"There is nothing more pleasant than cruising on a boat with the whole family."
Letter from Empress Catherine the Great

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Day 32 -- August 23 -- Westport Mass -- 12.2 nm

Underway 8 to 11 this morning. We should have used the Genoa because of light wind, but what's the rush. With NW wind we made the plotted line, on a very close reach until clearing The Wildcat, a bunch of rocks with an old wreck on it off Gooseberry Neck. Then we had to go more north and it was tacking to the mouth of the river. I had been to Westport twice before, but the last time was 1996 or earlier, because Lene had never been here.
The first time, it was a grey, stormy and foggy day. Two Mile Ledge had large breakers crashing on it which scared the heck out of the three or four small Harlem cruisers still outside, including me on my first boat, "Just Cause", a Pearson 28. We wanted to come in but did not have radar or GPS. Selwyn, my mentor,  and Evie, on their Tartan 31, "Evie F", slipped his mooring in the shelter of the harbor, came back out, located each of us on radar, came close enough for us to see him,
and told us via VHF to follow him and each other, single file, and led us in to safety. A good shepherd and a Good Samaritan.
Today it was chilly (jeans and foulie tops until we came inland) but clear and sunny and easy to find the river mouth and follow the buoys up the river. Moored boats on both sides of the river also mark the channel. There are a lot more moorings here than last time.
The Westport River is the harbor, with a curving channel running through it as well as a tidal current of up to three knots. We had reservations with Tripp, but first wanted to refuel. The fuel dock had a large power boat fueling and we were told to stand by. We turned, facing the incoming current and gave just enough fuel to maintain a geostationary position, going three knots through the water, but near zero over the bottom. 19.9 gallons since Hyannis. We were on our mooring by noon. The mooring balls are interesting. They are smaller and Tripp tells you to pick up the whole ball, and put it on deck and reach down to pull up the heavier pennant below.
The primary purpose of out visit here, other than that it is a beautiful spot, was so Lene could rendezvous with Janie and Donna, childhood friends who Lene had not seen since high school in Brooklyn several decades ago. They drove us for a propane refill and groceries and to Donna's  very nicely  refurbished, comfortable 1820's home where we picked up kitty litter that Lene had shipped there. After unloading and stowing we went back to shore, were joined by Donna's wife, Vicki, had dinner at the local restaurant, overlooking the river, Back Eddy, and some wine aboard with the friends. The marina's launch charges only $1 per person per ride so the dink had a rest day on its davit bar. A very pleasant day for Lene, and I got to meet some new friends.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Days 30 and 31 -- August 21-22 -- Cuttyhunk -- 14.5 nm

