Onward’s Cruise Journal 2011
Summer Cruise in New England

My apologies - I've fallen behind in keeping this Journal up to date and have been admonished by many friends. I plead that I caught some kind of a bug in August that had my energy levels well below normal - and then there was Irene. In any case, I'm back and slowly catching up...

Updated: 16 Sep 11

August 2011

1 Aug 11; Monday; Menemsha Bight to Tarpaulin Cove

  • Today was another race day and I decided to let most of the other boats in my class get starting times before me so I wouldn't have to deal with a crowd at the line while single handed. The course was E up Vineyard Sound to round a mid-channel buoy and then head back W to the finish line in Tarpaulin Cove. The wind was light from the WSW so the start began as a broad port reach. I set a course along the rhumb line closer in to shore that most other boats and then was able to sail wing-to-wing which is a bit of a challenge because I've elected not to carry a whisker pole. I was able to do a pretty good job and passed several of the boats in class who had started earlier. The wind increased and clocked as the race progressed and by sailing close hauled on the port tack, it looked like I might be able to cross the finish line without another tack!
  • One of the problems I've discovered in racing Onward singlehanded is that I am so busy operating the boat, I don't have sufficient time to watch other boats and spy out the finish line. The problem today was that the committee boat was anchored so that it was indistinguishable by me from the gaggle of other boats anchored in the cove. One of the things I will do if I race again in the future is to get the lat/long of the committee boat so I can "see" the finish line on the chartplotter. Today, I was sure I was going to be able to cross the finish line on the present tack. Then, as the finish line was almost upon me, I realized that I had mistaken a similar trawler for the committee boat. This required me to do an immediate tack which I managed well enough. Then, after only having to sail a short distance, I needed to tack back to cross the line. Then the sh...t happened! My electric winch driver that I use on the big 66 genoa winches had its battery die - a big surprise because a charge usually lasts a full race with lots of tacks and I'd only used it on one tack! While I was realizing what had happened and switching to the manual handle, The lazy sheet got loose (again!) and wrapped itself around the end of the board on the starboard side that I use to hold the jerryjugs in place. By the time i figured out why I couldn't get the sail around on the tack, Onward was in stays and I had to work to get it back on the port tack so I could free the wrapped sheet. I went forward to pull the wrap off the end of the board between wind gusts and when it came loose in banged both of my hands into one of the stays - bruising the left and causing the wire to grind through the base of the fingernail on a finger of my right hand. Now I had blood gushing and making things slippery to boot. I managed to get back to the cockpit, get up enough speed on the port tack to be able to tack back to stbd and cross the finish line. But, not before a boat not in the race and under power cut me off as I sailed toward the line and I had to take action to elude him!
  • After crossing the line, I found a quiet corner of Tarpaulin Cove to anchor in. I had passed this cove many times but had never anchored. I was surprised to find how much shelter it provided from the prevailing SW winds. Once anchored, I got my hand bandaged and the spent a lot of time cleaning up the trail of my blood. By this time I had calmed down enough to clean up and then Venture ashore to join the cocktail party on shore near the lighthouse. I then did a good deed and towed a couple of Corinthians in their dinghy with its temperamental outboard back to their boat.
  • I proceeded on to the Committee Boat where Henene and Bill had invited me for dinner. It is amazing how good drinks, great food, and fantastic friends can really boost one's spirits. By the end of the evening the trauma of the race ending had been forgotten (true, only to be remembered in the morning when many more blood spots were discovered in the daylight).

