New Bedford, MA – Saturday 10/5
When we woke up in the morning we took a look at the weather and saw that the wind was forecasted to die down in the afternoon. We then looked at the tides and currents running through the Cape Cod Canal and decided that we should leave Boston today and not wait for tomorrow. We knew we had 80+ miles to go to get to New Bedford, and we had to stop along the way to get fuel, and we would prefer to arrive before sunset. We also knew that we could then possibly make it to New London on Sunday, but we would have to leave very early in order to get there before the wind and waves on Block Island Sound would be too rough.
Having now formulated a plan for moving south, we did some last minute domestic chores, including doing a quick load of laundry. Finally around 11:30 am we left the dock and said goodbye to Constitution Marina. We cruised out into the Boston Harbor and it was a beautiful sunny day.
In no time at all we were passing the dredge that we encountered on our way in over a week ago. We then made a right turn through the channel called “the Narrows” that runs between Gallops, Lovell and Georges Islands and made our way into Massachusetts Bay (Atlantic Ocean). Just off our port was Boston Light and to our starboard was the Massachusetts coastline.
We headed out of the protection of the islands on a southeastern course and now encountered the 2 foot swells, first on our bow, then on our port quarter. It was a bit bumpy, so Denise was not able to take any pictures of the coastline or lighthouses we passed. Fortunately we were not trying to cut diamonds, and we were able to make good progress. We passed the town of Scituate, one of our bail out points and the seas seemed to settle down a little bit.
Two hours into our trip and we pulled into Green Harbor near the town of Marshfield, between Scituate and Duxbury. Captain Mark had located this source for reasonably priced fuel, and it was not too far off our direct course to the Cape Cod Canal. We arrived into this small fishing harbor and tied to the dock at Taylor Marina, where we had to first wait for a fishing boat to finish fueling his vessel. Finally, he finished and were able to fill up our tank and be on our way.
We continued heading southeast past Plymouth, and then soon we were able to turn more towards the south. Now the waves were behind us and we were much more comfortable, so we were able to take a few pictures including of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant (now decommissioned) and homes along the bluffs at White Horse Beach.
Finally we could see the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal and the large power plant that is on its eastern shore that is visible for miles. We had to navigate the entrance jetties around a sailboat and another powerboat also entering at the same time. All this water and then 3 of us are trying to negotiate the narrowest part all at once; it was a bit nerve wracking for the Admiral, but the Captain had it all under control.
There is a max speed of 10 mph in the Canal and this slowed our time considerably. We enjoyed going under the Sagamore Bridge and seeing the cyclists and runners on the paths that line both side of the canal.
At the western end of the canal we passed by the “Kennedy” at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. When we arrived at this point we were grateful we had waited to leave Boston as the outgoing tide was in sync with the current and wind so we had a smooth ride. We have come through here before when it was not so, and it was an e-ticket ride.
We entered Buzzards Bay and had very calm water with lots of other boaters enjoying a nice day on the water.
While in the Canal we called the Pope Island Marina in New Bedford as we were calculating our arrival time and knew it would be after 5:00 pm. We spoke with a young guy who initially could not find our reservation, but finally did and gave us our slip assignment. We confirmed they would be open until 6 pm and we were instructed to contact them on the VHF when we got to the channel buoy outside their marina.
We turned off Buzzards Bay and entered the channel to take us into New Bedford Harbor, passing the narrow hurricane wall at its entrance to this protected area.
We approached the green buoy near the marina and radioed the marina as instructed, and received no response. We noticed at that time that there was a sailboat being towed into the marina and there were several men on the dock assisting with the tie-up. We assumed these to be the marina dockhands and waited for them to secure that boat before attempting to contact them again. After several unanswered attempts we located our assigned slip and docked on our own. We secured our boat and noticed the dockhands had left the sailboat, so we walked up to the marina office to check in as it was 5:30 and we didn’t want to miss them. When we got up to the office it was locked up, the lights were off and no one was around. Apparently after helping to tie up the sailboat, they left the marina, totally forgetting we too were scheduled to arrive.
