So it was an interesting shakedown weekend…
The first sail of the season always involves blowing out the cobwebs – remembering how things are supposed to be done, remembering what essential thing you’ve forgotten to bring (coffee) and it was especially so for us – since the boat has had so many new systems installed since we last sailed her, nine months ago.
We arrived at our slip on Friday afternoon with the hope of getting everything stowed so that we could take off for Newport. Best laid plans… we had so much stuff to put away and things to ready that we ended up deciding to delay our departure until the morning. So instead of the rush to get out of the slip, we took the more leisurely pace and chilled in the cockpit with a drink or two – and some pizza…
A large part of the decision to delay was Ship’s Cat Bella, who was aboard for just the second time and who was obviously a little concerned about the floating environment. Her potty training went to pot – there was no way she was having anything to do with that tiny little crapper – forget it!
When the wind blew up at 2:00am, Bella was not impressed with the shake rattle and roll – and it’s amazing how friendly she can be when the need arises. Fortunately, the wind abated and we all managed to get some sleep but were up early so we could get to Newport in decent time. However, we had to wash the boat first – so there we are on deck at 7:00am waking up all the neighboring boats, swabbing the decks.
The job was done lickity split and by 7:30 we were ready for some breakfast and then we could go…
The bloody ship’s cat had gone AWOL.
Clearly she was not impressed with pressure water being sprayed on the deck and apparently took flight. We searched all over the boat – there are so many nooks and crannies that an army of cats could find hiding places – but we searched them all. Damn cat must’ve got off. She’s an indoor cat – so I’m not sure she’d even recognize what land looks like vs. the sea…
Over the course of the next 3 hours we searched all the slips, the parking lots, the various marina buildings, had pages go out on VHF, enlisted help from a couple of kids… nothing! She must be still on the boat.
Finally she showed herself – she’d got herself stuck behind an electric panel and couldn’t get out even if she wanted to!
With cat in hand, we slipped lines and made our way out of New England Boatworks and into the Naragansett Bay. Needless to say, we had countless teething problems getting the sails up, but it all basically came together. We had 15 – 18 knots – right on the nose – so it turned out to be a bit of a boisterous first sail, tacking our way down the bay – with the boat heeling considerably and giving the cat a real taste!
We made it down to Newport and anchored close by Lily (Ron and Ineke Heyselaar), Vulcan Spirit (Richard and Ali Brunstrom), El Vagabond (Roger and Vicki Mortimer) and Jule III (Bob and Ann Todd) all OCC boats and awaited the arrival of Jamin (Mike and Jane Eslinger – also OCC) and Elixir (Peter and Diane Sterret). A veritable OCC Meet!!!
Saturday evening saw us entertaining 10 aboard Toodle-oo! For Laurie’s best Lasagna with accoutrements and libations provided by all and sundry! The drinks flowed freely and I was not the only one referring to our new Portuguese flagged Toodle-oosh! By the end of the evening!
Unfortunately, one of the essentials we left behind were the oar locks for our new sailing dinghy. We were therefore somewhat trapped aboard Toodle-oo! – so decided it was time to see if we could rig the thing for sailing… Boy what an unstable boat! Countless times I was nearly in the water – but finally got her going. We’d purchased the dingy as we felt the need for a hard bottom, good rowing dinghy for when we get to Patagonia – engines are somewhat limited there due to the thick kelp and landing a soft bottom inflatable on the rocks may prove tricky… However, it was getting clear that this dinghy was not the solution as it’s relatively rounded bottom gave it no stability at all.
With a rotten forecast for Monday, Jamin and Elixir headed back to Tiverton, and we decided to follow shortly afterwards – destination Bristol. As we left Newport it became crystal clear that the dinghy was not a solution – we were towing her and water kept coming up through the hole for the centerboard, so we’d need to bring her on deck. By the time we got across to Jamestown, where we could take a mooring briefly, the dinghy was making excellent submarine impressions!
After bringing her aboard, we motored the entire way to Bristol where we grabbed one of the harbormaster’s moorings – as previously arranged – and settled in for the night.
Bella was getting more brave by the minute. Coming up to the cockpit somewhat warily but with purpose… She was intrigued by the water lapping at the transom – and fascinated by the climbing frame we’d installed at the back of the boat – clearly as entertainment for her – though
she did nearly end up in the drink when she found the self-steering gear to be rather slippery!
Monday dawned wet. Very wet. Very moody. All rather nice as we had a very leisurely morning… but…
We now had a problem – the dinghy (with no oar locks) was not an option for getting to land. The harbor master does not do taxi rides to the moorings – as they have an agreement with Bristol Marine (a marina at the head of the harbor) – and Bristol Marine clearly disavowed all knowledge of said agreement… Stuck!
Fortunately, the harbormaster relented and came and picked us up – and then Mike and Jane met us at Aiden’s for lunch and then brought us back to Portsmouth to pick up the car.
The highlight of the weekend was certainly Bella’s acceptance of the boat – we’ll start working on her potty training again when we move aboard full time in just a couple of weeks.
Now I have to get on – I have 3 1/2 more days of work to do before RETIREMENT!!!!!