It's Always About the Weather

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June 21st 2009
Published: June 21st 2009
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Stepping Stones LightStepping Stones LightStepping Stones Light

In New England the light houses really ARE houses
June 21, 2009
To celebrate the first day of summer we are hunkered down in Beverly, MA listening to NOAA (the weather gurus) warn of an "unusual gale center" heading our way with 45 knot winds, 15 foot seas, rain and fog. Well all righty then!

When we wrote last we were already getting less desirable weather than we had experienced up through the Carolinas and the Chesapeake. While in New York the meteorologists lamented that we were well on our way to the coldest, wettest June on record. What does all this do to our cruising lifestyle? It changes it, of course but we have still been enjoying our arrival in New England. Much of Long Island Sound is part of New York which is not REALLY New England but let's not split hairs. One thing you notice as you arrive in the Sound is a change in the light houses. We mentioned the wooden houses on stilts from the Chesapeake... well here you will see brick houses. Houses, not cylindrical towers with lighted prisms on top that we usually associate with lighthouses. These are quaint, shuttered brick houses in which the light keeper lived. The prism is still
New London LightNew London LightNew London Light

Another amazing Light "House"
there to light your way of course but the dominate feature is the house. A couple of examples are the Stepping Stones light near Throgs Neck just as you exit the East River and another is the New London light in Connecticut.

We enjoy stops on the Long Island side of the Sound, referred to by some as "The Gold Coast". Port Washington in Manhasset Bay is welcoming. The town provides free moorings and there is a launch service if you don't want to put your dinghy in the water. There are two large grocery stores within a short walk of the landing, and not far up main street is a movie theater. Lots of reasonably priced ethnic food, mostly Mediterranean. There are Greek, Italian and Korean groceries too, just in case you need Kimche or salt dried lemons...

Our next stop was Oyster Bay where we were pleased to see a boat harvesting OYSTERS in the harbor! It had a large vacuum hose sucking them from the bay, rinsing them off and putting them in a pile on deck by conveyor belt. Clammers were out in force too so we decided it was time to find a

We were happy to see an oyster boat working in Oyster Bay
clam shack and taste the local fare. The Bay is very large with several arms providing protection to hundreds of boats. There was plenty of room to anchor in spite of the proliferation of moorings and we were soon in the town where Teddy Roosevelt spent his summers. We walked perhaps two miles, stopping more than once to confirm we were on the right path to the clam shack (only ONE we wondered??). At last we were there and though the chalk board menu on the street indicated lunches in the $10 range we were hungry and ready to splurge. Soon we were seated at what the owner referred to as "the captain's table" and we were eyeing the numerous taps at the bar. Wow... fried clams and a cold draft beer sure sounded good... Thank GOODNESS I asked before ordering (learned this trick in Europe were they had $5 Cokes). All the draft beer was $7 a glass and we were too late for luncheon menu so the clams would be $27. Per person. We thanked the owner and told him we would return for the lunch special the next day (yes a white lie). We simply could not

Oyster Bay was Teddy Roosevelt's favorite summer spot
justify what would surely be $85 for some fried clams and a glass of beer! When we told our local friends they shrugged and said "What do you expect in Oyster Bay?" We expect not to stop again!... though the anchorage was good and they have a floating dock in the harbor with free self-serve pump-out facilities which we thought was very civilized.

The weather was still dismal but we decided to move anyway. It is always more pleasant when you can have a sunny day with a sailing breeze but don't hold your breath. Other cruisers have said you always know where you are going by checking the wind direction-- you will be going in the direction the wind is COMING from! We have had more than our fair share of good sails this year so we won't complain. On to the Thimbles, some cool glacier-formed islands off the Connecticut coast. We have stopped here many times and you can nestle between them to anchor or tuck in closer to shore. We tucked so we could go to shore and walk between showers. One perk with the cold weather is that the spring flowers were still blooming-- peonies,
The Crab ShackThe Crab ShackThe Crab Shack

It looked inviting...
iris, rhododendron and lots of flowering trees. Strawberries are in season too, and sure enough, the local church was having a social... homemade strawberry shortcake. Yum.

We wanted to visit Mystic and were in touch with various cruising friends who live in the area to see where we might be able to anchor. There aren't many anchorages, but lots of moorings and we were soon comfortably settled on one at the Shennecossett Yacht Club in Groton which maintains a couple of guest moorings for the Town. An old cruising buddy, Bill Baur runs the launch there some days and we were able to meet up with him and Willie (formerly Wellentanzerin) -- AND found GREAT fried clams (with or without bellies) at a GREAT price. Always tastes better when the price is right! George & Toby of Puff are also in this neighborhood so we spent a lovely evening with them too. Turned out Toby was going to paint in Mystic so we went with her and tramped all over the village while she painted peonies. Mystic has a fabulous maritime museum that includes many whaler's homes as well as old sailing ships. Worth the visit. There is also
Thimble Islands-1Thimble Islands-1Thimble Islands-1

There are many small islands created by glaciers. Pink rock and trees here...
a classic opening bridge in the center of town so you can get up close and see the workings. Lots of interesting shops... and home made ice cream. A good stop!

