Whenever the marine forecast predicts less than ideal conditions, it’s better to get out there as early as possible. Before the sun, wind, and other boats have a chance to whip things up.
“We need to get under way at dawn.” — Captain Rick.
“Just wake me up and pour coffee down my neck.” — The XO.
The words echo in my brain, yet I hesitate. She looks so darn adorable sleeping soundly in our cozy little berth. Tousled hair and everything.
“Well, maybe just a few more moments,” I say to myself, then quickly change my mind and softly touch her shoulder. We need to be on our way.
“Coffee’s ready Hon.”
“Okay. I’m up.”
In less than fifteen minutes, burgee and ensign fly, dinghy is bridled, engines are warmed, and mooring pennant is dropped.
We aren’t too far down the fairway when I realize the depth sounder is acting all wacky.
“Maybe we should scrub the transducer,” the XO says. Sometimes barnacles and slime cover the underwater part of the system.
“I did that. Didn’t make any difference at all,” I say, tapping the screen. It’s not the end of the world, most channels are well-marked, but it’s definitely one of the gauges you want to work on the boat. So when we get to open waters, I climb up to the flybridge, remove the depth sounder from the upper helm, and temporarily install it in the lower helm using cable ties and duct tape.
Apparently that instrument also has its gremlins; sometimes it completely blanks out. But between the two of them I sorta-kinda know the depth, most of the time.
Today, contrary to the marine forecast, I proclaim the weather conditions “darn good.” It’s hazy and warm, not the full-blown sunshine that can really heat things up. The waves are like big lazy rollers; two footers that lack the energy to do anything but stir your coffee. Soon we find ourselves zipping past Point Judith at nearly eight miles an hour; the farthest west we have ever taken Ginger Lee. It’s all new territory now. Originally, I had planned to stop in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, a calm little anchorage behind a sweeping beach, but as we approach the unfamiliar and dangerous Fishers Island Sound via the Watch Hill Pass, I suddenly get a hankerin’ to visit Stonington, CT.
I contact Dodson Boat yard on my phone and they assure me they have a mooring for us at the head of the harbor.
“Call us on 69 when you get to the breakwater,” a pleasant young lady instructed. Which we do. The same pleasant voice gives us a mooring number, a clue to where it’s located, and we begin the process of actually finding it. Surprisingly, it’s right where she said it was. The XO, standing on deck with a boat hook, scoops up the pennants, loops them over the bit, then routs them through the chocks.
“You know, this is the same boatyard Anthony Bailey sailed out of,” I say, referring to the author of one of our favorite books,The Coast Of Summer, about his summer adventures cruising the New England coast in a 27 foot sailboat.
“Yup. He had a mooring at the head of this harbor. Could be this very mooring. They’re renting it out ‘cuz he’s off sailing,” I fantasize. She consults her smart phone and discovers Anthony Bailey is still alive and well.
After getting Ginger Lee settled, we dinghy over to the boatyard to pay for our stay and check out the land based things that matter most to cruising boaters: showers, ice, and provisions.
There is a shower on our boat, but not unlimited water, so in order to conserve, showering is done a bit differently. First of all, you never leave the water running. You get yourself wet, shut the water off, soap up, than quickly rinse. It does the job, but man-o-man, after cruising for a while, it’s so nice to have a continuous stream of hot water cascade all over your body.
The Captain Rick shower rating system:
“Okay.” = A stingy amount of tepid water.
“Great!” = Lots of hot water at high pressure.
“Awesome!” = Lots of hot water at high pressure and a bench for your stuff “Incredible!” = Lots of hot water at high pressure, a bench for your stuff, and a hook for your towel.
Nothing else really matters. The condition of the stall is secondary. You’re not sleeping there! Just put on your flip-flops and do your thing.