Arts and Culture
Food and Wine
People and Places
Science and Nature
Travel and Lodging
New Hampshire
Rhode Island
Home » TRAVEL AND LODGING in RI » RHODE ISLAND (all topics) » Yachting - Not just for the Rich and Famous
Newport Harbor
Yachting - Not just for the Rich and Famous

Part 3 - Where Does an 800 Pound Gorilla Anchor? Anywhere He Wants To

By George Boase | October 27, 2011

Previous Article in this Series

There’s nothing else quite like being that 800-pound gorilla, or in this case the real Master and Commander of your vessel.

There’s a certain freedom you get from not being tethered to a dock. The peace and solitude at a good anchorage is almost a shock to the system. With no middle of the night pounding of footsteps along a creaky dock or neighbor having a party with 50 of their closest friends, you depart from the crowd and declare yourself an independent and sovereign nation. Let’s not forget it’s also free.

At Mooring in Newport Harbor

Life on the hook is very much like passage making. My smart and beautiful wife, who reads everything I write, has a favorite saying. “It’s better to have something and not need it than to need it and not have it.” These are great words of wisdom to live by when anchoring.

My first experiments with breaking the bonds from land brought out many glaring deficiencies in our boat. I cannot urge practice runs strongly enough. Short weekends at anchor just to weed out the little problems. It’s also a good idea to make it somewhere very close to homeport where regardless of weather you can make it back in minutes.

As most men do, I figured if I had enough snacks, magazines and toilet paper I could survive nuclear winter. My first weekend went pretty well. I planned my second practice run from Monday to Wednesday.

First problem was the weather. I had a good anchorage, well protected and good holding, but the weather kicked up and I was forced to stay another two days. Two of those four nights were spent in the dark. I found out exactly how long I could go without shore power. Not long enough.

Sunset in Newport Harbor

Before I went out again, I bought a cheap, noisy and quite obnoxious two-stroke 800-watt generator that I could stow below deck. I hate running it, but in three hours it recharges all my batteries. Civilization had returned along with TV.

My solar shower ended up going overboard in a heavy wave while heating up on deck. It’s one thing to have a “talk like a pirate” day, it’s quite another to smell like one too. By day four, seagulls quit bothering me for food. On day five I noticed several boats anchored nearby had moved upwind.

Food held up just fine. I did learn the values of having an extra can opener and how good evaporated milk was. Nothing I had onboard needed refrigeration. If you must have ice, a 50-pound block will last nearly a week in a decent icebox. Not easy to find but they do exist.

Practice in incremental duration will bring out all the little things we don’t normally think about. Try an overnighter, then three before going for five or a week. My first week attempt had to be cut short when I started running out of crucial items.

Always plan to be out longer than expected. Nostradamus never made weather predictions. On several occasions, I stayed in a harbor days longer than planned. A stay on Block Island had to be extended for an additional week.

If you’re ready to make that leap to life on the hook, here are some free anchorages I enjoyed this past season.

Newport Harbor can devastate and lay ruin to a budget. Moorings start at $50 and docks run from $5.50 to $7.50 per foot. It can also be a real bargain. There are two very good FREE places to anchor in Newport Harbor. Between the mooring field and below the marked cable area in the southern end of the harbor is the preferred anchorage.

Beautiful Skies

This is the heart of Newport Harbor. It is busy, but finding a spot to anchor can be easier than finding a dock or mooring. Newport can fill up fast and it’s common to raft at docks and moorings. Contact the harbor-master for help in locating and anchoring.

According to the harbor-master or any of the marinas, the holding is suspect. I’ve never had a problem. I know of one yacht anchored all summer long and only drug anchor once in a severe northeaster. I’m not sure I would recommend anchoring here in severe weather since the harbor can get pretty lumpy at times. You are required to remain onboard in severe weather.

There are 10 dinghy docks along the waterfront and short-term docks for transient vessels 26 to 40 feet located at the Anne Street pier. Very handy if you need to re-provision and don’t feel like schlepping groceries and supplies by launch or dinghy. For a fee, there are other touch-and-go docks at various marinas in case the free dock at Anne Street is full.

Boats at Anchor

For those without dinghy or tender, Oldport Launch service picks up from all parts of the harbor including anchorages for a $3 fee. The schedule is according to season and events. A pump out boat is also available on call.

For all those amenities you normally have when paying for a dock or mooring, Seamen’s Church Institute provides heads, showers, lounge, laundry, library and an inexpensive café for breakfast and lunches. They also have free use of computers with Internet and free WiFi.

If you want all the access to Newport, without the crowd and fuss, the other anchorage is just north of the mooring field above Goat Island in the shadow of the Pell Bridge.

While this anchorage is pretty much out of dinghy range to downtown Newport, Oldport services the area on an hourly basis. Far more quiet and with some amazing scenery, many find this to be the preferred anchorage. It all depends on how much excitement or quiet you want.

Narragansett Bay is full of neat little gunkholes. I’ve spent the summer exploring them and I still have many more to visit. The best thing is it’s all free. It’s been one of the most interesting and educational summers of my life. The feeling of freedom you get when you realize you don’t need land is amazing. I truly have enjoyed yachting as an 800-pound gorilla.

Next time, George continues to explore Narragansett Bay’s best (and cheapest!) places to lay anchor.

Share |
ONE is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.