Thursday, July 7, 2011

Escape from Port Jefferson -- sorta

When last heard from, your correspondent was languishing on a windless Wednesday in Port Jefferson, New York, which is a nice anchorage and not altogether an uninteresting place. There is a ferry which runs from there to Bridgeport, Connecticut, a place that will live in infamy as the home of Joe Lieberman.

I regret to say the ferries are car ferries; but as a result they are impressively large craft, and it's quite something to see them surging in and out of the narrow harbor. One of them is named the P. T. Barnum, which tickles me when I hear it calling on the VHF: "Securite securite, P T Barnum leaving Port Jefferson." I want to call back and say "This way to the egress, PT," but so far I have restrained the impulse. Wisecracks don't seem to be much indulged in on Channel 13.

Anyway, I ended up spending all day yesterday (Wednesday 6 July) and last night in Port Jeff. No wind in the morning, and then I had to wait for high tide to bring the Scapegrace up to the fuel dock and fill up the water tank. That was about 3 PM, and once it was accomplished, the weather radio was uttering dire threats about severe thunderstorms; and I don't love sailing at night, anyway. (I was planning on heading for Mattituck, which is about 24 miles away, and there's really nothing resembling a harbor or an anchorage anywhere in between.) So discretion -- or laziness -- triumphed and I dropped the hook again in Port J and spent the night.

The thunderstorms never materialized, though it did get a little breezy for about an hour.

This morning the wind situation looked a little better, so I fared forth. Of course, half a mile out of the harbor, the wind died.

Okay, I thought, I'll wait and see what happens. It's really quite unpleasant being out on the boat on a cloudless day in July, with no wind; the sun beats down into the cockpit, the cabin is an oven, and the sweat runs off you in rivers and literally pools under your ass if you sit down, and drips off your face if you bend over.

Finally a breath of breeze -- but dead foul; from the east; so I decided to modify my plan and head across the Sound to Milford, Connecticut, a place I've never been.

The little easterly breeze moved me along at two knots or so for a couple of hours -- then, you guessed it, died. In disgust I motored the last eight miles into Milford harbor, which has its charm. I'll write more about it anon.

Two hours of motoring full-throttle with my little Tohatsu 6 hp outboard consumed a gallon and a half of gas (or maybe a little less). It moves me along at four and a half knots and a bit, if I'm towing the dinghy (as I am). It's nice to know these stats but I never seem to take note of them.

Being in Port Jeff reminded me of a crazy windsurfing incident when I was much younger (though still old enough to know better). Maybe I'll write that up one of these days.

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