Monthly Archives: August 2023

A fine ending to a week long cruise. Newport Harbor.

Ken and I ended up our cruise with two days in Newport secure on a mooring at the New York Yacht Club.    This club, one of the most prestigious in the world, does not offer reciprocity with any but a very small number of yacht clubs, two I think.

For this reason, visiting the club requires you to do so in the company of a member.  Ken is a member so off we went to Newport.

The run from Cuttyhunk to Newport began very sportily, with east winds behind us beginning with a squall in the upper 20s.   As we rounded the point to head west to Newport we were treated to a rainbow.  Perhaps not the most perfect one but a rainbow, never the less. We sailed the entire way to the mouth of Narraganset bay when the wind shifted to the north and on the nose as we made our way the last few miles to Newport harbor.

The Castle Hill Light, still maintained by the USCG was completed in 1890.  It was the first sight that greeted us as we headed up the Bay.  It is always a treat to see the grand hotels that overlook the Bay. With all the investments going on with wind power, this brand new service ship is evidence of all the jobs that this emerging sector is bringing to the area.  And, in the background a house perched on a rock that’s been there since the early 1900s.   It’s called “Clingstone” as someone once remarked that it was “a peach of a house”.   This “cottage” is 10,000 square feet with 23 rooms.    Check out this link to learn more about this remarkable home.

I love visiting Newport for all the wonderful boats and all it’s history.  For decades Newport was the playground of the ultra rich in the days before income tax.  Today, well, it’s still for the very well heeled.  And, the center of all that is, arguably, Harbor Court, the Newport “clubhouse” for the New York Yacht Club, once the summer home of the Brown family, founders of Brown University.

The home was purchased in the 80s by the club and renovated to serve members as it does today. The club is very focused on all things sailing with a huge and active member racing fleet.  This video is highlights of the 2022 Rolex race week.  It gives a good feel for the true international reach of the club.The number of “tenders” is evidence of how much goes on during the summer. In the evenings members line up on the bluff overlooking the bay for an “adult beverage”.   A spectacular “bespoke” view, just like the clothing that they sport when they are “out to be seen”.    It’s quite a spot.  Here, a view of the back of the clubhouse from the formal gardens.
Imagine having a pond of lotus behind your home.    It’s always hard for me to understand how something that looks so tropical is hardy in our winters. Each of these flowers is the size of a grapefruit. And beautiful architecture isn’t limited to the huge mansions.   As you walk on side streets one home is more beautiful than the next. And what New England city is complete without a church with a white steeple.
Or a home with a turret that evokes the style of a lighthouse?  I’d be curious of who owns this place but can’t find any reference. Touristy of not, Ken and I enjoyed a lovely lunch overlooking the harbor in Bannister’s wharf, downtown.    It was a busy place, even on a weekday.And off to the side, Rumrunner II, built back in 1929 for some NJ mobsters to smuggle, well rum, among other illicit liquors.  Now she is an elegant day boat that gives tours of the harbor.  Your group is large?  No problem, she can manage a group of dozens for a tour of the harbor and bay.  Tennis anyone?   If you follow the sport I am sure that you have visited the Tennis Hall of Fame.  It’s an elegant place and a throwback to earlier times. Makes me want a mint julip, whatever that is.   Nice gardens. Well, it’s nice to be home again but I have to admit that I am already thinking about when we can get back aboard Pandora.  Still lots to do to prepare for her run to Antigua in November. 

Not a lot of time left as I have a reservation at a marina in Hampton in late September for a month before our departure.

For now, all I can say is that visiting Newport and the NYYC was a fine ending to a wonderful week afloat with my old friend, and we are all getting old it seems, Ken.


A cruise down memory lane.

Yesterday we had a very long run from Sag Harbor to well, guess where we are?If you squinted really hard you probably figured it out.  Cuttyhunk…

The run from SAg Harbor took almost exactly 11 hours with perhaps about half to 2/3rds motoring the 70 miles.  A long day but easy sailing.

We anchored in the outer harbor last night as it was getting dark and I saw no  reason to come into the harbor so late and pay $55 for a mooring.    As we rounded the point there was a very nasty line of thunderstorms to the north.  Fortunately, they passed north and east of us.  It looked very forbidding, never the less.   A sort of “roll cloud” that often accompanies a line of thunderstorms. To the west, quite a show.   This sort of display makes one feel insignificant.   A good reminder for so many that think that they are very significant.  However, I expect that most of them would miss the symbolism anyway.   You know the type…Once snuggly anchored, we had a lovely evening and the stars were amazing.  Alas, no shooting stars spotted in spite of the meteor shower that was predicted.  Probably because I didn’t stay up much past “cruisers midnight”,  That’s 9:00 for you landlubbers.

