Tuesday, July 31

Bloody Nose by Maggie

          The sun was shining so brightly that it illuminated the sky with golden beams of light.  The large pool was rectangular in shape with slightly rounded corners and grey cement surrounding it.  I came rushing out the door in my pink and orange bikini ready to swim. The turquoise-blue water was as still as could be, desperately waiting for someone to jump in.  “C’mon!” I said waving my hand in the air, as I summoned my sisters to come swim with me.  I felt refreshed when I did a cannonball directly into the cool water, but not for long.  The smell of chlorine quickly changed to the smell of blood.  Without hesitation, I got out of the pool.  I felt it trickling down my face and soon the metallic taste of blood was on my tongue.  I knew my nose was bleeding when I raised my hand and saw red liquid.  I was angry because I couldn’t swim anymore, but that was shortly resolved when we had a scrumptious dinner and cookie dough ice cream for dessert.   

Monday, July 30

Just like family

When we left Jamestown last week, we headed north to Barrington Yacht Club to spend a couple of nights.  We picked this spot because it was convenient to Craig’s test where we could rent a car for the day.  The BYC was an excellent choice, though it was a tight squeeze getting up the narrow river at slack tide.  We stayed on their floating dock, which was in fact a small dock literally floating out in the mooring field.  It was a unique setting amidst a quiet neighborhood and no traffic.   The staff at BYC was very accommodating, professional and friendly even though our transient status stuck out like a sore thumb.  We soaked up the atmosphere and tried to belong while using the pool and free showers.   Although Kate managed to use all the hot water so the rest of us had a cold shower : )
We had the pleasure of meeting the aunt and uncle of our friends from Dallas.  They live in Barrington, just a few miles away from the BYC.   They opened up their home and served up a delicious dinner and beds in a beautiful quiet home.  The girls were in heaven with so much space to run around, a pool to swim in and toys (they have grandkids) to play with.  THANK YOU John and Elaine!

Their beautiful backyard overlooking the bay

Kate using the refreshing outdoor shower

The fish pond

Maggie, I think you are too big...

We will be going back to Barrington to meet up with our friends from Dallas, the Lutz family.  Charlotte and Maggie are counting the minutes!

Wednesday, July 25

The not so good day (or two)

Thankfully we are tied to a dock at the Barrington Yacht Club tonight.  We've had an eventful 48 hours, I guess you could say.  Allow me to tell the tale.
We left Block Island on Monday morning ahead of a brewing thunderstorm.  We sailed to Dutch Harbor, Jamestown and managed to get only a few raindrops.  Jamestown is a small, quiet island west of Newport.  We looked at our cruising guide and found we could anchor close to the beach outside the mooring area, protected from the wind.  As soon as we dropped the hook and were headed to the refrigerator for a beer, the harbormaster pulled up.  He said we can't anchor there because it's a conservatory.  "Thank you sir, sorry sir, we'll move sir..."  We start pulling up the anchor and here he comes again.  We thought, man, he is a tad impatient.  He came over and said we can stay on the private mooring ball labeled with so and so's name.  Craig and I looked at each other and said "even better!"  We meander around in order to pick up the mooring buoy from the proper direction.  When I say we, I mean me.  Craig drops the anchor while I drive the boat....that's just how we do it.  So, I swing around a big powerboat and just as I am beside him, trying not to hit him or the mooring ball on my port side....it happens.  The front of the powerboat swings in the wind towards my stern (un-expectantly and unaware) as I move forward to get so and so's mooring ball - we hit!!  Our stern rail scraps their bow pulpit.  Damn!  I mean Darn!  Oh *$@&!!!!!  With our boat secure on the mooring ball, Craig hops in the dinghy and goes to see what damage I have caused.  Luckily for us, them and our insurance...THANKFULLY there was no damage. We suffered a scratched railing.  No harm, no foul, but it was sure nerve racking!
The next morning, we heard a loud knocking on our hull.  I go outside to see who it is and it's the harbormaster again (a different guy than before).  He said in a gruff tone that we can't use a private mooring ball.  "But, but but....the other guy said we could....he looked 'official' in a harbormaster boat.....oh geez, we're sorry"  So instead of moving to another anchorage area, we decide to go around the corner into Mackerel Cove.  We read it was a really deep cove with a great beach.  Perfect!  It was a near record breaking day in Rhode Island (a whopping 90 degrees I think).  The wind would be out of the north that night, so we would be protected....great, let's go.  We failed to realize that the ocean swells would be rolling directly into the cove.  I knew the second we started down the cove channel that it was gonna be bad.   I don't do swells well, especially bobbing around in them.  I was feeling sick nearly immediately and the girls soon followed.  We tried to make it work so Craig could get some studying in.  We swam and played in the frigid water but shortly thereafter, we decided to head over to Newport.  The winds were calm as we headed down below for the night.  As soon as I got myself all comfy and my book open, the wind started howling through the rigging.  It changed in dramatic fashion in all of 30 seconds.  First nothing, then howling!  I wish I could describe the sound.  Maggie says it sounds like the Mr Freeze roller coaster at Six Flags (minus the screaming).  It's one of those smooth magnetic type roller coasters that has a deep whoosh when it goes by.  Anyway.....the boat swung quickly around to face the howling wind.  Then the boat started to shudder and shake from the wind and the small white caps turned into 2 foot waves (in the harbor mind you)!  I thought our entire enclosure was gonna be ripped right off!  The wind was 30 knots with gusts near 40!  We watched to see if we were holding and to make sure other boats around us were holding.  Craig grabbed the keys to start the engines - just in case.  We noticed the boat behind us had broken loose of her anchor and was swiftly moving toward an unsuspecting boat.  I jumped on the VHF and called the harbormaster while Craig shined our light on the runaway boat.  Her anchor grabbed hold just before it hit the sailboat.  The harbormaster came to thank us for letting them know.  At least the 48 hour debacle ended with a good deed!
Today was a new day, gorgeous as gorgeous could be here in Rhode Island.  We moved up to Barrington and into the yacht club where we were greeted with friendly hospitality, a swimming pool and showers!  We will sleep well tonight.  Wish Craig luck....his test is in the morning!

