Tuesday, September 06, 2011

We Want Fish!

My Sowester makes me look a bit like a Gloucester Fisherman, doesn't it?

Bluefish is an abundant and ubiquitous species in the Long Island Sound - except when I am aboard the C&C 30 "Mistral IV". Two cocktail blues was the meager harvest over the course of three days, but at least they were expertly lured, caught, filleted, grilled, prepped and served by Bro.

Originally the trip should lead us from Larchmont, NY, along the Long Island Sound to the Thimble Islands in Connecticut, but unfortunately the weather denied us this pleasure. Seeing nothing bit rain ahead, we cut the trip short to save us from being rained on for two days in a row with no dry time at the end of the trip.

The first day we set out from Larchmont Yacht Club to sail to Zieglers Cove, a hidden gem on the Connecticut shoreline, with public moorings provided by the town of Darien, CT, in this little nook which surrounding land mass land belonged to the king of baking powder William Ziegler. Moderately protected from wind and waves, we nestled between rocks in this mosquito paradise. After a day with SW winds 5-10 kts we met with our friends to raft up with the cat rigged Nonsuch 30 "Aloki" (pic, pic) and the sloop Bénéteau 42 "Allumer" for the combo of Asian chicken and glass noodle salad and German Bratwurst from the grill. Metaxa and Ouzo were moderately consumed and after hours every boat picked her own mooring. There were about a dozen power boats with families around, everybody having a little party - it was labor day weekend after all! I strongly recommend to stay in this bay during the off-season, September and October are wonderful if you want to be on your own here - as we have done it before.

Day two started out pretty windless, just in the early afternoon the wind picked up to about SW 10 kts. We crossed the Long Island Sound to sail to Long Island's North Shore and raft up with our friends in Port Jefferson, NY. The geography offers beautiful anchorages right behind the harbor entry. Shallow and badly charted, the private navigation aids help a lot - DO NOT rely on the latest NOAA charts since they are quite inaccurate here. A lot of dredging was going here on since the last soundings a while ago. But once you are in and were able to avoid the ferries between Bridgeport and Port Jeff, you are in safe and quiet waters.

Again we rafted up with "Aloki" and "Allumer" and after some lamb sausage and octopus salad, Bro served first the grilled bluefish with a dill-mustard sauce, and then a "Germanoid" Sauerbraten with red cabbage and sweet potatoes, accompanied by an American Gewurztraminer and Bitburger Pilsener. Coffee, Rum and cookies put the lid on. Everybody dropped his own anchor afterwards. Unfortunately we didn't see the town of Port Jeff the next morning, because fat grey clouds came close pretty quickly and we decided not to lose more time than necessary before our departure. Ok, next time. Looks interesting enough to make landfall for a cuppa Joe.

Day three meant the end of our original plans to fork through the Thimbles. The National Weather Service predicted two full days of heavy rain ahead, and nobody wanted to face that except Stephen and Barbara on "Allumer", who decided to spent one day at the Brewer's Marina in Westbrook along the Duck Islands Roads, just a tad east of the Thimble Islands. "Aloki" wanted to hunker down in the sand hole at the tip of Oyster bay. The "Bronco Buster" crew on "Mistral IV" decided to return home, facing mostly winds of 15-20, in gusts up to 25 kts SW. So we were in for a choppy trip home, interrupted by some good lunch (pasta with pesto), when we stopped dead in the middle of the sound, took down the jib and heaved-to while boiling up our meal. The selected heave-to setup conveniently carried us a bit upwind, so the next leg was much easier. I just love it when I have space to fall off to my convenience and don't have to pinch to reach my next waypoint.

Body and mind fortified, we made the wise decision to bind the first reef on the mainsail and keep about 20 percent of the jib in, but we were still good for a top speed of about 7 kts upwind (though overground with and incoming tide). Coming home to the LYC showed us once again, how vulnerable the harbor is at SW winds. The boats on the moorings were shaking and rocking and you are well advised to tie your rudder down. The tropical storm Irene, which came through here just a week before, pushed off the protectors of our two mooring lines and nearly chafed one of them through.

But what a bummer - it seemed that the bluefish had their luncheon around the same time as we did, since all our trying to get dinner together were fruitless. But I swear: We'll be back again - and soon! Bluefish beware!

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