cruising tale - U.S. East Coast odyssey in Wayfarer
From: Richard C
; moseley@DNTechInc.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org
; email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org ;
13, 2002 11:37 AM
Wayfarer cruising account!
I suspect that
of you have had the pleasure to enjoy Olaf's terrific account.
heard about the trip as an event to happen, now enjoy his story.
There is no copyright mentioned, so I'm assuming it's okay to publish.
Date: Thu, 1 Aug
11:25:02 -0700 (PDT)
so i'm back. attached is a tame account of my trip. hope
Here is a brief account of my trip up the coast
New England, from Mamaroneck, NY, to shy of Provincetown, MA. I
ate, and prepared most meals in a hammock slung from the boom.
stops I anchored and swam ashore with a waterproof
The emphasis here is on significant events. For the most part
out are the countless wonderful hours in between, surrounded by sea and
sky, finding my way up a beautiful coast previously unknown to
I left little more than a novice cruiser, and learned a great deal
the way. Corny as it may sound, chief among the things I gained on this
great first trip, was respect, both for the sea and those who know it
and for my boat. The long days alone on Wapiti in varied
brought me closer to her, and made me feel awe at what she can bear,
for the passage she can give.
Sun. 6/23 Endless checklists and
me, launching day had finally come. Logistics and timing for an
leg down the Hudson a week earlier had fallen through, sparing me the
passage through Hell Gate. So after only sailing her on the
Hudson, Wapiti and I were getting an abrupt first taste of real
in Mamaroneck. The plan: to go north!
Joining me on my first day was Phil, a friend who
sailed portions of Long Island Sound in a Sunfish, and being an avid
kayaker, had taken an interest in my trip. We waved goodbye to my
brother shortly after 2pm and had an exciting sail in crowded waters
to Northport Bay. Having never cruised single-handed, I was glad
of Phil’s company, giving me a last chance to prepare and insure things
were stowed handily. Mesh tent loft sacks were tied under
benches, for less fragile often needed items. We ended up
in empty Duck Harbor. After picking our way through the private
to the road, we walked to Northport for dinner, then Phil skated off to
catch the last train back to New York. Back in Duck Harbor, a
of swans swam by in the moonlight as I blew up my dinghy’s dinghy, a $7
toy that was supposedly limited to 120 lbs.
Two patterns of my marina-free shoreside ventures
already becoming evident: much of the shore north of New York is
in the strictest, often patrolled, sense; and many people don’t walk
and therefore often have a hard time giving directions to a walker.
Mon. 6/24 An early start was of little
Becalmed on Long Island Sound. By 4pm I had drifted five miles
of Eaton’s Neck and taken a few swims, when a nice south breeze picked
up, leaving me off Bridgeport as the sun began to set. I was just
starting to row towards shore when the Bridgeport Harbormaster came out
and insisted on towing me into Bridgeport Harbor, saying the ferry was
liable to run me over. I didn’t want a tow, much less to
Bridgeport, but the man wasn’t taking any guff.
Tues. 6/25 Slow sailing, light breeze in my
Once the current turned, the wind died too, so I rowed in to West Haven
and the shelter of New Haven’s breakwater, swam to the beach, and met
with Ali, an old school pal, for a beer.
Wed. 6/26 After a brief false start, caused
a misunderstanding with the current tables, took me a little further
shore for a nap, I headed out through the breakwater and into the
winds. As I passed through the darling Thimble Islands the
wind died, dark clouds were building in the west. I reefed the
in preparation for the run to Sachem’s Head, but halfway there ended up
shaking it out again in the race against the oncoming storm. The
weather hit just as I made Joshua’s Cove.
In my rush to get up the boom tent, I did a sloppy
of anchoring, and after dinner, I was woken out of my hammock by the
of rocks scraping the hull. Jumping out barefoot, the sharp rocks
sliced me up quickly, but there, coming through the storm across the
were two figures coming to help me off. As Dave and a friend kept
the boat clear of the rocks, I waded out with my anchor to try to
Inexplicably, my danforth refused to set in the sticky mud. After
several attempts, we decided to haul Wapiti out on the beach, until
blew over. Before the rising tide had gotten far in covering my
strip of sand between the water and the rocks, Dave had returned to
me to a trusty mooring he knew of. When it turned out that none
my hardware would fit around the old rusty chain, the guardian saint of
wayward sailors in Joshua’s Cove gave me a big old shackle of his own.
Before dozing off I could not detect any leaking.
Thurs. 6/27 Left at low tide for a change,
that I could reach the mooring shackle. With the strong head
had to walk the boat out of the shallow cove. The flood current
me down a bit around Sachem Head, but nice tail winds brought me past
Faulkner Island to Madison (where the hospitality of Phil’s parents
be enjoyed), well before the forecast thunder storms. Pulled out
onto the town boat beach and tipped Wapiti over for some light
Fri. 6/28 Delayed by sand in mast,
Moored so that my departure would not be tide dependent.
Sat. 6/29 Joined again by Phil, after a late
we went a little ways in light airs, towing his kayak. The purple
sunset, showed our intended destination, the Oyster River to be only a
trickle, so we pulled into private Indian Town harbor, and walked into
Old Saybrook for food, and to try in vain to scare up a TV to watch the
World Cup the next morning.
Sun. 6/30 We set out early hoping to catch
ebb current around Saybrook in time to catch the game, but didn’t make
it. After a couple hours fighting the mounting flood, we
up and anchored off a beach. During preparations to head in, the
kayak suddenly lost patience and left, forcing Phil to make a tiresome
swim in strong currents to retrieve it, before meeting me on the
beach, not far from which we found some lunch to eat in the shade of a
After bidding Phil goodbye, I caught the ebb and a
southwest breeze to the Pataguanset River, west of Niantic.
into an isolated marsh, I settled in for a peaceful evening. A
kayaker soon volunteered that the tidal rivulet I was in would dry out
at low tide, and as the bottom was more irregular than my initial
had revealed, after dinner I improvised some landing gear with my three
fenders and some line, positioning the two smaller fenders along the
towards the stern, and the larger one across the bottom just
of the mast.
Mon. 7/1 Despite a nice breeze the tidal
were inconveniently timed, and I decided to take the day off in the
A red-winged blackbird stood guard atop the mast, tearing off angrily
every crow that approached.
Tues. 7/2 Shortly after 5am I caught the ebb
and a nice southwest breeze to outside Mystic, just east of Mason’s
There I found Bill sitting on his porch. After 50 years racing
and 50 years in the lumber business, he was starting 50 more sheep
Bill was full of stories about Mystic, and offered me a ride in his old
pick-up to the marine supply store where I could pick up an anchor to
my danforth. I ended up settling on a bruce, for lack of an
Bill took the new anchor and rode back to his place while I took a
around town and picked up some food for the boat.
In the afternoon I sailed over to Fishers Island’s
Harbor, where I had a fine adventure courtesy of Mr. Campbell, who
me ashore and gave me directions, then promptly called the
Unbeknownst to me, they spent half the evening chasing me all over the
island, as I first got a lift, and then to return to the boat before
a pool tournament , borrowed a bike. (A fringe benefit of
trespassing, first stumbled upon here, is that if one works it right,
car service back to the boat with one’s newly purchased supplies is
Wed. 7/3 In the 6am mist I headed out with
ebb for the more exposed waters of Block Island Sound, and finding them
to be manageable, but still unable to make out Block Island in the
took a look at the chart, and compensating 10 –15 degrees for current
leeway, headed away from the soon invisible coast. Shortly after
10am I was anchored in Cormorant Cove. Wandered into town, and
a pleasant afternoon. That evening, back on the boat, I mulled
whether to risk the trip back to the mainland with a cold front
to pass through the next day.
4th of July Left Block Island around 9am
good southwest wind, for Point Judith. Had a little trouble
the entrance in the breakwater, but pulled into Point Judith Harbor
midday. Inside Point Judith Pond, I missed the split in the
sending me across shallow flats, goose-winging eventually to anchor in
Congdon Cove in the northwest corner of the island clotted pond.
There I spent the hot afternoon, first cleaning baby barnacles off the
bottom with mask and sponge, then climbing a tree, finally returning to
my hammock with a sheet for shade, to read and cook dinner. The
disturbance was the occasional wake from a screaming tube-towing
After dusk, watched local fireworks, and thunderstorms passing to the
Fri. 7/5 Twenty knot winds made for a
sail to Middletown Beach, on the Sakonnet River behind Sachuest Point,
the southeast tip of Rhode Island. Thank goodness for automatic
By the end I was down to only the reefed main. Walked into
Sat. 7/6 A long sail directly to Martha’s
Menemsha Pond, going outside the Elizabeth Islands. Cuttyhunk
into view in the late morning, and was joined in the early afternoon by
Gay Head. The WNW wind increased as the day progressed. I
in time for the tail of the flood, but the wind picked up such that the
plan of rowing into the crowded little harbor proved impossible, and I
was forced to drop the hook to keep clear of the swimming beach while I
reefed and re-raised the main before heading in.