The good thing about going to bed with the birds is that you wake up with them too.  This sunrise greeted me this morning at O-dark-30.   What a view.  This morning we walked up the road to the highest point on the island.  The road is impressive, the best on the island.  It was built by someone years ago to provide easy access to a planned mansion that was never built.   The road remains and was recently repaved.
The view of the harbor where Pandora sits, snug on a mooring. Just to prove that she’s there.  A closeup. A short time later this charming Marshall Catboat showed up.  I mention this as Brenda used to come here on our own boat of the same design.  I can’t believe that we came all this way with two little guys on such a small boat.  It was on one of those trips, and it was a rainy and nasty trip, that I left the three of them once we were anchored, all in various states of distress and suffering from severe cabin fever, and rowed up to a nearby 38′ yawl and said to the owner “would you be interested in selling your boat?”  The answer, a curt “no” but I gave him my number anyway.  The following spring she was ours.   It proves that everything is for sale.

Anyway, fast forward, many, many summers forward and here I am again, four boats later and 47′, up from 22′, and aboard Pandora.  Life marches on.

And, speaking of change, it seems like yesterday that my dad, gone for so long now, came here with my two boys, Rob and Chris on my last Pandora in 2009 when we went out on a week long cruise.  It remains one of my most cherished memories.  This photo, taken at the top of the hill I visited this morning, of the four of us. The same picnic table view today   A bit sad, I’ll admit.It was nice to show Ken around the island.  We walked a long way to the western end of the island.  There are many well groomed, well mostly well groomed trails to choose from.  Interestingly, there are a number of gun emplacements and viewing platforms from WWII when they were used to keep an eye out for U Boats . In the distance is where the Cuttyhunk Oyster Company does their magic.   In the distance you can also see the Bartholomew Gosnold monument, marking the first European settlement on the island, perhaps in all of New England.  On that exposed point, the settlers didn’t stay long.  Check out this link to learn more about Cuttyhunk.  If you looked very closely, you could see the floats for the cages that hold oysters.   This shows it better.  All those floats.  While we were there, one of the locals was harvesting some of their stock.  In the evenings, about in time for “sundowners” they tour the harbor selling their oysters, shucked to order.  Can you say “fresh”?  We are planning to check some out this evening.  I’ll bet they will be good with a G&T.The island is dotted with lovely ponds.
I particularly liked this one.   A well planted garden in itself. Of course, what New England shoreside is complete without beach roses?  Perhaps the last of the summer blooms.One thing that has changed after all these years is the addition of a solar farm.  This is one of 4 rows of panels in undulating rows, tucked in a low spot so as not to spoil the view. I was struck by the voltage that the array is rated for.    Try 480V AC.  “Warning, electrical shock hazard”  No kidding!In spite of this impressive setup, their diesel generators were still humming away near the village.   I guess all those cappuccino makers draw a lot of power.

Along the way, this this beautiful old John Alden designed Malabar schooner built in, I believe, the 1920s.   She is beautiful.
And don’t forget the sort-of new Pandora but with the same timeless view from her bow. So, here I am, Back in Cuttyhunk and a bittersweet cruise down memory lane.

Off to Newport tomorrow for the grand finale of our week, a visit to the NY Yacht Club, Harbor Court.

I do miss Dad…

Sag Harbor. Where the glitterati go to, well, glitter.

My friend Ken joined me on Thursday and we headed over to Sag Harbor on Friday morning with the goal of snagging one of the two Essex Yacht Club moorings in the harbor.  Those moorings are perhaps the best deal going as if you must rent one, if there is one available, will set you back several dollars a foot.

We spent Thursday night on the EYC dock so I could get provisions aboard and clean her up before heading out.  The morning was clear and dry, a big change from the humidity and heat of late.  That’s Pandora on the face dock to the left, the one with the double headstay.   It was the first time I have left the River, and only the second time I’ve been off of the mooring since bringing Pandora back from the Caribbean in May.

Aside from a a short run up to nearby Hamburg cove for a raft up with some Salty Dawgs,  this run is my first opportunity to try out the new propeller.  It seems that my speed in calm conditions is a bit slower than before but I do like the the fact that there are two settings, with a lower one for greater thrust if needed.

And, speaking of the Salty Dawg group, I arranged for the Down East Rally to Maine to stop in Essex as their first landfall after leaving Hampton.  The skippers and crew, along with a number of other boats that came to enjoy the visit, stopped at EYC for a few days.

We had a very nice lunch and dinner supplied by Chef at the club and spent the afternoon talking about issues that matter to the cruising set, a good back and forth between those with a lot of experience and those eager to learn more on their first big adventure.

