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2012 Field Report

Day 1 - Saturday, July 14 - HYC to Northport YC

Cruise itinerary (click for full-size PDF) We're off! Not much wind and that largely from behind us making for less apparent wind, meant there were stretches of motoring, especially in the middle of the 25 miles.

ILENE left her hailing port first, at about 9:30 and arrived in Northport at 2:30. We were joined by Sunrise with Asst. Fleet Captain Ken and Camille Rossner, Mars Hotel, with Joe Morris and his brother in law and nephew (I promise that I will remember their names before this cruise is over), and Hurley with Doug and Hedy Gort on their first HYC and longest cruise together - so far.

Northport YC's big pool cooled most of us off. The white hangings on the shower house level are not towels but banners prepared by the youth swimmers. The bar and restaurant are on the next higher level, providing a nice view of this sheltered, mooring-filled harbor. Moorings are $50 per night and include use of the pool.

Northport YC Pool The club was holding its big, annual, mid-summer, outdoor, post-race lobster feast, and the 150 places were oversubscribed thought they did let us enjoy the live music. They run their restaurant differently from us. It is open to members only on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, with the other nights reserved for catering.

Most of us made our way into town, to various restaurants. It can be tough getting a reservation here on a Saturday night. Hurley and ILENE dined together at Bistro 44; good food and service and with a comfortable noise level once the pre-theater crowd left.

The heat of the day left for a cool, dry, comfortable night. Sunday, enroute to Port Jeff, rain is probable, but we won't melt!

Roger Karlebach, Flt. Capt.

Day 2 - Sunday, July 15 - Northport to Port Jefferson

It seems we had a fifth Harlem boat in the harbor that is shared by the Northport and Centerport YCs Saturday: Dan and Mary Jane's new 32 foot C&C, Kate; but we did not meet them there because they were near the Centerport YC and the rest of us near Northport YC.  A failure of communications. 

The rain predicted for Sunday did not dampen our sail but lack of wind did. We sailed for only a few of the 22.5 miles from Northport to Port Jeff. Most of the way, the water's surface was glassy except for the dying ripples of other boats' wakes.

Here, in the mooring field of the Setauket YC in Port Jeff, we met up with Bruce and Diane aboard Northstar, Lloyd and Tia aboard Grace, and finally, Kate and her crew - bringing us to seven boats.  

The folks from Mars Hotel and Northstar went in to town during the afternoon; Grace's crew dinked to a beach for a swim. 

A 5:30 BYO party in ILENE's cockpit saw 13 souls, and lots of beverages and snacks being enjoyed, but  under threatening skies with lightning flashing and thunder rumbling. And then it rained - with a vengeance, and the folks and refreshments had to move into the cabin to wait it out. With that many people plus the hatches and ports closed, it got rather steamy inside. Outside, the passing front cooled things off.

Dan and Mary Jane made a later start and were caught out in the storm and missed the party. Later, over dinner at Pasta Pasta restaurant with the crews of Sunrise, Hurley and ILENE, Dan and Mary Jane expressed the terrors they had felt and overcome during the storm. 

Gotta pump out the dink.

Day 3 - Monday, July 16 - Port Jeff to Guilford CT

After a rainy night, the skies were clear and dry for the crossing of LI Sound today. After clearing the shoal off the east side of Pt. Jeff's. breakwater, the course was about 064 degrees magnetic to the buoys off Guilford. Per our custom, each boat left at the time of its choosing and set its own course and made its own speed. At least one boat headed more north and then went wing on wing going more east. ILENE stayed close to the thumb line and kept the wind about 150 degrees off our port bow. We left at 8:30 and the tide turned favorable at about 10:00 and the current built. Then the apparent wind built to over 15 knots in the afternoon. It was an exhilarating ride!

The marina here is in a rectangle of water, dredged out from the river bank. There are two rivers in the harbor and we were in the West River. The channel is very well marked - as it needs to be, because it is so shallow. Our depth sounder's alarm was set off at 7 feet and we got some beeps. Boats that came in later , as the tide was ebbing, experienced the unwelcome sensation of the drag caused by their keels digging grooves through patches of silty mud.

