Hog Island. Bristol Harbor is just north, the Mount Hope Bridge on east edge of image. Vertical bar is 0.5 nautical miles.
Hog Island is a summer colony of less than half a square mile just south of the mouth of Bristol Harbor, RI. Site of a teenage adventure in my Sunfish sailing youth, I had touched there only once, and briefly, as an adult sailor.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Complicated dance of vehicles began when I traded Bea's minivan for the Kiss family truck at 10am. Not actually ready to go until 3pm*. Got lost in tangle of new ramps for rt 6 bridge and ended up all over the place before finally reaching boat ramp at 4pm. Boat at anchor inside 45 minutes, then return to again trade vehicles, and hitch lift with Bea for return to ramp at 6pm. Since we did not mess with the truck's radio, we only heard about the Boston Marathon bombing then. (Without a radio aboard, we would hear no more until returning home.)
Not wanting to sail at night, resulting in the usual risks plus the usual bleary-eyed day following, decided to stay put until early am. Dinner was Bea's leftover chicken--umm!--but eaten without silverware or proper dishes by slurping it from coffee cups. *(See: we weren't ready to go after all.) Slept soundly until after 5am, then rose to have a bit of tea, juice and toast before getting under way before 7am.
The original plan was to be safely at Hog Island before predicted high and gusty winds Tuesday. Since these were not to begin until noonish, I figured the 7nm sail could be safely accomplished well before noon. If we were in danger of being caught out, we could seek alternative shelter. As it was, the morning went smoothly with light to moderate and fair winds the whole way--the entire trip was accomplished on a single starboard tack to a se wind.
Wind and sea began rising a bit toward the end, and we were glad to come into the lee of the southeast corner of the island about 9:30am.
ashore at last
My anchoring plan involved dropping the big anchor off the stern close to shore, beaching before running out of rode, and putting the little danforth in the beach so we could move around dry-shod. It turned out to be considerably more complicated: we could not sail close enough to the wind with leeboard partly raised to hit shore where I wanted, and we dropped the big claw prematurely. With all 100 feet of rode out, and additional rode on the danforth, I tried unsuccessfully to bring the danforth ashore in the kayak. Since the wind was off the beach, I next had Stephen shorten the scope on the claw to bring the boat closer that way. In the end, I was only 10 yards or so short, and tried to tow the big boat the remaining yards to no avail--just when I'd appear to be making progress, the wind would pick up and drag us backwards.
Back aboard, I decided to raise the anchor and try to pole the boat in approximately the right direction, then pull the boat around the shoreline to the point I'd been aiming at. Poling didn't get us far, but we did end up ashore, and I was able to situate the boat with the anchor safely in water deep enough that low tide wouldn't expose it, but well within reach of the little danforth's rode. We pinned the boat to shore, had sandwiches for lunch (it was now past 11:30), pushed the boat back into the water, and set off to explore.
I took these for ducks, but now I think their small geese called brants.
There was at least one pair of egrets--we spotted pairs several times but can't say they weren't the same pair
The south shore
Stephen looks over the salt marsh.
A very pretty rock. Sandstone? But the large clasts are very angular--not water-worn at all. Maybe breccia??
The west coast looking north. These clouds were different from any I ever recall: very indistinct, and seeming out-of-focus.
The west coast looking south.
The northwest coast has a shallow little cove defended by a spit that is partly submerged at high tide. A pair of oyster catchers is trying to escape us on foot by wading to another of the little islets.
This is a cropped enlargement--they were skittish, and we never got close to them.
Painted on the rudders is "Hog Island."
A cute cottage, maybe no more than two rooms.
Another angle on the same cottage.
This big house at first looked damaged, full of holes.
The house turns out to be a large boathouse with upper story and wrap-around porch.
The island is about 2 1/2 miles around with about 100 homes and almost no year-round inhabitants--perfect for an April exploration, I thought. Most houses were still boarded up, but not all, and we ran into one resident with a dog, and at least one more who watched us through his window. We tried to keep to the shore, but sometimes had to venture inland to find dryer passage through salt marsh, or clamber under or over docks. The houses were varied, from trailers to little cottages to spacious homes to one biggish estate. We spotted several birds worth noting, including oyster catchers, at least one egret pair, ducks I'm still trying to identify, but are most likely brants, and great black-backed gulls. We caught a brief glimpse of what might have been a piping plover. More than one set of deer tracks led past our beach when we returned. They appeared to come from the little peninsula behind which we were sheltered and not to return.
The island is shot-through with ditches dug in an effort at mosquito control.
Back aboard at about 2:30, I snacked a bit on tea and cookies, then we sat around and read and napped. The wind had been wearying, and we were content to be out of it, with the front door and front slot cover in place. We could safely ground the boat now, without worrying about becoming stuck for very long.
Stephen watches comb jellies in the shallows.
Nap time. (There's a twelve-year-old boy under there somewhere.)
Only after 5pm did I venture forth again--well-wrapped up in my ski pants, sweater and fleece--to look around, and to seek out a place out of the wind where I could unfold a chair and relax and enjoy the ever-changing sky. Sprinkles of a shower sent me back to call Stephen to pull a drying sleeping bag back into boat. Then Stephen suited-up and joined me for a ramble that ended with us trying to track the deer back to their lair amid the brush and a single tree on the peninsula. We didn't find any sign of habitation, but it had some pretty bits that made the exploration worthwhile.
A panorama across the little peninsula that shelters our anchorage, looking toward the "mainland."
Another panorama looking the other way, the Mt. Hope Bridge in the distance.
Looking for deer on the peninsula. Didn't find any sign.
High drifts of shells above the high tide mark were partly sorted by species. The darker shells are mussels, the rest are mostly slipper limpets, which are by far the most abundant.
Suppertime. We supplied ourselves with mussel shell spoons for our stew.
We were back aboard around 7pm as darkness fell for a dinner of canned stew and buttered bread--this time eaten with the help of mussel shell spoons-- then Stephen turned in by 9pm, while I stayed up to read until 10.
I was awakened by sudden movement and noise at midnight: the boat was afloat and moving off sideways on shifted wind. I checked the little danforth, worried at the strain, only to find it had dragged and gathered a ton of weed. I got it mostly clean and aboard, then shortened scope of big anchor from 70 to about 60ft. The anchorage was noisy with less protection from nw, so I put in earplugs, but didn't sleep very soundly afterwards.
Stephen is straightening up the boat in preparation for departure.
Under way once more. The bridge beckons.
The clouds are fantastic.
Woke several times during the night including about 5am, then got up around 7:20.
Underway at 9:30, after difficulty getting out of our shallow, protected anchorage soon after low tide.
Wind shifty and very light, amounting to becalming, for about an hour around 10-11am. Then variable again around Braga Bridge. Touched dock and dropped off Stephen at about 2:40 (which would have been picture-perfect if not for fouling the towed kayak on the dock in the process), dropped anchor and got ashore myself about 15 minutes later. Bea came with the car at 3:45 and picked us up. We returned with the truck just about 5:30 and pulled the boat up the ramp at 6pm. We headed home at 6:45, but had to return for the forgotten kayak, and got home about 8pm.
Riding at anchor near the ramp, waiting for the trailer.
The mizzen handled nicely, but made no recognizable impact on sailing qualities. Did not fairly test its usefulness as a riding sail, but I'm sure it could not have held the boat into the wind the way a tightly-sheeted-in mizzen on the Beatrice Ann can. The ropes around the cabin for holding clothing, etc were very successful. I was troubled by my inability to even ghost along in a breeze that was enough to move the sail, but that I could not orient the sail to make use of.