Saturday, October 3, 2009

Day 7: Escape from Long Island Sound

Day 7 dawned beautiful and clear, with a nice steady northwesterly breeze. Once I got myself awake and caffeinated, I consulted Eldridge --

-- and found that I could get myself through The Race, the crazy tidal bottleneck at the mouth of Long Island Sound, on a vigorous ebbing current, if I got myself in gear quickly. Below, a diagram:

It's a little confusing -- east is up. The previous night's anchorage, Truman Beach, is labelled near the bottom. Click on the image to see more detail. All the water in the deep bits at the bottom of the image and beyond -- that is to say, to the west of the bottleneck, in the body of Long Island Sound -- has to empty out on the ebb through the small area shown with a line labelled "The Race". As you can see, it's narrow and relatively shallow, so the current gets quite strong.

I had had some trouble with The Race last year, coming home from Maine, and I didn't want any more. So I scrambled up on deck in my underwear and weighed anchor any old how and set out.

Eldridge was right, of course, as Eldridge always is. I went bounding through The Race like a bobsledder, wind on my port quarter, sun sparkling on the water, as sweet as you please, past Plum Island and Gull Island Light and Fisher's Island, and after a pleasant uneventful day I dropped anchor in a long slow purple twilight inside the Point Judith Harbor of Refuge.

Zoom out, as usual, to see the larger context.

How I love that phrase, Harbor of Refuge. Duncan, Duncan, Fenn and Fenn's famous Cruising Guide takes a dim view of this particular Harbor of Refuge -- a view which on the return trip I was to find justified -- but on this occasion it couldn't have been nicer.

The breakwater, admittedly, was lined with huddled seabirds, black against the dimming sky, and they had a sinister look, like ill-disposed jurymen contemplating an obviously guilty defendant. But there were a dozen other sailboats already anchored inside, their cheery little anchor lights lit at masthead or spreader, and this always gives me a good feeling.

I boiled and ate the last of my fresh eggs, drank a glass or two or six of wine, and went to sleep. The Harbor of Refuge lived up to its name, and I slept like the proverbial baby -- though come to think of it, babies in my experience don't sleep all that well. Wonder who came up with that expression?

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