We put up the main sail before exiting Great Salt Pond early in the morning, the sun and blue skies of the previous day replaced by wind and rain-bearing cloud – a front system moving towards us. We pulled out the staysail and reefed the main as the wind picked up and we cut through the chop, doing 7.5 knots. We were making good progress, though sailing a little off our rhum line as the wind was once again coming right at us.
Steve was below when suddenly I felt something change. I looked up to see that the top of the main sail had separated from the halyard – two little leech lines and some stray threads were all that were holding it up as it luffed in the wind. Some choice words from the skipper when he emerged from the companionway will be omitted from this record!
The waves had built to meter and were choppy and frequent, so I turned head to wind and Steve bounced up and down trying to stay on the foredeck as he struggled to bring the main sail down without leaving the halyard behind. We managed alright, and proceeded on our course with motor and staysail, still making good time with current in our favour despite the chop, which subsided a bit as we moved into the lee of Fosters Island.
As we came around the end of the island and headed towards the very picturesque Race Rock we entered the notorious “Race” where current, tide and winds fought each other to create rips and whirls as well as chop hitting us from all directions. Interestingly, neither Steve nor I had been seasick at all despite the rollicking time and stress of the blown main sail.
We had considered our options, and while the nice sounding anchorage on Foster’s Island appealed to us, we were anxious to make more progress along Long Island Sound towards New York City. Another wonderful resource we have relied on during this trip is Active Captain, an interactive cruising guide populated by cruisers and boat owners who provide details and recommendations of anchorages, marinas and resources. Through this we had discovered a harbour of refuge, North Cove, near the mouth of the Connecticut River and within walking distance of the town of Old Saybrook, one of the earliest settlements in Connecticut. The best part was that the town allowed transient boaters to pick up any vacant mooring balls marked with yellow streamers and use them for up to 72 hours at no cost.
There were plenty of weekend pleasure boats around and the wind and current were against us impeding our progress as we negotiated the channel through the breakwaters, and into the river. The channel was very shallow and we had to watch both the buoys ahead and behind to ensure we were not set down as we turned into the narrow channel into North Cove. Luckily we never saw less than 9 feet of water (half way between high and low tide). The harbour of refuge was crammed with boats on moorings, but we were able to find a 400 series mooring ball with yellow ribbons.
Despite a little difficulty picking up the mooring due to the strong wind and current, we were soon securely tied and thankful t0 have found this cove. It was peaceful and quiet, two osprey circled overhead, bluefish were jumping in the water, and mute swans glided along the reedy marsh to the north end.
Unfortunately I was not able to get any internet even with my wi-fi antenna. So after a late lunch in the cockpit, we loaded my mac, the iPad and various layers of clothing into backpacks and lowered the dinghy. We found the North Cove Yacht Club but they wanted $35 to land our dinghy and use their showers! So we moved our dinghy next door to the town landing, at their suggestion, carefully avoiding all the locals who were crab fishing off the dock.
By this time it was 5 pm on a Saturday and we were worried about store hours to do our provisioning so hurried along the road past lovely homes, and into the town. We found Walt’s Market open – a lovely local grocery store, where customers bought their food on store credit. It had a great deli counter, fresh local sweetcorn and other local produce, so were were able to get what we needed before they closed. We conveniently passed a wine store on the way home and picked up a bottle of red wine to go with our steak and corn on the cob, and hurried back to the boat for dinner!
We chatted with a neighbouring sailboat owner who had just returned to his mooring, so they stopped by for a drink before heading back into town. In fact we found everyone very friendly and helpful to “the Canadian boat” so in the absence of wi-fi, were able to get some information on sail repair resources locally. As the sun went down we decided to stay at least one more day in the very sheltered cove, so that we could walk into town the next day to get wi-fi at Starbucks and figure out where and how to get the sail repaired, and then how to avoid the forecasted storm on Tuesday and determine when to transit the East River into NYC. Either way, we would not head to Port Jefferson the next day as originally planned. I was very tired and we were both travel-worn after the long leg, and grateful for the reprieve.
Postscript: We enjoyed our planning day in North Cove and pretty little Old Saybrook. We decided to move on early the next day to try to put more distance under our keel down Long Island Sound towards NYC. We sourced 4 sail-makers in Norwalk and several marinas there. We figured we’d call them underway and make an arrangement to get the sail repaired on Tuesday (storm day) if possible.
Day 98: September 15;
Distance travelled today 43 NM;
Current Position: 41° 17.38 N; 71° 21.59 W;
Weighed anchor in Great Salt Pond, Block Island at 07:15;
Anchored in North Cove, near Old Saybrook, CT at 13:30;
Weather: Overcast become sunny late, 22° C; Wind: N 11-15 kn. Waves: 1 m.
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