Block Island, RI – Thursday, 6/24
Since we did not have a long way to go today, we were in no hurry to head out of Montauk. Our destination was Block Island, RI (aka BI), just 18 miles away, so Denise went for a run. First she ran the road to and down Star Island, passing the entrance to Gurney’s Star Island Resort, the Montauk Yacht Club, and the USCG Station Montauk entrance. She then ran down to the harbor, then back around a neighborhood not far from the boat. It was mostly flat and she enjoyed seeing all the sights from the land.
We left Snug Harbor Inn & Marina at 10:30, shoving off from this warm and friendly place. We enjoyed our time here and we are glad we made the decision to pay for the marina in order to experience this unique place.
We left the harbor with clear skies and a slight wind; it was a really pretty day to be on the water. As we exited we could see the RVs all parked on the beach at the County RV Beach Park, noting that we must share this with our RV-ing family members as a pretty cool place to spend a night or two.
We cruised northeast (mostly east) finally passing Montauk Point with a very visible radar antennae and then the lighthouse on the point.
Shortly after 11:00 we crossed the state line, entering Rhode Island and saying good bye to the state of New York; where we spent nearly a full month. Block Island Sound was lovely and we could see the Rhode Island mainland in the distance, and the windmills on the Atlantic Ocean side. As we got closer to BI, Denise also noticed other “sticks” that were on the BI Sound side and asked Mark what he thought it was. Soon we could clearly make out the masts of hundreds of sailboats. We were coming to BI at the end of “Race Week” and there were hundreds of sailboats who had just started the day’s race. It was very cool and made for some great pictures.
Captain Mark managed to negotiate around the different class races and got us to the channel and eventually through the inlet. We entered through the breakwater noticing the USCG Station Block Island to our right, along with an interesting driftwood sculpture. We entered “New Harbor” and the Great Salt Pond, locating the fairway between all the moorings so we could move to the anchorage area. We had already identified a spot based on inputs from others, just off Breezy Point and not far from “Dinghy Beach”.
We set our anchor between several other power boats, then ate lunch right away. We wanted to be able to see as much of the island as possible today, so we called for the town launch who immediately came out to take us into New Harbor. Once on land, we found Aldo’s for renting a moped (recommended to us by cruising friends). They took us on their shuttle to Old Harbor (less than 2 miles away) where we rented mopeds for a 2-hour increment. Off we went to tour wherever we could on this beautiful island.
First we went to see the South Lighthouse and the Mohegan Bluffs, stopping along the way to see some of the sights and click pictures.
Then we drove back through Old Harbor, took the road that paralleled the ocean, and eventually passed Dinghy Beach and Fred Benson Beach.
We continued all the way to the north end of Block Island where the Lighthouse, Settlers Rock, and the National Refuge were located. Here the beach is incredibly rocky and all vehicles are not allowed past a certain point. To walk out to the lighthouse was about a half-mile hike and Denise’s right foot was really hurting, so we did not tackle the rock-strewn shore. Plus, it was not open to go to the top, nor was the interpretive trail on Sachem Pond. So, we just looked around and took a bunch of pictures. It was such a beautiful day and so clear that we could actually see the shoreline of mainland Rhode Island.
We then needed to connect with Loopers Laurie & Kevin (“Laurie Jean II”). We had been in communication with this couple through our Looper network (AGLCA.org) as they are currently living (part-time) on BI and are unofficial “Harbor Hosts”. Since we have never been here, we thought it would be good to have local knowledge, and they are the ones who provided us with the suggestions of where to anchor and where to rent mopeds.
Now it was time for a face-to-face meet up. We took the scooter to meet Laurie (who works at the BI Rental Car place) and made plans for a meet up after she got off work. She suggested that in the meantime we take the moped for a quick pass out to the airport. We did just that and found a really quaint airport that has flights from Block Island to the mainland, as well as parts of Cape Cod.
We then drove all the way back to Old Harbor to return the moped as our time was coming to an end. We still had to walk back to meet up with Laurie & Kevin; more than a mile away. But we had we had plenty of time, so we did some souvenir shopping along the tourist traps of Old Harbor. (Yes, we got another magnet). We then headed back to New Harbor passing a typical B&B/Inn found along the island, the firehouse, and the New Shoreham Police Dept.
Just up the road from there we stopped at a place that rents Kayaks and is home of the Block Island Maritime Institute; a marine research facility. We spoke with one of the workers and he told us about some of the research they do on the fish in the area. We sat on their Adirondack chairs overlooking New Harbor for a bit of a respite, and then it was time to meet our new friends.
