Archive for June, 2009

Shelter Island to Port Jefferson

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Yesterday we spent the day ashore in Shelter Island. Beautiful scenery, nice people, good food, quiet mooring. I seemed a shame to move on without looking around. In the afternoon I found myself sitting on a beach with an ice cream and a beer, throwing stones idly into the tide. For months and months every waking minute has been spent on OSTAR preparation, and then in Newport it was all fun, fun, fun, busy, busy… Suddendly it dawned on me that that part of my life is all over. A strange hollow feeling developed inside. Is this boredom? Of course it didn’t take long for new personal challenges and goals to start popping into my mind, but first things first. I’m still on the wrong side of the Atlantic, cruising, and I have a date with the Statue of Liberty on the 4th of July!

We had a really great bbq right next to the boat last night. One of the bottles of champagne I was given on the OSTAR finish line was quickly polished off. And we had an early night. What’s happening to me?

This morning we were all up early for the long sail to Port Jefferson. We came back round the North end of Shelter Island, and squeezed ourselves through the gap between Long Island and Plum Island (a narrow treacherous passage by the name of “Plum Gut”) to get back into Long Island Sound. Conditions were super with 15knts breeze, albeit from the wrong direction, but still warm, and flat water.

We made great progress down the Sound until mid-afternon when the breeze started to die off. It was at this point the tragedy of the day was discovered. Somebody forgot to replenish the beer stocks after the bbq last night, so we found ourselves in 24deg water, 26deg air, and not a beer to be had! Bad form… Soon we were under engine again making directly for Port Jefferson.

As we came through the narrow channel into the harbour the local ferry, the “PT Barnum” passed us. According to the guidebook apparently Barnum was a resident, and as well as building the famous circus he also set up the local ferry company back in the late 1800’s. We pulled into the marina at 20.00, conspicuous in the fact that we’re one of the few non-“superyachts” here.

Time now for a shower and dinner, before what sould be a shorter day on the water tomorrow heading to Manhasset, the last stop before the Big Apple.


Dinah completed OSTAR on the 15th June 2009…

Monday, June 29th, 2009

…having taken 20 days 22 hours and 35 minutes to complete the 3,200nm course. She finished 5th over the water, 4th overall, and 1st in class.

One sailor, one boat, one ocean.

The Original Single Handed Trans-Atlantic Race (OSTAR) is the world’s oldest solo ocean challenge, dating back to 1960. Founded by ‘cockleshell hero’ Blondie Hasler and first won by the circumnavigator Sir Francis Chichester, the race has upheld its Corinthian roots, providing aspiring professional and amateur sailors with the ultimate challenge. The race is run every four years.

Some of the world’s greatest sailors have taken part including Eric Tabarly, Pete Goss, Loick Peyron, Francis Joyon, Mike Golding, Michel Desjoyeaux and Ellen MacArthur. The Atlantic is the only judge and allows no room for mistakes, emphasising that the race truly is inspired by legends and sailed by heroes.

The Royal Western Yacht Club hosted the 13th edition of the Original Singlehanded Transatlantic Race from Plymouth to Newport, Rhode Island which started on the 25th May 2009.

dublin bay

Mystic to Shelter Island

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

After a very American breakfast of coffee and donuts we left Mystic and started motoring downriver in glorious sunshine. The railway bridge opened as if by magic as we approached, with merely a friendly wave expected by the bridgekeeper in terms of payment.

Half way down the river a bank of thick fog sat apparently blocking our
path. Thankfully Dinah is equipped with all the electronic navigational aids necessary for just such an occasion, so we were able to continue our way down the winding river despite not being able to see anything further than 20meters away. The island hopping which was an interesting and fun challenge when approaching the Mystic river was significantly more stressful while fog blind.

As the day progressed, the fog cleared and came back again many times. It’s completely different fog to what we’re used to in Europe. Wind has no impact on it, it’s very very damp, condensing on anything it can (including Bobs beard), and it’s quite shallow so even though there are sunny blue skies overhead you can see nothing horizontally.

A huge tidal race off Little Gull Island provided confused seas for an hour or so, while we made just 1knt over ground against the current. Eventually we left Little Gull behind and worked down the shore of Plum Island, carrying on past Orient Pt the Northernmost tip of Long Island.

All traces of fog finally cleared and we found ourselves with no breeze and 30deg sweltering heat. Aileen and Louise even went for a swim off Long Beach. That was the first time anybody has deliberately gone over the side of Dinah!

We made shorefall in Dering Harbour on the North coast of Shelter Island late afternoon. Our berth is within two minutes walk of the local pub and shop. A good sign in my books! We still have to decide whether to stay a day on Shelter Island or to carry on. Let’s test out this pub before making the decision!



Saturday, June 27th, 2009

After leaving Newport we motored out of Naragansett Bay in absolutely no breeze. At least it was sunny… Turning right at Point Judith we were briefly back in the Atlantic. I thought of the others heading straight out to the Azores from here…

Crew was myself, Bob, and Louise, so there was plenty opportunity for naps in the sunshine to recover from burning the candle at both ends in Newport.

The coastguard came and carried out an interrogation. Bless them, Dinah’s white ensign must have confused them terribly. I guess they don’t see one of those every day.

At 15.00 we cleared past Watch Hill Point and entered Long Island Sound. I was amazed at how shallow and rocky and tidal it was! This end of the sound was formed by glacial deposits, so there are loads of little islands with narrow channels between them. Dinah needs 2m of water to float, and we spent a lot of the afternoon in less than 4m. A little unnerving after over 4,000m in the Atlantic on Dinah’s last voyage!

By 17.00 we were entering the mouth of the Mystic River. Stunning. One of the most scenic shorefalls I’ve ever made… Weaving between little islands. Classic New England. Amazing properties on the riverfront the whole way up. They opened a railway bridge for us… And we pulled up at a marina right in the town itself.

Mystic is a sweet little place. Not as big as I was expecting, which is no harm as long as you don’t need provisions! A lay day on Friday allowed us go explore the enormous marine museum.

Aileen arrived in the afternoon, so we now have a full crew for the trip to New York. First things first though. Saturday we will cross to Shelter Island on the South side of the sound. Sounds fantastic. Lets hope it lives up to its billing in the cruising guide…