Last Sail

We took advantage of a lull in business, to add a day to our three day ‘Labor Day’ weekend to enjoy our last sail of the season. Granted, this would be a little different in that we’d be doing it the old fashioned way – without electronics to show us the way. On the other hand, it’s a familiar route from Mattapoisett to Newport – and the power of iPhones these days is such that we weren’t truly without electronics…

The forecast for the Friday was for breezy conditions from the North East, giving us a nice downwind sail, pretty much all the way. Nice, since we didn’t want to run the engine much – in case there had been damage from the lightning strike. We initially sailed on main alone, and then unfurled the Genoa – and saw that the lightning strike must have tracked down the forestay… The furling system on the headstay is made up of a series of about 4 – 6ft aluminum extrusions bolted together along its length and the luff of the sail sits in a groove in that extrusion… Well, at every joint, the genoa displayed a burn mark – where apparently the lightning had sparked over the joints in the extrusion! Later in the day when we unfurled the inner jib, we saw the same thing!

The good thing about not having electronics is that there’s no wind speed indicator – so we just kept sailing along, faster and faster as the wind grew! It appears it must have been blowing about 25 knots, because as soon as we reached the last buoy and turned left to head up the east passage to Newport, we had to pull in the genoa and set the small jib and a reefed mainsail! We rocked our way into Newport and set the anchor down just 5¼ hours after leaving Mattapoisett on our expected 8 hour trip!

Jane and Mike on Jamin followed us in about an hour later, having taken just as long to cruise around from the Sakonnet – no doubt slowed by their dingy which they towed with the engine still attached…

We had a lovely weekend, in company with Paul and Marg aboard Paradise (an impressive 47ft Vagabond) and Ron and Ineke from Lily – both boats had participated on the OCC cruise we’d organized during the summer. Good to see these friends again.

Fishing Lines on the Commercial Wharf

Fishing Lines on the Commercial Wharf

Newport Harbor

Newport Harbor

We got to watch some old wooden boats attempting to race around Connanicut Island – though it turned out to be more of boat parking lot under Newport Bridge!

Wooden Boat Race

Wooden Boat Race

We sampled offerings from Newport’s Elks lodge and had a splendid dinner at a Mama Luisa’s (excellent!) – and the following evening Peter and Diane (Elixir) joined us for another memorable dinner at Sardellas.

On Labor Day Monday, after ‘Super Billy’ rescued(!) 2 boats from their anchor traps (Jamin’s evil swivel and Paradise’s cable fouled anchor), we sailed up the Narragansett bay to New England Boatworks – site of repairs and over wintering. We sailed dead downwind ‘up’ the bay, with genoa poled to one side and jib flown on the other. The sea was flat calm and the sun was out, giving us a lovely peaceful last sail of the season.

We entered the NEB basin and headed for the fuel dock where we pumped out the holding tank and topped up with diesel for the winter. Then we had to turn around… not good. Very embarrassing as I failed miserably to get the boat turned around in a ridiculously narrow spot with wind coming from the wrong direction! Fortunately we missed all the massive boats surrounding us so it was only my ego that got bruised – but it took 3 attempts and 4 hefty people to get Toodle-oo! turned around and facing the right direction!


It’s now a couple of weeks later and Toodle-oo! is in the hands of NEB for repairs. The insurance surveyor estimates damages to be in the neighborhood of $100,000 – half of that in electronics, the rest in rigging and ancillary electrical stuff – chargers, wind generators, lights, etc…

She’s out of the water now – but we’ve not seen her yet – will be interesting to see if there’s an obvious exit location from the lighting pulse… more to come…


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