At 5:00 we made our way back to meet Laurie who needed a little more time. So we made plans for a rendezvous on the Adirondacks at the Narragansett Hotel, just up the street. The chairs overlook the entire New Harbor and is a favorite spot of theirs. We headed there first, and she and Kevin eventually caught up with us. For a good hour we shared a bottle of wine and great conversation getting to know one another, talking about our mutual Great Loop experiences.
We then went down the hill to Dead Eye Dicks for dinner. Because of race week, the place was packed and we were told it would be a 1 to 1.5 hour wait for a table. We optioned for seats at the bar where we were able to order our meals, and had a great time together. Come to find out we have many Looper friends in common and laughed about how could it be that we had not yet met before, especially since they are (now) from Punta Gorda, FL.
In the meantime the very nice weather turned very cool and the skies went from sunny and beautiful to overcast; rain was coming and we hoped to get back to boat before it hit. We said good-bye to Laurie & Kevin and thanked them for their great hospitality. We hope to connect with them again in the winter when they are back in FL, and if we head to the FL West Coast on another Island Office adventure.
We quickly walked back to the launch, arriving just as it started to drizzle, and by the time we got back on the boat, it was raining. It did stop for a while and we were able to capture a nice sunset, but it continued to rain off and on throughout the night.
Block Island, RI – Friday, 6/25
When Denise woke up it was cold in the boat and she didn’t want to get up. Finally, she forced herself out of the warm covers and turned on the generator to get the heat going; Mark slept in. Fixing coffee she observed that she could barely see the other boats in the Great Salt Pond; we were fogged in big time! The area around BI Sound is known for its vicious weather and fog, but usually the Great Salt Pond is an area of clarity when everywhere else deals with the fog.
We spent the morning working on cataloging pictures over the last 4 days; there were well over 400 of them so this took a long time, and we did not finish before lunch. In the meantime the fog lifted a bit, but not sufficiently or in time for the last day of sailboat racing; all races were cancelled. So when we called for the launch to take us in to shore, we had to wait almost 20 minutes as all the sailors were packing it in and trying to get to the ferry or to their stay at local establishments. The single launch was very busy and the second launch doesn’t start running until the weekend.
Finally, the launch came and took us back to the New Harbor waterfront. We walked up the hill to The Oars Restaurant, where Mark had wanted to come since reading about the place. Now, we know why everyone recommends it: it is a very fun place, with lots of outdoor picnic tables, corn row and other games on the lawn and a killer view overlooking the harbor. Inside, the fun continues with thousands of oars that hang from the ceiling and on the walls (and thus their name). There are plain ones and colorful ones, and they come from all over the world. There are so many all over the place that it makes the entire place a piece of art.
Due to the fog and drizzly weather we did not want to sit outside, and there was a wait for inside tables. But we secured a spot in the bar area, which proved to be lots of fun. We had a good lunch and enjoyed watching the sailors from the race teams. We spent some time talking with one of the race committee members who was from Chicago, and took in the atmosphere of the celebrations, clothing, and stories the sailors shared. This brought back lots of fun memories for Mark and his days of racing J-boats when we lived in Southern California.
After lunch and hanging out in the bar for a while, we took the launch back to the boat. Mark did some work on the dinghy based on input from Louie, the launch driver, and got it running again. He took it out for a test drive and all seemed to be working ok, however he has already been in contact with the Yamaha service for it to be looked at when we get back to the mainland. We need a reliable dinghy engine in Maine and need to ensure we can count on the one we have.
In the afternoon, we finished cataloging the pictures through Montauk and began writing the next blog update. We talked with family and friends who know they can call us no matter where we are (and in BI the cell coverage is pretty good). We watched more boats come in for the weekend, including a 3-way raft up that anchored right behind us. Although it didn’t rain, the moisture in the air was high and fog lingered around the edges of the harbor.
We had been on the fence about leaving; really wanting more time in this very cool place. Our schedule allowed for it, but the weather was not going to cooperate. We had a choice: we could leave in the morning, knowing we would most likely face a lot of fog, or stay. If we stayed we would be here more than 5 days as the wind was going to be strong and 4‘- 6‘ (average) seas were forecasted on BI Sound. Also if we stayed we would need to purchase water for the boat, or pay exorbitant dock fees at a marina.
This was a no-brainer decision. With radar and AIS, we would rather deal with fog then get beat up in 6’ seas. Also, with the dinghy engine questionable, and a quick fix on the shower sump pump, Mark thought it would be prudent to bypass Cape Cod (Martha’s Vineyard and Falmouth) and head directly into Fairhaven where we will have access to needed resources to fix both these items correctly. We went to bed with this decision in place and grateful for finally getting to enjoy a fun time at Block Island.
Here are some other pictures of Block Island: