August 30, 2009... Sag Harbor

Just a 3-mile jaunt across the water, we motored over to Sag Harbor as soon as the fog lifted. We found a place to anchor outside the breakwater not too far from the harbor itself. There are some really BIG yachts here. Not the least of which is the one with the helicopter on the back. And, some pretty sizable sailboats too. The one we anchored next to must be at least 80 feet long. By 1PM we were ready to get off the boat and explore Sag Harbor. Found the town dock, tied up the dinghy, got a town map and other information and set out. What a great town! Not just a tourist town - there is a hardware store, a grocery, a laundromat, and other places. (We got some tuna steak to barbeque tonight.) We will take the camera tomorrow to get some pictures of the town buildings - lots of old homes from the 19th century whaling days, old cemetery, and whaling church (in Egyptian Revival style - this cannot be believed...) The church is still in use and serves three different congregations - including the Conservative Jewish community. The sun came out about 3PM - what a difference that makes! Back to Anhinga. Can’t wait to see more of this place tomorrow.

Sag Harbor: +41° 0' 27.48", -72° 16' 46.62"

August 27-29, 2009... Shelter Island

After our first day at Shelter Island (which we explored by kayak, dinghy, and with a short walk) we had rain. And more rain. And the threat of another hurricane (soon downgraded to a tropical storm, then a tropical depression, thankfully.) So, we took the wet weather as an opportunity to hunker down, stay on the boat, and just read and putter about. About the only interesting thing to happen in that time was that we were adopted by a particular seagull who really liked the Rifka-Itzy dinghy and wanted to call it home. We would get out there and squawk at it to make it go away every once in a while. Wearing long sleeves, pants, and jackets, we wondered if Fall had come to the Northeast. We decided to try Sag Harbor when the weather cleared.

August 26, 2009... Back to Long Island

Based on the weather forecast we left Essex expecting a smooth sail to the North Fork of Long Island. We were no further than the mouth of the Connecticut River when we had white caps on the water. Out in the Sound, big rollers and a fairly strong wind -- not so smooth. But, we put up the staysail (our new favorite sail) and reefed the main and away we went. Sailed to and through Plum Gut (a little scary with the current channeled there) and across Gardiners Bay. The apparent wind sometimes hit 26 knots. The wind is forecast to be from the west tonight turning to the northwest and north for the next three days, so we decided to anchor in Smith Cove on the south shore of Shelter Island. Anchor down, the new windlass works!

Shelter Island: +41° 3' 1.50", -72° 18' 40.02"

Aug 23-25, 2009... Essex Still, Getting Closer to Departure

Sunday started the way all Sundays should. John dinghied into town for the New York Times and bagels, and we spent the morning devouring both. In the afternoon, after thanking the Essex Maritime Police for keeping boaters to the ‘no wake’ standard, we kayaked in the North Cove - swans, geese, white herons, blue herons, swallows, cormorants and ducks all making it home - and beautiful wildflowers everywhere. We also got to see the dock that would be our home during the windlass installation by Dauntless Shipyard. Ended the day with dinner in town at the Black Seal.

Finally - Monday arrived - windlass installation day. Piotr came out to the anchorage from the boatyard to help us weigh anchor. The current and the wind teamed up to make the process more difficult than necessary, but we got to the dock. Piotr went through the windlass box we picked up on Saturday and some necessary parts weren’t there. So back to Defender for us to pick them up while he started the install. Once back we figured leaving him alone was the best course so we hoofed it to the Colonial supermarket a couple of miles out of town. Filling four bags with provisions, we waited for the shuttle bus back to the boatyard. We checked on windlass progress and then took a walk to the River View Cemetery that we had seen from our Sunday kayak. About half the grounds have tombstones from the 18th and 19th centuries. And veterans from all America’s wars - Revolutionary, French & Indian, Civil, Cuba, and modern day as well. The family plots have generations of people whose names are all over this town. Really quite an education.

Monday night was our first time at a dock in 5 weeks. We took advantage of the marina showers and internet access. Both were terrific. But, sitting in the cockpit after dinner, we had a strange sense of being closed in. We had gotten used to the openness of an anchorage.