2 Aug 11; Tuesday; Tarpaulin Cove to Nantucket
  • I made the decision not to race today due to my injured right hand. I got underway a bit later than most boats but with the favorable current quickly caught up and passed the fleet as i motored E in the light winds.
  • I put into Nantucket Harbor and anchored off First Point in my "usual spot". I relaxed aboard as the other members of the fleet came in. The race had been shortened due to light winds - but as soon as that was done the winds came up for a nice sail!
  • While reading in the cockpit, a ~35' Beneteau anchored S of Onward and then after a while reanchored further away to the W. After reading a bit, I looked up to see the boat abeam. I called over to warn them that they had dragged but they didn't seem to get it.
  • I took the launch into shore to go to dinner. As the launch left Onward, I noticed another Corinthian boat anchored nearby had gotten fowled on an anchored power boat when the tide changed. I then tried to alert the skipper who was already ashore - and was able to pass on the message through another Corinthian. Looks like one of my recommendations to next year's Cruise Chair will be to publish the cell phone number of each skipper for use in just such emergencies.
  • We had a great Cruise dinner at Easy Street Cafe. Near the end, a thunder storm squall came through. It poured on one side of the restaurant and was dry on the other. Then we noticed there was a lot of action by the Harbormaster out in the anchorage.
  • When the dinner ended, I had to wait for the third trip of the launch and they were only running one and the crowd was large. As I was't in a hurry, I let the first two trips fill up while I had a cone of ice cream. On the third trip, two guys who were well lubricated were aboard. I turned out they we in the anchorage but could not remember where their boat was or recognize it from a distance. After the launch went close to inspect several possibilities, we had gotten close enough to Onward that I asked him to drop me off first. Then I had an idea, I asked them the name of their boat and it turned out to be the same boat I had warned that they were dragging through the eel grass. I then spied their boat which had dragged further onto the shallow flats and the launch headed off to deliver them after putting me aboard Onward.
  • When I got aboard, I looked at the chartplotter that I had left on and found a strange track history. I could see how Onward had rode before the tide change and then after. I could also see how it reacted to the storm. Then there was a strange move of > 100' to were it now was in shallower water. It looked like one of the several boats that broke loose and needed rescuing by the Harbormaster last night may have tripped my anchor and then it reset. Interesting.

3 Aug 11; Wednesday; Nantucket
  • I discovered that at the unusually low tide, Onward would have its keel just touching the mud. With good weather for the day, I decided to leave it where it was. I had always wondered how deep it was further to the S of my normal anchor spot - Now i know.
  • The boat of my two well-lubricated friends was gone when I looked out at 0600. That surprised me because I didn't think they would be in any condition to move. As I later got in Venture to go ashore, I saw the Harbormaster over by a sailboat that was laying on its side on the shallowest part of the flats -- I'd found my missing "friends" from last night.
  • Dick Woods, the 2011 Corinthian Cruise Chairman, invited all attendees for coffee and donuts at his home. I landed Venture at the Harbormaster pier and had a nice morning walk through the always lovely Nantucket residential streets. Dick and his wife Robin, live in a traditional ship captain's home originally built in the 1700's. It's been in Robin's family for over 80 years and they have done a magnificent job of maintaining and improving it. It is deceptively huge! The property includes the remnants of an orchard with trees whose heritage goes back to Benjamin Franklin's grandmother. The house had a widow's walk with a spectacular view that I captured with a panoramic photo. I told Dick that I'd always wanted to know someone that owned one of the lovely homes I walked past during my annual visits to Nantucket -- and now I did!
  • After the coffee social, I walked into town to try to buy some new shorts. It seems I've worn my favorite shorts to death and they are now threadbare. While shopping in Murray's, I met up with buds from the Annapolis Fleetk, Dick Tudan and Corky Rittenbaugh who were also shopping. After we completed our purchases, we left and then met up with, Debbie Rittenbaugh who told us better shorts were to be had across the street.
  • Dick, Corky and Marty Halvorsen who had joined us took me to lunch at the Rose & Crown. After a great lunch and a couple of pints, Dick and I went to the other clothing store where we both found a style of shorts we liked better. I bought two pairs and then went to return the first pair.
  • After a return to Onward for a nap, I Ventured in to pick up David and Leslie and joined them for another lobster dinner. This time we had 2-lb lobsters which we decided was the size that made going through the effort worth it.

