 1915 and dropped anchor in nearly the same spot as the week before.  We had another long day to follow so we prepared a quick dinner, took in an amazing sunset, and called it an early night…

Here’s an excerpt from our Logbook:
Departure: 0735
Estimated Arrival: 2000
Actual Arrival: 1915
Distance: 57NM
Barometer: 1026 and rising
Wave Height: 1-3’
Wind: 5-20, gusting to 30
0900 – Sailing under single reefed heads’l ~5.5kts SOG, winds WNW 20-25kts
1000 – Wind shift to NW at 15kts, gusting to 20kts, double reefed mains’l, single reefed heads’l
1730 – After winds shifting from NW to W and from 30kts to 6kts, started engine and doused sails about 8NM from West Harbor
1915 – Anchored in West Harbor, Fishers Island, NY

As the placard says in Tango, "We can not direct the wind, but we can adjust our sails," or fire up the iron genny, if need be.

A Spirited Day - Fisher's Island, NY to Cuttyhunk, MA

We left West Harbor with the outgoing tides.   To navigate the rocky waters of the north eastern LI sound approaching the Atlantic we decided to motor out of the sound.  Plus, there was little to no wind to start the day so we were somewhat limited on options :)
We noticed that VHF channel 16 in the Sound is much busier than any place we’ve been to date.  Not only is USCG Sector LI Sound busy but so many folks hold conversations on this channel, which is prohibited – it is supposed to be used for hailing and emergency use only.  When told to switch to another channel, it is ignored and the conversation continues.  Also, I have never heard so much cursing and yelling at each other on channel 16.   I just don’t get it...  Sea Tow is equally as busy helping disabled, adrift vessels. Again, not sure what is up with LI waters that causes so many people to need USCG or Sea Tow assistance but I am glad we didn’t need either!
We motored for the first 4hrs due to lack of wind.  J dropped a fishing line and we had one small striped bass hit.  We got it all the way to the boat and then he threw himself off – grrr!  The winds finally started to pick up a bit so we turned up into the wind and raised our mains’l with a single reef.  Winds were forecasted to be 15-20 with gusts to 25 so we felt comfortable with a single reef.  We also let out full canvas on our heads’l and was cruising along on a broad reach at just over 5kts.  A little while later we got another hit on our line and this one was BIG!  Things got a little crazy after that.  The fish had taken out quite a bit of line and J was having to very slowly bring him in.  Tango was still making over 5kts so we had to slow her down.  After discussing a few different options we decided I’d try to heave to.  For those that don’t know that that means essentially it is like parking your boat. You’ll come to a ‘near’ complete stop.  We learned to do this in the BVI and was able to do it easily with our previous boat, Knotty.  You backwind the heads’l, ease the main so the wind falls off and set the rudder hard to windward. Well, on a fin keel this works very well.  On Tango, a full keel vessel, not so much.  We’ve hove to a couple of times in Tango but it was under main alone – we had yet to do it with our heads’l out.  So, I figured I’d give it a shot and see what happened.  I set ASSWOP, centered the main so that I could jib and backwind the heads’l.  I disengaged ASSWOP and made our turn.  With the heads’l backwinded I couldn’t yet ease the main because J was on the starboard stern attempting to bring in the fish. Our boom is so long that easing the main could result in him being hit in the head. So I had to wait until he was able to finagle the rod through the bimini, over to the other side.  Once he was on our port stern I was able to ease the main to allow some of the wind to fall off.  Again, we had never hove to in this sail configuration so this was all experimental :) I eased the main and then attempted to get her bow 50-60 degrees off the wind.  I was able to do so and while we were slowing (got down to 2.9kts) we weren’t “stopped”.    Okay, not perfect execution but it worked to slow us down enough so that J could get the fish in without losing it.  Heaving to in this sail configuration will definitely be practiced in the near future. 
Back to this fish…  J finally got the fish he’s been hoping for! It put up a hell of a fight but Jason – 1, Atlantic Striped Bass – 0.  He measured in at approx. 30 inches and 10lbs.  Plenty of fresh fish to last us a few meals!   J brought it up to the stern, I took the rod while he took the gaff and hooked him through the gills. We got him into the boat and J attempted to kill him with the butt end of a winch handle.  After 8 or so whacks and significant blood spatter in the well, he was still kicking.  J then ran below to grab rum. He had read that pouring alcohol into the gills induces alcohol poisoning and will kill them.   Well, no such luck either.    We thought he was done but 10 minutes later he would still flap around.  Certainly not an ideal way to put him out of his misery. It took too long and was too messy. We’ll need to figure out a better way.  J proceeded to filet him in the well as I contended with 20kt winds and 3-4 ft seas.  Fun! Not so much :)

This pretty much marked the end of our “easy” sailing as things from here started to pick up.  

