Spirit’s Post Hurricanes Trip to Long Island

After being hold up in Newport for several days while the winds, gusting 30 – 40, were howling through Newport Harbor, we had a welcome break in the weather. Hurricane Jose headed east and dissipated out over the Atlantic and Hurricane Maria decided not to follow earlier projections and gradually headed northeast, steering away from Newport and Long Island. So much for Ma Nature!

Once we headed out of Newport Harbor en route to Block Island we were amazed at the calm seas, and unfortunately the lack of any good sailing winds – a sharp contrast to the previous days. During the summer months Block Island is a favorite destination (23 miles SW of Newport and 20 miles ENE of the very eastern tip of Long Island) but once inside the Great Salt Pond anchorage all we could see were a mass of mooring buoys – without boats. Maybe it was because it was Monday, or the season, or the earlier projected hurricane paths, but we were one of the few visiting yachts – very nice!

After a walk into “town” where we had to at least sample Block Island’s signature drink, a Mud Slide, we headed back to Spirit where she was glowing in an incredible sunset that painted the entire horizon orange – one of the best sunsets we’ve seen on all our adventures. The next morning it was off for a two-hour nature trail hike along the northeastern shore where we saw the Clay Head cliffs and the ocean surge from the now distant Jose.

From Block Island we were off to the eastern tip of Long Island at Montauk, another quiet destination populated mostly by Sport Fishers – an ideal location for deep-sea fisherman. I think we were one of the only sailboats in the marina.

From the tip of the south fork of Long Island we headed northwest to the tip of the north fork, rounded the old lighthouse and anchored in Orient Harbor. Again, a day of no sailing but the water that was as smooth as glass along with the vibrant blue skies made for a very peaceful day. Once settled we went for a walk in Orient – a small hamlet with tranquil streets lined with huge exotic trees and well kept homes, some dating back to the 1700’s. It was almost like a Disney movie set capturing what once typified small town America.

The next morning we headed around Shelter Island to Sag Harbor, a place we visited about the same time last year. Sag Harbor is mostly a National Historic Site whose history centers on its days as a whaling port. Today, being part of the Hamptons, it’s a small town mecca of shops and restaurants making it a very popular tourist attraction.

The next morning we had some beautiful sailing winds and Spirit wanted to “spread her wings”. After a brief stop at a secluded beach and creek in a Shelter Island nature preserve we unleashed Spirit for an incredible 9 – 10 kt sail across Little Peconic Bay to Cutchogue Harbor in New Suffolk. Cutchogue is Erik’s home and his parents were kind enough to let us use their 20′ runabout the next day to explore a remote cove on the other side of Little Peconic Bay – the crew had a picnic lunch prepared and we spent a couple hours enjoying nature and the surroundings.

Our final day was a rainy one as we made the two hour trip northeast to Greenport – a quaint seaside village bordered by the Peconic Bay on one side and Long Island Sound on the other. Because of it’s deep and protected harbor, Greenport became a major whaling port in the early 1800’s, then an oystering center but now its claim is mostly tourism and its proximity to the many Long Island wineries.

So our Northern East Coast season comes to an end and Spirit and her crew, Erik and Leah, will soon be heading back south (once the hurricanes get out of the way) where Spirit will spend Christmas with our family in Turks & Caicos. On the way south we’ll join some friends on board while Spirit makes a stop in Charleston – then to Florida and on to the islands.

Keeping a watchful eye on hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria

Newport Harbor – hello sunshine!

Block Island Sound – the calm after the winds

A very quiet Block Island anchorage – where did everybody go?

Typical architecture on Block Island

An extraordinary Block Island sunset

The Clay Head cliffs on Block Island

…and the fog rolls in

Entering Montauk Harbor

Montauk Marina – where are the sailboats?

Sue finding rocks and shells on the beach outside of the Montauk jetty

The Long Beach Lighthouse entering Orient Point

Long Beach, aptly named

Orient Harbor

The charming tree lined streets of Orient

Historic Orient architecture

Spirit from the Orient Yacht Club

End of a “really tough” day

Landing on Shelter Island

Leah’s photo of the week – a creek on Shelter Island

A smooth 9.5 kts across Little Peconic Bay

An incredible Cutchogue Harbor sunset

Exploring coves on Erik’s parent’s runabout

An egret standing watch in a cove

Leah and Sue relaxing for the ride home after a picnic lunch in a cove

Spirit’s track from Newport to Long Island

 

 

Spirit on the coast of Maine

Sailing the Maine Coast is an extraordinary journey. It’s hard to believe that there’s more coastline than California (3,478 miles). To try and write about every stop and shore excursion would be too much for anyone to bear. In a nutshell the weather is humidity free, comfortable 65 to 75 degree days and cool nights. The landscape is different than any other place we’ve ever sailed – rocky coasts, pine trees galore, hundreds of little coves and no two boats that look alike. The people we met along the way couldn’t have been more welcoming and gracious, making us feel at home.

