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

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Day 79, September 4 -- Gloucester to Plymouth -- 43 NM

In the morning the rain had cleared a nice sunny day for a longish transit across the wide mouth of the bay that includes Boston. Wind of 25 to 30 knots was predicted so the Admiral ordered second reefed main and small jib. And we wasted quite a bit of time at the beginning on the eight hours of the passage before I persuaded her that the winds were lighter than expected and that we could not make our speed without keeping the engine on unless we put up more sail. First we swapped the jib for the genoa. Next we shook out the reef. In that process, my instruction to Lene to come back to port "if we were losing it" was not explicit enough as to what "losing it" meant. So we ended up with backwinded genoa and not enough speed to get back onto course without turning on the engine for a minute, which I elected to do, or doing a 360. And for some inexplicable reason, ILENE's otherwise always reliable engine did not turn on (or even whine) until I combined, momentarily, the two battery banks. The next time we turned on the engine, that problem did not occur. Yet another of our boat's mysteries.
Though it was a bit hazy we saw the Boston skyline from the time we left Gloucester until the skyline was blocked off by the bluffs of the south coast near the end.
Unlike Nova Scotia, the waters were full of watercraft of all sort: tugs with barges, a Chinese container ship, fishing boats of all sizes and sailboats.
In the navy a crew member was assigned to keep a deck log of all the course and speed changes (except in battle when the log read, for the time period indicated "Steered various courses and speeds during exercise.") We don't keep such a log on ILENE; we don't have an extra guy with nothing to do but write such stuff down. But if we tried to keep such a log today, it would have had a long list of speed changes as we tried various combinations of sails, with and without engine, running at various rpm, to try to keep up a decent speed,  though it did drop as low as 3.3. And eight hours for 43 miles means we made just a bit over five knots, on average. The predicted wind did not materialize until we entered the bay that contains the harbor of Plymouth, 4.8 miles "upstream" through a channel marked by several very sharp turns. "Water, water,  everywhere" but most of it too shallow. I was impressed that the Pilgrims, who having decided that their first settlement, at Provincetown, was untenable, were able to find their way, with the ungainly Mayflower, all the way in here to Plymouth Rock in the now dredged inner harbor at the lower left end of the pink line. That line is now marked with eighteen red and green marks.
Just before the sharp southward curve is a rock and a light called Duxbury Pier, to be kept to starboard on your way in.
I was also very impressed by a ketch, operated by someone who is obviously a local sailor: he sailed the 4.8 miles, tacking across the channel. The dredged mooring field area is not very deep - as little as eight feet when we came in at low tide. The Harbor Master assigned us a sturdy mooring at the far end of the field and requested that we pay by "Dockwa" a new, to us, program that let's (makes) the sailors do the paperwork (and pay), electronically, which Lene, ILENE's electronics/ communications officer, struggled with, but finally mastered.
Dinner aboard.
Here is a view of the town, the mooring field and the protective seawall at the right, that was not here in the 1600's as seen on our way out next morning.

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