Tuesday, October 22, 2013

NYC - A few more days

We knew it was easy and inexpensive to visit New York from Port Washington, so we caught the Long Island railway into Manhattan, Amanda was keen to visit Tiffanys as she had never been and like a lot of woman she loves sparkly things J We also enjoyed a visit to the FAO toyshop, this features the floor piano in the 80s film “Big" unfortunately if you want to play you have to pay.  They also had an amazing sweet shop but we resisted.

Our final New York day was to experience something we had not done before and we caught the subway out to the Bronx Zoo, this is about 10x bigger than the Central Park zoo and was a really great day out, again we were lucky with the weather it was a stunning day.  The Zoo has some really cool enclosures this included various Tigers, Bears (both Grizzly and brown) lots of different primates, a large population of Gorillas, various herds of deer, various bird habitats, sea lions, penguins.  We really enjoyed the day but it was worth looking into before going, as on a Wednesday you can either donate to go into the basic park or you pay $16.95 for a tickets which gives you access to everything, some exhibits like the Rainforest, the Gorillas cost extra, so you could pay $5 just to enter one of these, so best to visit on a Wednesday.

So cute

Mark having a lovely time

Amanda glad there is glass between her and the gorilla

Long Island Sound - Heading west

As we had experienced a few days of wet and windy weather we were starting to get concerned about getting back south, so our hop back along the sound would be a quick one.  First day we left and it was chilly, we were wrapped and in thermals and ollies, as we manoeuvred out of the channel we were greeted by a large cruise ship arriving in Newport for the day, this would make 2 cruises hips which anchor out in the channel and ferry passengers ashore, it would be a busy day in Newport.

We had light SE winds which were making sailing a challenge; this continued through out the day with Mark trying various sail combinations to get us moving, we were glad we had the spinnaker.  So although a frustrating day we made over 50 miles and anchored in Duck Harbour, this would be as close to Connecticut as we would get and we never managed to get ashore.

Next day we had a leisurely start as we knew early in the day the tide running in Long Island Sound would be against us, so progress was again slow and a significant period was spent motoring.  We had been heading for Port Jefferson where we had stop previously but we made good time and managed to get a few miles west of our target and tucked in behind a small headland with some pretty house, this provided enough shelter peaceful night.

Peaceful anchorage

Look how calm

Our neighbours for the night

As we left the next morning the winds were light but the sea was rolly, it was short and choppy and kept knocking the little wind we had out of the sails, another frustrating day ahead!  Mark decided in was another spinnaker day and we had just enough wind to fill this without in collapsing, we were making slow progress.   

The dingy race on the horizon looked like they were making more of the wind than were able to.

All those white dots on the horizon are dingys

There are hundreds of them
It was slightly nicer than our first windlass day as we had sunshine and were actually able to wear our shorts! But with the heat and light winds comes the frustration of the flies, I think we have mentioned before how they seems to swarm in from nowhere – we are at least a mile off shore and them they proceed to bite you and it hurts! Out with the fly swat!

We motored into Port Washington as the wind had dropped off and we no longer had the patience to drift along at 2-3 knots, we wanted to get settled!  We rounded the Sands Point Headland which we have been told is now called Snapple Point as the guy who own Snapple (the drinks) built a huge house on the point.

Snapple House
We dropped anchor close to our previous spot, the buoys were a lot less busy with both visiting yachts and permanent boats, it was October and Autumn was rapidly approaching, you find in this area that many of the marinas actually close from 1st November so most boats are hauled out.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Boston - Cheers

From Newport we were also able to take a day trip to Boston, we wish we had allowed more time to sail further north/east but it is not possible to do everything and we couldn't have known how pretty it was in this area.  A day to see Boston is probably not enough but we walked the Freedom trail which takes you around lots of historically sites.  This included the USS Constellation which was built in the 1800s and Beacon Hill which was critical in the battle against the Brits in the 1700s.  There was a memorial on Beacon Hill which you could walk up to admire the views – 294 steps gave us a good workout and the views were worth it.

Faneuil Hall

Pretty old street

USS Constellation

View across the harbour to Boston

Beacon Hill Monument

Fab view from Monument of Boston

Our day in Boston ended with a drink in the Cheers bar, we both remember watching Cheers back in the 1980/90s and although it would be dated now it was a classical US sitcom which was really popular in the UK.  We both enjoyed our pint at the bar, even though they didn’t know our name!

Amanda and Mark outside Cheers

Amanda enjoying a pint

Mark enjoying a pint

At the bar in Cheers
Boston only gave us a small sample of Massachusetts and I am sure given the opportunity we would like to see more but unfortunately with the autumn rapidly approaching we have to think about moving south.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Newport, Portsmouth and Bristol!! - Are we back in the UK

The sail for Newport was not the best, the northerly from the previous night remained and battling upwind on a tired day is never enjoyed by Amanda.  We managed to cross the sound to Rhode Island but spent the night a St Judith Point to shorten the trip.

The next day meant we had to motor sail into Newport but we at least distracted by the stunning coastline.  It is green and rocky with decorative lighthouses and pretty houses along the shoreline.  As you enter the main channel towards Newport, there are some beautiful properties along Ocean drive but we were also treated to a beautiful boat – this is Columbus, we found out later that she won the Americas Cup in 1953.

