Monday, August 13, 2007

August 11. Holy crap what a difference a day makes. We rose to a beautiful cloudless sky with 10 knots of breeze that we could work with.

We weighed anchor and motored out of the cove and set our sails and turned east. We were moving along at about 5 knots through Fischer Island Sound. At the eastern end of the sound we were going to decide if we were going straight to Block Island or if we were going to yesterday’s original destination, the harbor at Watch Hill.

Just as we were getting to the decision point the wind completely died. We could also hear all the boats on their way out to Block complaining about the complete lack of wind. So we turned northeast and motored the couple of miles into Watch Hill. We’ll save the trip out to Block for a day with some breeze.

At the entrance to Watch Hill we were treated to a racing fleet getting ready for the beginning of their next race. The thing that made it so special that all of the 30 or so boats were classic Herrshoff designed sailboats.

The long channel into Watch Hill is a well marked, winding affair. There’s a 3 foot tidal range here and we were more than half way into a falling tide. A few times the depth finder showed 5 inches of water under our keel. We’ll have to make sure that we don’t try to leave here at any point close to low tide as we won’t make it out.

The anchorage is absolutely lovely. 9 feet of water at low tide next to a grass covered dune that separates the anchorage from the ocean.

Christy and I were listening to the VHF when a guy gets on the radio and calls the Coast Guard to tell them that his boat is on fire. We couldn’t believe how calm this guy was. It’s agonizing when the Coast Guard starts asking their list of questions. It’s like they ask a question, write down the answer and a few seconds later ask the next question and just seems like very little information is extracted in 10 minutes of back and forth communication.

Is it just smoke or are there flames as well?
Just smoke, we’re afraid to open the engine room door to look inside.
What color smoke?
Black smoke.
How many people on board?
Are they wearing life jackets?
Can you shut the fuel supply off with out opening the engine room door?
Have you shut the engine down?
Do you have fire fighting equipment?
Yes but I can’t get to it, it’s in the engine room. (Sorry, but that made me laugh)
Do you have a raft on board?
Is the boat gas or diesel powered?
Diesel……..but the smoke seems to have dissipated and I’ve looked inside the engine room and there seems to be nothing on fire.
Were still going to send a boat out your way, do you have towing insurance?
No but I’d like someone to be here with us when I restart the engines.

So it seems that this guy had enough black smoke billowing from the engine room to warrant a call to the Coast Guard. Then after the possible fire went out he deemed that it would be fine to restart em’ and get back underway. After the towboat guy was on scene he went and looked in the engine room. It turns out that a steering cable had chafed through an electrical harness, causing a short and the subsequent fire. The towboat guy said the damage was so bad that all of the steering and throttle cables were melted together to the point of immobility. The only electrical thing on the entire boat that still worked was the VHF radio. This guy thought he’d just start it back up and continue on his merry way. Maybe he thought that black smoke from the engine room meant they picked a new pope or something.

After dinner Christy and I were putting the dogs back into the dinghy after their walk when an official in a beach rover pulled up and shut his engine off. I’m thinking good thoughts and am pleased that this guy is stopping to chat with us. It turns out that there’s no dog walking allowed on the beach, not on either the ocean or the bay side. The people here are dog haters. The guy is pretty cool though and warns us to watch out for the guy who patrols here tomorrow because he’s a bit of a prick. Great, now I’ve got to play Iron Curtain and watch from the boat for the beach buggy to go by so I can throw the dogs into the dinghy, race them to shore, squeeze them and get away before he makes his next round. Where’s Ronald Reagan when you need him?

We’ve decided to spend the day here tomorrow and head over to Block Island on Monday and avoid the weekend crowd over there. The town here is supposed to be pretty nice even if it is overrun with dog haters. We’ll see.
We haven’t included any “boat names of the day” in a while and we have seen some good ones. There seems to be a theme of sorts lately as we’ve seen “Kid’s Inheritance”, “Kid’s Tuition” and “My Children’s Inheritance”. Our favorite lately was “Nervous Wreck”, can’t you just hear him calling the fuel dock for assistance because he’s a Nervous Wreck.

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