Monthly Archives: July 2008

>Another week, another port.


It’s been a while since I last posted and Pandora has covered quite a bit of ground since then. Following the weekend in Block Island, Pandora returned to Shelter Island for a Corinthians rendezvous, went to New Bedford for a few weeks, over to Martha’s Vineyard with visits to both Edgartown and Oak Bluffs as well as Newport, Wickford and East Greenwich RI. For the last few weeks she has been in Wickford where she will now be until late this month. As I write this we are on a mooring in Potter’s Cove on the eastern side of Prudence Island, Narraganset Bay. The island is located a bit South of Bristol and Providence but quite far up the bay.
The last month has been very busy for us in getting Pandora ready for the upcoming race to Maine which leaves from Stonington CT on Sunday, July 27th. Ken Appelton, my “crew boss” has done a tremendous amount to help keep things moving forward. He has, perhaps more than anyone else, kept me focused on all of the items that need to be done to be sure that we are well prepared for our offshore run and in compliance with all the regulations. Last week I placed an order with Landfall Navigation including a whole variety of safety equipment to be sure that we have whatever we need in the event of a problem on the race. The list includes various strobe lights, both for the boat and for individual users (it’s hard to find someone if they fall overboard after dark and a bright strobe makes it much easier), dental repair kit (I’d hate to break a tooth 150 miles from shore), fire blanket to put out galley fires, various weatherproof flashlights, emergency VHF antennas and just a blur of other products that the race safety inspector would be absolutely certain that I can’t live without. Well, being on a boat out with knowone around to help does suggest that we should have whatever we might need to fix a problem with the boat or crew.
Ken and I spent a few day on board with another friend a few weeks ago and went through the boat to get as many of the safety issues worked out as possible. One example is that every thru-hull (where a hose goes out through the bottom of the boat) needs to have a softwood plug secured with a lanyard that can be hammered into the hole if there is a failure in the hose. This is just one of a staggering number of details. The storm sails, for use in winds over 40kts were also set to be sure that they would fit and that the sheet leads ran clear. We also ran up the spinnaker, the big colorful sail designed to catch the wind when we are running down wind, to make sure that we understood how to launch and retrieve it quickly.
As I mentioned, we have been keeping Pandora in Wickford RI where we have some good friends. This is a town where we would love to live some day. The town has a very quaint downtown area with lots of really nice historic homes and a somewhat “artsy” look to it. The harbor is well protected and convenient to Block Island Sound which is just a few miles up the bay toward Newport.
As I mentioned, we are in Potter’s Cove now and the last time we were here was nearly 30 years ago in TAO, our first boat. The boat was a 20′ Cape Cod catboat, and a lot smaller (ask Brenda) and much, much rougher (you can ask Brenda about that too). No running water on that boat and that was the least of it. They say that you should not do long distance cruising on a boat that is shorter than your age. Well, that might not be completely realistic as given my growing years but there is some wisdom in it.
Here is a shot off of the plotter of the cove as well as the larger bay so you can see where it is relative to Block Island Sound which is at the top of the larger scale shot.

The last time we were here I don’t recall there being any moorings. Well, there are lots of them now and boats galore. There are just mobs of boats including a number of large groups of powerboats all rafted together. It seems that powerboats are, more than ever, congregating in local harbors near to their marinas so that they don’t have to burn much of that precious fuel to get there. At $5/gal it isn’t hard to run up quite a bill at the filling station from a few hours on the water. Pandora only burns about 1 gal per hour but that still translates into about 6 miles per gallon at cruising speed. Even a small powerboat can burn 30-40 gal per hour, a staggering amount of fuel.
When we were here so many years ago on TAO we were sitting in the cockpit having an evening cocktail, a gin an tonic if I recall while dinner cooked on the grill. I should note that the grill was one of those $15 cheap hibachi grills that are designed to be used a few times and tossed out. Well, I had rigged a little wooden bracket to hang out over the transom and had placed our dinner (two chicken legs with thigh attached) on the hot grill to cook. Now, keep in mind that we didn’t have a fridge on the boat like we do now so our storage for food was very, very limited. We kept our food, water and our precious ice in that little cooler and there wasn’t much room for much beyond that one dinner. Anyway, out of the blue, a particularly aggressive sea gull swooped down and snagged one of our two, now piping hot, chicken legs right off the grill. Now remember that I said that the leg and thigh were attached and as the gull gulped half of our dinner down his neck assumed the shape of the leg and thigh. As we sat there in utter amazement, we watched him fly away with his neck bent about 35 degrees as he forced down his dinner in one gulp.
This visit, nearly 30 years later, was very different but a lot less peaceful. However, even with all the other boats around us we were able to enjoy a really beautiful sunset.
Brenda always says that it “blows a gale” in Narraganset Bay and today’s no exception. With south winds gusting over 20kts it will be a spirited run back to Wickford this afternoon.
The next time that we will be back on Pandora will be a few days prior to the race so there will be plenty to do as we make last minute adjustments to the boat. While there will be plenty of gear on board for the race, the plan is to remove as much as we can to lighten the load. All of the gear that we remove will go into two cars for to be driven up to Maine and then put back on the boat after the race.