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.