We spent the last few days in Mystic undergoing a much-needed upgrade to Andante’s refrigeration system. After two days of ripping out the old and installing the new we now have a modern, efficient, and quiet 12V system (a Seafrost Tradewinds XP) that will keep our freezer and refrigerator boxes well-chilled when the engine is not in use. Yay cold drinks and firm cheese and not-so-funky mayonnaise. It was a messy job made somewhat more challenging by my living aboard during the work but the end result is worth it.
The company that did the refrigeration work (Cool Boats LLC) secured us a slip in downtown Mystic between the railroad swing bridge (Amtrak trains several times per hour) and the old bascule drawbridge (endless parade of tourists). We were docked right between the two bridges and could watch the action all day long.
Upriver less than a mile is the Mystic Seaport Museum. There was a steady stream of beautiful wooden schooners passing just off our transom on the way to tie up at the museum.
After putting the interior of the boat back together late this morning we repositioned from downtown Mystic to West Harbor on Fisher Island. It was only about an hours steam down the river but it feels like an entirely different planet. Quiet, secluded, and a nice gentle breeze that doesn’t smell like boatyard and restaurants. And nice clear water.
Lately I’ve been noticing increased vibrations and noise when motoring at cruising speed. For some weeks I’ve suspected hard growth on the propeller and prop shaft but have been unable to do much about it because the visibility has been so bad. I took advantage of the clear water in Fishers Island Sound to investigate using the GoPro-on-a-stick contraption that Alex and I figured out earlier this summer. Once growth on the prop was confirmed I took advantage of the sunny, relatively calm afternoon, squeezed into my wetsuit, and went for a refreshing swim in the 60 degree water to scrape away all the growth with a putty knife. Mission accomplished in less than 5 minutes. I’m hopeful that this will lessen the vibrations since there is a lot of motoring in our future.
We are anchored just outside of West Harbor positioned for a quick exit early tomorrow morning. There are supposed to be strong winds from the south that should make for good sailing. With an early start to avoid the strongest adverse currents we will try to sail about 50 miles west to Milford, CT. From there it will be just one more 40 nm hop to City Island, then into the East River and through New York Harbor to Sandy Hook. But one step at a time.
Note: I’ve put the link to the tracker on its own page accessible through the top menu.
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.)
Over the past few months our little dinghy has shuttled hundreds of pounds of parts and tools and building materials out to Andante on her summer mooring in Red Brook Harbor. I’ve worked on plenty of invasive, messy projects this summer that left a wake of bits and pieces about the boat. In addition to updating her sailing hardware I’ve completed many engine, electrical and plumbing tasks. But this week the focus shifted to preparing to depart Massachusetts in the narrow window between the end of hurricane season and the arrival of colder weather. Last week the emphasis was on removing all the excess materials and tools left over from my various projects. This week its been all about provisioning for the next month or two. That means lots of fuel and water, lots of spare parts, clothes for a variety of conditions and lots and lots of food.
Andante can swallow an enormous amount of gear in her myriad lockers and drawers – and also in the double-secret cubbyholes hidden inside her lockers and drawers. Storage capacity is a wonderful thing and I’m not complaining. But I really need to develop a foolproof inventory system that allows one to find things again after they’ve been carefully stowed. I’m working on a searchable Excel spreadsheet that documents the contents of every single storage locker and cubby. Some sort of database app might be a future improvement.
I really enjoy cooking and am looking forward to spending lots of time trying new things in the galley this winter. Andante is equipped with a great 3-burner stove with oven and a large freezer and refrigerator. We have an appointment next week at Cool Boats in Mystic, CT to have her 12v refrigeration system upgraded – so for the first few days of the trip I will have no refrigeration. Until then fresh food storage will be limited to a minimally-insulated bag filled with ice cubes for just the critical cold items (eggs, butter, cheese, cream). For the next few days I’ll be eating more canned foods and ramen than fresh fish and veggies.
The weather is looking good for a departure this weekend. At some point I hope to add a live tracking functionality to this site.