We were not very happy. We had specifically called to make sure someone would there when we arrived as we had a package shipped there and it arrived a few days ago. Yes, Mark had ordered the shop vac from Amazon and it was delivered earlier in the week when we expected to be there. Mark had even called to confirm they had received the package and were holding it for our arrival. Now we had a dilemma because our intention was to leave in the morning before dawn, and before the marina office would be open again. Had we known the dockhands were not going to wait for us today, we would have made plans to safely store the package for retrieval after hours.
While attempting to find someone to get ahold of after hours, we were assisted by two local boaters in the marina. They were very gracious in their offers, but even they could not get access to the office where we could see the package sitting on the floor. They also informed that the marina is a city-run marina and the women who normally handles things had recently quit. Denise had left her a voicemail before knowing this, and that made her even angrier at the lack of customer service. Meanwhile, Mark had called the “after hours” number posted in the laundry room (to no avail), the posted security number (whom locals told us is on the property after hours all the time), and finally the New Bedford Police Department. Finally, he was able to get them to call the manager, who then called someone else who was close to the marina, and he came down to deliver us the package. He also gave us a gate access key. The marina is gated and if we would have left (to go out for dinner in town) we would not have been able to get back in without the key. But by the time he arrived, it was too late for us to go out. It had been a long day and we were tired. We ate a quick dinner on board and went to bed. And with all this commotion, we never took any pictures of the marina or the surrounding areas.
Wickford, RI – Sunday 10/6
We got up early this morning and left the dock at 6:15 am before the sun had even come up. We followed a fishing boat and a sailboat out past the hurricane wall and into Buzzards Bay. We noticed the wind had already started to blow a bit as we entered Buzzards Bay, but felt like we could make it to New London in 3 hours and then would be there for a few days based on the forecasted bad weather.
However, things didn’t work out that way. After about an hour, the small but very choppy waves against the hull made things uncomfortable. It was difficult to stand or move around safely and everything had to be secured or it was tossed around the boat, including us.
About the time that Buzzards Bay becomes the Rhode Island Sound the waves started to build a little bit, and we had to slow the boat down. It was even difficult to take pictures at this point. It was about then that Mark suggested we think about bailing and potentially going into Wickford, RI. Denise was ok to bail on the planned destination, but didn’t want to go 13 miles up the Narragansett River to Wickford, a place we spent 9 days in 2017 to wait out hurricane Jose. We considered going into Newport, but after researching and finding dockage rates ridiculously expensive (even in off season) we decided on the more affordable Wickford.
So, we changed our course to the north (noooooo! – wrong direction), to head up the Narragansett passing the lighthouse on Beavertail Point. As soon as we did, the cruise became much easier with the wind and waves on our stern. If only this would have been our heading for New London, we would not have had to abandon the trip today. We were able to pick our speed back up to 20 knots and in 15 minutes we went under the Jamestown-Verrazano Bridge and turned west towards Wickford Harbor Inlet.
Meanwhile we had called the Wickford Marina and we were able to secure transient dockage for the night and at least until Friday when (hopefully) the weather will break and we can continue making progress south. As we entered the inlet we called the marina on the VHF as instructed, and Paul (owner) gave us very detailed step-by-step instructions all the way into the assigned slip. There Nathan (dockhand) was waiting for us and assisted with the tie-up at a nicely-protected inside slip right near the marina office. It was not even 9:00 am.
And now is the time in this story where we tell you about our divine intervention and how God definitely had a hand in the day. Since deciding to leave Boston, we have been trying to figure out where we could attend Sunday mass as our plans changed. When we were leaving Boston on Sunday we planned to go back to St. Mary’s on Saturday evening before leaving. When we left to go to New Bedford on Saturday and then on to New London on Sunday we were challenged, but learned we could attend a Sunday evening mass at a church in nearby Groton (via Uber). Now on the way to Wickford we discovered we could be in time to make the 10:30 mass at St. Bernard’s. So as soon as we secured the boat we quickly took showers and headed out to walk the 1.0+ mile to church. But Mark suggested we ask at the marina office if there was anyone who could give us a lift to church. When we did we discovered Paul and his wife Jean were headed to that very same mass. They gave us a ride to and from church and we had a nice chance to get reacquainted with them. Perhaps this is the reason we were supposed to end up here, but who knows. For whatever reason, we were supposed to come to Wickford and now we don’t question the why.
Paul & Jean live it Wickford most of the year in their home on the second story above the marina office. However, from December until March they live in a condo in Jupiter Florida and have a woman manage the year-round marina during this time. The place used to be used be a fish and lobster processing plant and was run down when they acquired it. Over the last 22 years they have torn down the old building and dock, and developed it into a well-liked marina with many repeat customers (including us). The facilities include bathroom and showers, laundry, Jacuzzi, patio with tables & chairs, and a great gas barbecue grill. It is a good place to stay and is walking distance to a very cute small village with a few restaurants and shops.
After lunch we settled into spending the rest of the day on the boat. Mark continued to work on the ice maker; now working better but still not like it used to be. Denise spent the rest of the day working on the last blog update. We did not want to venture out as it had become quite windy, so we had a pizza delivered to the marina for dinner.
Wickford, RI – Monday 10/7
One of the nice things about this area is that it offers lots of opportunities for running. So Denise went for a run through the downtown and towards US1. Just before coming to the intersection by this highway, is Wilson Park. This is a nice city park with baseball fields, tennis courts, basketball courts and a handful of soccer/football fields. There is a pathway around all of the ball fields and courts that provides a traffic-free and safe area for walking and running. Here Denise made several laps before leaving the park and heading back through downtown and then to the marina. Here are a few pictures from her run:
While Denise was away, Mark did some significant boat maintenance. He changed the transmission oil and the secondary fuel filter in engine and packaged up the used oil for delivery to a location that will accept used oil when we can discard it appropriately.
Later that day we looked at the weather and it was clear we would be here all week. It was supposed to rain every day and the wind was going to blow significantly between now and the weekend. Once again we needed to make lemonade from the lemons. We rented a car for 2 days, beginning on Tuesday afternoon so we could have it through Thursday morning.
We then spent the rest of the day doing work for clients, talking with some of the local boaters, and getting the last blog updated, but not yet published.
For dinner we took advantage of the grill at the marina, and cooked out a couple of cheeseburgers. It was breezy and cold standing out while they cooked, but a couple of evening drinks kept us warm. Once back on the boat we dined in warmth and watched more of the Great British Baking Show until it was time for bed.
Wickford, RI – Tuesday 10/8
We started the day getting some work done for clients and publishing the latest blog post. While Denise completed a client call Mark went to pick up the rental car from Hertz, cashing in some reward points.
After lunch aboard we did a quick Walmart run for boat supplies, returned to the boat to drop off our purchases and then headed out on the day’s adventure. We first drove to Judith Point, the part of Rhode Island south of Wickford that overlooks the Rhode Island Sound (Atlantic Ocean). Here we drove out to the Coast Guard Station & Lighthouse (closed to the public). We wanted to see how the waves looked crashing onto the rocks that line this part of the shore. Today was calmest of days and it was still pretty rough on the water. We did see a small boat making its way south, but we were thankful it was not us.
After this we drove over to Camp Cronin Fishing Area, a park located about a half mile down the beach. Here there is a jetty that goes way out into the water and forms the breakwater for the Point Judith Harbor; a harbor of refuge. We were tempted to walk out onto the jetty as the setting sun was trying to poke out from behind the clouds, but it was way too windy and cold. There were a few locals making the trek and even a fisherman who was setting out to make his catch. But amazingly as we looked back towards the Point Judith Lighthouse we could spot 2 surfers in the water enjoying the big waves that formed off the point.
At the end of the parking lot to this park is the Fisherman’s Monument and overlook. Unfortunately, the overlook was taped off for no admittance and no one was around to ask if it was safe, so we took a few pictures of the monument and headed back down the road.
We continued on the coastal road (US1a) back towards Wickford, but stopped in the town of Narragansett. We have never been here and wanted to explore the area, but more importantly eat dinner. Denise had done some research and read about the Coast Guard House Restaurant, located right on the water. We showed up without reservations but because we were early we got seated right away. This restaurant is housed in an old Coast Guard Station made of solid granite and is perched on the rocks overlooking Narragansett Bay. It has been a restaurant since the 1940’s and was severely damaged in Superstorm Sandy in 2012. As a result they have renovated, but kept the original granite structure in place. They even repurposed a beam from the original structure and it (located right near our table) was used in the renovation. Our food and was fresh and delicious and it was not expensive, especially given the stellar view and location. Our server was also great and we really liked learning about the history of this remarkable place. You can learn more about it here. If you are ever in this area, we highly recommend this place.
After dinner we drove a little bit around the Narragansett Pier area, but it was now dark and hard to see. Plus, it got cold while we were in the restaurant and it was now time to go back to the warmth of our Island Office.
Wickford, RI – Wednesday 10/9
During the night, the rains finally showed up. They had been forecasted all day yesterday, but stayed mostly north of us. Throughout the night it would rain hard, then let up and then rain hard again. And it continued this way throughout the whole day.
We headed out for our adventurous day, first going to a nearby diner recommended to us by a local boater in the marina. The Rome Point Café was south of Wickford and is definitely a locals place. When we walked in, it was clear that we were “not from around here”. We got seated right away and had a terrific breakfast, but more importantly got to watch a lot of the locals come and go.
After this we headed out on the highway, connecting to I-95 south and into New London, CT.
Denise was hoping we were taking this all the way to I-4 and then into Winter Park, but today we were only going to the US Coast Guard Academy (USCGA). Unfortunately, the USCGA does not offer tours like they do at Annapolis (Navy) and West Point (Army), but the museum and library are open to the public. By the time we arrived the rain had pretty much stopped long enough for us to get inside and spend about 1.5 hours there.
The history of the Coast Guard is quite amazing. Alexander Hamilton created it in 1790 when he was the Secretary of the Treasury as a way to collect tax revenue from ships entering ports that were not paying their import tariffs; they were then called the “Revenue Cutters”. During subsequent years they were merged with government agencies that had been set up guard the inland waterways and coasts from pirates, save lives of merchant mariners and fisherman, and maintain aids to navigation (lighthouses originally). Throughout their history they have been a branch of the Treasury Department, Commerce Department and more recently, Homeland Security. They can also be assigned to the Defense Department during wartimes, and have served in every major war conflict since the post-revolutionary period. It is a versatile service, and as cruisers we are very partial to this branch of our government. Here are some pictures from our visit:
It was raining harder when we came out of the museum, but our car was a short walk away. We were able to drive around the campus including the football field, ropes course, and down the road near the water to see the training boats at dock. But, we did not get out of the car. The only other things we could have visited were the souvenir gift shop and because of the rain we decided not to stop. You can learn a little bit more about the current museum here, but this museum is targeted to be replaced by a whole new museum complex currently being developed. You can learn more about the future Coast Guard Museum here.
We left the USCGA and drove around the downtown New London waterfront on our way to our next stop: the warehouse for marine supplier “Defender”. Their headquarters and sole warehouse are located in New London and Mark had his shopping and wish lists. We spent about an hour looking at things and trying on a few items (Denise), but walked out with only a few boat cleaning items.
Despite the big breakfast we were now hungry for lunch. As luck would have it we were close to a Panera, so we stopped there to get a bite to eat. Their soup tasted so good on this very rainy and cold fall day.