Maine is a world of wooden boats – classic designs that remind us of what sailing was all about years ago. Also, we were amazed that catamarans that have taken over the Caribbean hardly exist on this pristine Northeast coast. And, a day didn’t go by without a visit from the seals playing and making there way around the coastal waters.

The biggest eye opener was the lobster traps. We’ve always heard they were spattered throughout the Maine coast waters but had no idea to what extent – they’re everywhere! At times, sailing was like being on a slalom course or playing a video game – challenging but fun. So challenging that we snagged a couple. On one Erik had to dive under the boat in 52° water to cut it free from our prop. Not to be outdone, two days later, Leah dove in to free us from another buoy – hot toddies followed both! In Maine each licensed lobster fisherman is allowed 800 traps – there have to be a lot of licenses issued!

And then there are the almost daily fog banks that roll through – on goes the foghorn and an extra layer of warm clothing. The 70 degree days can disappear quickly and the sailing gets real challenging!

We did some kind of hike, or long walk, just about everyday – there were trails everywhere. We spent a few days in Southwest Harbor, part of Acadia National Park, the largest national park east of the Mississippi. The trails and scenic views were incredible, and the hiking gave us all a chance to burn off some calories. Much needed!

Hopefully the photos below give all a glimpse into this very special sailing ground, but now we need to end this post – time to head in for another lobster roll!

Historic Camden Harbor

On the town dock in Castine

A walk along Castine’s shoreline

The Castine lighthouse

Typical Maine coastline

Sunset over Bucks Harbor

Early morning calm in Buck’s Harbor

It’s never too early!

The bridge over Eggemoggin Reach (we let the oncoming cruise ship go through first!)

Bridge clearance of 85′ – Spirit’s mast 80′. Whew!

A lobster trap “minefield” – one of thousands!

Each lobster fisherman has their own uniquely colored buoys to keep track of whose buoys are whose

Lobster fishermen pulling up a trap

…and here comes another fog bank

The tiny fishing village of Frenchboro with Spirit anchored off in the distance

Finding Spirit anchored in the fog after dinner in Bass Harbor

Anchored off Cranberry Island with the backdrop of Acadia National Park

The shoreline of Acadia National Park

Spirit anchored at the head of Somes Sound as a fog bank rolls in

Some careful sailing in the fog

A beautiful quarry on Hurricane Island

Seals sunning on the rocks

Sunset over Stonington

    Spirit’s track around the coast of Maine

Spirit heads north

Spirit’s journey continues. The log now reads almost 18,000 nautical miles since we took delivery in May of 2015 – a lot of water under the keel!

After spending winter and spring in the Caribbean, Spirit headed north to Bermuda – a due north 850 nautical mile trip that took only four and half days. With very favorable winds most of the way we were able to average almost 8 kts with sea states that were a sailor’s dream.

To clear customs and immigration we arrived at the far eastern end of Bermuda to St. George’s Town, a small quaint town that reminded us of what Bermuda must have been like before the tourist boom. We stayed in our anchorage for a couple of days before sailing around to the northwestern entrance to Hamilton Harbor, at the Royal Navy Dockyard, where we had a berth ideally located in walking distance to the America’s Cup Village. Just as we settled in to our berth we found out that the Opening Ceremonies, and first day of racing, were cancelled due to a major front moving through with winds expected to gust up to 40 mph. Oh, goodie! Needless to say, out came every dock line we had to tie on every cleat we could find, then we hunkered down for the “less than forecasted” front to pass. No problem, we survived!

While the finals of the 2017 America’s Cup won’t take place until mid June, we were able to see Oracle, America’s entry, and the other five “flying boats” compete in qualification rounds from a boat at the edge of the course. Quite a show! While the races and the celebratory spirit were the highlights, just seeing the number of spectator boats in Hamilton Harbor was a sight to behold.

Witnessing some of America’s Cup was really special, but when weather conditions permit it will be time for Spirit to continue her journey on a 650 nautical mile trip to Newport, where the crew will ready her for the summer ahead in New England.

The America’s Cup – another check mark on what seems to be an ever-expanding “bucket list”.

Spirit’s “straight as an arrow” 850 mile track to Bermuda

Spirit’s transit crew

Dawn over the Atlantic

An occasional rainbow

Just another Atlantic sunset

View of St. George’s Town from our anchorage

A view of Hamilton Harbor with spectator boats circling the course

A crane lowering Oracle into the water

Oracle all out

Oracle and the Swedish boat Artemis

The UK and Japan battling it out

Up really close…

A view of some super yachts next to the America’s Cup Village at night