Sun. 7/7 thru Mon. 7/15 were spent in happy
on the Vinyard. After salvaging a bike at the dump, I spent most
of my time biking around pursuing my fancy, returning to the boat
evening. Among the many friendly people I met, was Andy, who
offered me the use of his home to do my laundry, hose my salt-encrusted
sails, and recharge my phone. The week was capped by a happily
visit from Claire, who introduced me to the single burner practicality
of couscous, and made use of the until then untouched watercolor
Except for a brief sail on Menemsha Pond to be hauled out for a scrub,
Wapiti lay at anchor all week. It was difficult to leave, but
obligations back home made it hard to justify my island life, and I
to my original defense. With newly procured charts I decided I
see what lay outside Cape Cod, and if possible try to round it.
Tues. 7/16 Barely made it out of Menemsha,
I overslept a little and just missed the turning of the
On the fish wharf bets were being taken on my chances. Once out
Menemsha, I fought north winds up the coast and across to the
On the way I encountered a tough rip with tightly packed 4’ standing
about halfway to West Chop, but was then rewarded by the shelter of
Ground before making for the lee of Cape Cod. Having reached
water around Falmouth Heights I headed on to Waquoit Bay, off of which
the Quashnet River offered an isolated anchorage with road access, and
the company of various large water birds. Walked into village for
an indulgent meal.
Wed. 7/17 Headed out around 9am with a fair
for West Yarmouth. after a pleasant and uneventful sail I
almost flipped by a ferry’s wake coming into Lewis Bay, where behind
Island, I dropped the hook.
Thurs. 7/18 was spent cleaning off the
and buying supplies. The following day the sky looked unfriendly,
and I decided to stay put.
Sat. 7/20 Northeast winds and
Started out with just the reefed main, but halfway I raised the jib to
combat the almost overwhelming weather helm, making for a very exciting
sail to just inside Monomoy’s southern end, where I found noisy
of nesting birds, swaths of poison ivy, and various large carcasses on
During the evening I made ready for the attempt to
the Cape. I restowed for the most effective weight distribution,
made some sandwiches and cut up a pineapple, and to ease recovery of
fully loaded Wapiti in case of a dreaded turtle, attached a fender to
spinnaker halyard. Southerly winds were predicted, and I hoped to
catch the tail of the flood out Pollack Rip Channel early, leaving
the option to ride the ebb back in if I found the waves too big, and a
full day of sailing to make the long trip if they weren’t.
Sun. 7/21 The option to turn back with the
became a mandate as the winds were too weak for Wapiti to have much of
a say in the matter. So most of the morning was spent
just inside Monomoy Point, surrounded by seals. I headed
again as the ebb slacked, and with wind and current with me, made sweet
time. I decided to head far out, clear of the many shoals, and
jibe for the first time until I was several miles due east of
After the fishing grounds outside Monomoy Point, I saw maybe three
boats all day. As the day continued, the following sea began to
and I had to be careful not to bury Wapiti’s bow and precipitate a
Around 6pm I was nearing Highland Light, hopeful of
little Haskes Harbor just round Race Point before dusk, when I
the gamble that would end the trip. Lured by the smooth water in
their lee, and wishing to sail the most direct route, I sailed ever
to the huge dunes. Raising the centerboard almost all the way I
to be quick enough on the mainsheet and tiller to spill sudden
caused by the dunes ‘ unpredictable eddies. This worked well
for a little while, but then suddenly Wapiti was knocked flat,
in the water. I managed to kick out the centerboard, but it took
a while to right her, and my hat and a sponge drifted away.
gust hit just as she came up, and full of water, with the centerboard
and the mainsheet hopelessly tangled around the tiller, Wapiti
over, this time turtling completely. The water was around
and I was grateful for my insulation. I went under the boat,
were a complete mess , but I was eventually able to raise the fender,
the boat was soon upright again, full of water and sailing uneasily
jib alone. Both my bucket and bailer, which had been tied down
nowhere to be seen, and Wapiti was not making enough speed for
At this point, had I been thinking clearly, I
have anchored and swam to the beach to borrow a fisherman’s
Instead, however, the urge for dry land suddenly overpowering other
I made for the beach. The surf was easy enough to ride in, but
on the beach, it crammed every nook of the boat with sand in the
minutes it took to get her clear. Most of the moving parts,
the centerboard, were jammed. The supposedly waterproof bags
my clothes had failed, and I had lost my charts and my radio. My
newly met ride, Tuck introduced me to fellow fisher Tom, who was
to take the boat off the beach on his trailer in the morning.
a friend of Claire’s in Provincetown, was kind enough to put me up.
So the next few days were spent in the company of
friends, working on the boat, mostly clearing the jammed centerboard
Tom made a mean striped bass casserole, and he and his brother Jim told
a good story, brewed a good coffee, and had plenty of advice and
to offer. As I took the ferry to Boston, leaving Wapiti
in front of Tom’s place, I waffled as to whether I should return with
to continue on or with the trailer to head home. After a
away, the comforts of home won out.