2008 Cuttyhunk Rendezvous report

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Mildred Rose
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2008 Cuttyhunk Rendezvous report

Post by Mildred Rose » Wed Aug 06, 2008 9:06 pm

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Cuttyhunk rendevous, July 2008
Written by Rani Chadowitz


It was a weekend of extremes. Dror dropped her mooring at Pirate Cove Marina in Portsmouth, RI Friday morning with Jack at the helm, and Rani, Shuki, Cheni, and friend Kim as crew. We knew the weather predicted included 2-4 foot swells in the Sakonnet River, and 4-6 foot waves in the Rhode Island Sound. We reckoned it was time to tackle the challenge and set out. The winds were light, about 4 knots from the south, so we motored against the tide and current We delayed putting up the main sail as there was little wind and we were going upwind.

BIG mistake number one.

As we neared the mouth of the river, the roller coaster rides up and down the face of the waves was fun, and Cheni and Kim got soaked while sitting at the bow. As a result, they went below to change as we came out of the mouth of the river and into the sound.

BIG mistake number two.

Cheni emerged from the cabin first, but by the time Kim came up, she was turning various shades of white and green. The next hour was miserable for her and Shuki dog, and then Rani. After Kim and Shuki “reacted” to the seasickness, Kim fell deeply asleep propped up in the cockpit, Shuki tried the same on the floor of the cockpit, needing a non-slip mat to keep from sliding across the floor, and Rani starred out the port rail, staring fixedly at the horizon, anywhere but inside the cockpit.

Eventually, the only two not to get seasick, Jack and Cheni, managed between them to get the mainsail up and change direction so the waves were coming more from the side than on front, and the motion eased.

Onward to Cuttyhunk, in spite of Rani’s threats to turn back if it didn’t get better! (And she wasn’t at the helm, so what could she do??) An hour later, somewhat in the lee of the islands things improved. Talking with Ed on the radio we found it hard to believe that they were sailing in a mill pond while we were bouncing around.

The winds remained light, but motor sailing with main, jib and the motor, we hit an average of 7 knots, cutting our usual time from 6 hours to 4 ½ to the inner harbor. It appeared we were the first of 11 boats to arrive, 8 MacGregors, a San Juan, a Corsair trimaran and our O’ Day 39. We picked up a mooring as the winds increased and proceeded to relax and have lunch.

Soon Ed, Tony, Steve, Karen and Tabby all arrived in their 3 boats. The anchoring became entertaining when Steve hooked another boat’s anchor, but that was quickly sorted out and the raft up proceeded. Another 4 boats arrived in quick succession within the next few hours and provided light entertainment as they set their anchors on the grassy bottom. The visiting began, centered on Ed’s boat in the middle of a three boat raft up.

The time spent at Cuttyhunk, visiting at happy hour, going to shore for ice cream, climbing to the top of the island for a wonderful panoramic view of the sea and islands around us, was well worth the discomfort of the large swells.

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Rani capped it off with taking Shuki to shore in the kayak, wearing her new Bluestorm inflatable pfd. Well! As she carefully stepped with one foot into the kayak, and attempted to follow with the other, all the while in 8 inches of water, she continued over the kayak to the other side into the water, tipping kayak and Shuki dog into the water as well. As she came up, her inflatable PFD did it’s thing: it inflated! That’s one way to test it out! She paddled with it inflated all the way back to Dror, laughing the whole way. A gentleman on another boat asked if she would be back next year to provide entertainment when he has his camera with him!

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As she got to the Happy Hour on Dror, everybody started to laugh and take pictures, so she dove into the water once more, just to test the pfd thoroughly!

The weather report for Sunday talked about showers and thunderstorms being likely in the afternoon. At first, Dror and crew were getting ready to head out early in order to beat the bad weather back to Portsmouth, but then Ed, in his wisdom of sailing these waters for so many years, said to Jack, “They are always predicting showers and thunderstorms at this time of year for this area.” We relaxed and only dropped our mooring at 10 am.

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Big mistake number 3!

As we sailed across the Rhode Island Sound, at times getting again up to speeds of 7 knots, and reached the entrance to the Sakonnet River, Rani heard Channel 16 talking about thunderstorms making their way across the Narragansett Bay over the next couple of hours. We realized we were dragging a dinghy full of water and hovered at Third Beach while Cheni climbed into the dinghy to bail it out. It was acting like a sea drogue and really slowing us down.

Then we cranked up the engine and flew up the river, jib out and a following swell and current, watching the storm clouds building, the rain starting, and the lightening dancing. Rani dove below to pack everything up in preparation for a quick get away once we reached the mooring. She missed the lightning, but Cheni, Kim, and Jack had a good show.

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We picked up our mooring, with Cheni taking Jack and Kim and a load of stuff to shore. Jack left Rani and Shuki with instructions to go below and to stay away from the mast if the lightning began nearby. Eventually, Cheni got back to take them off the boat, and as we all piled into the car, the heavens opened up, replete with lightning and thunder.

It was a weekend of extremes: light winds, unpleasant swells, great sailing with heavier winds, and then thunderstorms, with some gorgeous on land weather in between.

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