I planned to leave Tashmoo at eleven a.m. I had read that this would be one hour before high tide. But I saw that it was already high at 10:30 so we left then, and had no less than ten feet under us on the way out. (So we did not come in at high tide two days earlier!) Once out, we raised full sails and tried wing on wing for a while, heading about 280 magnetic. Then a broad reach, followed by dead air (during which we motored for five minutes) before the wind came back. But now it was on our port bow and then port beam. So wind came from all over the place and at all speeds from zero to 19 wind units.
Passing through Quick's Hole back into Buzzards Bay was easy. It is wide and we gybed in it. It was warm and sunny and a pleasure to sail. We saw about fifteen boats anchored in single file at the western side of this hole, including three sailboats.  I want to investigate whether this can be done safely overnight, and in what wind conditions. We took a mooring in the inner harbor of Cuddyhunk at 2:30 after four hours underway. Our speed under sail varied between zero and 7.4 knots. And our average speed was about 3.6 knots.
I marvel at old time sailors' ability to navigate to a destination by dead reckoning. One goes off course in gusts and speed is never constant and has to be measured through the water with set and drift (which are also constantly changing) needing to be factored in. Our chart plotter tells me where I am, what direction I'm actually moving (not heading) and how fast I'm actually going across the surface of the earth. It makes sailing very easy -- until the electronic toy breaks or looses juice. Still, near shore (at least by day and without fog), one can take bearings on notable landmarks and have a pretty good idea where one is. And far off shore, until one approaches shore, it is less important to know exactly where you are.
We lowered the dink but dined aboard both nights here. A sloop, "R and R", took the mooring next to us. Parents with a son and daughter. The kids were good at following instructions of the father to perform needed tasks. Then I saw father and son in their dink, struggling to get their outboard to start. After a few minutes I offered them ours so the kids were able to get their ice cream after all. I get help from so many folks that it's a pleasure to be able to give back.
The moorings here were apparently reset since the last time we were in the inner harbor. (In 2013 we anchored in the less protected outer harbor.) They seem much closer than before, too darn close for comfort, privacy or safety.
It rained our first night but the days have been lovely, clear, bright, warm but not hot and evenings of late have called for a light quilt, reminding us that fall is on its way.
We dinked ashore in search of fresh fish, remembering a time when we approached the dock from land and saw a thick rope hanging down from a scaffold --- which turned out to be half a swordfish. That time we paid for a healthy slice and cooked it immediately once aboard. But alas, those days are over. There is a new man who brings fish to Cuttyhunk (though not today) but he gets his fish from the markets in New Bedford, not from the sea.  We got a Cuttyhunk postcard, walked to the top for the views (Newport bridge towers, New Bedford, and the Vineyard) got two gallons of water and 1.5 of diesel in our auxiliary yellow tank. There was a restaurant and a B and B called the Fishing Club at which I had breakfast once with Jim, K.C. and Art maybe ten years ago. The B and B is still here but the restaurant is gone. Young men still cruise around in the mooring field offering plates of raw bar, and cooked lobsters can be purchased at a stand near the dinghy dock. However, the former restaurant is now a gift shop, though the tiny food market is still here. You think nothing changes in a small island like this, winter population 15, but changes do take place.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Days 28-29. -- August 19-20. -- Lake Tashmoo in Martha's Vineyard -- 20.5 nm

We were underway from 8:05 to 12:35, four and a half hours, and most of the time we intentionally sailed slowly, by furling the small jib, going off course and trimming the main for non optimum speed. Why would I ever intentionally go slow, folks who know me may ask? Because (1) having motored out through the channel too fast, at six knots without straining the engine, and, (2) at the Mate's request, not hoisting the main until breakfast was cooked and eaten, we found that we were sailing across Buzzards Bay at more than six knots toward Woods Hole and would arrive there while it was too near full flood unless we slowed down. So it was a gentle sail at about three knots on a port reach and we mostly sailed through the Hole about half an hour before slack, with only a knot or two of current pushing us, a slow pace that let us see the buoys rather than rush past them, possibly onto the rocks. Slower is safer, especially because there is s lot of traffic going both ways in the Hole including big power boats with their huge wakes and ferrys. Also, the current does not flow straight through the channel, but partly to the side, pushing you out of the channel if you are not attentive. In 2008 we came through with friends, Peter and Debbie, much faster, and our keel bounced off a rock on the way! This time it was easy, though we did have to motor during the central past of the compound curve when the wind was on our nose.
Once through the Hole and back into Vineyard Sound, it was only about three miles further to the entrance to Lake Tashmoo, which is the only port in the Vineyard we had never been in. The only trick during this leg was crossing Middle Ground shoal at its 15 foot spot rather than at its eight foot spots. This was easy with the GPS chart plotter. In fact we saw no less than 20 feet of water while crossing the shoal. Coming into Tashmoo at near high tide through the privately maintained reds and greens our seven foot depth alarm beeped only at two spots, briefly. We took a mooring for two nights. The lake is very shallow over much of its surface (like one foot deep). It looks like they dredged the channel through an inside sandbar and we saw folks standing in the water, up to their ankles, on both sides. But our mooring area was in ten feet of water.
After lunch and R and R we dinked to the extremely overcrowded public dinghy dock and walked less than a mile to Vineyard Haven for groceries and posted the last post. We saw "Florence Foster Jenkins" the latest Meryl Streep movie, and had dinner at Copper Wok. It's been a long time since we've had Chinese food and they serve big portions but not great food. At the next table were two couples who live in the Berkshires, where we are going for the Labor Day weekend, but keep their boat, when not cruising, in Rockport Maine. We noticed that Rockport is "full"of wooden boats and the blog (summer 2013) has photos of some of them. And what a boats hey have: a Concordia Yawl of 1956, that they had paid what must be an enormous sum last winter to have everything below the water line replaced. I had seen a half sized model of a Concordia yawl in the Whaling Musuem and the gentleman said "Yes, that's my boat! But why pay for a half sized model." Seeing the model made the defining feature of a yawl, as compared to a ketch, easy for Ilene to see.
Walking back in the dark after dinner we saw and heard part of the big annual fireworks show that was staged in Oak Park. Both of our nights here were very quiet night; we could have saved the $40 mooring fee and anchored. In the morning I did a lot of the remaining navigating, "fixed" the outboard's stalling problem by adjusting a set screw about 3/16" back, so that idle cannot get low enough to stall.  But I seem to have created another problem: the gear shifter -- forward, neutral and reverse -- does not move except at the new idle speed. This fall wiser heads will examine the problem. I went to town our second day here because Lene likes some alone time and cell and wifi service is very terrible in Tashmoo. I also checked out the bookstore which has a good nautical collection and bought vegetables. This was a great place that I had overlooked during prior cruises to The Vineyard, as long as you enter and exit at near high tide. Next stop: Cuttyhunk.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Days 24-27. -- August 15-18 -- New Bedford. -- 12.7 nm

