September 16, 2012
The next leg of our journey down Long Island Sound required a little bit of pre-planning with respect to tides. We would be going through The Race, an area where the Atlantic Ocean bottlenecks into Long Island Sound. When the tide is flowing or ebbing, the current can flow as fast as 3-4 knots through this passage. It is beneficial for sailboats to time their entrance to Long Island Sound with the current in their favor
When we went to bed the night before, we had decided to sleep in the next morning and then do a shorter sail from Block Island to Shelter Island. There we would anchor for the night, and early the following morning, sail through Plum Gut, another narrow opening into Long Island Sound.
Upon waking up the next morning, we saw that many sailboats were exiting Great Salt Pond and making the mad dash for The Race. At that moment, we decided to do the same. Putting breakfast on hold, we hoisted the mainsail, raised the anchor, and sailed out from Block Island. (Yes, in that order!)
Sailing for The Race was like being in a race. Every direction you look, countless sailboats were all heading towards a common single point. It almost seemed as though we would all converge together at the same time. Big boats. Small boats. Fast boats. Slow boats. We all had the same plan in mind. Pass through The Race before the current turned against us.
We made it painlessly through The Race. Although, once we were into Long Island Sound, we weren’t sure exactly where to go. The wind was in our favor to take a southwest course towards the northern coast of Long Island. However, the nearest anchorage was not reachable by sunset, and we weren’t prepared for an overnight. Also, sailing overnight meant risking a lobster pot or long line snag. (Not nearly as many pots as in Maine, though!)
We chose a northwest course towards the southern coast of Connecticut. This meant sailing into the wind, and eventually the current, but at least we would have some place to anchor for the night. At one point, our speed reduced to less than 4 knots SOG (speed over ground). No where near the 8 knots we’d had earlier.
Our personal anchorage for the night ended up being next to a tiny island with a breakwater wall in Westbrook Harbor about 5 miles to the west of the Connecticut River. We were protected from the light northwest breeze, and it was an easy in and out for a quick overnight rest. We would sail out early the next morning for Port Jefferson . . . or as usual, so we thought.