Ted and Barbara of Raven provided after-dinner entertainment, sharing their experience of spending time cruising the Med.  Brenda and I got to know them a few years ago when they too were cruising the Caribbean.   We will see them again this coming winter, which will be fun.  The audience enjoyed the “show” and seemed to like the back and forth questions and shared experiences.  The next day a number of boats headed up to Hamburg Cove for a raftup.  Most cruisers never raft, or tie up together, as most harbors are just not settled enough so this was a novel experience.  When we were young and new to boating, Brenda and I rafted with friends nearly every weekend.  Because of the great width of the two cats, the raft was nearly 100′ from end to end and required two moorings to hold the group.  Smile for the camera!  So, back to Ken and our first stop on our week out.

Not to digress, but after seeing the Barbie movie with Brenda, I will never think of “Ken” the same way.  If you haven’t seen Barbie, the movie, love or hate Barbie, this is a very fun movie.  The promo for the movie said “if you love Barbie, see this movie” and “if you hate Barbie, see this movie”.  So true.  But I will never think of “Ken” the same way again.  Perhaps this has ruined Ken for me as Jaws did for swimming in the ocean. Anyway, back to our adventure.

The wind was out of the west and we had a very nice ride, arriving in Sag mid afternoon.  The harbor master guards the moorings with great gusto and we hadn’t pulled up the mooring lines for more than about 5 minutes before he pulled up along side to shoo us off.  I explained that I had not yet put up my EYC burgee so he left.

The sort of “saved seat” mentality is so typical of the North East and the lack of same is so refreshing in the Caribbean.  Well, at least in the Caribbean south of the BVIs where mooring use is vigorously policed.

Setting that aside, Sag Harbor is a beautiful spot and where else can you spend $40lb on cheese?   Oh yeah, Ken and I had a nice glass of wine yesterday at a bar and it set each of us back about $25/glass.  As the say, “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”

I am always interested in the local free magazines and Sag is loaded with more than most options than any other place we visit.  And there appear to be just a few categories of advertising that dominate them, beginning with plastic surgery.  Some are generalist and some focus on, well you can imagine what they focus on.  I think Ken and I saw a number of “enhancements” as we strolled along main street.  Actually, kind of like Barbie, now that I think of it.

Not a lot of old clunkers here in the Hamptons and those that are old are well preserved.  Sort of like their owners, I expect.   Love this Porche.  And speaking of well preserved “old stuff”, and I don’t just mean women of a certain age.  The homes are amazing.  I’ll bet that a paintjob on this home cost more than our car, no make that all the cars we have ever owned, combined. In spite of all this, I do enjoy visiting here if for no other reason than people watching, each more put together than the last.

The club mooring is right in the middle of the action.  And, here on Saturday, there is a lot of action.   Sad that this boat only has three outboards. However, he’s not alone with boat that is a “severe” design.   If Darth Vador went boat shopping, this one would surely catch his attention.Well, at least before he looked 100′ back and saw another trailing in it’s wake. Or, perhaps if he wanted to change his image.  Perhaps white…Don’t like edgy design?  Perhaps this classic John Alden schooner. Of this lovely Friendship sloop, the brand of that name made in New Zealand. Goldfinch is aptly named as you’d have to have a few gold coins to purchase such a lovely “gentleman’s daysailor.

Or, perhaps this lovely Morris, made in Maine. And speaking of coin.  This chart from the Wall Street Journal today. I’m thinkin that a measly $5M wouldn’t even keep someone out of the red for more than a week in these parts.    Here the .1% is more like .001% and that might be understating things a lot.

And, if you have coin to spend, Sag is a hotspot for art.  Ken and I toured a number of galleries yesterday, along with one that had a show dedicated to a boxing theme.   Not sure why I photographed this one in particular.  Actually I do know as I was publisher of a gynecology magazine for many years.

What does it mean? Perhaps, something about “punch me I’m a woman”.  Perhaps more PC, “I’m a woman.  Mess with me and I’ll punch your (neon) lights out.”  And speaking of things spiraling out of control, how about this staircase in the Sag Harbor Whaling museum?Ok, I mentioned Salty Dawg earlier in this post and one of the primary reasons that I decided to head over to Sag this weekend is because there is a benefit going on co-sponsored by the Antigua Tourist Bureau and I thought that it would be good to meet up with some of the folks visiting that I know from my time on the Island.

The Minister of tourism Max Fernandez, will be here along with his wife Jill and others and it would be nice to catch up with them.  There is a race today and after the sailors get back ashore there will be a reception on the town green.    Earlier today we toured some of the booths that were set up. Including one from the Department of Tourism.  Well, I guess that about covers it for now as I have to get ready and put on my Antigua Yacht Club shirt and head to the fun ashore.

So, there you have it, a rendezvous in Essex, cruise with my new propeller, how the .001% live and a touch of gynecology.    Oh yeah, a bit of Barbie too.

All the basic food groups in a single post.