4 Aug 11; Thursday; Nantucket to Oak Bluffs
  • Onward was underway before 0630 to be sure I would have plenty of water to get off the flats. Once out of the harbor and around the turn W toward the Vineyard, I was able to sail to Oak Bluffs where I arrived at 1100. This was early enough to find an open mooring which I picked up without incident in spite of the handle end of my telescoping boat hook flying out of my hand and over the side leaving me with a 5' shorter boat hook. I was close enough to the painter that I was able to grab it.
  • The winds continued to pick up to over 15 kts from the E which made it more challenging for the later arrivals. Onward was host to two raft partners; Gadzooks and Gringo with a total of 7 children aboard who were so good one didn't know they were around.
  • I baked a couple of pizzas for the hors d'oeuvres contest which was held next to the harbormaster's office. It was great fun with most crews dressed in some sort of pirate gear. I was sartorially challenged as I hadn't read the bit about pirate garb in the cruise book until after I was at sea. I had visited a Christmas Tree store with my sister and had remarked "who buys all this pirate stuff anyway" just a few days before departing EGYC -- maybe I should read the cruise book earlier the next time. Onward received enough votes for to get the 3rd place prize. I probably would have done better if I hadn't put out the pizzas before everyone had arrived as it was gone before half the Corinthians were ashore -- next year a better strategy!
  • Dick Tudan began to organize a party to be held aboard Onward but they went out to dinner and rendered themselves incompetent to remember it!

5 Aug 11; Friday; Oak Bluffs to New Bedford
  • I felt energetic so I decided to bake a double batch of scones. I the invited the Gazooks and Gringos over for coffee and scones.
  • Somehow in all that was going on, I got a few quite moments to talk with Dana Beringer. I had told here I admired how well she and Geoffrey managed having 5 young children aboard their C&C 38 and engaged in cruise activities. She then shared with me that she had lost a young son to a heart problem and now memorialize him via a foundation: Miles for Myles.
  • Once my guests departed, I set out for New Bedford taking the route through Woods Hole. Gadzooks arrived at the entrance just before Onward so I slowed down to follow her through. We had a hefty ebb flow against us and it is a bit unnerving to have the engine at >2500 rpm and be just moving. As Onward neared the W exit, a SeaTow boat passed going E. A few minutes later I heard him on VHF 16 say "Cocktails, you are heading for trouble over there". The a few minutes later: "Cocktails, do you need assistance?" This was the start of a drama that went on for some time. Cocktails a 108' charter yacht had missed a turn and hit rocks off Nobska Point and immediately began to take on water. It was necessary of SeaTow and TowBoat US to conduct a joint salvage operation as the boat immediately began to sink. The salvage boats had to beach the bow on the sand coast between Nobska Light and the USCG station to keep it from sinking until they could stem the leak which later turned out to be from a 4' x 25' gash! They eventually got it patched up enough to be able to slowly tow it through Woods Hole and across Buzzards Bay to the large lifts at Fairhaven Shipyard. So this is the drama I got to listen to as i motored into New Bedford.
  • I picked up a mooring off Pope's Island and rested up a bit before hailing the launch to shore for the Cruise Dinner at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. This is a fantastic museum and the staff and caterers did a wonderful job making the night a memorable one with unique surroundings, great food, and plenty of Camaraderie.

6 Aug 11; Saturday; New Bedford
  • My son Joseph drove up from my sister's home where he spent the night having taken advantage of a business trip back E to FLIR Systems home office to visit our RI family on the way back to San Diego. We had a great time catching up with each other over breakfast. He was able to stop by to say hello to Bill & Kiran and Dave & Leslie before heading back to RI for another family gathering at his cousin Linda's home. After he left I had some quite time to thank God for how fortunate I have been in having three great children.
  • I joined the Summersaults and Madrigals for a tour of the Whaling Museum which was spectacular. We then had lunch at the pub across the street. We had intended to eat a light lunch but one of the exhibits at the museum got in the way. I had always been ignorant of the scallop fishery - it was a rather mysterious entity that I'd not been able to learn much about. Then at the Whaling Museum, one of the large fishing companies had sponsored a great video that explained it all. It turns out the huge fishing fleet here in the harbor is heavily focused on scallop harvesting which goes on far off shore using huge rakes. The result was we had to have some scallops so I got the restaurant to turn one of their entrees into a scallop appetizer meal for 5. Fantastic! Delish!
  • I had invited all back to Onward for dinner after 1900 but a hugh system of rain moved in and we all decided to do it another time. So I heated something out of the freezer (shepherd's pie, Delish!) and bought a new mystery to read on the iPad set in Paris during the Universal Exposition of 1889 and the new Eiffel Tower.

7 Aug 11; Sunday; New Bedford
  • A dirty morning with heavy rain and winds 18 to 25 kts. It continued to pour all day with long periods with sustained winds > 25kts. This is one of the worst squalls in terms of intensity and duration that I've experienced since moving aboard! A good time for me to catch up on writing this journal!