Tuesday. Another kayak this morning - this time around Nott Island - and we took the opportunity to photograph the Connecticut River Museum with the tour boat out front as well as a plein air artist working in a skiff! Never seen that before. Piotr closed in and finished the day with a big windlass finale. Doug (Brewer Dauntless Marina manager) stopped by to see how things were going. Tony ordered us a strap wrench that would fit the oil filter currently on the engine (of course when John went to change it, the wrench we had was the wrong size.) Everyone here has been so helpful through our windlass drama. We certainly recommend this as a place to stop when up the Connecticut River.

August 20-22, 2009... Still in Essex

We have become a tourist attraction in the Connecticut River opposite Essex. Nobody else anchors here - certainly not for a week at a time. So, we get passing gawkers - both sail and power - trying to figure out why we’re here.

Everybody we’ve met in Essex has been really nice and helpful. Today, at the advice of one friendly person, we visited a local laundromat. Ah, the cruising life. Though we have a Wonder Washer, we needed industrial strength machines to wash our bedding and towels. So, here’s the process. Load large bags and detergent and books to read into the dinghy. Drive the dinghy to the dock and tie up. Unload and walk about a mile, each carrying a very large bag. Get to the laundromat and make lots of change for the machines. Wash. Dry. Reverse the process. Nobody ever writes articles about this in the magazines that show all that turquoise water in the tropics!!

Next - we stopped worrying about Bill. He is now downgraded to a tropical storm and isn’t expected to hit land in the U.S. And, since we are inland, no issues for us.

Last, but certainly not least, the shipyard that will be fixing our windlass loaned us a truck so that we could go pick up our windlass that arrived last night from California!! Yay!! Looks like Monday is installation day.

Oh yeah, we’ve been able to get more kayaking in and seen some beautiful places. Also, visited the Connecticut River Museum, which is done very well. Good exhibits, good location. We actually learned something.

August 18-19, 2009... Essex Forever

Well, the windlass broke. The good news is, we got our anchor down and are stuck in the ground here. The bad news is, we are here until the new windlass arrives (from California - what else - I guess it is good it isn’t coming from New Zealand) and is installed. We tried to get parts and repair the old one, but it was just too old, the parts don’t exist anymore, and that wouldn’t cost enough money!!! So, we’ll support the economy of Connecticut for awhile. Did some windlass research at the Essex library where they have internet access - again - a terrific amenity in the towns we have visited. Having gotten that squared away, we treated ourselves to dinner Tuesday night in the famous old Griswold Inn. It was surprisingly good!

On Wednesday, we went kayaking - needed the exercise after all the emotional trauma of the windlass. And boy, did we go - for 3 hours in the 90+ degree heat, we explored the Connecticut River and Selden Creek. The latter was recommended to us as a hurricane hole should the need arise. Hurricane Bill is churning in the Atlantic and we still don’t know if it will come this way. JUST IN CASE, we are preparing ourselves and the boat. Of course, when/if it comes, we have no way to lift the 88 lb. anchor and 100 ft. of chain so that we can get ourselves to safe ground. But we met some people who said they would help. Let’s hope Bill just goes away.

August 17, 2009... Up the Connecticut River

We’d heard so much about Essex we decided to cruise up the Connecticut River to give it a try. Leaving Joshua Cove and the Thimbles was hard - hands down these were the most beautiful places we had been so far. But up anchor in the hazy, still morning, and out to the Sound. After a couple of hours there was a whisper of wind -- so we tried the jib... then the main... and we were off! Not speedily, but a comfortable 3-4 knots with the wind at our backs. Had a very small visitor on the way - a barn sparrow made itself a perch on one of our jib sheets and cruised along with us. We got to the Saybrook breakwater easily, then motored against the current a little ways to the railroad bridge. We missed 2 openings - one by a hair. So we circled a few times and finally got through. Up the river we went and looked for an anchorage. We tried two that the cruising guide recommended - one (far side of Nott Island) was too shallow (we found the bottom in a place marked 11 feet!!!) and one (Hamburg Cove) was completely filled with moorings - none of which would have allowed us the swing room we need. So, back down the river to settle behind the red marker across from the town of Essex. Anchor down, beautiful night.