Lots of photo will be added in September.
Learning from yesterday, we left Mattapoiset early, at 8:45 and sailed under main and small jib (though Genoa was doable) with wind from the north. Just a pleasant easy gentle starboard reaching sail on a sunny day. But when we reached the long channel (about five miles long) leading into New Bedford the wind got light, the tide was wrong and the course would have required tacking up the channel. And it is frequented by large commercial fishing vessels. So we motored. We passed the huge sea wall with its movable gates open. It is designed to stop storm surges from wrecking this harbor in hurricanes, leaving open a closable channel 150 feet wide. We took a mooring at Pope's Island Marina at 11:30. That island forms a second barrier to the sea, in terms of waves, filing most of the space, shore to shore. The marina is on the seaward side of the island and our mooring is very close to red "10", which flashes all night.

The rest of out first day here, after checking in, was devoted to food shopping, cleaning and laundry. The staff here are very friendly and helpful. They even gave us one free pass to the Whaling Museum, not advertised as an amenity, and offered to drive us to the Shop and Stop. The mooring price is only $35, with free wifi at the picnic area. But they have an interesting wrinkle: $5 per person for showers! We showered aboard. They have more slips than moorings and in one of the slips is a Solent rigged Contest, of about 45 feet, which looks much like our Saga, called "Watercolors". I took a good look at her from the finger dock in her owner's absence. Another Solent rigged boat took a mooring near us on our last day here. The Marina has a launch, to any part of the harbor,  but it is $3 per person each way, so our dink got good use, except the last afternoon when the outboard temporarily acted up again. The municipal dinghy dock is right in the heart of town, three tenth of a mile across the Acushnet River from us, free and very underutilized. When we visited the Glass Museum (you can skip it) we dinked over a mile upstream to a small dock just shy of the low I-95 bridge and walked back a bit.

The city, at least the downtown part, with its cobblestone streets that we crisscrossed, is small, perhaps eight blocks square and has many old stone buildings formerly and currently used to support the fishing industry as well as many elegant former banks, now housing other businesses and the full array of municipal governmental buildings. This was a very wealthy town in its nineteenth century day. I'm sure it has a suburban and mall based part too, but we did not get that far on foot. I sensed that it got down on its luck but is trying to rebuild with tourism, in addition to its still active fishing industry, bringing in more dollars worth of seafood than any other port in America.

