Monday, August 13, 2007

August 10. First off, let’s start off with a little bit about the Brewer’s Pilot’s Point Marina in Westbrook Connecticut. Its part of the Brewer’s Marina empire which means its part of a huge marina conglomerate with over a dozen marinas under one umbrella.

They were wonderful to us in this stressful time. They had a mechanic on our boat that worked like a dog. He was a real pleasant guy that didn’t spend any time bullshiting. If he had to go back to the shop for something he was back on the boat in just moments and we never felt as if our time “on the clock” was being wasted. They encouraged me to do as much of the disassembly as I could so we could save a few dollars.

We could have walked out of there and spent less money to get back underway but since we were so far into a major disassembly it only made sense to refurbish as much of the drive train as possible. A big part of this decision was based on how we were treated and the quality of the work that was done. We just felt like we were getting our monies worth.

We were minor celebrities there as one of the gas dock attendants told us that they had never had anyone actually live in the travel lift before. We were only hanging in the slings for 2 days but it seemed like a big deal to them.

So the boat was finished on Thursday morning. We got a ride into town to go food shopping while the bean counters tallied up the bill for our stay. After lunch we went up to the office and paid the bill then we went back to the boat and cried for a couple of hours. Not really…… crying never helps. We spent the rest of the day filling the fresh water tank, washing the boat, putting the interior of the boat back together and giving the dogs baths.

We left the service dock at 1800 hours and stopped at the fuel dock on our way out into the anchorage that we had stopped in 2 weeks ago when we first discovered our mechanical maladies. We were treated to a beautiful sunset over the regular Thursday night racing. It felt wonderful to back on the hook again.

The next morning we woke to a gray dismal day with 10 to 15 knots of wind straight from the direction we wished to travel. We had several other boats in the anchorage with us last night and each one left one by one. We watched as all of them turned west, finally one, Indulgence turned east. The tide would turn in our favor at about 0930 so we were in no hurry to get underway. We even sat and debated waiting until the next day before heading east. Once our neighbor, Indulgence, was underway for about an hour, Christy hailed him on the radio for a report on the conditions they were encountering. He replied that it wasn’t as bad as you’d think and they were making good time. It sounded fairly encouraging and we were on the fence about leaving so we hauled anchor and got underway.

About 45 minutes later Indulgence hailed us and said that things had gone to hell in a handbasket. The wind had piped up to 25 knots right on the nose and with the tide ebbing behind them they were getting their ass kicked. He advised that if we didn’t have anyplace special to get to today that we should stay put behind the seawall at Duck Island. Christy told him that we were underway 5 minutes after speaking to him the first time and things weren’t too bad as we only had about 12 knots of wind against us. His advice was to turn around and wait for better weather tomorrow and he wished us well and signed off.

Turns out, he was right. I should have turned around but we had already covered a few miles and I didn’t want to give those miles back. (Yeah I know stupid, stubborn, whatever I see it as adventurous) We ended up seeing 28 knots as our high and never less than 20 for the next few hours. The wind wasn’t really the problem; it was the fact that it was opposing a knot and a half tidal flow. This results in a very steep, nasty chop, think breaking waves one right after another. Again and again Veranda would explode out the back of a wave and crash down into the trough of the next wave with a thunderous explosion of spray. Several times we’d run into the odd huge wave that would bury our bow with enough green water to obscure everything on the foredeck.

A quick word about the crew. Christy handled the ride just fine, she said she knew that when Indulgence suggested that we turn back “that wasn’t going to happen.” It really was a crappy day with this being the worst conditions we’ve set out into and I should have turned back, screw adventure. I never heard “I told you so”. (It might have been uttered, I just never heard it) Rover steered the whole time and was spectacular. Molly is usually on high alert whenever we’re underway but today she just curled up and went to sleep seemingly unfazed. Tucker usually sleeps from anchor up to anchor down. Not today, he was freakin’ out. He was trying to stand so he’s falling this way and that like a furry bowling pin. It got so bad for him that we had to put him below where he finally laid down.

At one point on our trip the bottom rises sharply towards the surface. The depth goes from 70 feet to 20 in practically no time. This means that the immense volume of water now has to flow up and over this submerged plateau. This creates an actual lump on the water and with the wind cranking against it it made the area look like we should be white water rafting. It was crazy to see and I checked the depths on 2 different charts and the chartplotter just make sure that the water was really deep enough to pass through.

We decided to cut the day as short as possible (without turning around). We picked a small cove near Great Neck, Ct. as the place most likely to be comfortable for the night. The chart showed a boat ramp there so I knew that meant dog walking would be available.

For the last 2 miles as we motored into the cove the seas and wind started to abate as we drew closer to land. We anchored in a rock lined cove right in front of the boat ramp with only 10 knots of breeze in the lee of the land. It was good to drop the hook and be able to just sit back without having to hold on. All in all it was only a 16 mile day with 9 of those miles being truly horrendous.

We sat and listened to boaters all around the area changing plans and seeking shelter. The Coast Guard was looking for one small sailboat that had disappeared during the day. We heard about dinghies blown away, genoas torn to shreds and even one guy who swore he was encountering 45 knot gusts. Now that’s adventure………

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