Day before setting sail
After a few small sails close to home, and a month of staying aboard our new (to us) dreamboat at the dock, it is time for our true maiden voyage. The plan is not an overly ambitious one. We leave tomorrow and spend the day sailing to Block Island. The course has us set to arrive in the evening. We plan to wake up early Friday morning (my birthday) to have breakfast on the Island and explore just a bit before returning to the boat and setting sail to Montauk. Dinner reservations are already in place for the restaurant at Gurneys, and proper attire aboard. We then again arise early to sail home Saturday. We are well prepared for the weather to have turned overnight. We will be sailing home in some snotty weather but the wind conditions predicted will be nicely at our back and it should be a quick sail to the dock. The captain has gifted me with the finest foul weather gear as an early birthday gift, so I feel well prepared.
Ships Log- Day One
Ahhh plans, well as most of us surely know….We make ’em and someone’s laughing. I suppose I could insert the beloved quote here about how I can’t change the winds but I can adjust my sails but not so sure that fits proper at this particular moment. The wind was fluky today. We initially didn’t mind, it wasn’t the fastest sail but the day started warm and the skies were blue. For dinner we dined on shrimp cocktails, and cheese and crackers in the cockpit, as the setting sun created what could easily be rated as one of the best sunset skies we’d ever seen in our lives ~ I swear I do not exaggerate about this! Today was my Uncle Jimmy’s birthday, and I whispered wishes to him in the wind so I’m pretty sure that he had something to do with providing that spectacular show. (Thank you Uncle Jimmy, missing you always 🤍)
Back to the sailing, oh yes the wind- not the best, and with the sky growing darker we decided it time to do a little motor sailing in the name of reaching our destination. Cheating? I don’t know – I don’t care. We wanted to make it to Block and all the adjusting alone of sails was not going to make that happen in a timely fashion. So motor sail we did, eventually reaching the channel. That long, dark, narrow channel that after eight plus hours at sea would lead us to the harbor and the security of a town mooring. What could go wrong…
>>>> Engine dies as we enter it<<<<
Sometimes luck meets skill and all is well. This would be one of those times. The wind, now on our stern, and the captain’s fine handling, had us sail on through keeping red on right with ease. I snagged us the first mooring we drifted upon and we safely secured ourselves. So yes, all is well. The engine concerns can wait until morning. Time to snuggle and snooze.
Ship’s Log-Day Two
My Birthday morning began with a visit from the very understanding Harbor Master, she did not give us a hard time for being on a private yacht club mooring once we explained the situation. The captain put on his diesel mechanic hat and got to work. I spent the day in pajamas and busied myself with leisure activities, occasionally offering supportive words. By late afternoon filters were changed, air was bled, and she fired right up sounding strong. Our dinner reservations were a thing of the past and Montauk was off the table. We decided to stay put rather than sail for home as the weather has turned quicker than originally called for. The winds are already starting to blow, the seas getting high. No doubt the SV Mariah can handle this, and no doubt the captain is capable. However with the recent engine issues and myself, an inexperienced first mate, this is the safest decision. Looking at the marine forecast it is feasible to say we won’t leave until this coming Wednesday. We did motor over to a proper town mooring and chose one that put us considerably closer to the dingy dock. We are now hunkered down for the weather. My birthday dinner of soup and grilled cheese was delicious.
Ship’s Log-Day Three
Well we slept like babies. Today is gray and rough and we have no plans beyond lazin’ about.
Ship’s Log-Day Four
Yesterday was gray and rough but comfortable. Today is much rougher. The seas in our little harbor are 3-5′. I hated to admit it but, I was getting seasick. The motion was constant, unrelenting. A few times I caught myself transfixed by a Siren’s song as I stared out a porthole at the rolling waves, mesmerized by the very action that contributes to seasickness. Effin’ Sirens.
