Cleaning the Bottom of the Keel

It is an age old practice that is very easy to learn. All you have to do is enter an area too shallow for the draft of your boat, and allow the friction of the mud or sand do the cleaning before you come to a full stop. We tried it out on our entrance into our anchorage in Old Lyme, CT (more on this later).

Anna Marie and I departed City Island for Huntington Harbor on a beautiful sunny Sunday morning. We had a pleasant sail, albeit one which required us to tack back and forth across the Long Island Sound, as the winds (direction and force) were not as forecast.

We passed the Huntington Lighthouse as we approached the entrance to the harbor. Both Anna Marie and I are just enamored by lighthouses – so beautiful and so much history.

We took a mooring ball at the Huntington Yacht Club for three nights, which gave us the opportunity to get together with some family we haven’t seen in some time. Unfortunately, none of us took pictures.

Sunset shortly after our arrival in the harbor

We hung around for the Forth of July ceremonies and departed for CT the following day. As the winds were lighter than forecast, we ended up motor sailing for a little more than half the trip. It was a beautiful day and the trip went well.

We passed Saybrook Breakwater Light as we entered the mouth of the CT River

It was a bit nerve wracking coming into the entrance of the CT River. We are not used to seeing our depth gauge read so shallow when in a channel, but we proceeded up the river without issue, until we got to the Old Lyme Railroad Bridge. The bridge tender told us the bridge would be up in about 20 minutes – we just had to wait for a westbound train to cross.  After about a half hour, we watched as the train approached and eventually crossed, but we were hailed on the VHF radio shortly afterwards by the bridge tender. He told us we had to wait for one more east bound train – about another 20 minutes.

Old Lyme Railroad Bridge

The train did indeed arrive and the bridge did indeed open, however, now it was getting late. The sun had gone down and we were starting to lose light. We headed for the anchorage we were planning to spend the night in, while Anna Marie read the cruising guide we had recently purchased. The guide indicated that the area we were planning on anchoring could be uncomfortable due to the river wash. The guide suggested an anchorage we had just past. I turned the RK around and started heading for the small channel. I saw one red buoy and tried to pass that keeping it just to starboard (Red, Right, Return – rule for which side of the boat to keep the red ones when returning to port). No sooner did we pass the buoy, when the depth finder went from 3 meters to 0 and the RK came to a sudden halt.

I had not noticed in the dark, but the buoy was actually red with a green stripe. That means I should have kept it to port. It also means I should have studied the chart before entering! We tried to back off the mud shoal, but to no avail. We were not going anywhere soon, so Anna Marie showered and went to bed while I waited for the tide to come in.  Around one in the morning, I was able to back off the shoal, awake Anna Marie, and head in the correct way to drop anchor. Time to sleep.

Sunset the following (less stressful) day

We stayed a few days in this beautiful area before heading north to Newport, RI. Newport is where our plan began so many years ago, taking sailing classes and chartering in preparation for this lifestyle. We are both pretty excited to go back there in our own boat.

Passing the Lynde Point Light as we head for Newport, RI


2 responses to “Cleaning the Bottom of the Keel”

  1. I’m so happy that you’ve returned to familiar waters and the birthplace of your dreams. As in life, there’s always glitches, as in your “grounding” but you made the best of it and came out well. Congratulations and happy sailing, visiting, exploring, dreaming.

    • Bob. You always find a way to make sure your comments warm our hearts. Thanks for following our travels and being such a special person in our lives.

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