Monday, September 30, 2013

Luna Rossa

Prior to cruising in our Airstream "Land Yacht" Sarah and I owned a sailboat which we cruised the coast of New England. Orinoco was a classic, world class sailing vessel. Built by Shannon Yachts in Bristol, Rhode Island she was designed to take us anywhere there was more than five feet of water and wind to fill her sails. Sadly, three years ago a marina fire in Maryland made her unseaworthy and thus a total loss.
Orinoco in Perry Creek
Vinalhaven Island, ME

Our time and experience sailing Orinoco fostered contacts with other sailors that allowed us to crew on other boats and temporarily satisfied our desire to be on the water. Those opportunities were all enjoyable, but we realized that sailing on other people's boats doesn't satisfy our desire to explore new destinations at our own whim and pleasure.

We thought at length about what it was about boating that we enjoyed. Like the popular "What my family thinks I do..." cartoons we looked at the different aspects of sailing, boating and boat ownership closely. We were able to separate the romantic from the practical realities. For instance, we enjoyed the challenge of navigating our own course, coming to know and fully understand our boat, dealing with the inevitable problems inherent with any maintaining a boat and the acquisition of knowledge it took to meet those challenges. These were very gratifying aspects of sailing. For another, we enjoyed the feeling of freedom and adventure allowed us by being able to drop an anchor anyplace on a chart we felt safe and we wanted to explore. Defining each element allowed us to identify those aspects we could satisfy sailing as crew and those that would require owning our own boat. Part of that process included realizing that Sarah and I enjoyed different aspects of cruising and being on the water.  The biggest difference in our view of sailing was long distance ocean passage making. While I enjoy long passages, Sarah does not. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities for me to sail the open ocean by crewing on deliveries. Being able to pick and choose the boat and the journey is almost as satisfying as being the master of my own boat with the advantage of not having to pay the cost of the passage making. Discovering new places, meeting new people and learning about the history and art of each destination is more important for her.

Reflecting on the time we spent sailing Orinoco the last season we had her, we realized that exploring beautiful anchorages along the coast of Maine was a nearly idyllic time. After that, it was a matter of finding a boat that would once again let us cruise in that manner. We determined that a 27' Ranger Tug would be the best compromise. The major benefits are that she can be hauled over the road on a trailer with the truck we already own which avoids fees for dockage, storage and launching. It also means we don't have to spend time (and money) getting to cruising destinations on her own bottom. It is much easier, faster and less expensive to take her over the road (I get enough fun and ocean experience on other people's boats to satisfy my longing to be out on the open ocean). Finally, all boats require maintenance. Being able to tow the boat home and work in our own yard saves so much time traveling to whatever marina a larger boat would need to be berthed.  Still, she would need to be spacious enough for Sarah and I to spend extended time on board. The boat would need to have full amenities like galley, head and sleeping quarters for us to be comfortable for days or possibly weeks at a time.

We spent many hours on the computer searching for a boat that would suit our needs. Finally, I happened on a Ranger Tug. Built in Washington, Ranger Tugs are well regarded by those who own them. Despite being production built boats, they are of high quality, have a solid reputation and are spoken lovingly of by others who own them. Equally important, they are very attractive. They have a proper look for a motor yacht. While they are very popular in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, there were not many late model used Ranger Tugs in the Northeast. We found one in Maryland that warranted a drive to look at her. Sarah and I both liked it very much, and we thought it could work if a few issues were addressed. But, on the drive home, Sarah was on-line and found a "new" 2012 model for sale in Connecticut at a steeply reduced price. We made arrangements to see it the next day. It happened that Wilde Yacht Sales had a 2012 that they had used to display at boat shows, they were no longer going to be a dealer for Ranger Tugs and therefore were selling this model as "new" with full warranty. We bought her that afternoon. We are once again boat owners. 

On the drive back to Jamestown, RI from Essex, CT the full moon was rising over the Newport bridge. It so happened that this particular full moon in August is sometimes known as the "red moon". Since her hull is a deep red, her name had to be Luna Rossa.
As we found her at Wilde Yachts

As part of the negotiation, Wilde Yachts agreed to install and auto-pilot, the only equipment we felt we needed that this boat did not have. There were also a few other items that even a boat used only for boat show demonstration had to have repaired (I did mention that boats require maintenance). This of course took some time, as did getting insurance and other lesser details, like having a trailer built to put her on. The installation of the auto-pilot for a time was a matter of some concern, and is yet to be resolved. But, we are working on it as I write.
Luna Rossa on her new Venture trailer custom ordered by Scott at S & S Marine of Old Saybrook, CT
We took delivery on September 24th and spent the better part of the day learning how to get her onto and off the trailer and how to get her into an out of slips in the marina. She certainly handles much differently than our heavy full keeled sailboat, Orinoco. Paul, from Wilde Yachts took us into Hamburg cove on the Connecticut River just north of Essex. After returning Paul to Essex, Sarah and I returned to Hamburg Cove for our first night aboard Luna Rossa. The next morning we cruised down the river to Long Island sound and crossed over to Greenport, New York on Long Island. Greenport is a major summer destination for boaters and sun seekers, but mid-week in early fall, we were one of only three boats in Mitchell Marina. The dock hands, Mike and Tristan, made us feel welcome, helped us into our slip and told us where the local watering holes were. The last was especially important because we wanted to watch the final race in the America's Cup series. As all the sailors reading this know, it was a tremendous come back for team Oricle.
Launch time and learning the correct procedures to get her on and off the trailer
Thanks to Scott from S & S and Paul from Wilde Yachts for making it a great day

Mitchell Marina, Greenport, NY Long Island
Sorry we don't have a picture of Mike or Tristan, but be sure to say hi if you go

Our initial plan was to leave Greenport for Block Island, but the wind and seas were building from the east and we didn't want to make our first long passage a slog. Instead, we chose to circumnavigate Shelter Island and do some sightseeing from the boat of all the beautiful houses on the shore. After completing the round the island tour we made our home for night at Piccozzi's Marina in charming Dering Harbor on the north side of the island.
Luna Rossa at Dering Harbor, Shelter Harbor, NY

We were rewarded with a fine weather forecast the for the next couple days so we decided to head back across Long Island sound for the historical town of Mystic, Connecticut. With light winds and calm seas the crossing was a pleasure. Mystic Shipyard West ( welcomed us early in the afternoon. Their very friendly and helpful dock and yard man, Kenny quickly filled us in on where to go to enjoy our brief stay in Mystic. We enjoyed the scenic 1.7 mile walk to downtown Mystic. The streets were full of tourists enjoying the fine weather and the sales being held in the shops along the main streets. The town just felt right to be arriving by boat.

Turning into the Mystic River

Historic Mystic Connecticut
Along the walk into Mystic from the marina

With the weather forecast holding true on our last day, we had a relaxed downwind passage back to Essex. Total distance traveled was 110 nm, we used just over 30 gallons of fuel and averaged about 6.5 Kts.

To all our Airstream followers, don't despair, we will be on the road again in a few weeks. So, stay tuned.