Essex: +41° 21' 15.66", -72° 22' 42.00"

August 14-16, 2009... Thimble Islands

Friday... The exploration of the Thimble Islands began today by kayak, a short one-mile run from Joshua Cove. It is difficult not to ooh and ah over the sights. These islands, of pink granite rock, are mostly very small - some with only one house on them. Each one prettier than the last. We had a wonderful three-hour kayak trip through the islands, identifying the ten that were bought by a woman for over $30M. Back to Anhinga to rest our muscles - tomorrow we go back by dinghy to take some photos.

Saturday... Back to the islands in the dinghy (with Patti, novice dinghy driver at the tiller) so that John could get some photos. Again, a beautiful trip through a magical place. Afterwards, over to Stoney Creek, the town nearest the islands for lunch at Creekers and some off-the-boat time. The trip through the mooring field in the harbor was new and different for us. The small boats are moored to long sticks circled by tires that go up and down with the tides. Makes the harbor look a little strange. More boats in the vicinity today - raft-ups in the channels through the Thimbles. Glad we didn’t anchor there.

Sunday... Cousins Joel and Sarah met us in Stoney Creek today and came out for a spin through the Thimbles - then back to Anhinga for some catching up. A little excitement as we wended our way through the islands -- we hit a submerged rock and dinged our dinghy prop a tad. In any case, it was really nice to see them though we are sure we bored them to tears with stories of living on board. They look great - married life seems to agree with them!

August 13, 2009... Joshua Cove, CT

Today is our one-month anniversary on the hook - we haven’t been in a marina since leaving our dock in Eastport, MD. Well, we weathered the foul weather overnight and soldiered on to Joshua Cove, just north of Sachem Head and east of the Thimble Islands. While the sky didn’t seem to want to clear, and we wondered if the sun would ever make an appearance, we anchored and decided to go kayaking. What a beautiful place. And so different from Long Island. The shoreline is primarily made of huge boulders and the houses built above and into them are set to enjoy the water. Instead of floating docks, most people in Joshua Cove keep their boats either on mooring balls or on a clothesline-type contraption that they can pull into shore to get to the boats. Really ingenious and able to handle the 6+ foot tides. A really big stone house on Uncas Point had visitors arrive by helicopter as we were kayaking by. Guess that’s how the other half lives. The vista from our boat is huge and magnificent. We look right into the Sound or over to the Thimbles. A hint of Long Island is visible towards the east. Happy to be here! (And, the sun came out late this afternoon.)

Joshua Cove: +41° 15' 14.94", -72° 43' 4.32"
* approximate times

August 12, 2009... Hello Connecticut

Today’s plan was to leave Long Island and get to either the Thimble Islands or Joshua Cove in Connecticut. We had so-so winds, but we did manage a fabulous NE run heading out of Port Jefferson towards New Haven. Tacked south, then NE again, closing in on our destination. One more set of tacks and we figured we were golden. Well, until we noticed we lost all our speed on the last NE run. Turned on the engine, and even with that, we weren’t moving well. And the rudder was getting difficult to turn. John’s solution was to jump overboard in the middle of the Long Island Sound and investigate. Patti’s idea was to cross back to the breakwater at New Haven, anchor, and then start investigating where the seas were not 2-4 feet. (So that’s what we did.) John got all dolled up in neoprene and a snorkel mask, armed with sharp weaponry, and over the side he went, while held by a harness and tether. Found out that we had snagged a lobster pot and its float and line were stuck in the rudder. After freeing the pot, it took John at least an hour and two dives to get the float and the line free. But, finally he was successful. Exhausted, we decided to spend the night behind the breakwater and head out to our original destination tomorrow. And no, we didn’t keep the lobster pot or its contents!

