Friday, August 17, 2007

August 15. We left the harbor at Watch Hill at 0900 just moments before high tide. We made it back out through the channel and turned for Block Island. For the first few miles we had 10 knots of wind over the stern so we had the genoa up with the tide behind us for a speed of about 6 knots.

Shortly after transiting the Watch Hill Passage the wind clocked around and now we were motor sailing with the mainsail alone. It was a pleasant ride in spite of the overcast conditions. We made good time and were anchored in the Great Salt Pond on Block Island by 1310.

As it turns out our friends Pat & Donna with their 2 daughters are there with some friends. We anchored nearby and planned to visit with them later in the evening.

It’s funny how the weather can change plans. There was a fairly vicious squall line moving south through the area late in the afternoon. The wind was from the south but true to form when the big winds came it was from the north. Of course our nearest neighbor dragged down on us as the winds built and clocked around. He pulled in 10 feet of anchor rode as we let out 20 more to allow him to swing past our bow. Sometimes I just feel like an asshole magnet. After the squall came through we were rewarded with a sunset that cast a bright red glow across the entire anchorage.

We don’t have the market cornered on adventures though. During the squall another boat dragged but managed to collect himself and reanchor. Unfortunately after all was said and done he ended up very close to another boat. This second captain demanded that the first guy pull his anchor and try it again. This led to a very heated argument between the 2 boats with the first guy finally pulling his anchor to try again in the fading light of day. As fate would have it though he ended up backing up over the second guys anchor line and wrapping it around his prop. So now they’re both banging against each other side by side, one facing north, and the other south. It was kind of like a pirate movie where they come along side each other for the final assault. So they’re both hanging from one anchor that’s wrapped around the guys prop in the crowded anchorage, screaming. Finally the Harbormaster and Towboat US came and got the remaining anchor up and towed them out into the darkness to separate them. Sailing is so relaxing.

The next morning the anchorage emptied out so we upped anchor and moved another 200 feet from the anchor dragging guy. Christy and I went for a dinghy tour of the anchorage and then went into town for a few hours. Upon our return we were informed that the anchor dragging guy dragged once again with virtually no breeze. Guess whose boat he came within 6 feet of hitting. Luckily our friend Pat was onboard his boat and noticed what was transpiring. He and his buddy, Rob boarded the unoccupied dragging boat and used their dinghy as a small tugboat to push Mr. Noanchoringskillwhatsoever away and then reset his anchor properly for him. I knew those Karma points I’ve been building would pay dividends one day.

We spent some time with Pat & Donna’s girls in the afternoon. They came over to spend some time with the dogs as they were missing their own dog who was left at home while they’re away on their trip. They were a little quiet and shy for about 7 seconds and then BANG, nonstop chatter about every topic under the sun. Holy crap, it was all I could do to keep up. I learned so much. I was feeding them grapes as fast as I could just so I could get a word in edgewise. Christy was in her element and I had no chance with 3 “women” in a chatting frenzy. I can’t wait to do it again. Seriously, I love a challenge.

The anchorage here at Block Island has a huge turnover everyday. Boats leave all morning and then a new supply of anchoring entertainment comes into the harbor every afternoon. It’s always the same mistakes but some people just have to add their own personal touch so it just never gets old.

The town here is about a mile away from the marina. It’s full of little tourist shops and eateries of every shape and size. It’s a charming little island but I have a hard time imagining enduring a New England winter on this tiny windswept rock.

We went to the only supermarket here on the island. It kind of reminded me of an A&P from the sixties. It was smaller than I expected with a fairly limited selection. The price of stuff was astonishing. A twelve pack of Diet Coke was ten dollars, seriously. We just went in for a few cold cuts, some bread and picked up the 12 pack of soda as an afterthought, 40 bucks for practically nothing. I can’t figure out how the locals here can feed a family.

There are 3 different marinas here in the Great Salt Pond. The biggest and most popular is Champlain’s Marina. Since we’ve been traveling we’ve probably stopped at fifty different marinas, either for fuel, water, dockage or repairs. This place ranks down there in one of the 2 worst we’ve been to. The dockhands are lazy, inattentive and some are inept. It’s a very busy place with boats rafted to docks sometimes 4 boats wide. The other 2 marinas are both smaller so this place has a take it or leave it attitude like they’re the only place in town.

The protocol is that when arriving a boat has to hail the dockmaster and announce their arrival. The dockmaster then looks for an appropriate spot and directs the boat owner on how to rig fenders and where to go. Sometimes there will be several boats milling about while these decisions are made. To make it easier some boaters will be told to switch from channel 12 to channel 11 because there are so many on the same channel at once.

We heard one boater told to go to eleven and after a while he went back to 12 and politely reminded the dockmaster that he was still waiting. The dockmasters reply was “I thought I told you to go to eleven, what are you doing on 12 *click*” There was no “sorry for the delay’ no “we’ll be right with you” instead the guy got bitch slapped on the VHF. I have to admit that I would be frustrated by some of the clueless boat owners they have to deal with here but the rudeness of the staff in general is appalling.

We’re anchored out in the harbor so it doesn’t really impact us but it is sad to see and hear. Otherwise Block Island is quite the charming place.

No comments: