Newport, RI to Stonington, CT / Branford, CT //
We keep saying we are heading south, but in reality, once we left Newport all roads really lead West and into the Long Island Sound! At one point, we had considered going on the outside of Long Island, via Block Island, thinking that would allow us to move south as quickly as possible (and away from the cold!), but the weather (mostly high winds) were just not favorable. In the end, we were happy we were able to make it through the Sound which meant we'd be sailing right into New York City.
As soon as we came out of Newport Harbor, we put our sails up and headed towards Point Judith. The winds were blowing NW at 12-15 knots, which made for a beautiful sail. Once we got to Point Judith, however, the seas became very rough and we experienced wind gusts of up to 30 knots, so we prioritized getting closer to the coast where there would be less fetch and less choppy conditions. We sought harbor for the evening in Stonington, CT, which we found to be a very comfortable and protected anchorage.
The next day, we continued our move West into the Long Island Sound, close to the Connecticut shore. The winds were forecasted to be pretty light for the morning, so we ended up motoring for about 2 hours. As we passed Niantic Bay, we caught on a favorable current and the winds increased. It was a very pleasant and sunny morning. With the winds increasing into the 10 to 12 knots, we decided it was the perfect time to get the wind vane dialed in. The wind vane is a self-steering device mounted on the stern of the boat. It keeps the boat sailing in a set relationship to the wind.
While we have an autopilot, which would also let the boat self-steer, it is electrical and can drain down our batteries if under sail. We have found it is better suited for when we are motoring or motor-sailing. The wind vane on the other hand, is mechanical and self-steers the boat through an air foil and servo pendulum system, basically a vane attached to what the casual observer might believe is a rudder (more on this once we get to update our "projects" section). After messing with the lines that go from the wind vane to the wheel and going over the manual and instructions a few more times, Mr. Fleming (the make of the wind vane is a Fleming Global 501) officially became our third crew member, and steered us steadily along the Sound.
By late afternoon, the sea state deteriorated and winds started gusting between 20 and 25 knots. We had thought about pushing through to New Haven or Bridgeport, but feeling extremely tired we found harbor in scenic Branford, CT for the evening.