We visited the New Bedford Whaling Museum, the largest of the museums in town. I give a lot of credit to the the whaling museum in Cold Spring Harbor, reviewed in this blog right after the Fourth of July, for covering much of the same ground, with a much smaller budget. New Bedford calls itself "The Whaling Capital of the World" and "The City that Lit America" with whale oil. An early chapter from Moby Dick was set in the Seamans Bethel, an interdenominational religious center built by the Quakers to serve the spiritual needs of the Whalers. It is across the street from the museum and temporarily closed for renovations. Though the Pequod's ill-fated voyage began from Nantucket, Moby Dick's Ishmael visited the Bethel.The whaling industry was a multi million dollar industry but today, with conservation, the whale watching industry is a multi billion dollar industry, albeit with inflated dollars.The museum has a large permanent display devoted to the human contribution to New Bedford's whaling industry mostly from the Azores and Cape Verde Islands, but slso including Eskimos, blacks, native Americans and South Seas Islanders, a very diverse group. In fact the whalers picked up crew wherever they could find them. That diversity is one of the reasons that the
Underground Railroad was so big here, with more runaway slaves here than in any other US city. In other places the black runaways would stand out in the crowd like a sore thumb as a prize for bounty hunters. Here they blended into a diverse crowd. The Museum has a half scale model of the Lagoda, an actual whaling ship, masts and all, indoors, that visitors can board -- if they duck to avoid banging their heads. They also had a vast and somewhat disorganized section on the history of the area and its peoples and a large art gallery featuring  nautical paintings including icescapes by William Bradford, who was a friend of Albert Bierstadt, one of my favorite artists for his western landscapes.
We also visited several gallerys, the U. Mass. campus here, which is its Art School, and the New Bedford Art Museum. The latter had an temporary exhibit of Bierstadt, what luck! But the museum was small, not very good and so a disappointment. But interestingly, the signage was in English, Portugese and Spanish, in that order, with about one third of the 95,000 folks who live here being of Pertugese descent.
We bought some clothing, very inexpensive, and did the Underground Railroad tour led by a ranger of  the National Parks Service. In additions to the Pilgrims and later the Puritans, another religious sect settled in this area: the Quakers, and in addition to their being pacifists, they were leaders in the antislavery movement.
We had lunch in both of the most popular waterfront fish places, The Black Whale and Waterfront Grill. Both are on the waterfront, but at the land end between piers at which the large commercial fishing boats were docked -- so one gets a narrow view of the harbor.
One afternoon, I gave Lene some alone time when visiting the Rotch -Jones - Duff house. Built by the first owner, a Quaker merchant (whaling ship owner) which displayed an elegant lifestyle in its day. The whaling men risked their lives for wages while the owners risked their assets but not their
asses, for profit. Mr. Rotch broke the Nantucket cartel of the whaling industry by moving his operations to New Bedford, which also had the advantage of being a deeper harbor. Another famous local was Rodman, who developed the use of spermaceti into very clean burning candles. The local
fort is named after him, and I wonder if Rodman's Neck, across from the Harlem YC is named after a
relative. I'll check that out some day.

The reason for our fourth day here is that thousands or runners are convening for  a road race in Falmouth and Woods Hole, making moorings there unavailable.  Plans keep changing.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Day 23 -- August 14 -- Mattapoiset -- 8.2 nm

We lallygagged around in Marion until 11:45 with delicious omelettes and sheer laziness in the heat. This was a mistake because in the afternoon the wind came up strongly from the SW, where we had to go, and the tide was against us too. I flew full main and small jib and it was too much with about 25 apparent wind units. We had to go south all the way to Cleveland Ledge before tacking. Too much heeling said the mate, even when I lowered the traveler.  OK, so we will furl the headsail and use only main. But with that configuration we were making only three knots over ground and were being set onto the point that we had to get around. OK, so we motored sailed a few of the miles, till we could turn into the big Bay in which Mattapoiset sits.
Our prior visits were on moorings rented by Mattapoiset Boatyard, on the NE side of the Bay, which are strong moorings. They have a good shower and we took a nice walk in to town.  We always ate at the only real restaurant in town, the Kinsale Inn, which states that it is America's oldest seaside Inn, built in 1790. It had a menu with a mild Irish flavor. Well, Kinsale is an Irish fishing town after all.

