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Pamlicotraveler 06-12-2008 05:29 PM

Block Island - Marina recommendations?
We are going to arrive at Block Island around June 26th or 27th. Any recommendations on marinas and other options.

I have thought we would stay at Champlins since that's the only one I've heard of. Just checked their website - rates are $4.00 foot! We're 43' so thats $172 a night. I've never paid that much before at a marina, but then again I never paid $4.00 for a gallon of gas until this week.

What are the mooring/anchoring options and what's the "best" place to be. If it's this much we might just decide to be at a dock for a night or two at least and I guess then anchor or move on.

tokobe 06-12-2008 06:37 PM

Block Island Marina
Champlin's is mainly used by power boats, although a limited number of sailers do stay there. There are two other marinas in Great Salt Pond, and on the east side of the Island, very limited anchorage in Old Harbor.

Great Salt Pond is the body of water you will sail or motor into by entering on the west side of Block. North of the pond's navigation channel ( which itself runs wnw to ese) is the mooring field and the anchoring area. There are a series of white bouys running sw to ne beginning near the west side of the pond entrance once through the channel entry from Block Island Sound (check the charts). The area north of these bouys is for water sports- skiing and dingy sailing, but no anchoring. And this is enforced.

You will find generally good holding but there are areas where that is not true. I have found what is effective is either two anchors or one with a kellet to improve holding 1/2 to 2/3 of the way down the anchor rode. For me the ground tackle system has 30' of chain and then whatever I need of 300' of 3/4" rode. This works well on our 20,000 lb Hinckley Bermuda 40 aft cabin yawl that frequents Great Salt Pond.

And note, a quiet morning can easily become a very busy afternoon with 25-30 mph gusts. Or even more fun, a dark eveing with fresh storm conditions as thunderstorms cross from west to east. Effective anchoring skills are important here, even without lots of wave or current actions.

Depth (remember it's tidal) can be anywhere from 4-6' in the ene part near the dingy beach to 50' in the nw part of the anchoring area north of the navigation channel. South of the channel is the mooring field, both private and town. The town moorings are available nightly by vhf discussion with the harbor master. There is a nightly fee, probably $40 a night if you sleep better on a mooring than the hook. You will meet the harbormaster your first afternoon/night on a mooring as the Town of New Shoreham will assure each vessel pays that is on a mooring.

If you choose not to use your dingy, there are two launch services raised on vhf (might be 68) that provide for $1.50 per person each way transportation to shore. Always more entertaining and dryer to do this, especially in the later evening as the inebriation level rises after dark. Especially on this island....

Realize this was the first harbor in the northeast to go 'clean', as in Federal Discharge penalties. They take this very seriously, so do not get confused about it. So if you do not have an effective holding tank system and or are not willing to use it, go to a marina and use the shore facilities only. By vhf channel 78, when on a mooring or the hook as well as if tied to a dock at one of the marinas, the Town of New Shoreham runs several pumpout boats morning and afternoon for free, contributions appreciated. And remember, you will see the harbormaster and his associates perusing the clean waters of Great Salt Pond at a variety of random times for anyone so foolish as to think pumping overboard is wise.

Several years ago the town paper reported over 78,000 gallons of marine pumpout was handled that year, not by the Pond, but by the island's waste water facilities. It is now delightful to swim, sail dingys, kayak, clam etc., before this with sometimes 750 -1,000 boats in this pond per night, not so. Read up on Block Island, lots of things to do. It is a great destination, with over half the island in permanent open space without the mansion events of MV or Nantucket.

Have fun, we always do.

TrueBlue 06-12-2008 07:16 PM

tokobe has accurately described what to expect with overnighting in The Great Salt Pond. We have been cruising there for many years and will continue to do so with our next boat. Block Island is a wonderful destination and despite the party atmosphere generated by Champlins and the hundreds of powerboaters who summer at that marina, I consider it an ideal sailor's destination.

You're arriving on a Thursday or Friday at the end of June. My sense is you will have a difficult time finding a mooring on Friday, better odds on Thursday. We have never reserved a slip - can't even consider why we would do this. The anchorage conditions, with sufficient ground tackle and anchoring skills, is very good in most places, and if you cruise the perimeter of the public mooring field for a while, boats do leave on occasion.

I would suspect most slips will be filled on every summer weekends - arrive on short notice and Champlins, Block Island Boat Basin, and Paynes, will raft you alongside existing boats . . . at times five or more boats are rafted together at Champlins - the most greedy marina there. If you must have a slip, then BIBB is the best place to be - but they're usually booked well in advance. At this time of year, there may be cancellations, so you never know until you call upon arriving. Be sure to hang out at The Oar, the local sailor's watering hole/restaurant at BIBB.

Another favorite pastime is to dinghy over to Dinghy Beach - at the northeastern corner of the pond. Either beach or anchor your dink and walk across the sand bar/roadway to Crescent Beach - the best beach in Block Island.

Enjoy your stay - hard not to if weather is favorable. We'd join you there if our daughter wasn't getting married in Newport on the 28th.

Pamlicotraveler 06-12-2008 08:03 PM

Excellent information Tokobe and TB ... much appreciated. I am printing it out and will have it right there in my chartbook ready for our arrival.

I guess my thought is we'd want to fuel and water up at a marina and possibly have a night or two at a dock after having been at sea for 4-5 days. I am going to at least take a look at the others.

Our ground tackle is 150" chain and 160" 3/4 rode for the primary (bruce) the chain would serve as the "kellet" to improve the "catenary" (I could impress my friends with these terms) :) or could put out a second anchor. Actually, if the mooring is available I probably would be able to drink more wine.

We'll have to use our holding tank in the aft since our Lectra San has a small holding tank (17 gall). But the idea that they will come to you is great.

camaraderie 06-12-2008 10:11 PM

Pam...the anchorage will be crowded on the weekend so you'll need to use 2 to reduce swing room most likely. I highly recommend the moorings and calling the guy singing "Andiamo" over to your boat when you see him!

Pamlicotraveler 06-13-2008 08:59 AM


Originally Posted by camaraderie (Post 328389)
calling the guy singing "Andiamo"

There's some local knowledge I haven't seen! Thanks Cam.

Hey, by the way...we were just discussing we don't have a "mooring pennant" as we never have even used a mooring ball. Is that something we need to buy or is there a substitute we could safely get by with?

christyleigh 06-13-2008 09:29 AM


Originally Posted by Pamlicotraveler (Post 328535)
Hey, by the way...we were just discussing we don't have a "mooring pennant" as we never have even used a mooring ball. Is that something we need to buy or is there a substitute we could safely get by with?

I don't remember if BI moorings have the same large eye as this one on Cuttyhunk, but all I did was run my bow lines through it after getting secured.

JimsCAL 06-13-2008 09:30 AM

Very complete posts tokobe and TB! Having been to Block Island well over a dozen times over the years, I can confirm the great advice you both gave.

One quick question: Is the harbormaster now reserving town moorings via VHF? I was always under the impression they were first come, first served.

Pamlico, the mooring pennant is the line attached to the mooring ball to pick up and put on your bow cleat. No need for your own.

Pamlicotraveler 06-13-2008 09:39 AM


Originally Posted by JimsCAL (Post 328547)
Pamlico, the mooring pennant is the line attached to the mooring ball to pick up and put on your bow cleat. No need for your own.

That's what I was wondering. So is the line we pick up long enough to make it to the bow cleat? I was assuming we had to connect our bowline to something.

christyleigh 06-13-2008 09:49 AM

Jimscal jogged my memory - Yes, you can simply attach the long mooring line with the big eye splice on the end to your bow cleats, but if I'm staying more than a day I still run my bow lines through it instead to center it and keep it from messing with the 2 anhcors I have hanging there while swinging around.

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