Monday morning, we awoke early and weighed anchor at 6:30. Our goal for the day was to complete the journey eastward out of Long Island Sound, and then some. The destination was Block Island, a pork-chop shaped island located in the Atlantic Ocean, which is a part of the state of Rhode Island. The island, which has a population of 1000, is about 14 miles from the mainland. In 1699 it was visited by the notorious pirate, Captain Kidd. It has a 20-mile shoreline, 250-foot high clay bluffs providing cliff-side views, sun-washed beaches and an island mystique. It has been called “one of the last great places in the western hemisphere” and “the Bermuda of the north.” The day’s passage of 64.4 nautical miles to this grand destination was very pleasant. The only location en route that was of concern is a section called “The Race,” which is at the southeasternmost end of Long Island Sound. Waters go from about 40 feet deep to over 300 feet deep in a short distance. This causes the water to squeeze through an area between islands creating amazing rip currents. Whereas earlier in the day we would have been fighting a head current of 5.7 knots, when we passed through we experienced slack water. Whew! We motorsailed for most of the way, arriving by 4:30 in the afternoon. The sun was warm, the breeze was cool, and the seas were benign.
Once we entered New Harbor on Block Island, we hailed the harbormaster on VHF channel 12 and made arrangements to pick up one of the 90 town-owned moorings. Our initial impression of the island is that it made us feel that we were back cruising in the Bahamas. Of course, there are many differences, but this place is very much unlike the mainland on which we’ve spent the last several months. We love it! It has a natural, airy beauty and an island feel. Once Cindy flawlessly picked up the mooring ball (it’s been a long time since we’ve moored!), we headed into town for dinner. There is a free dinghy dock at the Block Island Boat Basin, which is also the location of The Oar, a famous cruisers restaurant/bar which is overrun with, you guessed it, oars. From our table, the view of the harbor was delightful, and the food was quite good. After dinner, we dinghied back to Beatitude for the night. Tuesday would be a day for exploration.
Shortly after awakening we were greeted with shouts of “Andiamo!” from a bakery boat making its rounds through the mooring field. We bought cinnamon rolls for breakfast. The rest of the morning was spent making phone calls in an effort to find Cindy’s lost purse. We assumed it had to be at the marina or at the Broadway theater we visited. (Later in the day, while looking for batteries, we found it beneath the bench in the salon where we store various odds and ends. How it got there is a matter of much debate.)
After we had finished with our phone calls, we took Dalí into the Block Island Boat Basin dinghy docks and then made the 1.5 mile trek into town (Old Harbor, or New Shoreham), the smallest town in the smallest state. We stopped for some mediocre pizza for lunch, did some shopping in the small shops, and proceeded to Island Moped to rent our wheels, a 2-person moped, to explore the island. For the next two hours, we zipped up and down the streets of Block Island on two wheels, enjoying the scenery. We first visited the brightest lighthouse on the Atlantic seaboard, the Southeast Light, perched atop the Mohegan Bluffs, over 200-feet above the sea. We then proceeded to a spot where I could descend wooden stairs down the cliffside to the beach (actually the last 15-20 feet are traversed holding onto a rope over rocks and boulders). From there, we motored to the other end of the island to view the North Light, which sits on Sandy Point. Along the way we stopped at Crescent Beach for a few moments to take in the view.
Just before our two hours were up, we returned our wheels, had a drink at a local bar/restaurant, and began our 1.5 mile trip back to New Harbor (also called the Great Salt Pond). Along the way, we stopped at Block Island Grocery to replenish our bread supply. Once back aboard Beatitude, we were happy to relax with a cool breeze blowing through the salon. We devoured a wonderfully-prepared Lasagna by Cindy for dinner. After watching the sunset and a movie, we retired to spend our last night in Block Island.