Looking at the marine forecast it is clear we have days of this weather ahead. We discussed and decided to pack the essentials in a watertight bag and carefully board the dingy. Sideways sheets of rain soaked us as we surfed dark waves to the shore in the small inflatable boat. I clung to the bag in my possession desperate to keep its contents secure in my arms. Once we safely tied up at the dingy dock we took a five minute uphill walk to the Bed & Breakfast I had already secured us. We checked into our well appointed room and have a view of our boat in the harbor. We officially declare this a spontaneous honeymoon. I mean we are three months overdue since the fairytale “I do’s” we did in the height of our busy season. A hot shower is calling me, I must go.
Ships Log-Day Five
The essentials I brought ashore as we temporarily abandoned ship served us well today. There was no need to move beyond our beautiful king suite too early as I used the electric kettle to boil the water and the French press to make us perfect cups of coffee in our current favorite mugs. I can only give thanks that nothing as tragic as the bag containing these items being lost at sea happened in our perilous quest to make land. I shudder at the thought.
Worth noting – This unexpected extended vaca has all the spooky season vibes. A tiny New England island during a stretch of gray stormy days, the wind creating a constant moan. No ferries running to get anyone to or from the mainland. Today there were breaks in the rain long enough to walk to a nearby restaurant and enjoy a satisfying meal with the towns other stranded inhabitants. As much as this girl here declares herself a summer girl, fall gives me all the feels, and this was a perfect fall day.
Ship’s Log-Day Six
After another leisurely morning that extended beyond noon, as our lovely hosts were kind enough to allow us a late check out, it is time to head back to the boat.
Mid morning tomorrow appears to be our window to leave. The remainder of the day was spent readying ourselves to set sail. It looks as though we have quite the rocking and rollin’ night ahead of us but, the wind is forecasted to lay down significantly tomorrow.
Ship’s Log- Day Seven
Well my faithful ship’s log, I write this entry not from my home port but from yet another town mooring in Block Island Harbor.
Today as we motored through the channel on our way out of the harbor I saw the biggest seal I’ve ever seen! He popped his head up on our starboard side. My joy was short lived as right when I squealed “omg that’s the biggest seal I’ve ever seen”, the captain simultaneously declared “oh shit, not now” in response to the engine that just up and died. Oh shit is right, very bad timing.
Right then a gust of wind blew us past the red buoy we’d had on our left just a moment earlier and our dingy got caught up on it. This happened just as we heard (and felt) ourselves hit ground. The dingy worked its way free of ol’ big red and then subsequently got caught up under the now stationary Mariah, it’s lines tangled in her prop. Oh boy.
Well, today gave me the opportunity to put into practice the most important thing Josh has taught me about being on the water…That I am to remain calm no matter what happens. To listen to him and follow direction. I may give him a run for the money on land but at sea he’s the captain and I defer to him completely. So remain clam I did, as I’m quite certain panic could only make any bad situation worse. And then with admiration and awe, I watch him spring into action.
While grabbing a crocodile Dundee sized knife, Josh leapt into the dingy and cut her loose from our prop, hurling himself back onboard before the tide carried her first to the rocks and then to the beach, where the Harbor Master would later secure her so we could eventually retrieve her. He deployed the bow anchor and a stern anchor as well. Even though we were hard aground the fierce winds and the force of the incoming tide threatened to push us into the nearby rocks. The anchors assisted tremendously in keeping us from that fate, though we would spend the next hour and a half watching the jetty grow closer and closer.
We radioed for help and the coast guard arrived in ten minutes, keeping eyes on us and remaining in regular contact until SeaTow’s arrival. Apparently they can only intervene if the boat is sinking or if we were injured. Josh did routine bilge checks to make certain our vessel wasn’t taking on water and Mariah was holding strong. As previously mentioned, the Harbor Master drove to the beach where our dingy had arrived. After securing the dingy she remained and kept eyes on us as well. I held myself upright as best I could in the cockpit, the boat heeled on its left side. Josh and I chatted and kept our spirits up as we were pummeled by the waves crashing over us. Man is this Hellie Hansen gear a great birthday gift!
