Friday, July 29, 2022

Stonington to Deer Island (anchor), to Bucks Harbor, ball

Lots to cover.

Two nights prior the crew of Highwind and we sat outside the Stonington Ice Cream shop eating their lobster rolls (yes, you read that right -- everything sells lobster rolls here, even the ice cream store). Both David and Russ were pawing through their cells comparing information about Aragosta. This was a highly rated restaurant right in the area. Both tried making reservations but the place was booked out until September. David sat upright and announced they did have availability on Thursday for the tasting menu. 8:15 pm. That's usually bedtime for Russ and me, but that seemed like serendipity. He booked it on the spot.

Last time through Stonington
On Thursday we took the hour cruise, away from the Cockatoo anchorage, back across Stonington, up the west side of the peninsula, and dropped our anchors one bay over from the restaurant. There was a beach in front of the place, so the plan was to dinghy over, beach the tender, eat, and dinghy back. Easy peasy, no?

However. A storm front was coming in. Weather was predicted around 9 pm until 11 pm, bringing high winds (heh... like their boat's name).

By the pricking
of my thumbs...
All day long the skies were glorious. Russ and I took a couple of cruises trying to find alternative dinghy-able beaches. Even though the ride to Aragosta would only be about 10 minutes, it would be in open waters, like (points south) the Atlantic is right there! And that's exactly where the wind would be coming from. Open waters + lots of fetch = really bad waters. But place after place was riddled with rocks and boulders, making the thought of leaving the dinghy for hours unattended out of the question. We envisioned waves and wind knocking it into craggy rocks and damaging the small vessel.

So. We were sticking with plan A.

Everyone prepared for this. I brought a change of clothes, Hannah and David wore cover garments so their fancier clothes stayed dry. We even had shoes to change out of since beaching a dinghy means stepping into water.

By the time we headed over, around 7:15 pm, the wind had already come up. We managed to get a couple of waves into the tender, starting the soaking early. But, again, we were prepared for that. It was fine.

Dinghy on the loney beach, the log is our moor.
Taken for insurance purposes...
Now, consider tides. We arrived at the low point of an incoming tide. This is a bit of a trick when beaching a vessel. The tidal swing was over 10 feet. The shallower the grade in the beach, the longer the distance your boat is going to move. In preparation for this Russ had bought an "anchor bungee". Once we beached the tender he heaved out small anchor out the back and affixed the bungee to the boat. Then, using a really, really long line (150 feet, and it was NOT long enough) we tied to boat to a makeshift moor David and Hannah made from a heavy log. It was over 150 feet from the beach. Then, because all of us were paranoid about having a ride home, we set and alarm for 2 hours later to check the dinghy. 

That accomplished we went inside, changed our clothes, washed our feet (sssssh! Don't tell the restaurant), then waited for our seating. Which was short, since all that took a lot of time.

The tasting was wonderful. We had about 10 items served to us throughout the night. They even accommodated Russ and my being pescatarians. The service was great, the drinks were great (we didn't have many, just in case you were wondering), and the food was outstanding. And no, none of us, none of us, had the presence of mind to take pictures of the meal. Boaters!

When the alarm went off at 9 Russ and David went to inspect the dinghy. The water line had already gotten to a few inches up on the mooring log. They adjusted it, moving it more onto land and resetting it, and, as they were returning to the restaurant, the rain started.

It rained on and off throughout the dinner.

By 10:45 our meal wrapped up. We all donned our rain gear or still wet clothes from the ride over, and headed, now in the total darkness, down to the dinghy.

The water level had risen a lot, but the makeshift anchor moor still held. The first task was to get the dinghy to shore. Keep in mind, there's an anchor way out in the water (which did it's job of keeping the dinghy off the beach so it didn't get beat up). Recall the waterline had moved a lot since we tossed it off the back. So chore number one was dragging the boat in, trying to overpower the bunged and anchor, which was an effort for both Russ and David. 

They managed, we climbed into the already soaked boat (sitting in the rain, getting pummeled by waves). The engine started without flaw. We backed up, pulling up the bungee, and released the anchor. That all sounds very matter of fact, but keep in mind, it's night, it's raining, and we're being bashed by waves. I got out a huge, bright flashlight (we did plan ahead!) and scanned around to find land to get some idea of what direction we needed to go. And we were off.

Immediately it became clear everyone had to help. Russ drove the dinghy. David, using Navionics on his phone, gave Russ directions. I held the large flashlight high to scan the water since lobster traps abounded and needed to be avoided. Poor Hannah, at the bow of the dinghy and on hands and knees, shouted directions to avoid said lobster traps, using her arms to point left or right. I say "poor Hannah" because we were inundated, wave after wave, with cold, salty water. We all got covered and soaked, but Hannah had them right in her face. In case that sounds dreadful to you, she was laughing the entire time.

From my vantage this was like some wild Disney ride. It was pitch dark. While I'm holding a light high so Hannah can see but I cannot. And every few seconds someone threw heavy buckets of water at us. I couldn't see the sea, or the chop, or the land, or the waves, just Hannah pointing, David huddled over his phone trying to keep it dry so it would continue to work, and huge water spray in the light as it smacked our bow and arched over us

Hannah, safely back on Highwind.
inQuest is the distance light...
Eventually we changed directions, from heading into the wind to get around the point and back to the boats. Once the wind was on our backs the ride got much calmer. Both of the boats were lit (planning ahead) so we could see them easily on the way back. We dropped off Hannah and David and quickly sped to our own boat. 

Getting the dinghy affixed to the boat and raised was a bit of a challenge in the 2-3 foot chop. Once that was done, once all the wet clothes were removed, once we quickly rinsed off the sea water, we went to bed, which bounced for hours from the storm. Needless to say, bellies full, brains buzzing from the adventure, and bodies bouncing on the boat, we didn't sleep all that well.

The morning after... Highwind through the fog.
When we got up the waters had calmed. And fog surrounded us. We weren't in a hurry to leave so we hung out a few hours. 

We headed north to Bucks Harbor. The water were a little churned, swells with quicker periods, but not bad. The further north we went the calmer they got. Bucks Harbor has tons of mooring balls which we navigated to get to our assigned one. Then we passed out doing laundry intermittently. After two nights of fantastic meals, we're due for a humble one.

That was a night for the books.

Lovely voyage in the morning.
You'd never know.

The trip in the morning.

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