This time with the prevailing strong SW winds we anchored off the NE shore, somewhat protected by the land from the wind and greatly protected from the waves. For the record, we were at N. 41, 38.9, W. 70, 48.8, in waters that ranged from 10 to 15 feet, depending on the tides, with 60 feet of snubbed chain (except the snubber line fell off and dangled uselessly in the rather calm night). The mooring field was a bit closer to shore, in water that got gradually shallower, so we were not close to shore and with so much room around us and with the nearby boats vacant we acted like the French with outdoor showering, in complete privacy.
With the heat, we turned to tweaking our remaining itinerary until Westport Mass, where we will be meeting HS friends of Lene. (tweaking our itenarary beat boat polishing in the heat that we were experiencing in harbor.) I figured that in the days available, if the tides worked out, we could go to Woods Hole and thence to Nantucket for a few days. That would have pleased me because our friend Rhoda gave me a copy of Nathaniel Philbrick's "Away Off Shore: Nantucket Island and its People 1602 - 1890" about the whalers from there. They had made an appearance in Robert Hughes's "The Fatal Shore" which I have been reading all summer, about the settlement of Australia, largely as a penal colony.
But Lene was not keen on going east again so Nantucket will have to wait. Lene's
 only prior trip there, on a prior boat, was memorable for the heat, from which we escaped in an air conditioned movie:"Something About Mary" which we enjoyed with Evie and her late husband Selwyn.
Our current proposed itinerary from Mattapoiset is: New Bedford, Hadley's Harbor by Woods Hole in the Elizabeth Islands, Tashmoo Pond (tiny and overlooked until now, a twenty minute walk to Vineyard Haven, Cuddyhunk (at the other end of the Elizabeth's) and then Westport. But like all of our sailing plans, this too is subject to change.
We learned that the Kinsale Inn went out of business three years ago, but there is still a restaurant whose website map suggested to me that it was near the demised Kinsale.  It is simply called The Inn at Mattapoiset and is in the same 1790 building, under new management, without the Irish touch. The food was just as good; not great, and I used their wifi to post the last posting and watched our only bit of the Olympics this year. The dinghy ride in to town, six tenth of a mile, was fun and we secured the dink off the wall of the stone pier to a line strung parallel to the side of the pier, about 20 feet away, so it could not bash against the wall. On the return ride we saw big storm clouds, saw bits of lightning above and below, but the storm was far enough away that we heard no thunder, felt no rain and experienced no increased winds. Coming back to ILENE, she was the only boat in the area with an anchor light, making the approach to her stern very easy.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Day 22 -- August 13 -- Marion -- 7.2 nm

We sailed forth between Wings Neck to the north and Scraggy Neck  to the south (a wide entrance but where do they get these names). We left the Cape and crossed Buzzards Bay to the mainland at Marion. Wind was light and from the NE so we had a broad starboard reach going westward and then a close reach heading northerly into the harbor. We left at 11:45 and got onto a mooring of the Beverly YC at 1:15.  So dividing the miles by the time, one can see that this was a slow passage. And part of the reason for this is that we used only the Genoa with no main. What's the rush? It was sunny and warm but out on the water it was not hot, like it is on land. Most traffic in Buzzards Bay runs to or from the canal, and is either a beat or a run. Crossing the Bay was a pleasure. Alfie Girl no longer cedes sole possession of the cubby in the base of the helmspersons seat to Witty. They both crowd into aAthis tiny space. They enjoyed the ride too, photo to follow, as in almost all of the posts on this cruise.

Marion is a charming little town and I do mean little. It's general store was fun though and it supports a coffee shop and a book store. And it is mostly a residential community, all around the bay; but on foot on a hot day, we did not explore far.
The Beverly YC, whose moorings nearly fill the inner harbor, is the biggest thing around, with a nice but not ostentatious clubhouse, a large membership, low dues and a major claim to fame: the biannual  600+ mile Marion to Bermuda Race starts here. Nice showers, but only two of them, so I wonder how hundreds or racers get clean before the race. My late son in law, Julien, won that race about eight years ago. He did it in a Beneteau 36 and after he won the many older and richer men who spend a fortune trying to do so amended the rules. They now forbid smaller boats like his from entering. Some beautiful boats here, pics to follow.
We dined in ILENE's cockpit, as we have been doing much more this trip than in the past. Lene is very particular about what she eats, and it is often easier for her to cook it herself. One side effect, in addition to a rather low cost cruise, is that because I eat what she cooks, with occasional ice cream or baked dainties ashore, I'll probably weigh less when we get back. I contributed a pan of rutabaga, potato and onion home fries in Marion. Not bad!
In the evening the humidity seemed to reach 100%. The air was wet and the skies grey. We prepared for the possibility of rain and about midnight a front passed. after a decent interval of very strong wind torrential rain fell for about an hour, though we were asleep and not watching the clock. Cool night though, once we were able to open hatches.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Days 20 & 21 -- August 11-12 -- Pocasset Harbor -- 12.7 Nm