Hurley left us this morning so there are six boats left. The marina assigned Northstar, Grace and ILENE to finger slips in the furthest dock, and Sunrise, Kate and Mars Hotel to an adjacent dock.

The captains of Sunrise and Kate played tennis and everyone had at least one dip in the pool.  Several people walked into town to the large quaint village green and for shopping. Grace and Mars Hotel tried out two restaurants in town. The rest of us cooked, either aboard or at a pavilion with a free propane grill.

Day 4 - Tuesday, July 17 - Guilford CT to Westbrook CT

The folks from Grace and Northstar joined on ILENE for breakfast of peach-mango pancakes and turkey bacon before we said a temporary good by to Grace and Mars Hotel who jumped ahead of our planned schedule to go directly to Stonington CT to try to avoid predicted possible thunderstorms tomorrow.

More tennis was played.

ILENE had a nasty scare while backing out of her slip - a gust of wind blew her bow the wrong way and she had to back out between two piers instead of being able to go forward. Without a bow thruster we don't do well in reverse. But the good news is that we didn't hit anyone.

Our little fleet left at about 11am because the tide was high, meaning favorable tidal flow and because the passage today was a short one, only about ten miles. The winds were light, off our starboard quarters and some of us gave up on sailing after a while, in favor of our iron gennies.

Thanks again to Asst. Fleet Capt. Ken, for "discovering" Westbrook, a new port for the Harlem cruise. We have anchored behind the sea walls that create Duck Island Roads, located off the port, but never entered the Patchogue River, containing Westbrook. The three Brewers marinas here have slips for 900 boats!   It is, according to them, the largest marina on the eastern seaboard employing more than 100.  Also, according to them, but corroborated by a few non-partisans, a terrific place for needed boat repairs/improvement.  

ILENE, Kate and Sunrise are tied along both sides of a single dock (with a gorgeous white Concordia Yawl) and Northstar just a few yards away.

Some took lunch at the marina's restaurant which is adjacent to our boats. Most of us enjoyed the pool, which is a fair trek through the marina. Others took the opportunity of being driven in the marina's courtesy van to get a few groceries.  ILENE's crew was augmented by the arrival of our nephew, Mendy, who will be with us for a few days. He has day-sailed with us but never experienced the joys of a passage or sleeping aboard.

The evening was completed with our first pot luck dinner. We had: rice cooked with very spicy sausage, steamed zucchini, pulled chicken with pasta, sun dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts, chicken avocado salad with red onion, cilantro and a creamy balsamic vinagrette, and a fruit salad tossed in ginger ale, and honey. All of these dishes are worthy of inclusion in the Harlem YC cookbook that is being compiled. And rum punch in addition to our assorted wines.

Various plans were discussed about coping with the potential bad weather tomorrow. 

Day 5 - Wednesday, July 18 - Westbrook CT to Stonington CT

Threatened bad weather this afternoon caused Kate to remain in Westbrook today (she had planned to head back west tomorrow) so there are only three boats in Stonington. Reinforcements from those sailing the second week with us are expected soon. 

The trip here was uneventful with little wind. Wind flurries caused us to set out the sails several times, but they were short lived and it was a motoring day.

Fear of thunderstorms like the powerful ones that closed the club by knocking out power influenced our afternoon activities too. ILENE's crew taught Mendy how to drive the dink and we went ashore to explore - but took our foulies with us.

We are on a Dodsons mooring, Sunrise is at the other end of the mooring field and Northstar which did its laundry, is at the dock of the YC. For many years there was an old red brick mill in town, a shuttered reminder of New England's manufacturing past. In recent years it was converted into condos and the Yacht Club. Northstar planned to dine at its restaurant. 

ILENE's crew walked to the beach at the southern tip of town passing the galleries and antique shops that line the main drag. We also passed the tiny square with cannons and a marble obelisk remembering what was perhaps this town's most famous incident: the successful repulse of a squadron of British warships in 1814, during the War of 1812 - 200 years ago.

We had planned to have dinner at Noah's restaurant, doubled in size since we began cruising here two decades ago.

