Thursday, August 30, 2012

It doesn't get much better than this

On August 22, we finally left for a week at Block Island.  Our friend Ellen came over from Long Island by ferry to meet us at the boat in Norwich and off we went. The cruise was great under sunny skies and by mid-afternoon, we were tied up at Payne's, our favorite boating destination.

We can't tell you how good it was to see that old familiar sign at the head of New Harbor.

Soon, the place began to fill up. We backed into our slip with only about two feet between our anchor and the one in front. Guess we haven't lost our touch after all.

They come from all over to fish the waters around Block Island. That's Cliff Payne directing from the dock, as usual.

 We even got some big neighbors. This one was better than 100 feet long.

 Pooka the boat cat enjoyed sharing the boat with three cat lovers. Here he adjusts the radio. Lucky we all enjoy the same kind of music.

Payne's is just as nutty as ever.  We took a walk to Old Harbor and again admired the selection of cars parked nearby.

On our walk, we encountered the annual Historical Society Arts and Crafts Fair. Yes, we made a purchase or two.

The weather was perfect every day. Warm days with almost no humidity and cool nights. After the first day or so, we turned off the AC on the boat.  The sunsets were beautiful, especially that "golden hour" just after the sun sets below the horizon.

Frances and Ellen provided dinner on most evenings. Our cockpit made the perfect dining room for three. Note Frances' traditional flowers. Lots of people commented on them.

One day, we walked to Block Island Boat Basin, the marina next to Payne's. It was a perfect summer day and as we walked, we could smell the wild flowers. This is Payne's looking back from the Boat Basin driveway.

This is the Boat Basin. We've never docked there because Payne's is more fun. It is a popular place, however and they had open slips, even on a nice summer day like this one

On another day, we had lunch at the National Hotel, overlooking Old Harbor.  The lunch was good but you couldn't beat the view.

While we were there, Payne's was the site for a schooner meeting. Seven schooners from as far south as Tom's River, NJ all met at Paynes. Beautiful boats and very nice people.

"Brilliant," the schooner owned by Mystic Seaport was there. Built in 1932 and donated to the museum by car racing great Briggs Cunningham, she is used for training kids how to sail.

One of the best parts of the trip was the appearance of four 44-ft. Coast Guard sailboats. They were manned by midshipmen in training from the academy and commanded by volunteer captains. They were lined up with military precision and they docked these boats in tight quarters without help from the Paynes crew.

We watched as they prepared to leave the next morning. Each boat had to turn to starboard very carefully to avoid hitting the yacht docked across from them. It was a boat ballet typical of Payne's but no one from Payne's was needed. These young midshipmen (and midshipwomen) did a great job. I know we would have needed some help getting out from a slip that close.

That's about it for this year's Block Island cruise.  Frances may add some more photos (there are a lot)  but for now, let's enjoy fall and the remainder of the boating season.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

It's good to be back!

Today, it is exactly two months since we tied up at Shelter Island for our first cruise of the year. Since then, a lot has happened to keep us from boating and we won't bore you with the details except to say that Bill became ill with a blocked intestine.  It took about six weeks, but Frances supervised his recovery and we are again back on the boat, anxious to take advantage of what summer we have left.

After about four weeks, Bill felt well enough to get back on the boat and the first order of business was to have the starboard alternator rebuilt. That alternator had been the cause of our continuing engine failure problem and even with a bandaged stomach (and some help), Bill managed to take the damn alternator off and take it to our favorite electric shop to be rebuilt.  After seeing the condition of this thing on the bench, we elected to buy a new one and on the following weekend installed it (this time without any help).

We waited around for some good weather and last weekend, took the boat down river for a shakedown cruise. The boat ran fine even going a lot faster than we usually do but Pooka the boat cat became a little seasick and Frances wrapped him in a damp towel to help control his panting.

He survived just fine (he has been on lots of boat trips with us before) and was able to again stand guard back at the marina on his favorite perch.

This weekend, it was time to begin to get ready for our planned cruise to Block Island later this month.  Our shakedown cruise did stir up some of the water in the bilge and it gave the interior of the boat a moldy smell.  We cured that on Saturday by poring an entire bottle of Pine Sol disinfectant into the bilge. Not a good idea, it turned out, unless you like your boat smelling like a public rest room.

On Sunday morning, the Pine Sol smell became just too much to take so we flushed the bilge with water, lots of it. Suds came pouring out of the bilge pump but after about five flushes, we saw a real improvement. There were still some suds in the bilge when we took this picture, but eventually it disappeared.

Frances likes things nice and clean so we ended up sucking the last of the old bilge water out with one of those gusher hand pumps. Bill pumped while Frances held the discharge hose in the sink.

She doesn't look happy, but she is. The Pine Sol smell is gone (or at least at a tolerable level) and we are good to go for our next adventure: Block Island.

We have one more weekend to get everything ready and the list of what we'll need is growing. It is so good to be back on our boat!