Wickford, (Saturday, 9/16)
In the morning the fog was so thick we actually contemplated waiting a bit to leave, hoping it would burn off. However, we had to pick up the rental car in Wickford by noon, (Enterprise closes early on Saturdays and is not open on Sundays) and we had to first get fuel. Mark had found a location with great pricing in Galilee, but that required us going past Point Judith first, then back tracking up the Narragansett to get to Wickford. Additionally, the wind was going to start building throughout the day so we needed to get going.
Finally at 8:00 we decided to go and pulled out of Cuttyhunk Marina in pea-soup thick fog. Once out on Buzzards Bay it was just as thick and we could see it was not going to let up at all. For the next 2 hours we were like bobble-head dolls, swiveling our heads to look in all directions while watching the radar. Add to this the “low fuel” alarm continued to beep and Denise found this very stressful.
Finally we came through the breakwater at Point Judith and entered into the channel to take us into Galilee. Incredibly, here the harbor was free of fog and was spectacularly clear. We filled the boat with diesel at Galilee Fuel Services and within 30 minutes we were off their docks and headed back into the fog.
Once around Point Judith we entered the Narragansett Bay and eventually the fog lifted for us to have better clearance. Here are some pictures we took when able to finally see more than just the bow of the boat:
As soon as possible, Mark increased our normal boat speed to 22kts and called Enterprise to tell them we were on our way. Their driver was leaving to meet him at the marina, but fortunately we arrived before he did. We secured the boat with the help of Paul (the owner) and then Mark went to meet the driver, returning 30 minutes later with our wheels of freedom.
Right after Mark left, Denise noticed a main circuit breaker on the boat was tripped and it was the one that the battery charger was on. While not needed for most items when on shore power, we still need the batteries charged. She made several attempts to deduce the problem, including reconnecting the shore power cords to a different pedestal, to no avail. When Mark returned we did some further troubleshooting and deduced that charging at 80% (not the usual 100%) would suffice, and he would investigate other potential causes and solutions over the next few days.
We spent the afternoon working around the boat, including spending some time working on the battery charger issue. Mark received some input from other boaters, but one thing he needed to check was the amperage coming through the electrical system on the boat. However, we didn’t have the appropriate tool to make this assessment and now had to put it on the “errand” list.
In the evening we went to 5:00 pm mass at St. Bernard’s (another one) located about 1.5 miles from the marina; it was helpful to have the rental car.
From there we drove to East Greenwich for dinner at DiMare, a restaurant that came recommended. We figured we could check out the Wickford restaurants, all within walking distance, later in the week when we won’t have a car.
After dinner and because we were not that far away, we drove to a Walmart Super Center for a few items. From there we went next door to the Home Depot to pick up two minor tools we needed for the boat, but could not put in our carryon bags on the airplane when we came back to the boat after our weekend home. After that we drove back to the boat and called it a night.
Wickford, (Sunday, 9/17)
One of the considerations for choosing Wickford was also its proximity to Newport; it is on the opposite side of Narragansett Bay. We had originally given some consideration to attending the Newport Boat Show, but figured we would be further south by now. However, circumstances being what they are, we found ourselves in the morning driving over the Jamestown-Verrazano Bridge and onto the boat show.
We spent the whole day looking at boats and talking to suppliers of some of the equipment we have on our boat. Of course we went by Sabre and Back Cove and really liked the new Sabre 45. It has many features we would like in a bigger boat, but still offers a fast cruising speed in a “down east” design. But it is a lot of money and they are sold out for the next few years, making it something we can think about for the future.
For lunch we went to the Candy Store – the wharf level of Clarke Cooke House restaurant located on Bannister pier. This was another one of the “Top 10 Sailing Bars” (see post from Marblehead on 8/29) and we just crossed one more off the list.
By 4:00 we had seen all we came to see and headed back to the boat, but not before stopping at the Newport Home Depot to get the tool to check our electrical system. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the specific type we needed and ended up ordering it from Amazon once we got back to the boat.
Once back in Wickford before we got back to the boat we went to Dave’s Fresh Marketplace and got one of their pizzas to take back to the boat. We had heard they make pretty good pizza, so we decided to give it a try. Dave’s is like a Whole Foods or a Fresh Market and is Rhode Island’s largest independent grocery stores. In addition to the pizza we also picked up a few other items and (unlike Whole Foods) found them to be reasonably priced.
Wickford, (Monday, 9/18)
This morning Denise went for a morning run through the village of Wickford, and took some of these pictures:
After she came back from her run, we moved our boat to new slip on the eastern end of the marina. Paul, the marina owner asked us to do this so that they could put a bigger boat in the slip we had been in, but was really oversized for our boat. After we got Island Office situated in her new slip, we then began preparations for the storm. Although we were not going to take a direct hit from Jose, tropical storm winds were forecasted for the next 48 hours. This took us quite a while as we did several other maintenance items in the process on the boat.
