Darn it, our annual summer cruise is nearing an end, but we need one more port-of-call to break up our trip home from Bristol. I whip out the charts and find a place roughly midway: Padanaram. It sounds like a mouthful doesn’t it? We asked a few locals how it’s pronounced. They all said it fast like this: PDARM.
We have been blessed with good weather this whole trip and this morning is no different: hazy blue sky and a warm gentle breeze. The XO and I are still in our pajamas as we guide Ginger Lee out of Bristol Harbor. We hang a left under the Mount Hope Bridge and find the Tiverton Channel which loops us around the northern tip of Aquidneck Island into the Sakonnet River.
For the umteenth time, I threaten to buzz-cut my hair.
“It would certainly cure this,” I say and point to the unruly mess on my head
“Nice hair-do,” the XO laughs.
“It’s like a rat’s nest. It won’t behave unless I wash and dry it.”
“Better get to it then. The water should be hot by now.”
I’m a bit jealous; she gets out bed, shakes her head a few times, and her hair is good to go.
In Tiverton, the two-mile wide Sakonnet River gets squeezed into a quarter-mile opening that looks like it used to be a bridge. As you can well imagine the water is tumultuous. It’s either rushing at you (swirling washing machine eddies) or rushing with you (desperately trying to shove the aft end forward of the bow). This morning, the moorings and nav aids are leaning towards us as we pass the Standish Boat Yard. I power up Ginger Lee’s engines to max thrust and we forge through into the idyllic part of the Sakonnet, where the mansions on Aquidneck feature perfectly manicured lawns that can be measured in square miles. We wonder why these people don’t have deep water docks with a big honkin’ boat tied to it. Because that’s what I would do.
It’s calm enough to cook breakfast. I whip up a couple of “Egg Bowls” as we call them. It’s basically eggs scrambled with whatever you got and served in a bowl to make it easier to drive the boat while eating. This morning it’s pepperoni, tomato, and mozzarella. Yay pizza-egg bowl!
Wave heights increase dramatically as we near the river’s mouth. The wide open expanse of Rhode Island Sound greets us roughly as it forces it way up the Sakonnet. This is expected and normal albeit uncomfortable. We have to turn left around Sakonnet Point and if we’re not careful, three to four-foot waves will broadside us and force us into the treacherous Schuyler Ledge, the site of many shipwrecks.
The first wave washes over the bow. We know the drill. Fold up our seats; it’s too rough to sit and they’ll just go flying about the cabin. Close all windows and hatches, stow everything, put the Philodendron in the sink, put towels under the leaky windshield, and save the booze! (Take the liquor bottles off the shelf and lay them on the bed.) Beer cans too. Last year, a full can of beer rolled into a loose screw, punctured, and sprayed its entire contents onto our bed.
The waves are knocking us about but I’m not worried; Ginger Lee has handled worse. Our plan is to keep heading southwest into the waves until we’re well clear of Schuyler Ledge, then, while between waves, quickly turn northeast towards Horseneck Beach.
At 8 MPH it seemed like it took forever to make that turn, but here we are, off the coast of Little Compton, Rhode Island, and making a run toward Gooseberry Neck, Massachusetts. The waves are now our friends, pushing us along rather smartly.
It won’t be long now, all we have to do is thread ourselves through the rocks called “Hen and Chickens”, go around Mishaum Point, and catch the marker system that will feed us into Apponagansett Bay (PDARM).
We aren’t surprised to see a forest of masts as we approach; sailing has been a tradition here for centuries. It’s actually Apponanganset Bay. Odd that nobody ever calls it that. It’s always PDARM.
Anchorages are disappearing fast. More and more harbors are getting filled up with moorings and disallowing anchoring. Panadaram is one of them. Personally, I prefer the privacy and peace of mind a mooring provides, but they’re not free. Yes, my wife and I are fortunate in that we can afford it, but I just hate that boaters are losing the freedom to choose. On the way over here, while listening to chatter on the radio, we discovered that New Bedford Harbor is now closed off to all anchoring as well. There is no more anchoring allowed in that huge harbor! Imagine if cars were subjected to the same rules.
“Come visit our lovely town. Spend your money here. Shop in our stores. Eat in our restaurants. Enjoy our beautiful scenery. That’ll be fifty bucks a day.”
“Take a hike pal. I’ll just park on this side street for free.”
“You can’t. It’s not allowed. We’ll tow you away if you try it.”
You would be outraged and rightfully so. Probably take your business elsewhere.
Well that’s my mini-rant for today. Now back to our regularly scheduled program.
It’s time to raise someone on the radio and get a mooring. In Panadaram, they’re all controlled by The New Bedford Yacht Club. On channel 68, I get an immediate response from a friendly launch driver who directs us to a spot just inside the breakwater.
No sooner had the XO cleated the pennant than the launch driver called back.
“Ginger Lee, this is launch, over.”
“Go launch, Ginger Lee, over”
“It looks a bit lumpy over there. Would you like to move deeper into the harbor? Over.”
“Yes sir. Awesome, over.”
“Follow me. One just opened up. Launch out.”
“Solid copy launch. Thank you so much. Ginger Lee out.”
We follow the launch deep into the harbor to a much better mooring.
We’ve only visited Panadarm twice, but I can’t help but notice that for such a popular boating destination there’s not a heck of a lot going on. I recall our first visit when we found a cool little second-hand shop, picked out a few items only to find out they didn’t take credit cards and there was no ATM anywhere nearby. My cruising guide said there was a market, but it was closed and boarded up. Near the swing bridge, we found a tiny bakery/pub that had great food and cold beer. Other than that, a big ol’ nothin’. I guess that’s why it’s advertised as The place where life slows down.
This time we don’t need provisions or any shore based stuff; we plan to head home in the morning when the seas in Buzzards Bay will be a manageable 1-2 feet.
We cook up the last of our food in a pot-luck lunch, then take Salty out for a ride.
The old Honda outboard is acting up again. I always manage to get it running, but lately it’s becoming more finicky. We make a decision: when we get home we’ll replace it with something brand new. It’ll be costly, but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and open your wallet.
Morning comes and we say goodbye to Panadaram. I really do not want to go home.
“Why can’t we just keep cruising forever?” I ask.
“We can! All we need to do is find someone to send us checks,” the XO cracks. She’s absolutely right. If anyone out there would like to support our cruising addiction, call me and I’ll tell you where to send the checks.
Summer vacation is ending. We have jobs to go back to, a house to take care of, and land based stuff to attend to. It’s not the end of the 2015 boating season by any means, (we’ll be on the water every weekend that we can) it is however, the end of this years extended cruise, one that took us through four states. Our summer cruise is like living a dream. We get to totally immerse ourselves in life on this boat and the things that this boat needs to stay afloat and alive. A dream where the rules are so much different from on land, where challenges are more exciting, downtime more relaxing, rewards more rewarding, memories more memorable. Hopefully, next summer, if good fortune smiles upon us, we’ll get to do it again.