To Block Island (and back!)

Summer 2022
John Andrews
Tue 30 Aug 2016 12:03

To Block Island (and back!)

41:11.3N  071:34.9W

We are back in Rhode Island for a short end of season cruise. The plan is to visit Block Island, go back to Martha’s Vineyard and then hopefully out to Nantucket before bringing the boat back to Jamestown for the winter.

Our travel arrangements have been helped enormously by Phil and Christine, old university friends who now live in Barrington, RI. We stayed overnight with them and they were able to drive us down to the boatyard via the supermarket and ‘liquor store’. At the boatyard we found Suilven launched and tied alongside the pontoon or ‘slip’ as it is called here, sails up and all ready to go. We were delighted to see that the boatyard was again flying the union flag underneath the stars and stripes  as a courtesy to us.

The wind, what little there was of it, was set fair for Block Island, so we gently made our way, largely under motor, the 25 miles to New Harbour. Despite there being hundreds of boats in  the bay we were able to pick up a town mooring.

We arrived well before sunset and were able to admire the elegant sloops calmly manoeuvre their way into the bay under sail. This was topped by the magnificent sight of a very large sloop flying full sails including top sails slipping slowly up the narrow entrance channel that leads into the anchorage. She obviously knew she looked good and drew complete attention to herself by firing off a cannon on her aft deck. There was an enormous boom and large puff of smoke that ensured that everyone in the crowded harbour watched her perform her final anchoring manoeuvres. 

As the sun finally dipped behind the headland we were startled by yet more cannon fire and the hooting of fog horns as half the boats in the harbour heralded sunset in their accustomed way. I have to say that although we Brits pride ourselves on our maritime heritage, the Americans certainly celebrate theirs with style and panache.

As we were still somewhat jet lagged we decided to delay our trip ashore until the morning. The outboard engine started first pull, but soon sputtered and died and so we had to row back to the boat to effect repairs. This proved to be impossible, and with our spare engine still back at the boat yard, we had no alternative but to return to Jamestown. This time, however, we had a perfect sailing breeze and made the passage in just under three hours.

Block Island will now have to wait for another time, as today we plan to sail straight to Martha’s Vineyard to explore parts of the island we were unable to visit earlier this summer.