Throughout the day, the winds picked up and so we hunkered down on the boat. Denise worked on the last blog update and tried to publish it. However, the Wifi here has been very challenging as it won’t stay connected to the internet for more than 2 -3 minutes. It is very intermittent and Mark has been working with Paul to resolve. However his “outsourced” provider is telling him things are ok. Mark believes he needs to replace his hardware, and it appears they are going to do that, but probably no time very soon.
During the day, the sailboat “Tradewinds” pulled into our old slip. This beautiful boat was clearly in need of the longer dock we had been on, and even then it stuck out by at least 4’ from the end of the pier.
Since we still had the rental car, Mark wanted to go back to Dave’s Fresh Market and get some wings for dinner. He had spotted them the day before and had his mind set on it ever since. They have a hot entrée bar not unlike Whole Foods with lots of tasty choices. Denise opted for the chicken sausage & peppers while Mark picked out some spicy wings. We took them back to the boat for dinner and then Mark streamed (remarkably) another episode of “Narco” on Netflix; a series he has been into for a while.
Wickford, (Tuesday, 9/19)
Finally able to get a consistent internet connection before the rest of the world got up, Denise published the latest blog. In the morning we did a few things on the boat and then made plans to go to the movies for the first show in the afternoon. The rain had started and winds were picking up even more so it was a good day to see a movie.
Because of the rental car, we were able to go to a theater that was about 10 miles away. It was a huge complex with at least 20 theaters, and despite having “Tuesday Specials”, it was empty when we arrived.
We saw the movie “American Assassin”; the first movie made from the late Vince Flynn book of the same name. As we have read all the books in the “Mitch Rapp” series, we are huge fans and wanted to see how it was done. While they changed a few things in the story line, and the ending was a definite Hollywood ending, we thought it was fun and true to the overall theme. Michael Keaton is excellent in his role and fun to see him in this genre of a film.
We contemplated movie-hopping to see a second film, but with so few people in the theatre we thought we would get caught and that would be embarrassing. We left and went back to the boat and the wind.
Later that evening we went to a restaurant in Wickford village called “Tavern by the Sea”. Denise had been here with her sisters and sister-in-law for lunch in February 2015 when they had their “Sisters” weekend in Newport. The food was just as good as it was then and we sat upstairs like with her sisters.
While we were dining, a couple from the marina whom we had previously met came at sat at the table next to us. Kem & Tom Vassallo (“Legend”) are seasonal occupants on their Nordic Tug, but also have a house in New Hampshire. We learned that Tom works for Oracle in enterprise application consulting, so we had a lot in common to talk about. They were with Kem’s parents and offered to push our tables together so we could talk more, but we were well into our meal and would finish way before them. We agreed to get together for a drink one night on their boat before we head south. We finished our meal and then headed back to the boat.
When at the boat show one of the suppliers we had talked to was Imtra Marine who provides the cabin lights to Back Cove. We had one lamp that needed a replacement bulb and wanted to order it from them. Come to find out, they have discontinued this model but have an almost exact substitute. Since ours is still under its (5-yr) warranty, they agreed to swap it out for us at no charge. Imtra Marine is located in New Bedford, which is less than an hour’s drive from Wickford. Since we have the rental car, we made plans to go there in the morning before we have to return the car.
Tonight’s sunset courtesy of “Jose”:
Wickford, (Wednesday, 9/20)
During the night the wind really picked up and by morning it was howling. It was blowing a consistent 25 – 30 kts with gusts to 45 kts. We were really feeling the wrath of what was left of Jose, who was hanging around the Cape Cod coast.
Right after breakfast we made contact with a service rep from Imtra and he agreed to pull the replacement lamp so we could pick it up. It was an hour drive to New Bedford, and we had to return the rental car by noon, so we had to get moving. Fortunately, there was little traffic and we arrived at Imtra in under an hour. “Steve” was terrific and had the lamp ready to go. He agreed to do all the paperwork for us and we were out of there in under 10 minutes. Now that is great customer service.
We then had to drive back to the Wickford area and return the rental car, which we did with 45 minutes to spare. Enterprise then drove us back to the marina, arriving just in time for lunch. What a morning!
