Monday, August 26, 2013

Block Island - August 2013

After some work-related delays, we finally headed out on our boat for a week at Block Island. We go almost every year and even though there are lots of boating destinations within our cruising range, we still like Block.

We go to Payne's Dock, the destination that people seem to either love or hate. We fall into the former category because it is full of nice people, crazy boat characters, odd Block Island cars and boats of all kinds.

Those who avoid Payne's usually don't like being rafted to other boats and that's the way Payne's does it. Rafting is just fine with us. The crew at Payne's is absolutely expert at putting boats together in sometimes very tight spots. Rafting also allows us to meet some great people. Frances could strike up a conversation with a tombstone but at Payne's, getting to know your neighbors is easy and fun.

For those of you who know us, we can report that our boat ran perfectly and the 2 HP Honda on our inflatable started immediately and ran like a champ.

We shot a lot of video with our new Panasonic camera. In fact, now we have to go through hours of video, catalog each sequence and then edit them down to bite-sized pieces that we can post on here. The quality of the video is excellent with this camera but as you will probably notice, the camera man could use some extra practice.

We planned to leave for Block on a Wednesday but the conditions in Block Island Sound were far from ideal so we waited until Thursday. (We always try to visit established marinas mid-week to avoid the chaos that takes place when everyone leaves at once at the end of a weekend.)

After pouring in more than $400 in gas, we left Norwich and headed out.

Paynes' Dock
Making a reservation at Payne's is impossible.  If you call, they always say, "Come on over!" So, the procedure is to pull up to the gas dock and jockey back and forth until someone notices that you're there. They ask how long you intend to stay and once they know that, they direct you to a slip. This year was easy, since they sent us around the dock to the side facing Block Island Boat Basin. But there have been years when they directed us to what seemed like a very tight spot. It all works out, though, since they tell you exactly what lines they need and wear to hang fenders.

Cliff Payne and his family have made many improvements in recent years but essentially, it is the same Payne's Dock that we have been visiting for the past 25 years. This year, it was $4.00 per ft. per night and $10 per day for 30-amp electricity but even despite the cost, we wouldn't go anyplace else.

We always enjoy the Block Island cars. In the video, there's a 1947 Jeep convertible. We actually met the man who owned it and he said that he restored it just to the point where it would run. He also had a beautiful 1967 Jeep Convertible that looked like it just came off the showroom floor.

Then there are the kids jumping off the spiles into the water. We've seen this many times over the years. No need for parental supervision or PFDs. Just some energetic kids having fun. Nice to know that somewhere on earth it's possible for youngsters to still do this.

The last portion of the video clip shows how they fit boats into seemingly impossible spaces. This is a 37 ft. Egg Harbor run by a guy who has done this many times before. Notice that the docking crew never has to move very fast or yell for a line or a fender. They know what they are doing.

Old Harbor
Payne's and two other marinas are in New Harbor, otherwise known as the Great Salt Pond. Across the island, (1.5 miles) is Old Harbor and that's where the ferries land about 1,000 people per boat during the summer. The island's popularity is the result of a major marketing campaign by the State of Rhode Island and it certainly worked. Thousands of people come to the island every day in the summer and the result is crowds of people who sometimes don't know what to do once they get there.

Rent a Moped? Sure. Check out the stores? Of course. Go to the beach? Absolutely.

The problem is that all these people are changing how Block Island really is. The servers in restaurants are now, more often than not, Eastern European. Nothing wrong with that but aren't there American youngsters who would like to have what is admittedly a tough job summer on beautiful Block Island? We guess not.

Much of what is served in the BI restaurants is right off the Sysco truck, just like your favorite restaurant at home. Sure, there are some very good restaurants but you have to ask around to find them and then be prepared to pay up as you would at any popular summer destination.

The Beach
Crescent Beach (also known by some other names) is right across New Harbor and the easiest way for us to get to it was by boat. We just ran our inflatable through the mooring field and then beached as we always have in the past. Then we walked across Corn Neck Road and there we were, on one of New England's most beautiful beaches.  The waves weren't very high when we were there but no matter, these are the memories you bring back when the snow is flying next winter.