  • Underway from Sandwich only 90 minutes, starting at 8 a.m.  The tide in the Canal was fair from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. And all but two of today's miles were in the Canal. The wind was in our face so we motored, at a modest 2000 rpms and made speeds of 7.2 to 9.3 knots, depending on the wind, waves and eddys, which were against us and the current overcoming them. We were slower after exiting the canal.
  • (Where the heck did those dots come from?)
  • We have stayed on moorings at the nearby Kingman Yachting Center in Red Brook Harbor, only about a mile away from Pocasset Harbor several times. We met friends for day sails there twice, including Bennett and Harriet and their friends in 2013 and Rona and Tabou in an earlier summer. But we had not yet used our anchor on this trip, and Pocasset beckoned. With winds forecast from the SW at 10 to 20, the anchorage area in Pocasett, being NE of the high part of Bassett's Island, looked appealing. And the price was right. We were disturbed to find several moorings, mostly empty, in the area shown as the anchorage, but they were far enough apart, we hoped, to give us room for our anchor, especially if they remained vacant.  Sixty feet of snubbed chain in 15 feet of water.  I called the Harbormistress each day. She took our information and told us we could stay the night. I lowered the dink. We cleaned, cooked, ate, read, played games, planned some navigation and slept. The only problem was the wind, which despite the Island's protection, reached 35 wind units on our instrument. Once the anchor showed that it held in winds of that strength, we knew it had dug in and would continue to do so. The next worry became whether we would be able to break free when we wanted to leave. But the half gallon empty milk bottle float that marks it's spot is tied on with a strong line that is tied near the blade of the anchor, providing an alternative pulling up point that should get us free. Worries were not to become realities; exit was easy.
  • We did not go ashore, except one trip I made alone, on the second day, to Barlows Landing dinghy dock on the NE side of the harbor, about .6 miles from ILENE as the crow flies, longer if one wants to stay in the channel as I did. The Landing is a municipal facility at the foot of Barlows Landing Road, on which sit several placarded 18th and 19th century homes, including that of Mr. Barlow. I saw a group of wild turkeys. I asked in several stores for a postcard from Pocasset. A man in one of them gave me a ride to the Kingman Yacht Center where one of the four venders there who I asked, after saying they had none, offered me her only postcard, a map of The Cape, for the astronomical price of $2.11, including tax. I took it and having mailed it, commenced the walk back home. Without my extending my thumb, another local man gave me a ride to a small supermarket on Barlows Landing Road, where I got the two items Lene wanted. The trip back in the dink was a rough one with high winds threatening to lift the bow of the dink too high. I scooted forward, placing more weight toward the bow.
  • Thunderstorms had been predicted both days and we got one, sort of, the second night. The lightening  was visible, the thunder was sustained but not at all loud and the rain light. And unlike most such storms, which come with the passing of  a front accompanied by strong winds, this storm saw the seas flatten out. The 20 to 35 knots came down to five!
  • In the morning after breakfast I tried a new functionality, for me, in our Raytheon chart plotter called "Variable Range Line / Electronic Bearing Marker, or VRL/EBM. This has always been in the device, but I had never had occasion to use it, drawing my lines on my paper charts. This function allows one to draw electronic lines on the chart plotter screen and I don't need dividers to measure their length. The need arose because one page of our chart book has gone missing and I want to know and feel a need to report out daily mileage.  We have the InavX progrem on the IPad so we are not lost, but the VRL/EBM is supposed to make route planning easier. It is true about new tools that it takes some time to learn how to use them. I'm not there yet. I also did some more topside polishing, but at this rate it won't all be done by hauling time.
  • As we were about to leave, a man in a dink came by and told us to take a mooring, for free! I wish I had known that two days earlier when we arrived. Neither the cruising guide book nor the Harbormaster told us this. Yes, he said, they want us to use them so that the seaweed does not grow on them -- just like I hope ILENE's is used by guests at the Harlem. The numbers painted on the mooring balls refer to the size of the boat they are suitable for: I should select one with a number 43 or larger. Pocasett: I'll be back!