Winds became steady at 25kts, gusting to 30kts and the ocean swells started to increase.  We had a confused sea, with swells going against an outgoing tide.  It was an exhausting, white-knuckled, hair raising few hours making those last miles into Cuttyhunk, MA.  We had the pleasure of being “pooped on” by breaking 10-12ft swells. This was like our honeymoon all over again, awwwww… 
As we approached shore we had to contend with not only wind and sea conditions but buoys in the water marking what we can only assume were fishing lines.  There was a working trawler that seemed to be laying line and I attempted three times to hail him on VHF but had negative contact.  We didn’t know if we were going to be in his net as he circled, if in fact that was his intentions or if he was retrieving line or laying line.  We were being tossed around 45 degrees due to the swells and when dealing with buoys, this is not fun. 
We finally got close enough to shore where we were a tad bit more protected (though not much) and was able to furl our heads’l and then turn up, through buoys mind you, and drop the sail.  Once secure we were able to come about and head for the harbor.  There are two harbors in Cuttyhunk – one outside the break water and one inside.  The harbor inside is made up of moorings and looked very full so we opted to anchor in the outside harbor.  The breeze was still flowing through at 20+ kts but at least the swells had diminished.  Even with a few boats in the harbor, anchoring was a bit of a challenge.  Took us a little bit to find just the right spot, between two other boats before we could drop the hook and breathe a sigh of relief.  

While the sail was a “spirited” one, it was also a good learning experience as we uncovered some things that need to be changed.  First, our dinghy on deck needs to change. The heads’l (Genoa) sheets kept getting caught on the stern pontoons.  This is both bad for the dink, as the lazy sheet flogs coming down the swell and unsafe, as it pulls the dink a bit off the deck.  Not sure what we’re going to do because we don’t want to tow it either and our wind vane prohibits us from having dinghy davits (which I don’t think we’d do anyway, even if we didn’t have ASSWOP).  Our current dink is too big to fit on our amidship cabin top and we currently have our generators stowed there in an ISOPOD…. So, we’ll have to figure that out.  It may mean getting rid of our inflatable and getting a hard dink. 
We also had issues with our Genoa sheets getting caught on our flag halyard cleats. This was easily fixed today – J just loosened them and shifted them a bit more inboard.  Our last big issue was our Genoa sheets getting mis-wrapped in the self-tailing winches. When the line is wet it, if you don’t use your other hand to guide the tail, it will wrap on itself causing a hell of a mess which is very difficult to release under pressure.   In conditions like we had yesterday you don’t have a second hand to be using.   We’ll take a closer look but this may be fixed by adjusting the trailers on the winch itself. 
We’ll stay here for an extra day to recover as both of us are extremely sore and let some of the heavy winds (today is 20+ again) pass through.  We wanted to deploy the dinghy today (which we verified survived the beating yesterday) and head to land but with the heavy and gusty winds we’ve decided that isn’t such a good idea.  

Update: We enjoyed some gunwale delivery (read: home delivery equivalent for cruisers) raw oysters courtesy of Cuttyhunk Shellfish Farms floating raw bar. Super tasty oysters - we just couldn't say no ;)

Tomorrow we plan to head to Onset, MA – a short 23NM jaunt across Buzzard Bay.  It will be nice to have a short day with better conditions!
Here’s an excerpt from our Logbook:

Departure: 0715
Estimated Arrival: 1800
Actual Arrival: 1800
Distance: 60NM
Barometer: 1028 and rising
Wave Height: 1-3’, rising to 6-8 with a half dozen or so that reached 10-12
Wind: West winds 10-15 increasing, WSW 15-20 gusting 25kts, steady 25kts gusting to 30kts
Exciting sail!  High winds and large swells against opposing tide coming into Cuttyhunk. Tight anchorage even with only 3 boats.
1030 – Winds consistent at 12-14kts. Raised sails (single reefed mains’l, full Genoa) and secured engine.  Making ~ 5kts true on broad reach.
BOAT ISSUES DISCOVERED: Flag Halyard caught Genoa sheets; Dinghy pontoons (transom) caught Genoa sheets; Genoa sheets mis-wrapped when wet (sheets or trailers?)

Recharge in Port Jefferson, NY

Departing Fishers Island

We reviewed the charts and checked the currents as we had previously read that the LI Sound currents can be either your best friend or your worst enemy. We had a 55mile sail ahead of us to get to Port Jefferson, NY, so we wanted to time our departure with the currents.  We weighed anchor at 0515 and got under way. Once in the LI Sound we were cruising along at 7.4kts – at her hull speed!

 I thought we were making great speed and then, before I knew it, she was up to 8.8kts!  It’s a bit surreal to be going along at that speed when we normally cruise at 5-6kts.  Actually, the trip up we averaged 4.5-5kts.  So compared to what we had grown accustomed to during the previous week, it felt like we were making ludicrous speed! Prepare to go to plaid (Spaceballs enthusiasts will get it).
We made it to Port Jefferson Harbor in just under 10 hours.  We lost the currents and wind a few hours out of Port Jeff, so again, we were forced to motor or arrive in an unfamiliar and busy port after dark.  We opted for the former.  As we approached the inlet to Port Jefferson we got lucky and the outbound ferry was just on its way out as the inbound ferry was on a course to pass a few hundred yards off our bow, allowing us to follow her in.   While the channel going in is sufficiently wide, it doesn’t allow for both a sailboat and ferry to comfortably pass (at least I would prefer not to attempt it!).  We read reports of shoaling on either side of the channel so we didn’t want to risk being outside of the channel markers.  Timing, though, was in our favor.

First step on solid ground in 6.5 days! Can you say serious case of land sickness?!?!

Port Jefferson Harbor is a great port of call!  We picked up a mooring ball near shore and ended up with a pretty sweet spot.  The Ferry runs every hour starting at 0600 until 2200 and comes back in every 1.5hrs, so while it’s a busy harbor, other than the horn blow at each departure, it’s not overly loud or rocky and rolley.  The Setauket Yacht Club has a launch that takes you to and from your boat – this was very convenient as it meant we didn’t have to launch our dinghy and lower our 93 pound motor.  We planned to stay in PJ for the week or so (weather permitting) to allow us time to catch up with my family.  So far it’s been a wonderful trip.  The weekend was filled with non-stop family time!  Great food, great craft brew, and lots of laughs!  PJ is a wonderful little town and, for any cruisers passing through the Sound, I highly recommend it.  All the restaurants are amazing and not too expensive, the people are friendly, and the atmosphere is great. 

At the beginning of the week our crew, Sean, decided to head back to MD.  While we wish he could have stayed longer, family and work stuff dictated he return much sooner than planned.  So Monday AM we took him to the rental car facility and said our goodbyes.  While in NY we were fortunate to get a car from a family friend to use for the week – it has been awesome!!  Thanks Greg.  It has allowed us to get around, run to WM for a few items, re-provision, and visit family without having to ask for rides or pay for cabs. 
The weekend was also filled with meeting other cruisers. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, one of the things I love most about cruising is the people you’ll meet.  We met a couple at the club lounge that was actually on the mooring next to us.  So we did what cruisers do and exchanged boat cards.  Turns out they too are headed to Maine for the summer!  Will be a lot of fun to run into them again as we hop up the coast.  Funny enough, they are also from New Bern, NC!  We’ll be spending some time down there on our way south in the fall and we definitely plan to catch up with them.  Soon after meeting them, we met their buddy boat, also super nice people who we look forward to catching up with in ME! 
As the week has progressed we’ve gotten into a routine. I am working remotely, so in the AM we’ll have a nice breakfast together then I get started on work while J either reads or tinkers, trying to reduce Tango's always present and never complete to-do-list.  He finished his class this past weekend so “school’s out for summer!!!"  He can actually read for enjoyment now and wasted no time in picking up his first pleasure book which he finished this morning.  Come lunchtime we'll hail the launch and run into town for a quick bite to eat.  After lunch it’s back to work until dinner, which has been enjoyed with family almost every night.  

Love this I'll' man!
We planned to leave LI on Wednesday but with Arthur approaching we plan to hunker down for a few more days and leave first thing Saturday AM.  

We’re still trying to nail down our next stop but think we’ll head back up to Fishers Island, then to Cuttyhunk Island, MA then wait in Onset for the right tides to go through the Cape Cod Canal.  From there we’re not sure where the winds will take us. We hope to take a look at the charts tonight and get a better idea of our plans for next week.  We’re both very anxious to get to ME!!!
UPDATE - We met George on his Tayana 37, S/V Peace & Quiet, our last day in Port Jeff. He is a fellow member of the Seven Seas Cruising Association who is making some repairs and, with any luck, headed to Maine in a few weeks.  He was kind enough to share some cheese and crackers over some beers in the cockpit and provided us with a bunch of great information about some of his favorite spots between LI Sound and Canada.  He also informed us of the Islesboro Gam being held the first weekend in August, which we look forward to attending.  We hope Peace & Quiet requires a simple fix and look forward to seeing George again when our wakes converge in ME.  Cheers!