Mother Nature

I grew up in southern California with very mild weather for the most part.  Craig grew up in Michigan with blizzards and afternoon thunderstorms and he lived through hurricane Hugo in Charleston. We lived in the bay area of northern California where the weather is just about perfect (in our opinion).  We moved to Seattle for 9 years and had some exciting weather like snow.  Since living in Texas and experiencing some very dramatic weather (tornadoes, violent thunderstorms and hail the size of golf balls), I feel like we have pretty much seen it all.  I love the weather.  I check it all the time and get a bit grumpy when a good thunderstorm goes around us or doesn't deliver (at home that is).  As we have taught the girls, "you get what you get and you don't throw a fit".  That will be my motto onboard.
When we are sailing, we are really at the mercy of mother nature.  We have to be diligent and on guard all the time.  We can't take shelter in a nice sturdy house where you feel very protected.  On the boat you feel very exposed (and the thunder is VERY loud).  We are acutely aware of any small changes in the wind since we anchor 99% of the time.  We have been through a couple of thunderstorms since we started our adventure but nothing that we couldn't handle (yet).
While in Block Island this past week, we had a freaky weather situation.  See pictures below.  We knew there was a system headed our way, we were expecting it because a cold front was moving through.  The wind started picking up, white caps filled the harbor.  We got the ear piercing beep on our VHF radio from the National Weather Center warning of the approaching storm.  We battened down the hatches and stowed or tied down everything that could blow away and we waited.  By this time, the wind was really howling through the rigging.  The sky grew dark and we could see the clouds changing.  Then we saw what we thought was a wall or shelf cloud (pretty common in Texas with severe thunderstorms).  We couldn't hear any thunder yet...hmmm, wonder why?  This white 'wall' cloud was moving fast and was really low.  We hopped on deck to check it out and take pictures.  Everyone else was on their bow looking at the same phenomanom.  It stretched in a perfectly straight line as far as the eye could see.  We were all mesmerized.  Then, when it was almost on top of us, we scrambled in the boat bracing for the worst.  It rolled over us as quiet as could be and then it was gone - past us - moving over the island.  The wind died almost instantaneously, from 20 knots to absolutely nothing.  No thunder, no lightning, no wind and not even a drop of rain.  What was that thing??  Everyone around us in the anchorage was scratching their heads trying to figure it out.  Craig thinks it was just a cloud.  I think it was a 'roll' of fog.  It rolled over itself just like San Francisco fog.
The rain finally came that night and we did have an impressive lightning show and thunder, loud thunder!

A fellow Austin Texas boat bracing for the blow

Here comes the cloud

What do you think??

Legos...one of the many activities we have onboard for rainy days

Maggie's car - meet Sam.

More Block Island

More fun had by all on Block Island.....

Beautiful Block Island

Main Street

Lots of shopping

Mmmmm, Del's frozen lemonade

Where are you?

Craig studying....again

The Oar Restaurant, thousands of oars like these line the walls and ceiling

The Great Salt Pond full of boats

Our first clam chowder in New England!

The beach

Swimmin' in the waves

One happy family

Livs got the moves playing soccer with Craig and Kate (we had to bring a soccer ball or else...)

