Sunday, September 27, 2015

Never too late to have a party

Our weather has become suddenly very Fall-like with bright warm days but very cool nights. Those on our dock are beginning the fall ritual of taking stuff off their boats and getting ready to leave for the upcoming winter.

But, being a hearty crew, it was decided that one last dock party was in order. A few years ago, we used to do these affairs in July but this year that didn't happen so before we scatter for the winter, why not have one more pot luck supper?

This year, the kids became very interested in fishing and several adults on the dock showed them the basics and even how to bait a hook.  The fish were small but the interest was intense.

At about 5 pm, the food began to come out and there was everything that you could want. We brought chili and we had enough left to eat for a week (which we will).

Sometimes, the kids get bored with what all the adults are doing but there is always someone who can help show how to color within (or outside) the lines.

A dock party isn't successful without corn and our dockmate, John H, provided all that we could eat, boiled for just three minutes from his big gas-fired corn pot.

All in all, we had a great time and are looking forward to doing it again next year, mabye even a little earlier.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


Who would have known that bratwurst could be so good when grilled? That and some corn on the cob made a great dinner on Saturday night.

Our weekend was uneventful.  We started the engines and let them warm up, fixed a few things that needed some attention and generally enjoyed being on the boat. No mechanical issues, but the list of things to do over the winter got a few more entries, including changing the wheels that our sliding glass door rides on. We have no idea how to do that but, like everything else, we'll figure it out.

It isn't Fall yet but there are those signs everywhere. The light, even at mid-day, is different and the shadows are all longer. The woods around us are still a deep green and only if you look closely can you see just a few trees turning orange.

It was hot on Saturday afternoon and we had the AC running but by cocktail hour, it was time to open the windows, turn off the AC and enjoy the coolness. Our dock neighbors were all there, sitting in the sun and chatting. Our neighbors' kids and grand kids, who are now getting big, fished and caught nothing but really enjoyed just trying. Nice to see them having so much fun being active kids who get excited when they even see a fish.

We have about a month left to our boating season. Five months is a good run here in Southern New England. Soon it will be time to get out the list and head to Tractor Supply to buy the oil, filters and antifreeze that it will take to winterize the boat.

But before we do that, maybe we'll take one more cruise.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

If you have old and/or frail family members...

...this presentation by the Fire Marshall in Windsor might be useful. We recorded it this week and while it has nothing to do with boating, it does show how some communities prepare for the worst.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Is it mid-September already?

Boy, we blew through that summer quickly!

We sat down this weekend and looked through our log book, added up the engine hours and miles traveled and decided that next summer, we'll see if we can arrange our work schedule so we can go more places and enjoy our boat even more than we did this yesr.

No complaints, though. We had a great time being transient boaters on Block Island and Greenport. It's just that we'd like to get away more often, and we will. Maybe we can even sneak in another short cruise this fall.

Our marina
We and  many of our dock mates continue to be dismayed at how our marina is being managed. Damage to one set of docks from last winter's ice still hasn't been repaired. There are signs of wear and lack of maintenance. It appears that the company that now runs the marina simply didn't know how much work goes into making a successful marina in New England and is now minimizing expenses wherever they can. Too bad. It's a great facility and worth maintaining.

Despite all this, we're coming back next summer, mainly because we're on a dock where we like the people and enjoy being with them.

Our boat
Runs just fine, thank you. We spent a dozen weekends last winter replacing the cylinder heads and the exhaust manifolds on our troublesome starboard engine and that fixed all of our problems. Time and money well spent, although we'd like to never be that cold again.

We did spend some summer weekends this year on sprucing up the interior and we have plans to do more of that next winter. We'll paint all of the old wall covering in the v-berth and have the v-berth and guest berths recovered.  We'll also update the lighting in those areas. To us, that's "fun" work, and something that we can do together.

A few weeks ago, we investigated a bigger boat: a 41 ft. Silverton that has been for sale for some time and was priced quite low. We discussed it and came to the conclusion that our old 34 ft. boat was just fine. It's just big enough for the two of us and a couple of really good friends. Pooka, the boat cat, is happy there and we are to.

