After a truly fantastic weekend visting our friends Jan and Abe Dane (and their three kids, dog, and parakeet) and being shown a very cool side of Providence, RI — hip German restaurants, delicious farmer’s market, home-smoked brisket, WaterFire, 1920s-era wooden duckpin bowling in an old textile mill, great view of the blood super-moon, and Jan’s own Stock Culinary Goods shop — we set off for Block Island. Our only previous visit there was also with Jan and Abe, back in the ’90s (before kids). It was Valentine’s Day weekend and snow was blowing horizontally down the beaches.
This time, at the tail end of September, there wasn’t any snow, but much of New Shoreham, the main town on the island, had already shuttered for the winter. Wednesday afternoon there was a break in the torrential rains, and we were able to make it ashore for a nice walk into town. We found an ice cream/pastry/coffee shop and a very good bookstore (we’re all reading at a furious pace these days, so new books are very welcome). We had a great time in Rhode Island — and all of southern New England: Seeing my college roommate Jeff in Boston, Plymouth Plantation and The Mayflower, transiting the Cape Cod Canal, Hadley Harbor and Cuttyhunk Pond in the Elizabeth Islands. We would love to come back during the “on” season to return to all of these and to visit Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
When leaving the extremely hospitable Edgewood Yacht Club near Providence, a couple of the guys were telling us about a serious low that was working its way up the coast. We hadn’t been paying too much attention to the weather while with the Danes, but it looked reasonable for a crossing to Block Island. We also started tracking Joaquin, which at that point was just a named tropical storm. We’ve been getting weather from three primary sources: NOAA reports via VHF radio, GRIB files downloaded to the iPad, and PredictWind. With Joaquin, we’ve been supplementing with info from Wunderground and Slate, of all places. Great Salt Pond, the primary anchorage on Block Island, is reasonably well-sheltered from a southerly wind, which we had on our arrival, but as the wind veered to the northeast on Wednesday night, as forecast, we decided to take the weather window to make a downwind run to Long Island in advance of forecast 30-40 knot winds.
The winds blew 20-25 knots and the swells rose to 6 feet, but coming from the starboard quarter us it was relatively easy going. Even with only a double-reefed main, we were able to run WSW on a broad reach averaging 6.5-7 knots over the ground. Rounding the long reef south of Gardiners Island, we unfurled the Genoa just a bit to beat up and around Hog Creek Point. We dropped the main just before entering the (unnervingly narrow) channel cut through the beach into Threemile Harbor. Joaquin had been upgraded to a category 3 hurricane at this point and our goal was to get deep into Threemile Harbor, described by The Cruising Guide to the New England Coast as “a first-class protected harbor”, and snug into a marina in the narrow southern neck of the harbor. We ended up at Halsey’s Marina — according the the cruising guide, the oldest marina in the harbor, which we hoped was a testament to its storm-worthiness.
We were greeted by the dockmaster Les, and put into an inner slip. We proceeded to rig double fenders and double lines on each side. The docks don’t float here, so there’s been a bit of line-tending, but for the most part we’ve been fine in the 15-20 kt winds so far. Joaquin is now forecast to head offshore, no longer bearing down directly on us, but there’s still a decent amount of wind and rain and we feel like it was prudent to hole up here for a bit. A swell bonus: Our friends MZ and Micah and their kids are due here in Threemile Harbor on Saturday and we’ll get some time with them before proceeding down Long Island Sound and heading for New York City(!)
Not sure that this is fair to all of the rain-starved Californians, but there is a tremendous amount of precipitation here right now. It’s forecast to rain hard (and harder) for the next three days.