Back to Reality
Our trip back to Norwich was uneventful, as all boat trips should be. The weather was great, as it had been for the past week, and even our navigation equipment worked perfectly.

Some really attentive readers might notice that some of the video we shot while underway is tilted slightly. No, the boat wasn't listing, but our improvised camera mount on our bridge was a tad off at times. We're trying to come up with a camera mount that will look back from our bridge. That way, we'll be able to show our skill backing into a slip. Or lack thereof.

After the trip up the Thames river, we had to shoot some video of our favorite harbor.  We're at a beautiful marina in Norwich, a cool little New England city. Come and visit us.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Checking the oil

Remember when you used to have to do that? No more, in modern vehicles, but we're somewhat old fashioned in that regard so that's one of the the things we did this weekend before our trip to Block Island on Wednesday.

Watching us crawl around between our engines is probably like watching grass grow but since we had a new camera and we had to do it anyway, we inserted about 1 minute and 30 seconds of video here. Hey, it was almost eight minutes long before we edited it.

Next, the broken window in our cabin was replaced this past week by the Rose Glass Company in New London.  Great service and also from Progressive Insurance, that paid for it.

Then we made a list of all the stuff we have to bring to Block Island. Not too bad, actually. We'll get everything assembled on Monday and Tuesday and take off on Wednesday morning.

This is an annual trip for us and we love the time we get to spend on B.I. Work pressures kept us from going sooner but now, we think, we are on our way.

We've been following the adventures of dock mates Bob and Dianne, who just bought (better to say took responsibility for) a 1972 32-ft. Grampion sailboat. It's a little rough but very restorable, which Bob intends to do next winter.

It's amazing how all these powerboat people want to take a short ride on this old sailboat. Actually, Bob has great ideas about how to restore the interior. We hope we get some pictures from him over the winter. Everyone on the dock wanted to know more about "Luna-Sea."

It was also time to be old fashioned and to climb into the bilge and check the fluid levels. Everything looked good, save adding a half a pint of fluid to the port transmission.

We've noticed that our starboard engine has been running a little warm and we found out why. The hose to the coolant overflow bottle had become disconnected and whatever coolant was recovered had been deposited in the bilge. No problem to reconnect. Francis held the funnel and we refilled the heat exchanger with some new 50-50% antifreeze.

It appears we are ready to go. 8:30 AM on Wednesday, we head over to the fuel dock for what we hope will be a small sip of gas. Then, we are out of here for a week.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A no effort weekend

We guess there were some things we should have done this weekend, but we didn't.  Should have checked the fluids in the engines, transmission and v-drives, but we never got around to that.  The weather was great and we just enjoyed being on the boat.

We used our new electric grille on Saturday night and it produced a very good dinner, thanks to Frances superior cooking skills.

On Sunday morning, we decided to clean the new grille before putting it back in our dock box. Disassembly was nothing like what was described in the directions but luckily for us, our friend John T, who has the same grille, had already figured out how to take his apart and he showed us how.

Sunday afternoon, our port-side neighbors, Lou and Janie, took their boat out and Frances had to shoot some pics.  Glad she did because we didn't really document this weekend very well. Nice to see that Four Winns out there being enjoyed.

We got up enough energy to move one of the hooks that holds our wash down brush. We always hated how it never really fit. Now it does. Worked up a sweat on that one.

We're heading out to Block Island in about two weeks and we wanted to make sure we had enough fenders. We're "big fender" people and can't understand how folks get by with those little weenie ones. We carry four small fenders in one of those brackets that bolt to the hand rails at the bow, but our main fenders are PolyForm HTM3s, and we've found that they serve us just fine. They are big (28" long  x 10 inches across) and a little pricey, but great to have on board. In fact, they got us though one minor hurricane.

The boat got two more PolyForm HTM3s for Christmas and while we haven't used them yet, it was now time to pull them out and put some line through them.

We have many other pictures and some video from this weekend but we were sworn to secrecy by our dockmate, Diane. How coluld we say "no" to someone as nice as this?