We fouled up our communications with Sunrise and hence were leaving when they were arriving. We had eaten early in the hope of being indoors when the thunderstorm passed. But, in Stonington, though we heard grumbling thunder and saw the threatening dark sky and flashes of lightning, the storm was a non-event - a light shower and no strong wind. Sometimes we get lucky.

Day 6 - Thursday, July 19 - Stonington CT to Block Island RI

Rainy day at Great Salt Pond

It was rainy this morning and quite cool after the front had passed. Long sleeves and foulies kept us warm.

On ILENE, Mendy took us out through Watch Hill Passage and then we sailed a close starboard reach almost to the entrance to the channel to Block Island's Great Salt Pond - the first upwind leg of this year's cruise.

There we waited 40 minutes on one vacant private mooring during lunch, until 3 pm, when the Harbor Master assigned us to another vacant private mooring and charged us $41.

We dinked ashore with no particular plan, went for a paddling expedition on a plastic "on top" kayak, did the souvenir buying thing in Old Town, had dinner at Eli's (named after the owner's black lab), the same place that Ken and Camille introduced me and Bennett to last year and had desert at Aldo's ice cream store.

Sunrise stayed in Stonington and plan to rejoin us at Shelter Island on Sunday. The other Harlem boats scheduled to be here at Block today are Northstar and Grace, but I have not been in touch with them and will have to supplement this report with their activities after we make contact. Also, Ernie and Camille on Blast are scheduled to arrive here on Friday.

Day 7 - Friday July 20 - Layday at Block Island

The light rain that fell yesterday in the morning cleared up by about 9 AM in Stonington. Today in Block, however, the rain started at about 5:30 AM and lasted, off and on, until midnight. This spoiled the planned outdoors fun.

ILENE get a new grey water sump pump installed and did a lot of card playing, reading, writing and napping.

View from The Oar Northstar spent the night on her anchor and we met Bruce and Diane when, fortuitously, we were seated at the table next to them at The Oar, for dinner. This place is right at the dinghy dock of the Block Island Boat Basin (marina) and has a great view of the Basin and the Pond beyond. It is a favorite of our cruisers and is decorated - its walls totally covered - with oars and paddles that were donated by boat crews. The Harlem's grey painted oar with burgee and other identification, from several cruises ago, was at the service bar.

Grace was here in Block on Thursday but left today; unfortunately, we did not see Lloyd or Tia here..

Blast had been in Block for a few days before we got here. Ernie and Camile enjoying grandsons, Michael and Jake. They had been on a mooring but moved to a slip in the Boat Basin. They ate at The Oar several times but dined tonight at Deadeye Dick's.

We received word that Summer Wind's Dick and Elle will be joining us by car in Milford next Friday. ILENE has decided to stay here another day, so Mendy can see this island's beautiful sights by bicycle, bypassing Fisher's Island. Ken and Camille, on Sunrise, are in the Niantic Bay YC and will be the only Harlem boat to visit Fishers.

Rain and our own individual preferences have caused our little fleet to be dispersed in this region today.

Day 8 - Saturday, July 21 - Dispersed

Well, the weather gods made it up to us today for yesterday's lousy weather. Postcard picture perfect without even a trace of the fog for which Rhode Island is notorious. From the top of SE light we could see Montauk, Watch Hill, CT, the entire RI coast and the tops of the Newport bridge towers.

Ernie and Camille's daughter and son in law came over from Point Judith to visit Blast on the ferry today, instead of yesterday, to avoid the bad weather. After a swim on the east beach they went back on the ferry late this afternoon with the grandkids.

Roger and Ilene celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary with nephew Mendy, on rented bikes, visiting the beach under Mohegan Bluff and the SE lighthouse in the morning, and then after lunch at Ballards, continuing the tour past the beach to the North Light overlooking the shoal to 1BI. Mendy and Roger built stone pillars at both ends of the island. Pasta aboard for dinner.

We got a call from Mark and Marcia on Leeds the Way, that they may be a day later than planned in joining us because their eastern progress yesterday was retarded by big headwinds and seas.

The cruise is half over already and having come as far as we have planned, we head west to Shelter Island tomorrow.

