The Block Island Times

Islands, islands everywhere!

By J. V. Houlihan, Jr. | Oct 08, 2012
Photo by: Joe Healey The author relaxes near the Newport Bridge.

On a sailboat race in 1970, the captain of the boat I was on said, “There’s Prudence, Patience, Hope and Despair, and that’s little Fox over there.” He pointed to all of the aforementioned islands as we headed for the race course off Warwick Neck; such poetry, huh! Since that race, those islands have been an integral part of my sailing life. Narragansett Bay has good scenery — I like looking at the land and houses as I sail past the islands — and presents the opportunity to learn some good navigational skills.

On the way up to Prudence Island to meet my brother this last week, upon leaving Newport Harbor, I was taken by the austere as well as grand house designs on Jamestown. I love the contrast of grand and humble homes. I caught up with my brother as he was passing Hope Island on his way to the west side of Prudence. I blew by Pat on his 26 foot sloop Celtic Legend, and told him I’d see him soon. After tying our boats to a friend’s moorings, we went ashore on Prudence, got a truck, and did an island tour; Prudence has its charms, and its deer!

Pat and I had dinner on my boat Reverie: Dinty Moore beef stew, crackers, and Diet Cokes. Then we talked about brother stuff, kids, brides and our boats. Pat invented the most genius steering rig for his boat. Simply put, it looks like mahogany handlebars and “it works like a charm,” according to my brother, who inherited my dad’s Yankee ingenuity. (He should patent this thing.) He went back to his boat. In the morning, I was heading around the south end of Prudence, and Pat went back to Quonset where he moors his boat.

Entering the east passage with 30 knots of southwest wind, I put the spurs to Reverie and aimed for Bristol Harbor. I sailed by Prudence doing 7.5 knots and enjoyed the scenery of the island; interesting houses there also. It was too nasty to go looking for a mooring in Bristol, so I ducked into Potter’s Cove on Prudence, the most protected anchorage in the bay. I was the only boat in the harbor, with the exception of another sloop. I hacked around my boat, did some repairs to my dinghy, and then took a walk along the quiet island roads. Back at the boat, they were calling for a cold front to come through and the wind would be out of the northwest at 8 to 10 knots the next day; great sailing weather!

Next morning, I made some coffee, checked my chart, and decided to head around the north end of Prudence, sail between Patience Island and Warwick Neck, and then sail downwind on a broad reach for Hope and Despair (Hope smells like seagulls), and continue on toward Fox Island. Novelist John Casey wrote “Spartina” there.

I was having a perfect two days of sailing on Narragansett Bay.

It’s funny, I load boats for the Block Island Ferry, and in my slack time, I end up on islands: Jamestown, Aquidneck, and Prudence. I bring some books, maybe write something and listen to the radio, and go into what I call mad monk mode.

I heard a guy say once, “If a man wants to stay married, he’d better have a shed.” I guess Reverie is mine.

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