Finally Joel from SeaTow arrived. He expertly floated us a line which Josh secured to our bow and he promptly and safely pulled us away from the rocks we had grown so insanely close to during the previous hour and a half.
Once safely towed back to a town mooring, Joel put on his dive gear and went under the boat to untangle any remaining line from the prop and check for damage. Miraculously we have none (with the exception of she’ll definitely be needing some bottom paint). I made us all some hot chocolate with a spoonful of instant espresso and we warmed our bones and expressed our gratitude to each other for the safe outcome of this latest adventure. Then Joel gave Josh a ride to retrieve our dingy and now once again, all is well.
Tomorrow it’s back to the Diesel engine drawing board but, now we rest!
Ship’s Log-Day Eight
Today I briefly lost moral. The captain pulled double duty as he did his best to simultaneously soothe me, while also returning to the process of trouble shooting the engine. Realizing I was being more moody wife rather than helpful first mate, I did my best to be in the solution and not just wallow in the fact that everything aboard was now wet and dirty and we were running dangerously low on necessary supplies (read coffee).
As he did what he could do without access to any parts, I communicated with those peeps back home that could perhaps participate in helping us secure specific parts, should Josh figure out one or more he absolutely needs. With the ferry again running out of Montauk to Block and a Yanmar dealer not far from its departure point, I felt reassured that we wouldn’t be stranded forever. I also found solace in the fact that as the day progressed the rain ceased and the seas were calm. The dingy dock is close, and the market open all day. The Captain agreed we would schedule a trip ashore to re-up the necessities (again-read coffee). This alleviated my most grave concerns (read- running out of coffee).
As the captain continued to work, I too remained busy. I busied myself researching laundry mats and what I found was one solitary laundry mat on the entire Island and it was attached to a frequented by the locals, grub serving dive bar. Oh yeah, we got a date night plan!
After many hours with his head in the engine the captain knocked off. Not 100% certain if all the poking, prodding, cleaning, reassembling, etc did the trick or not but there’s not much else to do without giving her a good go. He called it a day with the plan to come back and run her again later.
Meanwhile we climbed in the dingy with a fairly large bag of laundry, and in the calmest seas we’ve experienced in a week, we took a smooth ride to the dingy dock. We rented a moped with a box attached to the back that with a little squishing supported the big ol’ bag and we headed off into the sunset and the promise of fresh clean, and not just dry but warm from the dryer, clothing!
Fast forward to two hours and burned cheese on shitty piece of cardboard later, coupled with the realization that none of the dryers work…No words right now. The only thing giving me life right now is the promise of morning with the fresh roasted Block Island dark roast I scored at the market.
Tomorrow is another day…
Ships Log- Day Nine
And another day it’s been…A warm day! With the sun shining and Block Island’s finest beans, both the coffee and the morning was smooth.
I immediately went to work hanging laundry out on every line, sheet, and rail I could. Once again believing in the dream of dry clothes. I am happy to report unlike those no heat, cold air blowing dryers, the sunshine did not let me down!
The captain ran the engine both last night and again this morning for quite some time and at this point seems to feel as confident in the engine as he can. A look at the marine forecast, as well as our favorite wind predicting app gives us just cause to believe the semi- decent wind predicted for tomorrow am is our best bet. Erring on the side of caution we made arrangements with the Harbor Master for her to stand by as we motor out of the channel. Once our plan was in place for a departure we decided to head back to land. Our rental moped still parked at the dingy dock and ours a while longer, we felt justified in temporarily shaking off all other concerns and exploring the island proper.
Even before today, even in last nights cool air, and all the previous gray, windy, and often wet moments we spent on the tiny Island during the past week, I already had developed a special affection for it. After today though, I am one hundred percent captivated by its beauty and charm. What a special little Island this is and how happy I am to have experienced it in the “off season” with my captain, my husband. Block Island officially owns a little piece of my heart and I feel certain we will return but, tomorrow we sail home….
