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Cuttyhunk Island, Hurricane Elsa, and Bristol

With training behind us, it was time to try a couple overnight trips. We again welcomed aboard our friends, Casey, Erin, and their two kids, Gunner and Paige. (See previous posts of S/V Endless Playtime in the Caribbean and how they helped us during our first week on the boat.)

Overnight stay and island exploration

There are so many choices of beautiful places to visit near Rhode Island, many only a few hours' sail away. Our first overnight destination was Cuttyhunk Island, Massachusetts, which is approximately 28 nautical miles from Newport and the outermost of the Elizabeth Islands, located between Buzzard's Bay and Martha's Vineyard.

Cuttyhunk Island is just 1.5 miles long with a population of 52. It has an inner harbor that offers anchorages for boats smaller than our 51' length. We arrived just in time to put down anchor in the outer anchorage behind the moorings. As a precaution, we use an anchor app to set up an alarm for if we drag beyond our desired perimeter.

Winds were light, so we all took the dinghy into town for lobster, oysters, and most importantly, ice cream for the kids. They have a raw bar that comes around to the boats, but we didn't arrive early enough to place our order over the radio. We needed to stretch our legs anyway, and it was a beautiful evening to go ashore.

The next morning, we were awakened by the anchor alarm at 5:30 AM. It showed we had dragged slightly with a 180-degree wind shift. We learned the bottom here is eel grass and isn't great holding in windy conditions. But, our reliable anchor re-set and we got a little more sleep.

The kids were excited to explore the little town so we went ashore once again to discover more about this quaint island. We learned most people who have homes here stay seasonally because the winters can be harsh.

We visited a small market with a humble entrance that boasts a great sandwich bar, an old one-room schoolhouse that's still used today, and the historical museum and visitors center. Then, we found a nice crushed oyster shell road leading up a hill. It was lined with honeysuckle bushes, which Gunner and Paige enjoyed. Kelsea went on ahead to get more of a walking workout and met us later back at the dock.

Our target departure time was nearing. We wanted to get back to Newport and get settled in on a mooring for Hurricane Elsa's arrival the next afternoon.

Elsa, our first hurricane

We motored most of the way back to Newport with no wind. We were met with gloom and drizzle, but it was calm enough for the kids when we arrived to have fun on the trampoline and burn off some energy.

Winds were expected to be about 20-25 knots in Newport most of the next morning and we were thankful to get a mooring in the main harbor. Since we'd all be inside the protective enclosure for a while, we spread out the extra cockpit cushions and made comfy lounge room. Kelsea kept the kids entertained, and we rode out Elsa – our first hurricane. We even experienced the eye of the hurricane as the wind stopped for a time and then continued as it passed over.

Steve and Casey found another good use of our time inside during Elsa. The registered and activated our PFD's (Personal Flotation Devices). The PFD's each have an AIS tracker (Automated Information System), which helps locate anyone by GPS if they fall overboard. This is very important for when we start doing overnight passages and move further offshore. We finished the final step to make our boat completely safe.

The wind and rain weren't as bad as we were expecting, thankfully. Later that afternoon, skies were full of sunshine and puffy clouds, and we found no damage. Relentless and Newport, Rhode Island were spared! Here's the view from our port hull window.


After Elsa passed over us and fair weather returned, we looked forward to moving upriver to Bristol the next day for another overnight trip. Along the way to Bristol, we passed many racing fleets. It was clear to us that they are very competitive here in Rhode Island. Some of the teams had their own chase boats and coaching teams. We watched them go through many spinnaker hoists and douses to perfect their skills.

Bristol was a very patriotic town, and even though we visited just after the 4th of Jul, they were all decked out with red, white, and blue. We had a nice walk through town and set our sights on having dinner at The Lobster Pot – it's apparently the place to dine here. To our disappointment, they were fully booked. We learned a valuable lesson that you need to make reservations for dinner before you arrive. There were a few pub-style restaurants closer to the dingy dock, so we still had a nice dinner ashore. We're learning how this cruising thing all works.

Our peaceful anchorage here in Bristol. Such a calm night and we all got a very good sleep.

Saying goodbye, for now

After a short afternoon sail back from Bristol, we arrived back in Newport. We said goodbye to Casey, Erin, and the kids and got the boat prepared for our trip home. Relentless would be safe on the mooring in Newport Harbor for the week. The weather looks good and calm, and we now know people in the area who can watch after her.

It was hard to leave, but we were looking forward to coming home for our niece Bailey's wedding and connecting with our friends and family for a quick two weeks. This goodbye also marked the end of Kelsea's month with us. When we return to Relentless, it will be just the two of us, which will be a whole new transition. More on that next...

Sunset over Fort Adams the night before our flight back home to Southern California.


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