Day 9 - Sunday, July 22 - Block Island to Shelter Island

A beautiful sunny day with a few wispy clouds, cool on the water and warm ashore.

ILENE motored out of Block at 8:15 without sails due to zero wind, but after a while we raised sails, a port reach, and eventually turned off the engine for a few hours and arrived in Dering Harbor on Shelter Island at the SIYC at the end of a 36 mile passage. Enroute, first Blast and later Northstar passed us to starboard.  Upon arrival at 2:05 we were greeted by Bennett and KC who brought their stuff and a lot of food and wine aboard via the launch.

We strolled into town where we met Ken and Camille from Sunrise, who had sailed over from Fishers Island. Blast and Northstar dined ashore.

Mendy drove the dink to the gas dock and purchased  a spare gallon of gas.

Five of us, Roger, Ilene, Mendy, Bennett and KC, feasted on KC's renowned almost-all-crabmeat crab cakes, with 3 bean salad, home made cole slaw and lots of wine.

Mars Hotel, Leeds the Way and Adagio will be joining us during our lay day here tomorrow. Mars Hotel is on Shelter Island today, but at Coecles Harbor, and will single hand it over to Dering.

Day 10 - Monday, July 23 - Layday on Shelter Island

Nice day except for about half an hour of moderate cool rain during the morning. Unfortunately it was the half hour after we said good by to Ilene, Mendy and the two kitties in Greenport, so the walk through town was a wet one.

Bennett, KC and I met Ernie and Camille off Blast in the Greenport ferry shelter as they were beginning their stroll when we were embarking the ferry for the return trip to Shelter Island.

I had forgotten how clean and roomy my boat can be without kitties, though I have to admit I miss them a bit. ILENE got her battery water topped off and the zinc in her refrigerator's compressor replaced before lunch.  Bennett and I took rental bikes to the south side of the island and to near the western beaches.

Sunrise dined aboard. The crews of (1) Leeds the Way, (2) Mars Hotel (Joe was joined by Steve, of Mincemeat, but Steve took the train and ferry and arrived during dinner), (3) Adagio (with Vince joined this year by Dennis and their boat in Coecles rather than Dering Harbor) and (4) ILENE all ate at a big table round table for ten on the veranda of the Shelter Island Yacht Club. 

During dinner we learned of Adagio's 80 mile passage from Port Jeff to Shelter Island and of Leeds the Way's night at a club in New Haven (which I shall not name): the most unfriendly and least helpful club ever!

Tuesday's weather and wind are predicted fair for the short jump to Sag Harbor.

Day 11 - Tuesday, July 24 - Dering Harbor to Sag Harbor

After a cool night, we had a hot sunny day. Most of our boats left Dering in the morning to catch favorable tides for the 12 mile journey.  

Northstar detached from our group and plans to rejoin us the last night of the cruise. 

Leeds the Way went to tour Greenport via ferry in the morning, bought an article of furniture to be shipped and sailed in the afternoon in lighter winds.

Adagio had the most exciting adventure because the chart plotter had somehow accidentally been switched from heads up to north up view. I like north up view because it gives me a better sense of where one actually is and your direction of travel. But when going south, north up view takes some getting used to because the starboard  side of the boat is on the left side on the chart. The long and short of it is that heading south in the channel out of Coecles Harbor, and unfamiliar with the north up display, Adagio ran aground. But for once a power boater was accidentally helpful. No, he did not stop, take a line and tow her off; rather her big nearby wake "bounced" her loose from the sand.

ILENE had a fast sail with genoa and main, making speeds of up to eight knots, until we reached the southern end of the course, where tacking through the narrow channel would have been required. Then we doused the headsail and then the main, motoring the last mile or so.

At the suggestion of Ken of Sunrise, and with the consent of all, we changed the itinerary: we moved the potluck dinner scheduled for Wednesday in Three Mile Harbor to Tuesday in Sag, and decided to skip the Three Mile Harbor anchorage experience entirely, due to strong expected night winds, in favor of the docks in Westbrook CT, making for a lay day there on Thursday.

