Last week I suspended my usual activities in favor of a week sailing around what we refer to here in Boston as "The Cape and the Islands."
On Friday, August 6, we took charge of Endless Summer a Beneteau 423 we chartered from Brian Blank at Bareboat Sailing Charters in Newport, RI. The boat was brand new this year and came equipped with all the modern conveniences, including a Raymarine 530 Plus color chart plotter and radar system. These systems get better every year - this one networks together all the instruments so you can sit at the nav station or at the helm and get a readout of speed, course, wind, depth and lots of useful calculations such as speed over ground and time to the next waypoint. With the daylight-readable station at the helm one can dispense with paper charts altogether and just steer by computer, although we always like to have a backup plan lest one become too dependent on one technology.
We had dinner at the Clarke Cooke House which as always was a continuous party with excellent food and prices to match.
Saturday at 1100 hrs, we set out for Westport, MA. The winds were out of the South at 10-15 knots, the sun was shining, and we sailed at a leisurely 4 knots. We had been warned that a southerly wnd can cause some serious breakers as you enter the S-shaped, narrow channel at the mouth of the Westport River, but when we got there at 1530 the seas were calm and we motored up to the Spindle Rock Yacht Club. If you go there, keep to the left and trust what the locals tell you over what's on the charts. We had dinner at the Back Eddy, which, while no longer owned by Chris Schlesinger, continues to serve up great seafood.
Sunday we left the mooring at 1115, topped up the water, and headed for Vineyard Sound. Our original plan was to anchor in Tarpaulin Cove on the south side of Naushon Island, reputedly last port of call for Captain Kidd. When it was abeam at 1420 we were doing a good 8.3 knots with the current behind us and decided to press on, arriving at Edgartown at around 1700 and anchored in the outer harbor.
Every year, the shops in Edgartown move more upscale and the SUVs continue to metastasize, but the town retains it's New England charm and there is always something going on. We stumbled upon an opening for Bill McLane's landscapes at the Eisenhauer Gallery and enjoyed some excellent Pinot Grigio.
Back in the harbor, we admired the 12-Metres rafted together at the Edgartown Yacht Club after the annual 12-Metre regatta, then took the dinghy back to the boat where we barbecued some lamb kabobs and enjoyed a dinner under the stars.
Monday morning we sailed from Edgartown to Nantucket, passing by Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound where a controversial Wind Farm has been proposed. So far, the only evidence of the project is a Scientific Monitoring Station that gathers and transmits weather and sea conditions, but the actual wind farm will have 130 towers spread over 24 square miles. It's curious how this has pitted the renewable energy environmentalists against the preserve-the-view environmentalists. Personally, I'm curious how they plan to transmitt 420 megawatts underwater.
That being said, the wind does blow through Nantucket Sound and we made it to Nantucket Harbor by 1630, securing a berth at the Nantucket Boat Basin. While some people say Nantucket has become a characture of itself with mega-yachts and mega-mansions of the mega-rich, it is the ideal sailing destination. The Boat Basin provides all the amenities one could ask for: power, water, phone, cable TV, and even a gravity-fed pump-out system. The town, including a supermarket, is right at the docks. Khaki-uniformed dockhands scurry out and tie up your boat, give the obligatory briefing about clear trash bags and using bio-degradable soap, and deliver coffee every morning. Visa, Mastercard, and American Express accepted.
Tuesday at 1100 we left Nantucket and headed towards Chatham. Heeding all the cruising guides, we avoided quirky Chatham Harbor (the channel shifts so often that the charts don't even try) in favor of nearby Stage Harbor. Despite an advance phone call to the harbormaster reassuring us that we could pick up a free courtesy mooring off of Crescent Beach (labeled Harding Beach on all the charts), when we got there the Harbor Patrol said he thought we needed a reservation. But by then it was 1630 and the office had closed. Apparently the right hand doesn't talk to the left, but no matter - there were plenty of moorings and we had a pleasant swim, sunset, and barbecue.
Wednesday was time for some serious sailing, as the winds were blowing, we were at the eastern end of Cape Cod and needed to cover some ground. We left the mooring at 0725 and headed west. With a steady 20 knot breeze from the southwest and two reefs, we sailed on a close reach all morning at 8.8 knots. There weren't a lot of other boats in site (Small Craft Warnings were in effect) and the VHF was alive with small boats calling the Coast Guard for help. It was, however, what we came for and didn't mind getting a little bit wet.
We reached Woods Hole Passage by 1410, still in time to get through without fighting the current, which was a comparitively mild 2 knots by then. Since it was still early in the day we decided to head for Padanaram, which we reached by 1700. We got a guest mooring from the New Bedford Yacht Club and had dinner in their dining room. (Call ahead - moorings are first-come first served but they encourage reservations for dinner.)
Check out the photo gallery.
Some other links which sailors may find useful from the The 25th annual Safety at Sea Seminar at the U.S. Naval Academy:
# Medical Readiness & Response by Dr. Dan Carlin
# Association of MD Pilots by Captain Bill Band
# Coast Guard Helicopter Pilot Presentation by CDR Bill Boeh, USCG
# Risk Management in Sailing by Prof. Paul Miller
# Care and Maintenance of Safety Equipment by Chuck Hawley
# Staying in Touch by Bob Thompson
# Forecast Features by Joe Sienkiewicz
# Blue Yankee by Bob Towse and crew