Off to Cuttyhunk tomorrow, bright an early.  But not before we enjoy a lovely scone.

No question, Sag Harbor is the place where the glitterati go to glitter in the summer.

Don’t forget your sunglasses.  If you do, you will be the only one.




Thanks Uncle Sam!

I can’t believe that it has been more than a month since my last post.  I’ve  been crazy busy with Pandora along with Salty Dawg stuff.

And, to make matters worse, I have not had Pandora off of her mooring at all since she went back in the water following the installation of the new prop +++, save a single run on the river a day or so after she was re-launched.  The good news, at least a little bit of it, is that I am heading out for a week beginning tomorrow, Thursday, with my friend Ken, who I haven’t sailed with for many years.

I don’t know where we will head but just about anywhere south of The Cape seems doable to me given the fact that I am used to sailing thousands of miles.  And, with most anywhere we might go less than 100 miles, it’s just a day sail anyway  Right?

Actually, that is ironic as it seems like just yesterday when we had a 20′ Cape Cod Catboat and a 15 mile run seemed like a very long way.  Not so much nowadays.

Along with the above mentioned distractions, I’ve spent a lot of time working on the gardens and lawn.  I have also spent a lot of time helping Brenda with some of her weaving projects and doing chores to help her prepare for some teaching in the fall.  If it looks complicated, that’s because it is.  Over 1000 threads and that’s why Brenda was watching me to be certain that I didn’t mess things up.  And, with that in mind, she wasn’t always smiling. And, of course, working hard to be sure that there is a way for her to bring meaningful projects aboard Pandora for the winter.

It’s hard to believe that it’s only a short time until I bring Pandora to VA to prepare for the run to the Caribbean.  I have made a reservation near Hampton for the month leading up to our departure events that will happen the last week of September as well.   As we get close to departure, I will move Pandora over to Hampton proper.

Fortunately, I booked space in Hampton, VA back in March for the fall rally departure, as that most of the marinas are nearly booked solid for the week leading up to departure.

There are a number of projects that still need attention like a new waterheater and re-bedding some hatches as I think that some of the leaks in the forward bunk are probably coming from under the hatch frames themselves.  I still remember when I was negotiating the purchase of Pandora the owner pointed out a spot on the end of a window and proudly said “that is the only leak on the boat”.  HA!!!  That’s like someone saying “I never get seasick”.

I have also been working on a project to upgrade my large 290w solar panel over the davits.  Last summer I replaced the four 80w panels over the bimini that were on the boat when I took delivery, increasing the capacity of that part of the bank from 320 watts to 600 watts, nearly doubling the output on that portion of the array.

I have also decided to replace the 290w aft panel with three 150w panels.  Amazingly, combined they only are a few inches larger than the current panel and yet will increase output to 450, an increase of over 50%.   Over the last few years manufacturers have figured out a way to shove greater output into the same footprint.  I had no idea and this suggests that anyone with solar panels that are more than a few years old should replace them.   And the cost of panels today is so much less than even a few years ago.

Overall, the combined capacity of the array went from 610 watts to over 1,000 watts and all that in only a slightly larger footprint.   And, to make this even more appealing, these new panels are only about $1/watt, a huge decrease in cost verses just a few years ago.

All of the upgrades to lithium, panels and wind generator along with the labor to put it all together was hugely expensive and as I was preparing to do my taxes this year, I explored the option of declaring the upgrades and see if I could get a rebate on my taxes.

As Pandora is classified as a second home, I discovered that I could indeed declare all of these expenses under the Inflation Reduction Act and get 30% back as a cash credit.   As I wrote in earlier posts, the cost of the entire project really spiraled out of control so we are talking a substantial amount of money.

My accountant is a straight arrow and even he, after protesting at first, checked into the details of the program and agreed that I was right and was able to factor in the deduction.

So, this realization has saved me more than a few boat dollars.  And, that’s good as the whole installation probably cost about double what it should have.  Well, if that’s correct, with a 30% rebate, perhaps I only paid an extra 20%.  Not buying the logic?  Me neither but I’m goin with that anyway.

Here’s the current array and the one big panel to the back will soon be made up of three, mostly same, 150 watt panels like the four shown here.   The one in the back is actually almost the same size as three of the 150s in the foreground, combined. The new panels just came today and when installed will be oriented fore and aft. The total width of the three panels will be about 4″ wider and the length, just under 6″ longer.   With the new panels the array is huge relative to the space available when compared to what was possible just a few years ago.  And with the overall increase in capacity, plus the output of the wind generator, it’s an amazing upgrade.

And, to make it even sweeter, Uncle Sam paid for 30% of the entire job.  Yahoo!

Thanks Unk!  Hope to do business again with you soon.

There must be a spot for more panels?  Hmmm…