We were ready to move east and had lots of plans for Narragansett Bay. We spent our first month with I Wanda in Newport in 1993 and it is always a little like coming home to sail into port. We planned to see lots of cruising friends-- Jeanne from Jean Marie, Pops & Rose of Epic IV, Tom & Cheri from our home yacht club, Captain Ron at Old Port Marine... and who knew? Skip & Cherylle from Eleanor M were in the neighborhood too. But first there was family. Daughter Lauren called and said she wanted to celebrate her June birthday on I Wanda and that Newport would be the perfect location. She drove down from Maine after work and arrived just in time for a pilgrimage to Salas' where photos and memorabilia of bygone America's Cup races grace the walls and you can order pasta by the pound. We love this place! Lauren's birthday gift was sunny weather and her Dad put the hammock up on
Thimble Islands-2Thimble Islands-2Thimble Islands-2

Most of the islands have residences, some very large
deck and she watched the sun come up in style, sipping one of Christian's fabulous capuccinos before breakfast. The sun shone warm for her short visit and she had no sooner departed than weather once more elbowed its way into our lives. Skip had mentioned bad weather on the radio and since we had been planning to stay in the Newport area several days there had been no need for weather travel planning. Plus we thought the sunny weather meant summer was finally here. Wrong! Bad weather was on the way followed by REALLY bad weather. If we were to make it to Beverly where we are leaving I Wanda for the trip to South Dakota (more on that in the next report!) we needed to move NOW. It is a minimum of two days travel from Newport and it was already 2 pm on one of the two reasonable days we had. No time to stop and see the crews of Carina and Coaster near Cape Cod either! Because of good wind and reasonable current we made it to an anchorage near the Cape Cod Canal by nightfall and were off at 4 am the next morning (dawn's early
Strawberry FestivalStrawberry FestivalStrawberry Festival

We arrived late but the kitchen ladies still had homemade shortcake and fresh berries a plenty. Christian takes a call from his Mom...
light) to catch the last of the favorable current through the canal. It is so strong through there that it is comparable to Hell Gate in NYC. With the sails full and current not against us we made Gloucester by lunch time-- less than 24 hours after lifting anchor in Newport! We were sad to miss all the friends in Rhode Island but we are so glad we left when we did as the weather HAS deteriorated and each successive report calls for stronger winds and higher seas. I Wanda is safe on a friend's mooring (Stan & Judy of Rhumb Runner) at Jubilee Yacht Club, Bisous has been collected by her "Aunt Lauren" for a stay in Maine while we fly to the Midwest for a few days. I am sure we will return to summer weather!

How ironic is this? My calendars's decoration for June is SUN flowers. Just about the only sun we have seen this month!
More soon... Mary & Christian / I Wanda

Additional photos below
Photos: 28, Displayed: 28



The weather was gloomy but the flowers were cheery
Double Wild RosesDouble Wild Roses
Double Wild Roses

I have never seen these before. Smelled as sweet as the regular ones
Stoney CreekStoney Creek
Stoney Creek

View of the harbor
White FlowersWhite Flowers
White Flowers

These looked and smelled a lot like apple blossoms
Chowder Anyone?Chowder Anyone?
Chowder Anyone?

Wednesday is the day to be in Stoney Creek!

Bill & Willie met us in Groton
Lobster ShackLobster Shack
Lobster Shack

Connecticutt, not Maine
Mystic MuseumMystic Museum
Mystic Museum

Lots of historic ships and boats in Mystic
Garden EatsGarden Eats
Garden Eats

This lovely patio is in downtown Mystic
Day LiliesDay Lilies
Day Lilies

Even when the sun isn't shining these beauties warm your day
Mystic AnchorMystic Anchor
Mystic Anchor

This anchor decorates the downtown crossroads. Note the open bridge in the background.
Mystic Bridge DetailMystic Bridge Detail
Mystic Bridge Detail

View of the opening gears from on the bridge.
Mystic Bridge OpenMystic Bridge Open
Mystic Bridge Open

Close up view of a sailboat passing through the open bridge.

22nd June 2009

Great to see you!
So glad we were able to get together--and that the weather was OK. Can't remember a worse June, and think of you often trying to get East in this stuff. We will probably go from 60's to 90's in one day when summer decides to arrive! Love your blog! Toby and George
1st July 2009

Thinking of you!
Dave and I are watching your trek up the coast. So sorry we missed you when you stopped at Solomons Is. But glad you took the bad weather with you up the coast...(grin). Things are warming up down here in MD. Come back to see us!!! Jeana

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