8 Aug 11; Monday; New Bedford to Greenwich Bay
  • I bid farewell to the Madrigals and Summersaults and headed back to RI to attend a lobster boil with my fraternity brothers on Wednesday night. Not much wind but an easy motorsail back to Narraganset Bay. I decided to anchor off Godard Park for the night.

9 Aug 11; Tuesday; EGYC, Greenwich Cove
  • I moved to an EGYC mooring in the morning - actually "borrowing" Madrigal's mooring while Bill and Kiran are enjoying their cruise.

10 Aug 11; Wednesday;
  • This evening I joined a large group of my Chi Phi Fraternity brothers at a lobster boil held at the East Greenwich Volunteer Firemen's Hall. A number of brothers had come in from around the country for a visit. I got to see several of my brothers whom I'd not seen for about 46 years including Ron Gagne, Pete Waddington, and Paul Chassey! Bob Langevin who I now visit when in Stuart FL was also in attendance. Wow! We had a grand time.
  • The down side: I've picked up some kind of cold bug.

11 Aug 11; Thursday; Girl's Night Out!
  • I spent a lot of time negotiating with the moms of my 5 great-nephews when planning to take them on the overnighter last month. My sister told me that several of my nieces were saying that they felt they deserved as much of my attention as their sons got. So, never passing up a chance to be with a number of beautiful women, I invited them on a "Girls Night Out".
  • My five nieces: Susan, Linda, Debbie, Lisa and Gina joined by my sister-in-law Mary Ann and my sister, Kathy met with me at Sienna Restaurant. We had a fantastic time: great cocktails, dinner, and just plain enjoying each other. It was more fun than I ever thought it would be!
12 Aug 11; Friday;
  • Today I managed to get the genoa down and bundled up so I could get it repaired. It was a sunny calm day which helped. I took the launch ashore and used a dock cart to move it to the nearby Doyle sail loft.
  • I then walked up to Alex and Ani's jewelry store where I did some shopping for gifts for my daughters and met my sister-in-law Mary Ann with here two granddaughters Nichole and Melissa. Mary Ann makes it an end-of-summer ritual to take the two out for a "girls' day" before they start school. Thus, they appeared sporting new manicures and pedicures.
  • Since I had taken their brother out for a overnight sail, I had promised Melissa and Nichole a daysail. So, we headed off for a deli where I bought sandwiches for lunch and then Mary Ann drove us back to EGYC where we boarded Onward. While underway we enjoyed lunch on the beautiful sunny day. Nichole and Melissa spelled each other at the helm as they navigated Onward about Narraganset Bay under power - while there had been too much wind for the boys, today there was no wind for the girls. They had a ball as did Mary Ann and I. Both girls said I should keep them posted about crewing opportunities when they get to college.

13 Aug 11; Saturday;

14 Aug 11; Sunday;
  • Again I did the St. Gregory's, Panera, BJ's, Walmart round with Kathy and Andy.

15 Aug 11; Monday;

16 Aug 11; Tuesday; The Great High, Low, Jack Game
  • During the summers my college years, a group of 6 to 8 friends and fraternity brothers who lived nearby gathered once a week at my parents' home once a week where we would play "cut-throat" High, Low, Jack card games for hours. My uncle, Lawrence, who also lived at the house would roll in about 2300 and join the game. In an hour or so he usually managed to clean us out! Now that I've been cruising Onward to RI each summer, I try to put a game together aboard. This year I managed to get almost the full crew together: Ed Flannigan, Richard Garzilli, Don Greco, Richard Mari, Jim Moretti, Jim Tomasso, and myself. The only regular missing was Harry Ardolino who now lives in CT. I hadn't seen Don Greco in 46 years! We had a grand time playing many hands over about 3 hours while we enjoyed good beer, snack and our renewed friendships. We then went ashore and had a nice meal at Pal's Restaurant. I, of course, got another veal parmigiana fix.

