Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay connects the Atlantic Ocean with Providence. Situated about halfway between them is Allen Harbor.
Allen Harbor is a cozy and well protected place to put in and overnight. It's so protected that the winding inlet connecting the harbor with Narragansett bay is a stone throw's width in places. One must always watch for shallows when entering or exiting Allen Harbor.
The dual launch ramp at the town marina is more than adequate for our 26x. There are courtesy docks for drop off or pickup, and slips if you want to rent one. The marina store offers ice and candy bars. One disappointment - you can not get charts there. Better bring one with you.
We rolled in around 6 pm Friday and were greeted by Ed, Tony, Barbara, Al, Karen and Roger. Paul with his slick looking blue 26M was in the warm up lane. A yellow 26x, the distinctive Nuomenon owned by Jim and Venessa, rested by the courtesy dock. Although we had intended to launch friday night, we decided to sleep in the boat and launch early in the morning.
Saturday awoke to a beautiful sun rise. There's something renewing about waking up to the fresh air, and seeing the sun rise from a location you've never been to before.
Rafting, Part I: Saturday Morning
After a brief time rafted, the group decided it was time to put the sails to the wind. So, one by one we pealed off and made our way through the tiny, windy and sometimes shallow inlet that connects Allen Harbor to Narragansett Bay. We had expert advice from Ed and Tony before leaving on how to successfully make it through the inlet. I am pleased to report we made our way perfectly.
It took awhile for the wind to kick in, but all of a sudden we had decent NE wind which put joy into our hearts as 'Lady started to finally heel. If you are a sailor you know the feeling I'm referring to.
Watching other sailboats tack and criss crossing each other in a slow sail dance towards a distant goal is a beautiful sight. It's about being in control yet not being in control of the wind, all at the same time.
Arriving at Potter's Cove in the mid afternoon, we were impressed with the large number of boats tied to an even larger number of moorings. There, in one of the most shallow areas of the Cove were a number of NE-TS boats rafted. Only trailer sailors could get so close to shore. I bet many a power boater was watching, scratching their heads in wonder.
Rafting, Part II: Saturday Afternoon
As I mentioned before, being in control and not in control at the same time is part of the excitement of sailing. About 15 minutes into the raft I was reminded by mother nature who is really in control. The wind changed direction and was pushing against the raft group at a good 15-20 knots steady.
My wife Kathie watched the mooring about 30 feet off our port side move past our boat. She shouted the alarm - we are moving! Sure enough, the entire rafting group was being pushed towards the shore by the still wind.
With many of us in X's and M's, we had watched the Macgregor video about the power of our 50HP motors. Several boats started their engines, and the rafting group - now perhaps 8 or so boats - pushed against the wind in unison.
Kathie suggested that we could tie up to the mooring, perhaps that would hold us. So with Ed in command of what had become the NE-TS battle fleet, the entire rafting group pushed its way towards the elusive mooring some 40 feet ahead. Kathie, Venessa and Ed took positions on the bow to grab the mooring depending on whose boat was closest. After a couple of tries, Ed grabbed the line and we were once again holding against the wind.
That was exciting! Our only loss through the ordeal was Jack and Rani's boat hook which hopefully floated to shore for recovery the next morning.
It was great chatting while rafted. Many people moved to different boats, requesting permission to cross middle boats along the way. Snacks were plentiful, stories of sailing greatness even more so, and in general everyone had a good time as far as I could see. There was even several tours of boat mods that went on. It was plenty fun!
With the night soon to follow, we broke off and found an available mooring - there were plenty. We settled in for the night and had a great sleep.
That next morning, 'Lady had to leave early because of the long drive back to Maine. We regret not being able to check in with everyone, but we knew many would be sleeping. We had a great sail heading back north, then motored the rest of the way back to Allen Harbor.
This rendezvous was a lot of fun. As Barbara would note a few days later, were it not for mechanical problems with two boats who had to cancel, we would have set an NE-TS Allen Harbor Record of 11 boats! It was nice meeting the new people and we are starting to feel like we have some long time friends for those we've met before. There's always a smile and a helping hand when needed.
Until next time,
Rick and Kathie Dieffenbach
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