We left our slip at New England Boatworks in Portsmouth, RI at 1:30 pm Thursday, July 27 under gray skies and occasional showers, with a gale brewing for the weekend. Our 2017 Maine Cruise has begun.
Our original plan was to stop at Cuttyhunk for a night or two before heading thru the Cape Cod Canal to Provincetown then on to Maine. However, with the gale bearing down, we didn’t want to get pinned in Cuttyhunk for three days, and the good folks in Provincetown made it abundantly clear that hanging on a mooring there in 40 knots was not an option.
We tossed around a bunch of alternative plans. Ultimately we elected to skip Cuttyhunk and chug to Marion for our first night, then catch the early fair current through the Canal and run for Boston, where we could reserve a secure slip for the duration of the storm. This called for a couple of long days, but seemed the best plan under the circumstances.
We headed north out of the marina and looped around the top of Aquidneck Island, beneath the Sakonnet River Bridge and down the river. This was all new for us, as taking our Sabre on that route was problematic.
Things got a little lumpy as we approached the mouth of the river (wind against tide and all the associated nonsense). The pups weren’t thrilled, but they hung tough. No one barfed. Things leveled out nicely once we could bear northwards up Buzzards Bay. Gray and damp, but the pilot house was comfy. Bruce, as he is so fond of doing, turned to me for the seven-thousandth time and asked “Isn’t this more comfortable than a sailboat?” Duh.
It was a 50-mile trip to Marion. We ran mostly at 9-ish knots, but towards the end we got antsy and pushed the throttle down so we would get in just a little quicker. The pups definitely don’t like the higher RPMs, and truth be known I get tired of it pretty quickly too, but it does get us there faster and sometimes it is a good trade-off.
We picked up a mooring at the Beverly Yacht Club at 6:30, fed the pups and made dinner. Fresh local cod from the fish market at home was great (I got in trouble for not buying enough 😳), and we enjoyed freshly marinated beets and fresh sautéed green beans from fellow American Tug owners Larry and Fidelis, who brought them straight from their garden right before we left the marina. Thank you!
We took the Club launch ashore with the pups after dinner just as a large double rainbow dropped from the clouds, and enjoyed a lovely if damp walk around town. Marion hasn’t changed much in all the (57!!) years I have been visiting. Quaint, quiet residential streets, well-kept lawns and gardens, picket fences and houses that have changed very little in the last hundred or so years. We grabbed the last launch out at 9:00 p.m. and tucked in for a quiet night.
The next morning was lovely. Still, warm, sunny and very quiet in the harbor. It was good to be off the dock and on a mooring for a change. The first activity we heard was the Tabor Boy making an early appearance, shouting commands and distances and obstructions as they made their way through the crowded mooring field. My Dad would have enjoyed seeing this.
We had breakfast aboard, then took the first launch in at 8:00 to walk the dogs. Another pleasant ramble through town, a quick look in the old General Store to see if they had anything yummy (they did), then back to the launch at the yacht club, where the sailing classes were getting under way and everyone (kids and instructors) were in Polynesian grass skirts and flower leis for some sort of special theme day. OK…
It was very pretty leaving Sippican Harbor (the proper name for Marion harbor), sunny, calm and clear. However, we could see the fog bank hanging over the Elizabeth Islands, and when a small breeze crept in from the south, so did the fog. As we approached the entrance to the canal with several other boats, thick fog descended around us and we shifted into radar-and-plotter mode for about half an hour. As we ran in alongside the Mass Maritime Academy the fog scaled up, and that was the end of it for the day. We were left with a beautiful FlyBridge run up through the canal.
The original concept of a Cape Cod Canal had developed as early as the 1600s. It wasn’t until 1904 that a wealthy financier, August Belmont II, actually put the construction of a canal into motion as a private venture, and it was officially opened in 1914. Now owned and operated by the Army Corps of Engineers, the canal has been widened and deepened and improved numerous times since it was originally opened. The Army Corps has good information, including an interesting section on the history of the Canal.
As we ran beneath the Sagamore Bridge near the east entrance to the Canal, Bruce called his buddy Josh who was camping at the Scusset Beach Campground. (We enjoy taking our Airstream to Scusset in the off-season, as it is open all winter.) Josh dropped his breakfast sandwich and ran out to the jetty to watch as we motored out of the Canal into Cape Cod Bay. Bruce treated Josh (and all the other campers, fishermen, runners, walkers and boaters) to a taste of our Buell Dual Trumpet Air Horns, which truly got everyone’s attention. All the men within hearing now have horn envy.
The trip from the Canal up to Boston was glassy calm: the proverbial Calm Before the Storm. It took about five hours and was very pleasant. Lots of pleasure boats running north and south, fast ferries and whale watch boats running out towards Provincetown and Stellwagon Bank (a perfect whale watch day, for sure), a few porpoises, and many lobster and fishing boats. Quintessential Cape Cod summer day.
The run into Boston Harbor was actually a lot of fun. It was late on a Friday afternoon and weekend recreation was getting into full-gear. Small sailboats, power boats, ferries, tourist boats, commercial shipping, historic craft: a little bit of everything on the water, plus the constant dull roar of jets landing and taking off, with the flight path into Logan Airport directly over our course into the harbor. Quite a scene. Esmeralde, especially with her flybridge, is just big enough to chug through it all without feeling overwhelmed, and the views from the flybridge were exceptional.
We pulled into the relatively new, large, well-maintained Charlestown Marina (the Constitution Marina, our first choice, did not have room for us).
The staff was professional and efficient. Getting into our slip was easy. We felt nice and secure for a few days in The Big City. And naturally, by now the forecast for gale force winds has been downgraded and we probably would have been fine in Provincetown, but we are still happy to be here. We haven’t visited Boston by boat in about fifteen years, so we are looking forward to a new adventure, including visits from family and some touristy exploring around town.