While we were looking at the log books, we noted how much engine oil and pink antifreeze we'll soon have to go buy at Tractor Supply.  Last year, we didn't buy enough "pink stuff" so this year, we vowed to make "Winterizing Checklist." Frances is great at capturing information like this and establishing a procedure to follow, so that's her assignment for this fall. Bill's assignment is to pump all those fluids in where they are supposed to be so next Spring, we're ready to go.

Now we enjoy Fall in New England. We love it and we hate it. If you're reading this blog, you know what we mean.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Greenport, 2015

We've been visiting Greenport, Long Island by boat for perhaps 25 years. For many of those years, we tied up at a friend's place in Sterling Harbor and when he passed away, we began to go to Mitchell Park Marina in downtown Greenport. The marina was brand new back then and over the years we've watched as it developed into a first class boating destination.

This year, Labor Day weekend was our last chance to visit, so Frances called for a reservation at our favorite slip, B-14, and when we arrived on Thursday, September 3, the place was almost empty. That would change within 24 hours.

Our trip over, just 38 miles, was uneventful. The weather was hot, humid and somewhat overcast. The Sound was fairly calm enabling Pooka, the boat cat, to keep much of his breakfast down. Well, almost all.

 Entering Plum Gut. The speck in the distance on the left is the Plum Gut Red bell buoy. The one at the right is Orient Pint Light

We docked without a problem except for my insistence that we have a starboard side tie. Nope. The folks at Mitchell's wanted a port side tie so we went around and did it their way. Worked out fine, though. Great dock guys at Mitchell Park.

As you can see, arriving on a Thursday, even before a big holiday weekend, is pretty easy. In 24 hours, the marina had filled to capacity and by Saturday afternoon, they were turning boats away.

Frances set up everything and before we knew it, the flowers were in place and some excellent fresh tomatoes from the farm stand were ready to be consumed.

Frances always puts out flowers on the boat and it's amazing how, a few hours later, flowers appear on other boats as well. It's nice to be a leader.

Soon it was cocktail hour. The humidity disappeared and it was the perfect setting for a chat and a drink.

Pooka joined us, of course, although his cocktail was just water.

On Friday, we took the ferry to Shelter Island specifically to have lunch at our favorite place, the Chequit Inn. Unfortunately, the Chequit had been sold in July and no longer serves lunch. We'll miss sitting under the big tree and enjoying a fine lunch.

There aren't many other dining options at Shelter Island Heights so we reluctantly walked down across the great lawn to The Dory. We've eaten at The Dory years before and found it underwhelming. Predictably, The Dory lived up to its reputation. Expensive, lousy food and slow service. Avoid it, if you can.

The Dory on a beautiful summer day. The empty tables should have given us a clue.

Our friends, Ellen and Dave, visited on Friday evening and we all went to dinner at Skipper's in Greenport. This is a great favorite of ours because it has great food, isn't at all fancy and is where many locals hang out. From Mitchell Park, Skipper's isn't within walking distance of Greenport village. It's on the North Road next to the golf course. Take a cab if you have to. It's well worth it.

A major part of the marina is Mitchell Park itself, complete with beautiful lawns and a first class carousel. On Saturday night, A Greek musical group was performing in the park and folks from all over showed up to dance to the music. Lots of fun for everyone.

Frances wanted to ride the carousel and she did, with the biggest smile on her face of the entire weekend.

On Sunday, we took a walk to the beach. Yes, Greenport village has its own beach at the end of Fifth Street, which is short walk from the marina. The beach faces Pipe's Cove, a beautiful area for mooring or swimming from the beach. Frances collected shells, as she almost always does, no matter where we take our boat.

We left on Monday morning to a weather forecast that was wind from the west 10-15 kts, gusting to 20 kts; seas 2-3 feet. That sounded fine to us but once we entered the Sound and turned east toward New London that west wind (and some following seas) gave us an extra 4 miles per hour. We can't remember ever crossing quite that fast.

It was a little bumpy for folks going in the other direction but just fine with us.

 Our friends Kim and Mike caught up with us on the Thames River as we entered Norwich. Thanks to them for this great shot and a number of others.

 All in all, a great Labor Day weekend. You can bet that we'll be doing it again  next summer.

Video here. Great memories for us.