Ships Log- Day Ten
That’s right, day ten of our planned three day adventure and we are finally out of the Block Island Harbor. Not that we are in our homeport mind you, we’re actually docked in Montauk this evening. I’ll explain…
We woke early only to find that the rain was back in full force, this had not been in the forecast but, here we were. We pushed back our departure time a bit, the NW wind not particularly in our favor regardless of when we left. After a bit the rain lightened up and with everything stowed and secured and the Harbor Master standing by, we began motoring through the channel. Once again I saw a seal pop his head up on our starboard side, and with my promise of “no squealing” fresh in my mind, I merely pointed. The engine ran without incident and we approached the last set of buoys. As we got closer to the open waters the waves became larger and the spray created as it crashed against our bow caught the sunlight and illuminated a large flash of rainbow for several seconds. Again I refrained from yelling out in excitement and just thought to myself “well, that’s a good omen”. And then on a westerly course we set sail.
For what felt like forever Block Island remained just as close in our rear view. The time continued to pass yet every time we turned around still no distance had been placed between us and the Island we’d spent the past week and then some at. The imposing row of wind turbines just to our port side mocking us. I shook off the silly notion of being trapped inside a spooky movie where things weren’t what they seemed and you were never actually getting off the ‘supposedly’ charming island. I turned my attention forward.
The repeated rising followed by a sharp drop as we took the 6′ waves one after the next right on our nose, wasn’t too bad while at the helm, but after some time I felt that familiar feeling of seasickness creeping up. It didn’t take much experience to know with the kind of time we were making in these wind conditions and opposing currents, that we’d be at this well after dark and dependent on the engine to make any kind of real progress. The captain confirmed my suspicions and mercifully granted my request to tweak the course and get us to the considerably closer port of Montauk. I secured us a transient slip rather than us anchor, as it had been since last Tuesday I’d experienced a hot shower. After indulging in one of the longest showers I think I have ever taken (shout out to the Montauk Angler’s Club for having the literal best water pressure and endless hot water!!), we grabbed a taxi and went out for a Saturday night date.
Tomorrow I tap out. My baby brother is driving in from up Island and taking over the First Mate position. I feel minimally bad about the decision but justify that it is not a case of abandoning ship as there are many legit factors that make this a sound choice. The promise of completing this journey in little bro’s truck, on paved roads has me a bit like a kid on Christmas, which in reality is mostly about seeing our dog. I really really miss our dog.
Ship’s Log – Day Eleven
While I made the last leg of this trip on land (and two ferries), I still feel it’s my duty to continue this log until Mariah is safely back in her slip, the journey truly complete. The captain, along with his newest crew member (though they are not strangers to being on a sailboat in questionable conditions together and lawd, that’s a whole other story) made slow but steady progress on the uneventful sail home. Well almost uneventful that is. Let’s just leave it at that they were granted time to enjoy another one of our stunner NoFo sunsets while they waited for SeaTow – Boater friends – Do y’all have SeaTow? You’re crazy if you don’t. Huge props to SeaTow’s near and far for being the best!!
Once towed to the mouth of the channel that enters the cove we call home, Mariah is left there to anchor. It is dark and the tide is low. The captain will stay aboard and in a daytime high tide, either by her own steam or tow if needed, she will finally be back home.
I wish him well and here I am snuggling it up with our dog.
Ship’s Log – Day Twelve
I arrived to the marina to find that Mariah’s engine had started right up today and at first light the captain motored her safely to her slip. She is tied up securely and our maiden voyage is officially over.
When we set sail almost two weeks ago I hadn’t a clue about the adventures that lay ahead. Learned a lot about boating, Mariah in particular, about myself, and about how my husband and I operate as a team, especially in an emergency situation. On this crash course of “anything can happen”, mostly I learned that I have a lot to learn. Sign me up for the next semester ~ I can’t wait to see where the wind takes us next ⛵️