Advice for newbies re: Fishers Island - SailNet Community

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Old 07-30-2013
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Advice for newbies re: Fishers Island

This is our second season sailing and our first season on Fishers Island Sound with our new-to-us boat.

We're feeling brave and the weather forecast looks good, so we were thinking about circumnavigating Fishers Island this Monday. Our hope is to sail to Block Island and Newport in September, so we thought this would help to build our experience.

Our plan is to do a quick sail on Sunday, catch a mooring in West Harbor and explore the island, and then sail around on Monday. Even though we are planning for it as if we were about to sail to Bermuda (), we do still have a few questions. We are planning to go clockwise and were thinking about taking Lord's Passage because Wicopesset Passage seems awfully narrow. Any thoughts? As far as the Race goes, obviously slack tide is best but is there any difference in conditions between ebb or flood tide (besides direction, of course)? Finally, we're not really sure how to time it. Our max hull speed is just under 6 knots but we really have no idea how fast we actually average (it's likely closer to 3 knots). Would it be better to assume we're going to average 3 knots and if we get to the Race early just anchor or circle around until conditions are optimal?

Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!
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Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.
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Re: Advice for newbies re: Fishers Island

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Originally Posted by BubbleheadMd View Post
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.
I know. This probably sounds ridiculous to you old salts, but our previous long sail was to Stonington and back. Just think back to when you were a newbie. I can't wait until something like this is just a typical sail!
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Re: Advice for newbies re: Fishers Island

We favor Wicopesset Passage over Lord's Passage. It may be narrower, but it is easier to navigate. Assuming you are going clockwise from West Harbor, you might hug the shore of Fishers Island, minding the navigational buoys. You can stay close to shore to the east of East Harbor or go north of Youngs and Seal Rocks. Line up Green can 1 in the center of Wicopesset Passage with the RW Bell and you can hardly go wrong. You need to stay within 200 yards of can 1 as you pass it and you will be quickly through Wicopesset Passage.

As you proceed toward Race Point, you can hardly go wrong to stay a few hundred yards offshore. I would not consider anchoring on the outside of Fishers Island to wait for slack water at the Race. Rather, you need to factor the currents into your planning. You didn't mention the Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book, but you need have one. Check the currents on page 89 for Sunday and plan your circumnavigation of Fisher Island with reference to the Tidal Current Charts on pages 92-97, which show the currents on an hour-by hour basis.

I would not plan on maintaining 6 kts in your boat. Better to figure on 4 kts through the water if the winds are right. You also need to adjust for the current, based on Eldridges (pp. 92-97) which will affect your speed over the ground. You will not have ideal conditions at both ends of Fishers Island, so you need to plan on avoiding maximum currents at Wicopesset and Race Pt and deal with some adverse currents on your circumnavigation of the island.

All that said, and given the currents on Monday, August 5th, I would recommend a counterclockwise route and plan to pass Race Point no later than noon. You'd have a fair current all along the south side of Fishers Island and would enter Wicopesset Passage with a 2 kt or so foul current and then head west in FI Sound with a diminishing foul current. You can diminish the effect of the Ebb current after passing through Wicopesset Passage by hugging the Fishers Island coast and avoid the center of Fishers Island Sound. This assumes you are returning to somewhere in the vicinity of West Harbor. Perhaps you are sailing out of Noank?
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Re: Advice for newbies re: Fishers Island

This is excellent information. Thank you so much, Fallard! I really appreciate it.

We have Eldridge's but it is on the boat so we were going to review it on Saturday. We're moored in Groton, so even though it will be a bit longer it definitely sounds like counterclockwise is the way to go on Monday.

Thanks again.
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