Zephyrus is the Greek god of the west wind. This is the origin of our word zephyr, the lightest of breezes. Clearly somebody did something to piss off Zephyrus because the west winds have absolutely howled for the last few days. Except for one rainy afternoon the sky was sunny and the temperatures were moderate. It just blew like stink. The highest wind speed we saw (on a mooring in a “protected” harbor) was 42 kts and it rarely dropped below 25. So we sat tight in Port Jefferson for three days until the various weather forecasts suggested the winds would begin to ease up.
During this forced downtime I went ashore twice to do some grocery shopping. There was plenty of time to do some boat maintenance and some more laundry. I made some improvements to the jacklines and tethers that keep me aboard. And I assembled and hoisted our radar reflector. The next few legs are going to be in highly-trafficked areas (like New York harbor) and I want to be easily seen.
Last night the forecasts all indicated we should see a lessening of the wind this morning. The forecasts were, as usual, optimistic. The forecast predicted 18 gusting to 27 with 1-2 ft waves. In fact we saw winds today of 38 kts in the middle of Long Island Sound with 3-4 ft waves. Andante handled the conditions as she was built to do and I just tried to point her in a reasonable direction and not do anything stupid. As you can tell from our track we didn’t try to take this weather head-on but tacked back and forth across the sound. While it made for a longer journey it was much more enjoyable than just bashing into waves all day.
In late afternoon it was rewarding to see the NYC skyline appear as we approached City Island, just NE of the Throgs Neck bridge and the entrance to the East River. We found a calm spot to drop the anchor for the night. Its a pretty area and a nice anchorage but for the intrusion of city noises (cars, sirens, what I can only assume is a gun range).
Tomorrow is a big day. One of the two legs I’ve most anticipated is the transit of the East River and New York harbor. This is one of the busiest waterways in the world and can be challenging to navigate with sharp bends, strong tidal currents, and lots of big ships. Because of these currents the timing of our departure is important. As it turns out we will need to leave later in the morning than I’d usually choose for a trip of this length (about 37 miles) which means we may arrive at our destination after business hours and possibly close to sunset. Fortunately I was able to reserve a mooring at Atlantic Highlands Yacht Club so even if was arrive late there should be an easy end to the day.
Its supposed to be a nice sunny day tomorrow with light winds. l’ll do my best to take some photos while dodging traffic.
We left Newport early to catch a favorable tide near our destination. Early mornings in spring and fall often mean fog. AIS and radar and GPS make navigating in fog possible but its still not something to be taken lightly. The big guys are easy to find and we passed several of them near Castle Hill in the channel leaving Newport. Its the small fishing boats without AIS and with poor radar signatures that I worry about.
Light winds (from behind) and big swells (from the side) do not make for effective or comfortable sailing. Much of today was spent with the engine in gear and the yankee unfurled to provide a little roll-damping.
We followed the Rhode Island shoreline south from Pt. Judith for several hours to Watch Hill where a narrow passage with strong tidal currents leads into Fishers Island Sound. In the span of about an hour we left Rhode Island, entered and left New York (which claims Fishers Island), and ended up near a small island at the mouth of the Mystic (CT) river. Three states in an hour at a walking pace. Nice.
Our chosen anchorage near Ram Island is a little exposed to the NE but the winds tonight and tomorrow morning are supposed to be “light and variable.” If recent experience is any guide that is NOAA-speak for 15-20 from the SW. So we’ll be fine.
We’re due at a marina up the Mystic River tomorrow mid-morning to have work done on the refrigeration system. Hopefully that will only be a 1-2 day job. We’ll stay in a slip at a marina in downtown Mystic until its done.
Then its off off towards NYC with perhaps three more stops between here and there. Depending on the wind the next port will most likely be Port Jefferson (on the north shore of Long Island) or Milford, CT.
Thanks for leaving comments. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like me to explore anything specific in a future post.
After a nice dinner out Saturday night I stayed aboard at the dock and departed Red Brook Harbor early Sunday morning.
The first few legs of this trip are intentionally short (25-35 nm) to allow both me and the boat a chance to adjust. On the first day we rode a brisk NE wind down Buzzards Bay to Cuttyhunk for the night. This is one of may favorite local spots even though it is usually a challenging sail with normal summertime SW winds. And the harbor is often completely packed with visitors. Not so this time: With wind from behind it was only a few hours before I was snugly moored in Cuttyhunk Pond with very few neighbors. Good thing as heavy rain and strong (25-30 kt) wind arrived just after sunset and lasted most of the night. I sleep really well on the boat so the rocking and noise weren’t a problem.
Monday morning we took off for Newport with strong winds and clear skies. The wind remained around 20 kt all day but the seas built as we got out of the lee of the Elizabeth Islands and into the part of Rhode Island sound that is wide open to the Atlantic.
I played with different sail combinations all day. Andante is a cutter – she carries two headsails in addition to her in-boom furling mainsail. Much of today we used both the yankee (a high-clewed 110% roller-furled genoa) and the smaller, hanked-on staysail with a double-reefed main. We had a great 3-sail broad reach for quite a while. Eventually our course required sailing dead downwind and the 6-8 ft quartering swells made it challenging to keep the sails full. We eventually made it to Newport an hour before sunset. I quickly hopped on a launch to get some groceries (greens!) and ice and made it back to the boat just in time for sunset.
I’ve figured out how to share more than just the last few days of positions. This link should allow you to see everywhere I go beginning on our departure date:
(Note: I also changed the location of the Spot tracker in the boat for better performance. You can see that many more of the 10-minute tracking pings were successfully received on the second leg than on the first.)