Captain’s Log: A “Swell” Journey


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Sunset at King’s Park Anchorage, Newport, RI (9.27.22)

9.27.22 (Pirate’s Cove, Tiverton, RI – King’s Park, Newport, RI – 21.2 Nautical Miles 7H 08M)

This blog prides itself on keeping things honest and real. So… I can’t really go too long without acknowledging some of the challenges. 

I had a bit of a rough start trying to get south. Leaving Pirate’s Cove in Tiverton, RI and pushing off the dock at 9:55 AM on September 27th, we decided to attempt to forge our way through headwinds, a 2 knot current and 4’ waves. This meant only averaging 2.5 knots of speed on the way to Stonington Harbor (at the entrance to Long Island Sound). This would have meant a 3 AM arrival time. Needless to say, it was an ill advised route.

We had about 7 hours on the engine and had done 21.2 nautical miles. At this point I was starting to get a sense of new items that needed to be added to my repairs list. One big one was the auto-pilot, it was trying to send us straight into the rocks!.

This is a big deal when trying to solo, because auto-pilot allows you to nap. Without it, you can’t sleep, which isn’t feasible for longer trips (even with a healthy supply of Red Bull). Don’t worry, I’m not soloing this trip. But as I get more comfortable with this vessel, that will be the aim.

So, after 7 hours of fighting the elements, and despite my stubborn nature, we determined this was simply illogical and we should just wait for better conditions. We were forced to divert course to King’s Park anchorage in Newport, RI, dropping anchor at approximately 4 PM. This was a frustrating blow to morale.

Today was a great lesson on the value of patience and the balance between determination and knowing when to pivot. It really does come down to those quarter turn adjustments along the way. Looking at the update on Hurricane Ian today (9.28.22) this was definitely the right call, although it didn’t feel great at the time. It felt like failure in not achieving a goal.

On the bright side, my technical capabilities are growing, mostly out of necessity. I have been working on navigation and modeling route trajectories around storms, currents, winds, etc. It’s tough when relying on weather models that are always changing. It has been a challenge in rigorous thinking to try to think through all the potential scenarios and have backup plans. It’s really frustrating (yet necessary) to make all these plans when most of them will never need to be used. Planning for and monitoring resource consumption is another skill I’m honing. I find myself taking apart electrical and mechanical systems, and sometimes I can even put them back together!

Anyways, enough rambling for one day. I hope some of you actually enjoy reading this stuff. I really do enjoy writing these. Part of the motivation for writing these is the belief that all will benefit from more open and honest communication. Through these types of efforts, we can develop more genuine and fulfilling relationships, and feel the freedom to enjoy ourselves everywhere/anywhere (i.e. at work) while becoming more productive. I also believe we can overcome imposter syndrome which has taken center stage in many discussions these days. I theorize that imposter syndrome stems from feeling inadequate due to dishonest communication and representations from those around us. Imagine if everyone around you dropped their act, what would that look like? How might that impact/influence your own behavior? How would that make you feel?

I’ll end today’s log with those questions which I find myself pondering at this very moment.

P.S. There were requests for more videos… Hope you enjoy!

Engine Test: Pirate’s Cove, Tiverton, RI
Under Engine making 2.5 Knots: Tiverton – Newport

9.29.22 (King’s Park Newport, RI – Block Island – 20.9 Nautical Miles 4H)

After taking a day to watch the weather and model some more routes, we departed King’s Park at 8 AM sharp, planning to head straight for Long Island Sound. The idea was that we could find a decent Hurricane Hole in there if Ian decided to deviate from the latest weather models.

With merely an hour on the engine we noticed the temperature gauge climbing above 175 F and we totally lost the tachometer. This was a sign of a blown belt as the tach reads off the alternator and the raw water pump (which runs the heat exchanger) is also belt driven. Sure enough, it was just the belt, luckily we always carry spares. However, in the rush to provision and depart I neglected to get the 3 spare belts I intended to. I had only one spare and it was a used belt.

We elected to use the sails, reserving the engine for maneuvers coming into harbor. It was a warm sunny day and we had currents and winds in our favor. With just the jib furled out we were averaging 7 knots and hitting speeds as high as 8 knots. Out of an abundance of caution we decided to sail into Block Island and inspect the engine to ensure no larger issues caused the belt to wear through. It was a 4 hour sail and we traveled 20.9 nautical miles.

Block island is quite desolate this time of year. Most of the shops and restaurants have closed down. There was no luck finding a belt here but we were able to inspect the engine and verify all the pulleys were turning freely. We were looking at great conditions for the following day and an easy sail to Stonington where we could pick up several spare belts for the inventory. 

This desolate island provided lots of time to admire the beauty of nature and reflect. I reflected on the fact that between two people we’d used perhaps 7 gallons of water in the past three days. We had generated hardly any trash, finding multiple uses for everything we could. We had managed to use the natural elements to our advantage and sail at 8 knots. The previous day we averaged less than 3 knots and ran the engine non-stop burning perhaps 7 gallons of diesel fuel. Today we made better time, avoided the loud drone of the engine, the cost of the diesel and all the while, the sails stabilized the boat, providing a smoother ride.

The conclusion I was led to is that we’re creating a world that no longer understands the value of patience. Despite our standard of living (in terms of materialism) increasing, we continue to lust after faster delivery times, larger salaries, higher status, etc. We’ve become trapped in this system which can provide us with no more than a momentary illusion of satisfaction, which no sooner than we receive an accolade does that illusion evaporate, leaving us with a deeper and more intense lust than before. 

It’s so easy to fall victim to this cycle when we constantly feed our minds with ideology which reinforces the concept that our model is correct and not flawed. We have factions within societies that have their own take on these models (never deviating too far), which we call political parties. I fear that too many people are willing to take a prescription and be assigned their ideology. I worry about how our world can possibly become sustainable and avert a climate crisis if we’re not willing to do a deep dive into our own day-to-day practices and curb our consumption of resources. 

I think the solution to many of our global issues is not necessarily going to be technological, but rather spiritual. Taking climate change for instance, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest we will be happier if we pare down our possessions and curb our consumption. By looking inward and seeking true happiness, we can create the conditions for humans to live in harmony with the planet. Perhaps a better path forward might be to listen/look inward rather than trying to just think our way out of this hole. I’m a deep thinker, so don’t get me wrong, what I’m attempting to say is that there are two sides to every coin. We can’t continue to live as frivolously as we have, we’re seeing the repercussions of this. It can’t possibly be the answer to lasting fulfillment and happiness, just look around you, time is limited. There is no technological solution that will allow us to continue to live in such disharmony.

I’ll leave you with the questions I’m left pondering today: Are you truly happy? If all of your materiality and social status were stripped from you today, how would that make you feel? Could you still be happy? How deeply have you searched into your own belief systems and/or political views? Have your views evolved over time? Can you pinpoint what event or circumstances led to an evolution in your ideology?

Under Sail: Newport – Block Island
Block Island Birds
Block Island Inlet: Under Motor
Block Island Mooring

9.30.22 (Block Island – Stonington Harbor 18.9 nm 3h 30m)

It was another beautiful day to sail. There wasn’t much reason to stay on the Island so we started preparing the boat around 8 AM. We had everything prepped and departed at 10:26 AM.

We left Block Island under motor after checking the alternator and water pump pulleys and changing the belt. At the entrance to the channel we unfurled the jib and shut down the motor, it was a straight shot to Stonington. We averaged 7 knots on a straight course toward Long Island Sound. It was a perfect day to keep sailing through the afternoon, but I had an important zoom meeting which prevented that. It didn’t make that much of a difference as we were mostly taking our time awaiting Ian to pass through, so didn’t need to make any great distances.

At the entrance to stonington harbor we powered up the engine and furled in the jib. We found a nice spot to anchor along the West side of the harbor where we let out 11:1 scope of chain and are well protected from the expected winds that will be fall out from Ian. We arrived at 1:56 PM.

As I write this today (10.1.22) there are 12’ waves every 5 seconds off the Jersey coast and 6’ waves in Long Island Sound. We have 24 knot winds at the anchorage (currently) and are expecting this to increase to 35 knots by tomorrow morning.

We’ll be here for a stretch of time (perhaps a few days) as we wait for the storm to pass. I’ve ordered the belts which will arrive Monday. This provides ample opportunity for me to read, write, work, think, meditate and practice patience. 

I’ve mostly been thinking about how this is a relatively short sail to Annapolis once you get going, but the sheer volume and magnitude of storms has made it infeasible to travel. I’m hopeful for an offshore window by the end of next week, but only time and mother nature will let me know if this is possible. Alternatively, we could continue inside Long Island Sound through NYC and then cross to Cape May and go up the Delaware River.

At this moment, I’ve exhausted my capacity for philosophical indulgences, sorry. I hope you’ve enjoyed the first Captain’s Log style blog!

P.S. As I sit at anchor I would enjoy hearing your thoughts on some of the philosophical questions I wrestle with. Or anything else you care to share.

Stonington Harbor Anchorage
Stonington Harbor Anchorage Mild

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  1. Dylan Isaac Jacobs

    Keep climbing volatile water, my friend!

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