Starting a Side Trip to Maine

Hannah demonstrating the rapidly-extinguishing sunlight, and our questionable decisions, to her parents over video chat as we head toward the Marion anchorage

We headed out from Rowayton on Tuesday morning, before work, heading east. For the next month or so, every bit of travel will have to be undone to get back to the main loop, so now we’re off on a really long side trip. We’d spent a bunch of time hearing stories from John/Joan about the trip to/from Maine, and Joan wrote us up a great doc with a bunch of their favorite spots. They tend to cruise longer days at 7kts, and, on weekdays, we tend to cruise short morning trips at 14kts, so their daily “hops” tend to match ours pretty well.

Our first stop was a small archipelago ~40nm away called The Thimbles. They’re all private islands, owned by rich folks who mostly put big houses on them. So, we parked right in the center of their islands and ran our generator on and off for 2 days.

WSJ shot of the Thimbles, not mine. It was windy and/or rainy the whole time we were there, so I couldn’t get the drone off the ground.

The weather was bad on Wednesday, so we just stayed in place, and in the afternoon snuck in a quick dinghy tour of the islands while it rained on us and 2-3 foot swells threw us around when we ventured out of the protected center bit. It was a cool spot, with some neat islands that reminded us of some of our more tropical trips in the past.

The closest we got to a sunset in the Thimbles. Notice the swells rolling through our anchorage.

Thursday, we headed over to Mystic, where there’s a ship restoration company plus museum that I’d remembered from living here as a kid. The entrance to the city has a bridge that you have to wait for, which only opens at 40 minutes past the hour, but there was a protest going on even in this tiny town right next to the bridge, so at least we got to watch that and honk as we went through.

If you squint you can see all of the people with signs protesting to the right of the bridge

While the museum buildings are closed due to C19, the grounds are all open, and you can wander around the top deck of several ships. Staying in their marina, they let you have the run of the grounds after hours, so it’s pretty cool to wander around with no one to bug you. There’s several large period-correct old ships around, undergoing restoration (just ignore that several of them have camouflaged radar domes hiding up in the masts), and while I’m not as much of a historical navy buff as my dad, it’s still hard to not be inspired looking at what mariners used to have to work with.

Mystic also had a nice restaurant with outdoor seating that we walked over for, and managed to sneak in a great meal in between rainy periods. We could get used to this outdoor eating everywhere for restaurants thing.

The next day, in the early afternoon, we walked around the museum while it was open, to chat with some of the volunteers about the ships. Weather was predicted to be fairly bad overnight, so we were going to be cheap and head to an anchorage just outside of Mystic to ride it out. Walking back to our boat to head out, the dockmaster caught us and offered us a good enough deal to stick around for another night that we took it, and the windy night was much easier attached to a dock.

In the morning, we crossed into Rhode Island, topped off on some cheap diesel at Point Judith, and headed into Narragansett Bay. As we left CT, we were heading into somewhat unknown territory with regards to quarantine periods. Some parts of RI had just announced that quarantine requirements were rescinded, but other parts were more unclear. Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine had all not said anything about rescinding their requirements yet. So, we had no idea whether we’d be able to get diesel, groceries, or even water once we started into the other states. So, we’re in a mode where we want to keep all of our supplies as topped off as possible in case we do get stuck in a partial or even full 14 day quarantine period along the way.

We stopped for the night at Wickford, another favorite of John/Joan’s, and picked up a town mooring buoy just inside the breakwater. We were going to dinghy into town and try to get some dinner and a drink, but a weather warning popped up saying that a thunderstorm had changed direction and was moving into the area at 90kts, with up to 0.75 inch hailstones possible. So, instead we hunkered down on the boat on the buoy for the night. Fortunately, while it rained and blew like crazy for a short period, the storm didn’t really turn out to be that bad, and the sun even peeked out for a nice sunset after it moved on.

Highwind is just below the middle, with the Wickford breakwater nearly submerged at high tide.

Later in the evening, unfortunately I noticed that the fridge didn’t feel very cold, and some quick temperature readings with a cheapo infrared thermometer confirmed that the fridge was at nearly 50 degrees. We poked around and apparently the cooling plate at the top had made nearly a solid inch of snow, with a quarter inch sheet of ice underneath the drip tray, all of which was nicely insulating the rest of the fridge from the cold generation. Looking like the situation was a little past a normal defrost, we chipped away at the ice and snow for a while, filling our kitchen sink with the results. We’d noticed that it was starting to smell a little bit in there, and this explained why. So, we unfortunately threw away a bunch of meat and dairy before it killed us, and went to bed.

It’s possible that we should not let it get that bad again…

After a lazy morning, the weather was looking good, and so I called around and found a hardware store with a fridge thermometer, so we dinghied into town and made a day of it. We ate lobster sandwiches at a restaurant on the water, walked out to the hardware store and picked up some stuff, and even stopped at a wine tasting room doing outdoor tastings, where we ended up restocking our wine supply a bit.

In fact, we lost track of time doing the wine tasting, and had to scurry back to the boat to head out. We were planning on taking advantage of an evening weather window to make it most of the way up Buzzard Bay to the town of Marion, but we definitely cut it a bit close, with the sun dropping below the horizon with us still 10 minutes out from the anchorage. We pulled into a wide open anchorage to the south of the town with some lingering light reflecting from the clouds, dropped a pile of chain, and called it a day.

In the morning, when we can see something, we’ll pull further into the town’s proper anchorage, behind an island, as the weather is supposed to get nastier in the afternoon/evening, so we’ll want to be protected. From there, we wait for another weather window to finish out Buzzard Bay and head through the Cape Cod Canal into, well, Cape Cod.

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5 thoughts on “Starting a Side Trip to Maine”

  1. We used to look at The Thimbles and fantasize about living in one of those houses on one of the tiny Thimbles.

  2. We just saw you motor by our home on Mashnee Island, which is on the south side of the east entrance to the Cape Cod Canal. Identifying your boat via Marine Traffic, I googled your boats nd voila – got to learn a bit about your adventure. Cool! Go safely.

  3. The Mystic bridge pic reminded me of our East Coast drive a couple years ago. Forget where we parked, but we walked around a bit on the left side (referring to the pic) of the bridge, and by the obligatory Mystic Pizza. We ate at the Dog Watch Cafe in Stonington, about 5 miles east from Mystic. Highly recommended.

    Not neighborly, but still loved the “rich people…..ran generator” comment.

    Lost track of time due to wine tasting…..SHOCKING!!! LOL

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