Most of us toured the town,viewing the chi chi stores, the people who patronize them with their chi chi dogs and the large chi chi boats. Sag Harbor reminded me, although to a lesser degree, of St. Bart's - a place where people with big boats go to be seen by other people with big boats. The yacht club charges $6/ foot (!) and does not even have a bar or snack shop. The moorings are $2/ foot!  We visited Adagio, and Bennett helped locate the emergency tiller and showed them how to use it. A learning experience that one should know and that one hopes never to need to use. We said good by to Adagio. They were invited to dinner by a friend of Dennis, thus missed the pot luck dinner, and is detaching tomorrow morning to get back the the Harlem early for a prior commitment.

We all thanked Blast for making its terrific space available for the pot luck dinner. A 45 minute rain and wind storm preceded the 7 pm scheduled start time, Mars Hotel and Sunrise got caught in town by the rain and were delayed in arriving. There was food enough for them when they arrived, joining Leeds the Way and ILENE.  The four dinghys tied behind Blast did not leave until about 10:30 at the end of a fun evening.

Day 12 - Wednesday, July 25 - Sag Harbor to Westbrook CT

A bright sunny day with outstanding visibility.

Adagio was the first to leave, snaking her way out of her slip and the narrow channel in the YC, at 8:30 enroute to a 6 pm arrival in Port Jeff. She passed through The Gut at slack and made speed peaking at nine knots while power sailing. They will be back at the Harlem Thursday evening.

Sunrise helped another boater who was lost or disoriented and asked how to get to Westbrook. "Follow me" was the reply.

ILENE saw that one of the two dogs aboard Launch Pad, the launch operator's summer house, moored near us, was swimming next to that boat, and looking tired. And the launch was not there - no human aboard. Fortunately, our dink had not yet been hoisted and with Roger driving, Bennett picked up the dog and put him on Launch Pad's swim platform, from which he shook himself off and jumped up into the cockpit. Dog overboard drill successfully accomplished; Bennett very wet.

We were the last to leave Sag, at about 10 and sailed almost all the way, with power assist rounding the last point into Gardner's Bay. Lots of tidal push through The Gut and the rest of the way to our 2:30 arrival at Westbrook.  There were some rather severe sudden wind shifts of up to 30 degrees and we had calms of a few minutes duration and 18 knot gusts at times. Having started with the genoa, we made most of the trip with the small jib.

In Westbrook we met up with Northstar, which is leaving, as she had planned, Thursday, for Milford, and will spend two nights there, so we will see her again Friday.

The swimming pool in this large marina is a fair walk, but has a nice tree shaded side at which Leeds the Way, Northstar and Bennett and Roger cooled off during the afternoon. KC defrosted a huge bowl of home made chicken chili, which, with homemade cornbread and boat made salad, we washed down with chianti.

Ernie and Camille stopped by during their after dinner stroll.

Day 13 - Thursday, July 26 - Lay day in Westbrook CT

This just in from Adagio: Having arrived in Port Jeff at 6 PM Wednesday, Vince checked the weather, made a command decision, left Port Jeff at about 11 PM and was back at the Harlem at 6 AM  this morning.

Mars Hotel is at a mooring at the Essex YC up the Connecticut River, to explore that town.

The rest of us awoke to rain here at dawn which continued until mid morning. ILENE's cinnamon-apple filled pancakes were not consumed until after ten, followed by a very thorough washing of her topsides, rust removal and shining of stainless. This is what the guys wanted to do!  And I joined them for about four hours.

After a very late lunch, KC and I went to the pool and hung with Ernie and Camille, Ken and Camille, Bruce and Dianne (who had decided to spend an extra day here)  and Mark and Marsha, who had gone shopping in the outlet stores via the marina's courtesy car. Sunrise's Camille did that boat's laundry. Bennett borowed one of Leeds the Way's bikes and toured the town and the beach.

Marsha organized a cocktail party on Leeds the Way which all present attended, bringing bottles and plates of edibles.  

This time the thunderstorm with its high winds delayed its arrival until after the party and the crews of Blast, Leeds the Way and Sunrise drove two dinks across the marina to a local restaurant - faster than walking around he periphery of the marina. Northstar and ILENE dined aboard, except we on ILENE had so much of the party edibles that we sent ourselves to bed without any supper.    