After lunch we drove over the river to Groton and the US Navy Submarine Base; home of the Submarine Force Museum. We arrive around 2:30 pm and since they close at 4:00 pm we had limited time to hit the highlights. Our greeter was “Jim” who gave us a bunch of information about the museum and what we should try to see. He also shared much of his life story with us, including the fact that he was 90 years old, and that he has been a member of the “Holland Club” for over 50 years; a club of former and still certified submariner veterans. He was on one of the first nuclear powered submarines (USS Nautilus) and served on every class of these underwater marvels. He was a most interesting man and we really enjoyed our time talking with him. We thanked him for his service and time he spent with us and went on to see the museum.
Our first stop was to go see the USS Nautilus, the first nuclear submarine that is on display and has a self-guided walking tour. It is located outside the museum building and down a ramp to the greeting station where you are given a hand-held device that narrates as you go through the sub. Due to the rain there were few people in the sub which was a good thing as it has very narrow passages and tight quarters. We were able to stay as long as we wanted and enjoyed seeing this. We spent a little time talking with the two submariners who were at the entrance and exit, then went back into the museum to see what else we could before the time ran out. Unfortunately, we had to make a quick go of the different displays, but learned a lot about this very important tool used by the Navy to defend our freedom.
Once back in the car, we headed back towards Wickford. Initially we thought we would catch a movie at a theater on the way back (Mystic), but with the rain and pending rush hour traffic, we decided to head back to the warm comfort of the boat.
On the way back into town we stopped at Dave’s Market, a small regional grocery chain that has fresh produce, terrific deli, meat, seafood and bakery counters, and a pizza oven. They also have a large selection of ready to go fresh prepared meals. We discovered how good their food was in 2017, so we chose this place for tonight’s dining adventure. Plus, here we could each get whatever we wanted (fried chicken for Mark, sushi for Denise) and take it back to the boat to eat. We were happy to finally get out of the rain and spend the rest of the evening being warm and dry.
Wickford, RI – Thursday 10/10
We are one third through the month of October and at this point in our journey we were supposed to be halfway down the Chesapeake. Unfortunately, we are at least 2 weeks behind and at least 5 consecutive days of good weather before we can even conceive of being there. This is discouraging, and along with the awful wind and rain had Denise in a funk.
We had to return the rental car by noon, so we took advantage and went to a real supermarket (Stop & Shop) to pick up some items. It was really just an excuse to get on terra firma and walk around in a dry and non-moving environment. Mark couldn’t understand why Denise wanted to walk up and down every single aisle, just to get some exercise. As we were leaving the parking lot, Mark announced he wanted to go across the street to Home Depot, and Denise was more than happy to oblige. But the trip was short (they didn’t have what he was looking for) so we headed back to the boat.
Mark returned the rental to Hertz and had them take him back to the marina, then we had lunch. All afternoon we stayed on the boat out of the high wind and frequent rain. Denise did some food prep for the coming days and Mark did some client work. He also has been shopping fuel prices and trying to determine where we should stop between here and Cape May, NJ for our next fill up. We also downloaded & cataloged pictures and worked to get this blog (finally) caught up.
We also took a look at the weather and started thinking about leaving Wickford on Monday. Regardless of weather, we must leave by noon on Monday as the marina is full up next week with a slew of boats coming in for the winter. We have some options, but hope the favorable forecast will hold so we can leave and head south. We even have made contact with our friend John C. at Great Kills Yacht Club in Staten Island, hoping to see him next week.
Since we will be here until Monday, we decided to rent a car for the weekend and made plans to go to Newport on Saturday evening. Denise’s friend Wendy is running the Newport Marathon on Sunday, and we have been coordinating a meet-up for church and dinner in Newport on Saturday evening. We also made plans to go to the movies on Friday and maybe some other sightseeing on Saturday.
The afternoon and evening was rain, rain, wind and more rain. It was awful weather and we were so glad we had chosen this very protective marina after all. We settled into a light dinner on board and watching some tv (repeating season 1 & 2 of “Victoria”) before calling it a day.
Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office