Thursday, September 23, 2010

August 31, 2010 - End of Summer Cruise, Take Two

When the weather finally cleared up on Thursday, we headed back out to Block Island. Picking right back up where we left off, before we were so rudely interrupted by the Northeaster, Sten resumed fishing for Stripers and we headed back to the beach for some quality body surfing. Now this is what the end of August in New England is supposed to be like!

Our days out at Block were filled with friends and family. Sten's cousin Scott and his wife Chris arrived within a few hours of us on their vessel, Valhalla. Scott a consummate clam digger. We were more than happy to slurp up his harvest raw, but when Suzy arrived on Saturday, she put her own touch on the proceedings and turned Scott's bounty into some seriously tasty clams casino (recipe below).

When we arrived we got in touch with our buddy Bill, who invited us out to a bonfire on the beach in front of his place on Friday night. As we roasted marshmallows over the embers we watched a giant orange harvest moon rise out of the ocean. At the end of the evening Bill offered us his car (rather than driving us back to the Salt Pond).

The next morning we took advantage of having a set of wheels and set off on a driving tour of the island. Our first stop was Mohegan Bluffs. We couldn't believe how much the shape and composition of this beach has changed since we were last here. 13 years ago we spent a week laying on the sand here, soaking up the sun. Now there is barely any flat sand left at high tide.

From the Bluffs we continued on around the south side of the island. With hurricane swell in the forecast Sten was keen to check out potential surf breaks. That's how we found ourselves at the bottom of a steep, slippery and muddy path down to the shore, in the company of 8 other guys all looking at a few ripples in the water. But all of them, Sten included, had an excited gleam in their eyes as they scanned the coast just imagining the peaks that would be breaking once the surf picked up.

Shortly after noon we headed back to Old Harbor to pick up Susan. And then it was off to the beach to hang out with Scott and Chris and enjoy the rest of a gorgeous day. Sunday brought more of the same, but our enjoyment was tinged by the knowledge that a hurricane by the name of Earl was forming that had the potential to make its way to New England by the end of the week. And so we all began monitoring the weather and talking about it. And talking about it. And talking about it. If there is one thing that sailors love to analyze and discuss, it is serious weather.

On Sunday afternoon Sten took a break from the weather analysis and went fishing. He came back with an absolutely huge Striped Bass. At first he was a little hesitant to tell us how he caught it, but eventually we got the story out of him.

It seems that he was working the waters off the southwest coast, having absolutely no luck catching anything. He had started to head back to the harbor when he saw a disturbance on the surface. He sped over and found a big old Striper choking on a scup.

Now, I've been asking Sten to bring home a Striper for weeks. He keeps throwing them back, claiming that they are too magnificent to keep. And so what does he do when he comes across one choking to death? He tries to save her life.

First he grabs a pair of pliers and pulls the scup out of the Striper's throat. Then he starts moving the Striper through the water to try to resuscitate her. Only when he's convinced that she is too weak and too far gone to save does he actually decide to bring her home for dinner. She was big enough to feed us, Valhalla and our neighbors, Jake and Marni on Avalanche.

No trip out to Block Island would be complete without sampling one of their famous mudslides. And yet somehow this was my third visit of the summer and I hadn't had one yet. It was a situation that needed to be rectified post haste. So on Sunday night we made our way down to Mahogany Shoals to take in the Reprobates 10th annual farewell tour (good practice for their 11th farewell show next year).

On our way back to the dock in front of the Oar, with bellies full of creamy, chocolaty, boozy, frosty goodness, we came across a very stoned surveyor who was using his equipment to check out the moon, which was hanging very low in the sky. The relative lack of light pollution out at Block makes it a wonderful place to stargaze. Peering through his scope we got to see features of the surface of the moon that we'd only read about before.

We had wanted to spend the whole week out at Block and then push on out to Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket. But with Earl heading towards us with the possibility of making landfall at the end of the week we had to decide whether to hunker down in Block or return to Newport. The forecast on Monday was more dire than those over the weekend. On Tuesday afternoon Suzy decided to return to Newport via the ferry to get her house ready. Sten and I decided to wait another day before determining whether it was necessary to head back to our mooring in Newport Harbor.

One of the traditional family outings on Block is to play bingo at the fire house on Tuesday nights. The hall is filled with children still sandy from the beach and their parents looking relieved to have something for them to do after dark. And since we are worldly and sophisticated thirty somethings without children, that's exactly where we spent Tuesday night.

Sten and I picked out some cards from the pile, bought a dauber and a roll of giant sweet tarts (because really, can one play bingo without being on a sugar high?) and a bottle of soda. I apparently chose terrible cards. I didn't come close to winning a single game. But Sten, well, Sten should have played the lottery on Tuesday.

The first time he called out bingo it was just on the heels of a little boy at the table next to us. They both had 5 in a row, so they pulled cards for the tie breaker, which Sten won. They both got prizes, but he got the big one (two free bike rentals) The next time he called out bingo it was a tie with a little girl. Luckily she won the horseshoe set and he took home the gift certificate to the pub.

By the last game of the night the four boys at the table next to us were giving Sten dirty looks. When I looked at his cards and saw that he was one draw from another bingo I leaned over and whispered "if you win another game those boys are going to be waiting for us outside with their wiffle ball bats." So Sten surreptitiously slid his card over to me. Within two draws I was shouting bingo and walking up to the front of the hall to claim my gift certificate to the airport diner.

On Wednesday morning we woke to discover that the models were showing Earl tracking closer towards us. And so we decided to head back to Newport and prepare for the worst.


Kevin said...

Ok, bad form to stop posting as hurricane is taking aim at you! What happened next?

Danika and Sten said...

Thanks Kevin. Your comment was just the kick in the pants that I needed!

Kevin said...

You are most welcome Danika, We hope to be making a loop of our own soon.
Natalie and Kevin

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