17 Aug 11; Wednesday;

18 Aug 11; Thursday;
  • Today I went on an excursion to Boston with Kathy and Andy. It was time for one of Andy's eye checkups. On the way he asked me to activate the apps on the Droid he had just got to assist him as he is vision impaired. I did this and they rendered the phone annoyingly unusable. To boot, they wouldn't allow themselves to be turned off. I spent the balance of the trip working with Verizon Wireless Customer Service to fix this which we finally did. On the way back to RI, I turned on the features for the vision impaired on my iPhone and gave it to Andy to use - he was immediately able to use all the capabilities of the smart phone. My sister and I then took Andy's Droid back to the Verizon Wireless store where he had gotten it on their recommendation. They were very responsive and swapped the Droid for an iPhone 4. Andy is actually being nice to me now because he likes his iPhone so much. Go figure...

19 Aug 11; Friday;
  • Kathy and Andy picked me up and we met Rob and Liz at Fat Belly's for dinner and had a grand time.

20 Aug 11; Saturday;
  • Today, Kathy picked me up in the afternoon and we went to Garden City to watch Nichole in a dance recital. Then Susan and Nichole took me home with them.
  • Susan is a gifted artist and teaches art in a high school. She volunteered to give me a lesson in watercolor painting. I took all my gear and my iPad. We sat at her kitchen table for several hours. I showed her one of the photos I have on my iPad that I took in Wickford showing the harbor and a beautiful flower-filled foreground. I then watched and asked questions as Susan showed me how she would create a watercolor from that scene. It was fascinating! My technologist's mind got to observe and pose questions and the result was a much better understanding than I'd been able to derive from just reading books.
  • Now to actually paint more aboard Onward!
  • Susan and Danny then had invited the rest of the family over for pizza and desert and we had a grand time!

21 Aug 11; Sunday;
  • I spent the night at Kathy's and we went out for our Sunday morning ritual.

22 Aug 11; Monday;
  • I spent much of the day taking it easy and resting as I still did not feel like my normal self.

23 Aug 11; Tuesday;
  • Today picked up the genoa at Doyle and moved it aboard. However with Irene in the offing, it will stay safely below.

24 Aug 11; Wednesday;
  • I spent most of the day resting. In early evening, my nephew Matthew came by to pick me up. We stopped at a Walgreens where I bought a new digital thermometer and some high strength decongestant. I keep feeling like I have a slight fever and the digital ear-scanning thermometer has been reading a degree or less above normal so I bought another which confirmed that I have an essentially normal temperature while still feeling I have a slight fever. Go figure!
  • Matt then drove me to my sister's home where she was preparing a large family dinner for her two sons, me, Matt's girlfriend and her brother and sister - a typical small Italian family dinner.
  • I got to watch again as Kathy made a batch of her quick pasta sauce. Now in all my years of cooking for myself, making pasta sauce has never been in my repertoire. However, after seeing her do this, I had her teach me the ropes and it is now part of my kit. Her version is very simple: Saute a good batch of chopped garlic in olive oil. Add a large can of ground tomatoes. Add basil and oregano. Simmer for ~ 15 - 30 min while other things are cooking. Viola a simple fresh pasta sauce!
  • We had a grand time at dinner in a warm family environment. This did much for my wellbeing.

25 Aug 11; Thursday;
  • This morning Jim Moretti and Terri picked me up and took me to T's where we were met by Lucy and Richard Garzilli for breakfast. I had been trying to get together with my buds with their wives since I arrived in RI in June! Well persistence pays and we had a grand time together.
  • I moved Onward to another mooring as the one I had been using was going to be used by its owner. The new mooring had been inspected and had two good mooring pendants attached. I spent the day preparing Onward for Irene's arrival.
  • I went ashore and bought some nice fire hose-like material for chafing protection on my mooring bridle at NE Rigging. I found them in the midst of moving their entire store stock to higher grounds.
  • As I got in the dinghy to go back to Onward i found Linda and Bill Daley waiting for the launch so i gave them a ride out in Venture. Bill in his very efficient manner had gotten Ceili ready for Irene in a day. His efficiency may have something to do with him being a doctor who was a trauma specialist until he just retired - of course having Linda was another big contributor. As my feelings of inadequacy were growing, Bill kindly offered me a nice section of used fire hose for me to put on the mooring pendants.
  • I had intended to take the 3/4" Mega Braid anchor bridle I use regularly and shackle it to the mooring chain eye on the float to use as an emergency back up if the main lines failed. I found I didn't have a shackle that would work in the minimal space available. The 3/4' twisted strand mooring lines and shackles were in such good shape I figured the back up line was unnecessary anyway.
  • So I returned and rigged the chaffing protection. The eye splices were too big to put through the hose. So I split the two 4' sections lengthwise and used my Dremel tool to bore pairs of holes every 12" and at the ends. At Bill's suggestion, I used plastic cable ties to attach these sections to the pendants.
  • I was concerned that as Onward tacked back and forth in the wind, the windward line got taught while the leeward got slack. On the tack back in the other direction, the leeward line had the possibility of the chafing protection rubbing against the toe rail which could possibly dislodge it. To prevent this, I took some light 3/16" braided line and fastened the mooring line / fire hose to the toe rail at each hole. Thus, as the slack line began to tighten, the chafe protection would be held in place to do its job and the line was properly oriented to take the direct load. I watch the transfer process for quite a while to make sure it worked properly and I was very satisfied.