New Haven: +41° 13' 35.76", -72° 56' 8.70"

August 8-11, 2009... Port Jefferson

Saturday, our first day was glorious and we wasted no time. Circumnavigated the harbor by kayak and explored some of the small gems here. Setauket Harbor is just beautiful - a tranquil paradise compared with the comings and goings in Port Jeff harbor. Too bad Anhinga is too deep to anchor in there. Another place that is a real treat is Pirates Cove off Mount Misery Point. This is powerboat raft-up city, but the place is beautiful and the 60-ft. dunes are outstanding. (Our plan was to come back with the Sunday NYTimes, hang out on the beach and climb the dunes. But Sunday’s weather didn’t permit.) Once we finished our kayak, we changed and dinghied into town. The Town Dock wanted to charge us $12 AN HOUR (!!!) to tie up our dinghy! We went to Danford’s Hotel and Marina, and they charged us $10 for the day. Still steep we thought...but better than the megayacht prices at the Town Dock. Port Jeff is cute - sort of Disneylandish - a real touristy town. But, we found the excellent bakery and fresh fish store. So we had swordfish to grill for dinner and almond horns for a dessert treat!

So Sunday comes and the weather stinks. We go get the newspaper and bagels, then back to the boat hoping for sunshine. Finding none, we sit in the cockpit and read. Patti looks up and sees a dinghy with no people on board off in the distance from our boat. John looks and says, “That’s our dinghy!” We leap into action and paddle the kayak over to catch our escaping dinghy. Towing it back home, we re-tie and double tie the dinghy to the boat. Ah the excitement. Well - we needed the exercise anyway. Back to town for dinner at Wave, the restaurant at Danford’s. Really quite good - a great surprise. And, the rain held off so that we could eat dockside.

Monday - a scorcher. We kayak to Pirates Cove, beach the boat and scale the dunes. Gorgeous views of the Sound and the entrance to the harbor. On the beach later we watch the tide come in (now this is the retired life...), enjoy the kids’ sailing lessons (six boats with a very patient instructor), and try not to get too sunburnt. Back to Anhinga for laundry and boat maintenance. Holding our breath that the predicted thunderstorms would pass us by. Not so lucky, but only winds for about 5 minutes, rain for 15.

Tuesday, Uncle Paul picked us up and gave us a quick tour of the Old Field Point area and then back home to East Setauket for Aunt Barbara’s homemade breakfast from their own farm-grown vegetables. Superb! They loaned us a car and we did some more sightseeing in Stony Brook (Avalon Park, the post office with the mechanical eagle flapping its wings), Belle Terre -- the road above our anchorage, and the Setauket library for internet access. Next, importantly, a trip to the Stop ‘n’ Shop and the Wild By Nature supermarkets to re-provision the boat. Aunt Barbara dropped us off at the dock, helping us get the five huge bags of food (including produce from the farm) to the dinghy for the trip back to Anhinga. Great day! Wonderful to see family. Tomorrow, Connecticut.

August 7, 2009... Transit to Port Jefferson

After a rolly night in the Cold Spring Harbor anchorage, we left for our next destination, Port Jefferson. The general weather pattern for Long Island Sound (no wind in the morning and SW winds in the afternoon) changed, and we had northwest winds; favorable for our eastward trek. We were able to sail pretty much the whole way on a picture perfect sunny day. Downwind sailing - yes! Got to Port Jeff in the afternoon, had to make way for the Bridgeport ferry, but found a place to anchor near the mooring field. Soaking up the sunshine and rewarding ourselves for a sail well done. Tomorrow, exploration.

Port Jefferson: +40° 57' 42.24", -73° 4' 40.50"

August 6, 2009... Cold Spring Harbor

Spent an hour at the fuel dock in Oyster Bay filling up on fuel and water; set to head the short distance to Cold Spring Harbor. Found a place to anchor pretty easily...then found out why. There is nothing of any interest in Cold Spring Harbor. First - no town dock. Next - lots of antique and chachka shops, and several empty storefronts. No grocery store. So, not a very friendly stop for cruisers, especially with Oyster Bay competing right around the corner. The one saving grace to this town is the library. Fabulous and new with internet access. If you have to be in Cold Spring Harbor, at least you can read.

Cold Spring Harbor: +40° 52' 30.30", -73° 28' 42.12"

August 2-4, 2009... Oyster Bay

Sunday morning was rainy, but the sun soon came out giving us a chance to dinghy to town, re-provision, and get a Sunday NYTimes. Back to Anhinga just in time. The skies opened and it rained ALL DAY. So what. We had a big newspaper, lots of coffee, and a wonderful enclosure that kept us bone dry. Late afternoon and the skies cleared. Yay! Showers for everybody and dinner in town at Il Piatto. We picked this place to eat after meeting the clammer who sold his catch to the chef. Excellent food.

Up early Monday (crack of 10?) for our excursion to Teddy Roosevelt’s house at Sagamore Hill. Dinghied to the road next to the anchorage - no place to dock so we tied up to the guard rail on the road. Seemed ok, except that it was high tide. More about that later. We walked about a mile to the National Park grounds. Sagamore Hill was just as Patti remembered - animal heads and skins everywhere. It is hard to believe that this house actually served as the summer White House. It is kind of small - and there were 6 kids living there at the time. We walked out from the grounds to the Cold Spring Harbor side of Cove Neck and saw a live horseshoe crab -- all the others we had seen for weeks now had been dead. Walked back to the dinghy and found it 15 feet from the water. Oh yeah, the tides. Well it was low tide and we had to drag the dinghy back to the water so that we could get home. Success (we are so strong...) Invited the other Annapolitans (on a Bristol!) in the anchorage over for drinks and had a nice time getting to know them. Simple dinner, beautiful sunset. Tomorrow - kayaking?

Another beautiful day on Tuesday and off we went on a marathon kayak trip around the periphery of Oyster Bay. Up by the Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club, back through the mooring field, around Centre Island to gawk at the mansions, into West Harbor to see more clammers at work, over to Mill Neck Creek and diagonally back across the main harbor to our boat. Three hours later we crawled on deck and collapsed. Next stop, the Oyster Bay library to get internet access and a reward for the day with a New York favorite - Carvel ice cream cones. And, it was cruise night in Oyster Bay - streets blocked off with lots of historic cars from every decade as well as muscle cars of the 60s and 70s. If only one unnamed blogmaster could have been there!

August 1, 2009... Oyster Bay

The sun came out today and we had a beautiful short trip backtracking through Long Island Sound to Oyster Bay. Finding a spot in the anchorage next to Cove Neck was pretty straightforward. So once the anchor was set, we went off exploring in the kayak. We found a place to tie up the dinghy tomorrow when we go to town. We also found the public beach where Patti used to go when she lived in Jericho. We learned from a commercial fisherman that the tonging we saw in Northport and again in Oyster Bay was actually clamming. We admired all the mansions on Center Island and just reveled in the great weather. Being in such a good mood, we cleaned Anhinga’s boot stripe -- figuring that was a righteous way to stay outside and play. John’s fusilli dinner and a beautiful sunset completed a wonderful day.

Oyster Bay: +40° 52' 52.02", -73° 30' 40.20"

July 29-31, 2009... Centerport and Northport

We anchored for three days in Northport Harbor, spending time with family and getting to know the area. Pam and Sophie brought us lunch on the boat one day, then Pam and a friend kayaked out to see us another day. Eileen and Marvin endured perhaps the most memorable dinghy ride ever after visiting us one evening. We got into the dinghy to go back to Centerport, turned the point at Little Neck, and WHAM! Smack into the wind and waves. Patti on the bow is the first to get completely drenched. Eileen and Marvin next. John is protected in the rear. Laughing all the way to the dock we decided we were in no condition to go out to dinner, so we retreated to Anhinga and Eileen and Marvin went home to soak the salt out of their clothes. The next day the whole family got together at Skipper’s Pub for dinner and the outdoor concert in Northport. Earlier in the day we had a chance to explore Northport on foot and took advantage of 2 for 1 bread loaves at Copenhagen Bakery. Later we got in a kayak trip to Asharoken Beach and Duck Harbor. What beautiful scenery.

The last day was supposed to be our travel day to Oyster Bay, but with thunderstorms coming, we stayed put, waiting for sunshine to make our move. The sun did come out in early afternoon, so after listening to the marine weather forecast, downloading a GRIB file, and listening to the local news, we decided it was safe to get some exercise with another kayak expedition. We were wrong. We were out about half an hour when the sky got black, the wind shifted from out the of the north, and we had to fight our way through whitecaps to get across the Northport basin to Anhinga. Again completely drenched (there is a theme here...) we climbed back aboard. Guess what - the sun is supposed to come out tomorrow.

Northport Harbor: +40° 54' 48.30", -73° 22' 16.02"