Tuesday, August 31, 2010
I was in a rut. I had my favorite places to launch my Laser on the local bays... and I kept going back to the same places. Fogland Beach to enjoy the peaceful, rural atmosphere of the middle stretches of the Sakonnet; Colt State Park to stretch my legs on the wide open spaces of Upper Narragansett Bay; and Independence Park in Bristol for Tuesday night racing and solo practice in a relatively enclosed harbor.
I had had my eye on Little Compton for a while. It's at the mouth of the Sakonnet River, roughly opposite Third Beach Newport from which I had launched in the past for some epic days of sailing in the New England Laser Masters and also for that exciting day a couple of years ago with my son, documented in Fat Boy and Little Man. In my travels I had noticed a small beach in the harbor at Little Compton which would be perfect for launching a Laser; and parking spaces for cars and trailers just across the main road from that beach. What could be better? Easy parking, easy launching in a sheltered harbor, with access to wide open water renowned for fantastic wave sailing conditions when the wind has been coming from the south.
So I check it out a couple of weeks ago. It totally fulfilled my expectations for ease of access and launching. Unfortunately the wind was from the east that day so the waves were nothing special. But still... I had got out of the rut.
The junior sailors from the Sakonnet Yacht Club were just returning to the harbor as I was leaving it that afternoon. There was a couple sailing a Soling just outside the harbor mouth, but other than that very little boat traffic. I started reaching across the mouth of the river towards Newport and then got in some beating practice towards the Sakonnet lighthouse.
I mentioned a few days ago that it seemed that my propensity to make stupid mistakes in the boat had lessened a little lately. Lessened... but not totally eliminated. I was hiking hard and decided I needed to tighten the outhaul a tad. As per usual, I transferred my sheet to the tiller hand and, while still hiking, reached for the outhaul control with my front hand. Oops. Somehow the sheet slipped out of my other hand, the sail went out, the boat came over on top of me, and all of a sudden I was swimming in the Sakonnet River, all on my own, a mile from shore.
No big deal. I laughed. I took a big breath. I righted the boat and clambered back on board. I checked that nothing was broken or missing on me or the boat. All good. And went on sailing.
Life is good.
I think I will be going back to Little Compton.
By the way, did you know that Little Compton has Rhode Island's only town common?
Not many people know that.
And did you know that Little Compton is the only place in the United States with a monument dedicated to a chicken? The Rhode Island Red of course.
Not many people know that either.
And did you know that Henry Tillinghast Sisson (1831-1910), inventor of the 3-ring binder, lived in Little Compton?
Hardly anybody knows that.
I think I'll take a nap now.