Sound Sailing Center Crew Heads to Newport for the Newport Bermuda Race!

Today’s Pre-Race Update:

Varuna is in Noank this Am and will leave for Newport at 8am.  ETA around 2pm.

The weather for the waters enroute to Bermuda / just north of the stream are challenging – Bermuda (euro model) shows the low quite far to the south while NOAA sees it stronger and just south of the stream – moving north on Monday.  The 96 hr 500mb chart is also ugly.   I suspect there will be a one day delay in the start of the race as the stream would be very tough to cross with steep breaking waves if east winds over 25 knots.  South winds as expected Sunday are no big deal.

 newport bermuda send off

Gemini wins Block Island Race!


James Coffman, long time former student and member of Sound Sailing Center, captained his Hanse 375 (which is the same hull as the VAr 37), with Martin van Breems (founder and owner of SSC) in the afterguard. Jim Boyle, a long time SSC instructor and professor of Oceanography was the navigator.

We initially planned a route through the islands, based on a light wind forecast, but by the start, the winds were strong enough to ignore the tides and head straight down the sound from the start of Stamford with winds out of the SE. Within a few hours the winds backed to the South, and we popped the chute, allowing us to put some distance between our competitors with winds over 18 knots and boat speeds over 10 knots. Unfortunately, the 3/4 oz kite blew out after a roundup, but we still had gained some good distance. Then, the wind totally died, and we were left flopping around the sound.


Even worse, the boats close in to shore were moving! We went into wind seeker mode (which the self tacking jib is great for), and managed to get the boat moving. To our great relief, we soon got some wind, and the boats more inshore were dead. Within Martin’s 2 hour watch, there were 6 sail changes!

As we approached Plum Gut well after dark, James decided to hoist our 2nd kite, and again started making tracks through the night all the way to the north end of Block Island. We sailed through a thunderstorm, and dropped the kite just a minute before we rounded the bouy. Then we started the upwind passage With winds in the 17-19 knot range we were double reefed. They dropped a little as we rounded the southern end of Block, just as dawn broke. We soon realized we had put a considerable distance between us and all the other boats in our class. Continue Reading →

Ahoy Thimble Islands!!

Ocean Sailing: Sound Sailing Center | Norwalk, CT

Captain’s Log: Thimble Islands

My kids and I sailed from New London back to Norwalk, stopping at one of my favorite spots, the Thimble Islands off Branford.  Unlike the Norwalk islands, which for the most part are glacial sedimentary deposits, the Thimble Islands are granite outcroppings, like much of the Maine coast, with all their rugged beauty.   The base of the Statue of Liberty is constructed of granite from the surrounding area.
Up to quite recently, all the symbol islands or private and you could not go I sure on any of them. Several years ago Outer Thimble was donated to the National Park Service and is now a public island.
Sound Sailing Center Learn to Sail


Anchoring is tricky in the Thimble Islands, given the shifting currents.   2 anchors set 180 degrees to each other with a weight to keep the rode down will do the trick.  However, there are generally several unoccupied moorings available. If you arrive towards the end of the day it’s often a safe bet to grab one of these.  If the owner shows up they will certainly let you know!  We then dingied over to Outer Thimble and spent a few wonderful hours climbing all over and just laying on the rocks.


Heading out, I was surprised at how unuseful the GPS was for navigating between the various clumps of rocks. Paper charts with plotted courses are essential.  I am always glad to review possible destinations with our members based on my many years of experience. We hope you will get out there soon!  Memberships are filling up rapidly so let us know if you want to get out there this year.


learn to sail sailing membership


The Thimble Islands are not the easiest destination, but they are, to my mind, the most beautiful one in all of Connecticut.  

January 8th Newsletter


Adventures on VAruna (our VAr37) – CT to USVI

Crossing the Gulf Steam in Varuna.

On November 28th we left Old Saybrook for Bermuda, sailing in convoy with Bermuda High.  Conditions looked good, although a significant low pressure system would make the stream unpassable if we did not make good time (which of course we did).  The Zoom jib boom helped make us faster than the larger Hanse 400, Bermuda High.  Alan Suhonen captained Bermuda High assisted by Mark Robinson and Frank the owner. Alan was amazed at how quickly Martin and his crew on the 37 took off.  Here is a report from Fred Williams, one of our members on Varuna on the first leg;

Dave and Fred on watch as we leave.

Continue Reading →