It rained from about 8 till 10 with drizzle continuing later. Hopefully the dinkers were indoors during at least the fierce part of the storm.

Day 14 - Friday, July 27 - Westbrook CT to Milford CT

A lovely summer day for our 28.5 mile passage. A few clouds but no rain.

Blast detached from the fleet to head a bit east to Essex to attend a meeting of fellow Albin owners, and we left Sunrise in Westbrook for replacement of a cable that links the shift lever to the transmission which broke this morning. 

Mars Hotel came a bit further, from Essex CT, and stayed at the Milford YC, on the port side by the entrance to the Milford inlet, where they enjoyed the pool, and hence did not see the rest of us, here at the Milford Landing Marina, located about a mile further north at the head of the inlet. 

ILENE sailed most of the way without the need for her engine, close hauled into about 15 knots of apparent wind. We needed only two southern tacks of a few miles each and we're able to sail a bit north of west the rest of the way. There were no large seas.

Northstar dined aboard tonight after an early arrival and a big lunch in the newest hot Cuban/Caribbean themed restaurant, Indigo By The Sea.

Day 15 - Saturday, July 28 - Milford CT to Centerport YC  NY

It way grey and ugly all day and threatened rain, but except for a few extremely light sprinkles, all four boats made the passage without getting wet from the sky.  Some of us motor sailed and others sailed, except of course, for Northstar, which motored.  The seas were a bit rougher than we have experienced this cruise, caused by moderately strong easterlies that pushed us along, but the wind and seas moderated as the day progressed.

We started hugging the coast of Connecticut, both because that was the straightest line and to try to get past the finish line of the annual "Swim Across the Sound" event (Port Jeff to Bridgeport), which blocked us a bit last year. But the seas were so rough that long distance swimmers would likely be deterred from their sport. A call to the Coast Guard confirmed that the event had been cancelled so we put in waypoints for the buoy off Eaton's Neck. The only problem for sailors was that this course was too close to a dead run, with danger of accidental jibe in such lumpy seas. But heading a bit south of the direct line got us speed, and only required a pair of jibes in the eastern end of Smithtown Bay. ILENE tacked through Northport Bay, the northern part of which we had never sailed in before. It was a great sailing day. We saw several racing machines overtake us out in the Sound, probably entrants in the Around Long Island Regatta.

For excitement, Leeds the Way lost her dinghy for a while. The rubber pad eyes cemented to the bow of the dinghy which held the D rings to which its towing bridle were attached came off. So there was no line streaming from the dink to grab with the boat hook. Mark and Marcia furled their headsail and circled the dink many times trying to grab hold of it. Eventually, Mark secured one end of a line to the boat and the other to himself, jumped into the water, and secured his end to the dinghy. Problem solved. So one of us did get wet, though not from the sky.

Once moored at the Centerport YC, we headed for the club house, some to swim, others to shower and hang in the clubhouse itself. Then the rains came, which put an end to swimming.

All nine of us from Mars Hotel, Northstar, Leeds the Way, and ILENE, donning the requisite long pants and collared shirts, assembled on the Club's veranda for our final delicious dinner together, and to tell tales of our respective adventures. The club has a no tipping policy, paying the numerous waitstaff high enough wages to make them very happy and building this cost into the moderate price of food and beverages. They also have two menus, in the manner of old time elegant places: the ones given to men have prices but those for ladies do not. They took our member billing numbers and without asking to see our membership cards or for our signatures, will bill the Harlem which will pay them and bill us. 

After dinner, we all took the launch, Northstar to their boat and the rest of us into Northport for ice cream at Wolfies before returning to our boats for our final night afloat.

Day 16 - Sunday, July 29 - Northport YC to Harlem YC

Grey overcast skies, the type that bring wind, but not today, gradually cleared. It was a day for motoring.

All boats safely home except Blast is at an Albin owner’s gathering in the Connecticut River and Sunrise, which should be back on Monday after repairs to her transmission linkage were completed on Friday.

It has been my pleasure cruising with the cruisers, reporting to you and serving as your Fleet Captain.  Some folks said my reports made them “almost feel that they were there.  Only one thing better than that:  Next year join us!