In the afternoon the skies cleared for a little while and we actually got to see the sun for a few hours. However, Jose was going to hang around for a few more days and the weather and winds were not favorable for us to move the boat. Also hurricane Maria was smacking Puerto Rico today and was forecasted to head north. Although her path is uncertain, the seas offshore would not make for easy passage-making off the New Jersey coast. Since we have to go offshore there in order to get to the Chesapeake, and we are only days away from there if we leave RI, we need to make sure we have a good weather window. For us to leave Wickford and then get stuck in NYC where the marina fees are very expensive would be a bit foolish. So even though we had planned to stay here through Saturday, looks as if we would be here a little longer.
Because of this, we made plans to go to New York City for Saturday night, via rental car and by using Mark’s Hilton points. We had considered taking a train, but by the time we added up the costs for that it was actually cheaper to rent a car and pay for parking in NYC. Plus, it is only a 3 hour car ride and will make for an exciting adventure.
One of the reasons that we considered NYC is that on Sunday morning there is a 5k race there that Denise wants to run. It is the Tunnel to Towers race that is put on by the Stephen Siller Foundation and benefits the military and first responders. Stephen Siller was an FDNY that lost his life on 911 and the route he took that day (from Brooklyn through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to the twin towers) is the race route. She has wanted to participate in this event for several years and her running friend from Marathonfest (Jim) is very active in bringing this event to the Orlando area. In fact when we were home earlier this month she was going to run in the one held in Orlando, but it was cancelled due to hurricane Irma. Now she will get her chance to run in the original in NYC. You can learn more about the wonderful work done by the Stephen Siller Foundation (and make a donation if you are so inclined) here.
After our plans were made, and the clouds rolled back in, we had a dinner of leftovers and Mark streamed another episode of “Narco” until he got frustrated with the intermittent internet connection. We had also been tracking the package containing the tool he ordered on Sunday as it was due for delivery by 8:00 pm. However, it never did show up as planned.
Wickford, (Thursday, 9/21)
Again this morning we woke up to howling wind. It has been relentless and now we feel captive without a car, at least for the next two days. Our only salvation has been that we are in a protected area and the boat is very stable.
This morning the much anticipated package showed up so Mark was able to do the trouble-shooting on our battery charger issue. We seem to have resolved the one issue with some wire tightening, but now he believes we need to replace the house batteries. We have been talking about doing this for over a year and wanted to do it before leaving for this trip. However, due to the change in our original plans and the rush to get going in April, we never did. We were now hoping that we could hold off until we hit the Chesapeake area, but it looked like we were not going to be able to wait that long.
During the afternoon Mark shopped the batteries locally and researched who would be the best to provide the installation service. Finally settling on a company he placed the order and scheduled the installation for tomorrow (Friday) morning.
While this was going on, Denise was updating the blog and cataloging pictures. Our hope is to be totally caught up by the weekend, then provide daily or every two-day postings going forward. We did not realize how challenging this was going to be on this trip; juggling work, travel, vacation and still trying to have fun while documenting our adventure.
During the day we ran into Kem who had been out photographing the effects of the wind on some of the surrounding areas. She told us there were whitecaps in Wickford Cove where the town dock is located. She had a hand-held anemometer and said she clocked winds blowing consistently at 25 kts with gusts to 40 kts. We were glad we had put into this marina in Mill Cove, instead of the town marina as we were pretty stable despite the winds.
In the late afternoon we walked to Gardner’s Wharf Seafood Market which is about ½ mile from the marina. They have a lot of different fresh seafood including tuna, cod, salmon (2 kinds), swordfish, oysters, clams (several types), Gulf shrimp, Maine lobsters, and many other seafood dishes. We decided on some North Atlantic salmon, took it back to the boat and cooked it up for a delicious Salmon and Cesar Salad dinner.
With the wind still blowing hard, we managed to stream a movie and watched “La La Land” for Denise’s 2nd time and Mark’s 4th or 5th. Who knew Captain Mark liked the classical musical genre so much?
Some thoughts about Wickford:This village is located in an area known as North Kingstown and was founded in the early 1700’s. It is primarily a few streets that have wonderful local shops, galleries, and a few restaurants. Located near Wickford Cove on Main Street is the historic homes district where many of the original structures still stand and are currently occupied by town residents. It is located less than 30 minutes from Newport, RI and an hour outside of Providence, RI. But natural cove of Wickford Harbor (and Mill Cove to its north) make it a great hurricane hole, as we have discovered.
The town is also the model for the fictional village of Eastwick in John Updike’s novel, “The Witches of Eastwick” – later made into a movie with Jack Nicholson, Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer, Susan Sarandon, and Veronica Cartwright.
We really like this marina, and except for our issues with the wifi, it is an excellent place to be stuck. The facilities are top notch and the owners really care about their customers. We also have found the locals (live aboards and seasonal boaters) to be super friendly and helpful.
Here are some other pictures of the Wickford Marina: