Monday, August 3, 2020

Newport, Martha's Vineyard and the Coming Storm

Vineyard Haven, Martha's Vineyard

I'm catching up on the past week's sailing as tropical storm Isaias approaches us while at anchor in Lagoon Pond on Martha's Vineyard.

Lisa's friends, Kellie and John took the ferry to meet us on Block Island last Sunday and they spent a couple days on the boat until we set sail for Newport on Tuesday. They arrived with two soft coolers and a duffel bag stuffed with food. Kellie, a professionally trained chef cooked some delicious meals.

The six hour passage from Block Island started off slow, but the wind built enough for a decent downwind sail into Newport Harbor. We had a bit of trouble furling the jib, first due to a wrap in the line on the furler drum and then when I sucked the spinnaker halyard into the furling sail, something I've never done before and don't recommend doing. John and I got things sorted out, but it required unwinding and rewinding the furling line three times, a tedious job when the jib is flying and you can't turn the furling drum and have to wind the 70 foot long line a dozen times through and around it.

Newport Harbor was really pleasant. We anchored just outside the mooring field in among dozens of other "freeloading" boats, a tight squeeze. Kellie and John departed on Wednesday morning and my sister Alison and nephew Griffin arrived in the afternoon for a brief visit. We took a dinghy tour of the harbor to look at the all the beautiful classic yachts and the ostentatious mega yachts. One of the largest, the 250-foot Bella Vita is available for charter for "only" $650,000 per week. These yachts look particularly immense, viewed from our tiny dinghy as we slowly motored by them right alongside, their gleaming hulls towering above us.

I spent the next couple of doing boat projects while Lisa went on a powerboat junket back to Block Island for a beach soccer party where she socially distanced making mudslingers with a gas-powered blender for the players. Lisa returned yesterday and Kellie and John re-joined Intermezzo to sail with us to Martha's Vineyard.

Yesterday's sailing was amazing, the best sailing day I've had for quite some time.  We beat upwind in 15 knot SSE winds until just off the end of Cuttyhunck Island, the westernmost of the Elizabeth Islands and then I tacked south and bashed through head seas under motor until I got to the layline to our destination, Vineyard Haven a tacked back over. The wind piped up to 20-25 knots we could ease our course northward a bit to get on a nice reach. I enjoyed three romping hours of sailing at boat speeds of 8-9 knots which is close to Intermezzo's hull speed. Towards the end the wind was blowing a solid 25 knots, so I gave John a lesson on how to tuck a second reef in the mainsail.

We arrived at Vineyard Haven on Martha's Vineyard around 20:00, too late for the drawbridge to open to let us into the lagoon so we anchored right off the causeway to the bridge for the night. The bridge opened up for us and I scooted through with great care, the bridge's horizontal clearance only 10 feet wider than Intermezzo's beam and a 20 knot crosswind blowing on us.

We dropped anchor and had a wet dinghy ride to shore to catch a bus for Oak Bluff to see the "gingerbread houses" there.  This community of around 300 small Victorian cottages was originally founded by Methodists in the 1800's who held religious retreats and meetings on the island.  It was nice strolling through the park-like neighborhood of tiny homes.

The tropical storm is forecast to hit here tomorrow afternoon and blow into the night with 25-30 knot winds and gusts up to 45 knots. My plan is to lie at anchor in the lagoon through the storm where we'll get the wind but no big waves. I'm confident in our ground tackle and the bottom holding conditions here, though 45 knots will be the biggest blow Intermezzo has ridden at anchor. I'm not worried about the anchor and rode, but will rig a second bridle as I think that is the weak link in the system. Hopefully we ride out the storm with no problems; it will be a good test of the ground tackle system I designed for exactly these conditions. 

Schooner at sunset in Newport Harbor

Newport street lamp

"Gingerbread Houses" of Oak Bluff, Martha's Vineyard

The park-like neighborhood of the "gingerbread houses"

Tropical storm Isaias on it's way