Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Beginning of a New Voyage

Greenport, NY

Yesterday afternoon I said goodbye to Strong's Yacht Center and Mattituck Inlet and we set sail to round Orient Point, enter Gardiners Bay and anchor outside the town of Greenport. With me is Lisa, able-bodied crew who sailed on Intermezzo from Isla Mujeres to New Bern, NC last summer. She arrived a few days ago, braving travel in these days of COVID to help me sail Intermezzo on this new voyage.

I'm going to write this post in two parts. This first part will cover the start of the trip, the second will be a prequel, a more technical post filling in the two-plus weeks time between launching the boat and our departure.

We got up early yesterday to attack a pre-departure checklist which included stowing tools and other boat work items, washing down the decks and settling my account at Strong's. As I walked back through the boatyard from the office after paying my bill, I felt a little sad to be leaving. I had spent over a month on the dock here at the end of last summer and almost a month this time. I made friends with the boatyard  workers, watched ospreys raise their young, got in tune with daily turning of the tides, went for runs along nearby country roads and enjoyed the solitude of having the place to myself evenings and nights.

One of my favorite prompts for contemplative meditation is "the last time". There will be moments in everyone's life when it is the last time for being somewhere, seeing someone, experiencing something. Maybe it isn't the last time, but maybe it is. When I pause to consider this when I am doing something, it often makes my experience much more poignant and meaningful and I often feel more appreciative and grateful. So, as I walked back through Strong's to the boat, I considered that it might be the last time I am ever in this place again. And I felt so grateful for having found such a beautiful, friendly and supportive spot for Intermezzo to spend the past 10 months.

My bittersweet feelings of farewell gave way to excitement of beginning a new trip as we slipped the dock lines and headed out Mattituck Inlet into the Long Island Sound. The wind was blowing gently from the west as we turned east towards Orient Point, putting us on a dead downwind point of sail. I put the main and jib wing-on-wing and we glided along at almost four knots. The weather was cool, mostly sunny, with the line of a cold front off in the distance to the northeast.

About halfway to Orient, the wind suddenly shifted almost 180 degrees to come right at us, right on the nose. The story of my sailing life. And just for fun, we had a 1.5 knot foul current flowing against us. So, I switched on the engines and motored until I could make the turn south to round Orient Point Light and head into Gardiners Bay. Though I half expected the wind would shift to be against me again, it took pity on me and didn't. We enjoyed a nice reach with light easterly winds all the way to the anchorage as the sun set and a thunderstorm was building ahead of us.

I figure it might be helpul to provide a little geographic orientation for those not familiar with the Long Island waters we're in. Long Island sticks out into the Atlantic to about 100 nm east of New York City. About two thirds of the way out, it splits into two forks, like a fish's tail. The end of the north fork is Orient Point, the end of the south fork is Montauk Point.  Between these two forks are Gardiners and the two Peconic Bays, Little and Great. That's where we're going to be sailing for the next week or so. Yesterday, we sailed from the outside of the north fork, around it's tip and then along the inside, the south shore of the north fork. Between us and the north shore of the south fork is Shelter Island. We'll be heading there soon.

Last evening we dropped anchor in Pipes Cove, just west of the historic town and harbor of Greenport. I enjoyed my first rum sundowner followed by a nice dinner of braised cod over sautéed vegetables.  The thunderstorm never got on top of us, but it did drop some heavy rain for a while. The cold fronts passing through right now really chill things down, highs in the low 70's and low's in the 60's. Lisa, a warm weather sailor, is suffering and complaining. I'm enjoying the free air conditioning, knowing how hot and humid it can be here.

It felt so good yesterday to be sailing again. I know this boat as well as I know my own body and I love being reconnected with the wind, water, weather and the marine environment. I sometimes wonder when I might give up this nomadic lifestyle for something more stable and grounded. I'm reminded that it's not time for that, yet. It's time to continue loving my life on the water.

Toasting the beginning of a new voyage with a Montauk Summer Ale

Rounding Orient Point Light, the Orient Point - New London ferry in the background

Pipes Cove anchorage, Greenport to the left, Shelter Island to the right