Aldo's bakery delivering pastries to the anchorage

Playground fun

Leaving Block Island

Monday, July 23

Block Island

Here we are anchored in the Great Salt Pond in Block Island.  Everyone we talk to (in Rhode Island) says this is a “must see”.  It is a smallish island (10 square miles) that uses diesel generators to power the entire island.  There are 2 lighthouses, one north and one south and the only way on and off the island is by boat or ferry.  This enchanting destination is 14 miles from Stonington CT and 25 miles from Newport.    There seems to be more bicycles and mopeds than cars.  The well-weathered cottages adorned with shingles are scattered along the scenic shoreline and nestled in the trees on the hilltop.  There is a definite laid-back authentic island feel, as if you have stepped back in time before fast food chains and Starbucks were on every corner.  The ‘pond’ is quite large, protected 360 degrees around and has room for hundreds of boats.  It is very quiet with the exception of ‘Aldo’, who comes around in his boat twice a day hollering in a booming voice “Andiamos… at yoouuuRRR BOAT!”  He sells fresh coffee and pastries.  Mmm-mmm good!
We left Newport last Monday with every intention to sail the 25 miles south.  However, the wind was on our nose and we pounded into the waves.  After a while, we decided to take shelter at Point Judith, which has a harbor of refuge (man made protection).  We were really glad we did because the following morning we had perfect sailing conditions the remaining 13 miles to Block Island.

Regatta in Newport as we were leaving

Love this house.  It is privately owned and is more than 10,000 sq feet built into the rock base.  It is completely off the grid with solar panels and 3000 gallons of rainwater stored in the attic.  It was built back in the 1800's and structurally has had little done to it since.  Amazing!

Waves crashing over the rocks at Pt Judith harbor of refuge

Pt Judith light house

Making our way to Block Island (upper left corner)

Maggie on watch (tough job with the autopilot!)

Block Island anchorage & mooring

The girls and I walked to the north lighthouse (which was MUCH longer than the mile and a half that we were told!).  We stopped along the way at a sacred Labyrinth and the rock where the very fist settlers landed back in 1661. 

Many souls following the winding path

Kate signing her name among the hundreds of messages on the bench (pen is provided for this purpose)

Little pond on the walk to the lighthouse

Attractive fish sculpture in the pond

The northern lighthouse

Block Island settlers rock

Walking home

Maggie made dinner - grilled chicken and salad with lemon, mint and grilled onions (dad helped with the grilling)

Yeah baby!
Olivia learns how to kayak all by herself!  She started out on a "tether" to the boat and has earned the privilege to go it alone.  Now we need a second kayak to keep up with her!

Sunday, July 22

Connecting to cyberspace

Let me begin this post by saying that connecting to the internet via wifi has proved to be more difficult than we expected.  In the major ports they have a very strong wifi, but they want you to pay a pretty penny for it.  Our system, called the 'bad boy' picks up a wifi signal great if 1.  too many other people aren't trying to use it at the same time (like 4th of July in Bristol Harbor) and 2. the harbor doesn't have it's own wifi they want you to pay to use.  Craig is convinced that the broadband in the major harbors is too powerful for our bad boy to pick up a signal.  Crazy, I know.  And incredibly frustrating at the same time.
Rest assured that we are researching our options to have a more reliable internet connection (we are on a budget you know).  We are trying to "unplug" as much as possible (speaking of which, I will soon be giving up my phone).  However, we need the internet for such things like ordering boat parts, school work and the most important of all - THE BLOG - and to hear from you!  I have many pictures to post and stories to tell.....

You might be asking yourself how I can post this if I don't have wifi.  Well, I am cheating, of sorts.  I write the post and then I use the harbor wifi until they ask for a password.  Which takes a few minutes - just long enough for this to be published.  Sneaky aren't I??

Quick update:  We are currently still in Block Island enjoying the town and the beach immensely.  We will be leaving here on Tuesday morning before another cold front brings possible thunderstorms.  We will go to Jamestown and then eventually to Barrington Yacht Club while Craig takes his recertification test in Warwick.

Monday, July 16

Fun in Newport

The past couple of days Craig has been studying away while the girls and I go play.  Here is a picture story....
mmmmm, grilled pizza on the boat!

Kate relaxing in the hammock

walking back from the grocery store

pretty lavender along the way

old firehouse red door

Newport Farmer's Market

For you Dave A. - A portable wood burning pizza oven!

enjoying a chocolate croissant from the farmer's market

Kate made dinner....fish tostadas with yogurt lime sauce.  Delicious!!

a walk into town via King Beach

King Beach statue

Maggie and Olivia statues

Newport Harbor (no I didn't get my hair cut!)

our boat on the hook

sunset on the water

walking the '40 steps' - used to be made out of wood

looking south on the 'cliff walk' - a 3 1/2 mile public walk along the water where you can admire the many famous mansions

Salve Regina University - beautiful and right on the water!

"The Breakers" - Ann Vanderbuilt's summer cottage with 70 rooms!

A surfer's memorial - people wrote messages on all the rocks at the base

Our lunch spot - a small black sand beach along the cliff walk

playing at the water

a couple of other mansions along the way

The Chinese Teahouse 

details of the roof

going through the tunnel under the chinese teahouse

another tunnel at rough point

Doris Duke's mansion - we wanted to take the tour and see the 'round the world exhibit' but it was closed.  Bummer!

wild life and the bearded rocks from seaweed

beautiful flowers everywhere along the walk

Maggie's turtle rocks

The Newport Regatta

Olivia made dinner - Quesadillas and salad!  Yummy!

We are headed to Block Island, RI