Columbus out for a sail - what a nice welcome to Newport

Pretty shoreline of Rhode Island

Entering the river approaching Newport

Busy anchorage
It was quite exciting entering Newport harbour, there are lots and lots of sailing boats and whilst we wanted to take it all in we also had to squeeze into the anchorage which was already quite busy.

Newport as a town is really nice, there is lots going on along the water front but is you take some time to get to the outskirts of the town this is also pretty amazing.  We found time for a couple of runs away from the water and found some lovely country lanes with some amazing houses and also ran along Ocean Drive which is lined with spectacular mansions, they are lucky to leave somewhere so peaceful with such a amazing views.

Along with sailing Newport is also famous for being the favoured location for summer houses in the late 1800s early 1900s and the mansions that were built during this period still exist and are amazing.  Although we did not visit one the houses we did walk along Bellevue Avenue which is lined with them.  There is also a lovely cliff walk which passes by some of these properties including the Breakers which was built in the 1800s for the Vanderbilts but is now open to the public.


Another amazing house

and another

Beach at Newport

Great cliff walk

We spent much of our time admiring the amazing boats, as the Americas Cup originated in Newport there are still lots of the historic boats in the harbour, often used for charters, it was great to see them out sailing so often.

We also visited Fort Adams which is the largest coastal fort in the US.

Mark enjoying Fort Adams

Fort Adams

Fort Adams from the sea
From a sailing perspective Newport is not just great to see all the amazing boats but they are also so set up for cruisers, not only are there lots of free dingy docks all along the harbour but also a dedicated Maritime Centre which provided clean showers, washing machines and free internet, all of which make your stay so much nicer plus everything is in walking distance – supermarket, bank, post office, hairdressers, almost has the feel of a village.

Wonderful Maritime Centre

Pretty boat sailing through the harbour

Watching the world go by

Another neighbour - boat was used in Pirates of the Caribbean
The weather had seen a noticeable change over the week we were in Newport, the shorts were away and we were wearing jeans and jumpers, so we knew this was to be our turnaround point.  To allow us to see a bit more of the area we hired a car for a couple of days.  First day we explored more of Rhode island, first we passed through Portsmouth (another Portsmouth visited) which is on the same island as Newport and then onto Bristol which is actually on a different island.  Bristol is a very pretty town/village, tree lined streets with traditional looking houses and all beautifully groomed.  Another day out meant another cafĂ© and here we had the best chocolate brownie we had ever tasted!!

Bristol harbour

Independence parade trial

Pretty houses in Bristol

The photo of the road and houses in just to give you a feel of the place.

Our roadtrip also took us through Warwick and onto Greenwich so it was a day of UK place names!  Our final stop was James Town which is the island west of Newport, very pretty place along very little there.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Block Island - Picture postcard pretty

Our next sail was onto Block Island which was leaving the state of New York and moving into Rhode Island which is the smallest state in the US.  As you move east from the sound the sea becomes noticeable more like the ocean, the swells increase slightly but more noticeable the colour and the clarity change.  Block Island is about 12 miles from the mainland and is 7 by 4 miles long, the channel to get into the harbour is narrow and feels like you can almost touch the fishermen on the shore but thankfully was deep enough for Magnum.

The harbour is large with lots of moorings but also plenty of space to anchor – they state in the pilot book that during a summer holiday there can be 2000 boats in the harbour!  Really glad we were not there with that many boats!

We went ashore the next morning and enjoyed a run around the country roads to the old harbour; this is where the limited number of shops and hotels are situated.  We were initially struck by how much the island is like somewhere in the UK or Channel islands, with the shrub land and the little lanes but this was probably influenced by the very grey weather!

Block Island Old Harbour main street

Old Harbour Main Street

We spent the remainder of the day exploring the island, the old harbour has a couple of small old hotels which make it seem like a old fashion seaside resort and there are a few tourist shops.  The ferry arrives here from the mainland so even on a grey weekday there were quite a few people around.

Old Harbour

Hotel in Old Harbour
We were able to dodge the showers and by the time we had walked to the south east of the island to visit the lighthouse we were getting warm – this was the first day we had worn jeans since we had been in the UK the previous November.

Walking on east coast

Beautiful coastline

Suns out and Mark is happy at the lighthouse

Amanda at Lighthouse

We walked onto the beach on the south of the island, it was beautiful with the Atlantic rolling up the sand.  It was almost deserted even though the sun was now shining.  We had a walk along the beach but also built ourselves a pebble towers, to join the 100’s that were all along the shore line.

Our amazing artwork

Look at all the pebbles!

Amanda enjoying the beach

Mark enjoying the sunshine

Happy that the sun is out

We had a wonderful day walking and exploring in Block Island and really wish we could have stayed longer but felt lucky we had found the time to visit.

Magnum at anchor in Block Island harbour

The calm before the storm

The visit wasn’t even ruined by the fact that that night the wind came up (as forecasted) and although we were happy with our anchor, at least 2 boats dragged in the anchorage so there was lots of shouting and mayhem which meant we were awake for the majority of the night L

Stunning sunset before the wind came in