26 Aug 11; Friday;
  • Another day of storm preparation. My energy level was so low it is taking me three times as long as normal to accomplish tasks.
  • I had planned to take the canvas down tomorrow but it looks like the rain bands will be arriving early. In spite of being exhausted, I got all the canvas down and stowed away. I put the covers over the windows of the dodger and left the dodger in place. The canvas of the dodger has shrunken so much that I don't think I could get it off without damaging it and certainly couldn't get it back on again. It will have to take its chances. That done, I crawled into bed after a eating a can of soup.

27 Aug 11; Saturday;
  • The outer rain bands from Irene began to arrive this morning. I was glad I forced myself to take down the all the canvas yesterday while it was dry. I competed my final preparations for leaving Onward safely on its mooring. This was the first time I have ever left Onward on its own to face a significant storm. It was interesting for me to be forced to finally make a decision about what I absolutely had to remove from her when I went ashore. The decision was based on what is the minimum I really need to reconstruct my life should something happen to my home, Onward.
  • My final selection: laptop, backup disc drive, ipad, iphone, ships papers. I took my US passport card but not my passport. Of course, I had my credit cards. Since most of my life is managed electronically this has actually made leaving easier. This stuff went into my big backpack.
  • I packed jeans and a few other clothes in my new small backpack and I was off in the light rain.
  • Kathy picked me up and took me home where she spent the afternoon cooking and I spent most of the balance of the day sleeping.

28 Aug 11; Sunday;
  • Irene raged outside and i slept most of the day. We were lucky and did not loose power for more than ~20 min. We were spared the worst of the outer rain band as luckily it has spun past RI before Irene came ashore at RI. Poor Vermont and NY got the deluges. In late afternoon my nephews went around to see how things were and found only a number of tree limbs and trees down as the worst damage. I continued to sleep for most of the day.

29 Aug 11; Monday;
  • I slept late and then Kathy and Andy drove me back to EGYC where everything looked fine. I took the launch out to Onward and found that other than some leaf litter in the cockpit, there was no evidence that a storm had passed. I checked the mooring lines and found them in fine shape with the chafing protection in place just like I had installed it! Great! I went back below and moved items back to the cockpit. I then went to sleep.

30 Aug 11; Tuesday;
  • It was a beautiful sunny day. I felt well enough to take the dodger and connector canvas ashore, scrub it clean, dry it, and then spray it with water repellant. When dry, I took it back aboard Onward.
  • Three were a number of sewing repairs needed on the canvas so I set up the SailRite sewing machine and methodically went at it. I got most of it done before fading.

31 Aug 11; Wednesday;
  • I completed the sewing repairs. I even managed to install a replacement window on the port side of the bimini over the wheel which had turned opaque in the last few months. Neat. I was able to do it without TOO much cursing.
  • I still had energy so decided to try out the Plexus cleaner and window treatment that Ingred had recommended I use for the cockpit windows. I slowly (due to waining energy) and thoroughly cleaned each of the windows for the dodger and enclosure. Wow! This stuff is great. It is the best thing I have yet found for cleaning and making the windows more transparent. When I was done the difference was striking - it looked like I had installed new windows!
  • After installing the enclosure sides, it was time to rest for the day.