May 13, 2009
I wanted to get as early a start as possible, so we woke up again at dawn and shoved off. Once more the brightening sky framed our departure out of Newport harbor, and we set off for the Long Island Sound. Again the winds were almost calm, but we hoisted the sails and turned west around Point Judith. The seas were smooth as a mill pond until we entered the Race, where we got some little waves, riplets really. There was a little breeze from the south, but not really much, so we continued to motorsail.
Gradually the wind increased a little and we were making a good 6 knots across the ground. Here comes the embarrassing part—once again the engine quits, but this time it becomes obvious that we have run out of fuel. I had been told that the engine would burn about 1/4 gallon per hour, and I thought we had a 9 gallon tank plus a 5 gallon can. Unfortunately, I wasn’t very disciplined in keeping track of the fuel burn or even how long we had been motoring. Turns out that the burn is more like 1/2 gallon an hour, and the tank holds 7.6 gallons. Plus I had stupidly already emptied the 5 gallon can into the tank. So much for better judgement.
However, once more fortune was shining on us, and the breeze picked up so we sailed along with on a pleasant beam reach making a steady 5 knots. I called TowBoatUS, hoping they could rendezvous with us to deliver some fuel. Turns out that they said they don’t so that, and the closest TowBoat facility was in Norwalk. A quick calculation showed us approaching the Norwalk harbor in about 5 hours, at about 9:00 PM. I set up a rendezvous point with the TowBoat and told them that I would call an hour out.
By this time Grant was pretty much over the experience. He doesn’t do too well sitting still, and the boat was way too slow for him. I felt like the biggest idiot on earth, and Grant was blaming himself also. But, the wind was still blowing, we were still sailing, and it looked like it would work out to make Norwalk by 9:00. Luckily for Grant, his phone rings, and it is his office asking him if he can cut short his vacation and come back to work. He’s practically doing back flips of elation as he tells his office yes.
Unfortunately the wind starts to die down, and it becomes clear that we’re not going to make it to Norwalk under our own power—er, sail. We are eventually becalmed just past Bridgeport, luckily out of the way of the ferries running between Bridgeport and Port Jefferson. I called TowBoat and they headed out from Norwalk to find us.
TowBoat showed up about 9:00 PM and tossed us a line. The TowBoat skipper hauled us at a breathtaking, or rather, nerve-wracking speed through all of the Norwalk Islands into Norwalk Cove Marina. I never would have attempted this approach on my own, but all I had to do was steer behind the TowBoat and pray that the skipper knew the area and had a good chart plotter (and of course he did on both accounts.) He snugged us right up to the fuel dock at 10:00 PM. Still feeling like a first class idiot, I tipped him $50 and sighed a sigh of relief to be once again safely tied up to the dock.