Sunday, October 18, 2020

Whaling City layover

We are under way westbound in Buzzards Bay, bound for Rhode Island Sound, after a full week in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Our stop there had been planned to be two or three days, but circumstances conspired against that.

We arrived at Onset last Friday with around two knots of current in the canal; I overestimated it a bit and had the boat lined up a bit early, but we made it through the narrow entrance with no issues, and proceeded into the harbor to drop the hook more or less right where we had previously (map). We had a quiet evening on board.

Sunset over Onset Harbor.

Saturday the forecast winds of 30-40mph arrived, and we were happy to be well-set in the protected harbor. I spent part of the morning unclogging the cross-over pipe between the two waste tanks; I will spare you the details. Suffice it to say it was an unpleasant but necessary project that could not wait.

By mid-afternoon things had calmed enough to splash the tender and bash my way ashore to scope things out. I found one restaurant with some outside tables in something of a lee, and made a dinner reservation there. By dinner time, though, winds were still too high to want to sit outside on a cold evening, and we ended up cancelling and I brought home Italian take-out from Marc Anthony's, which we remembered as being good from our last visit.

Marc Anthony's was decorated for Halloween, including this biker out front.

On Sunday we returned ashore for lunch with our friend Liz, who drove down to the cape for the day to meet up with us. Liz picked up lobster rolls and brought folding chairs, so we picked a sunny spot in the lee of a beachfront building and had a lovely couple of hours catching up. It was very nice of her to make the drive down and to bring us lunch.

The Glen Cove Hotel in Onset.

Monday morning we weighed anchor on a fair tide and shot out of the canal into Buzzards Bay. We pulled through the New Bedford hurricane barrier before lunch time and picked up a mooring ball near Crow's Island (map). For a holiday, the harbor was uncharacteristically quiet; the season is definitely winding down here. We were, however, amused to find Rising Sun moored at the state pier.

All of my Amazon packages were in the locker by mid-afternoon, and I splashed the tender and headed to the marina with the e-bike. While out and about I scoped some diner options that offered some shelter from the cold and wind. The marina is gated and I also picked up a card key, even though we basically never came ashore at the marina dock.

Vector in Onset Harbor.

My first indicator that we might be in for a longer stay was when the UPS tracking for my McMaster order, which had left Friday and was slated for a Monday delivery, indicated delivery would be delayed due to "holiday closures." UPS had claimed on its web site to be 100% open on Monday, and the marina was as well. When I pressed UPS, it turns out one of their intermediate facilities was closed. Harumph.

Having the McMaster parts arrive Tuesday instead was not a big deal. What was a big deal, however, was the 13' of sanitation hose that I had ordered from Defender. They had a computer glitch for several days; web ordering was down altogether, and they could not even take an order over the phone until Saturday. They told me it would ship Monday, but on Monday I learned it would be Tuesday instead.

The superyacht Rising Sun departing New Bedford harbor.

We returned ashore Monday evening, landing at the city dock, and had a nice dinner at The Black Whale right on the waterfront, who had a covered patio with most of a wrap-around windbreak. There was enough outdoor air to feel safe, but enough protection to be comfortable. I had the scallops, considering the east coast scallop fleet is all right here at the moment. They were very fresh and very good.

Tuesday my McMaster package arrived, as well as our mail, which included our ballots. I ran ashore to get them in the one 15-minute break in the rain all day; otherwise we never left the boat. That did give me the chance to finish up the remote microphone project and clean up the workshop. Between the rain, the onshore wind, and "king" (perigean spring) tides, the Coast Guard started making announcements toward high tide about closing the hurricane barrier at 6pm, but it remained open all day.

Completed remote mic installation, above a shelf in the stateroom. This lets us answer the radio and acknowledge weather alerts without traipsing upstairs.

The delay from Defender meant my hose did not arrive until Wednesday, which happened to be Louise's birthday. That nixed any hope of getting off the $45 per night mooring ball and into another harbor during the very short window we had on Wednesday morning, and committed us to staying inside the hurricane barrier through the next round of unsuitable offshore conditions.

New Bedford library, across from the city hall clock.

After picking up my hose, I took the e-bike ashore in Fairhaven to explore a bit, hoping maybe to find a nice venue for a birthday dinner. Oddly, Fairhaven has nothing I would describe as a "downtown," although there is a historic district rich in architectural treasure wherein one finds the library, City Hall, and a number of elaborate churches including Unitarian Memorial. I rode out to Walmart to pick up a few items before returning home.

With no real options in Fairhaven, we returned ashore to New Beford in the evening and hoofed it uphill to Cafe Italia downtown, where we were the only outdoor diners, on the sidewalk which had been commandeered for the purpose. The food turned out to be excellent, and the portions were huge. It was Louise's turn to have scallops, along with other seafood, and her dish fed her Wednesday and both of us Thursday -- that's how big the leftovers were. My leftovers are still in the fridge, for tonight.

The gothic revival Unitarian Memorial Church. We're sorry we could not see the inside.

Thursday morning we had the pumpout boat come out so that I could start my "projects." I replaced the discharge hose from the master head, as well as the crossover hose and fittings that connect the forward and aft waste tanks. These thick-walled, wire-reinforced hoses are stiff and difficult to work, so changing out a dozen feet of hose took me literally all day, and by the end I was very sore. Fortunately, nothing spilled into the bilge and everything went mostly to plan. With any luck we should get several more years out of these without having to go through this again.

I came out on deck for a break several times during the project. During one break, a delivery skipper arrived single-handed in the 50 Prestige Elora Greyson to pick up a mooring. These moorings were challenging for us double-handed, and with no immediate access to the deck from the helm in that boat, he was struggling. I hopped in the tender, ran over, took one of his lines out to the mooring and looped it back to him. Lovely boat, but that lack of access would keep me from recommending one.

Louise snapped me passing the mooring line to the skipper.

Friday morning it finally happened -- the tide got bad enough that the Corps of Engineers closed the barrier at 7:15. As it turned out, it closed just as the Elora Greyson and a cruising ketch were trying to leave the harbor. Both boats had to turn around and return to the marina to wait a full two hours. This is one of the key reasons we always have the radio on: the Coast Guard had been announcing that closure for at least two hours ahead of time. Neither of these skippers should have been caught off guard.

We went ashore Friday evening for one last meal in town. This time we were looking for covered seating, since rain was threatening. After hiking all over town, we ended up right back at Moby Dick Brewing, where we ate a couple of months ago, on the sidewalk under their overhang.  I again had the fresh scallops. Most of the scallop fleet has Cape May hailing ports; we've seen many of these same boats in Atlantic City and Cape May. We managed to stay dry all the way home.

Fairhaven town hall.

Yesterday, with the wind having clocked around to the east, we could finally leave the harbor, but not as far out as Buzzards Bay. We let go our mooring in the morning and motored over to the dock to take on water. With our tank mostly empty, we were at the dock well over an hour, shoving off right at lunch time.

We motored for about an hour to a harbor locally known as Padanaram, after the village of that name, which is really part of Dartmouth. The harbor is chock full of moorings, but at least anchoring is permitted just at the end of the mooring field, where we dropped the hook for the night (map). I had heard the village was interesting, and so we dropped the tender and headed ashore just to walk around, figuring it to be too cold for outdoor dining even if we found any. The Farm & Coast Market drew us in, though, and we ended up getting take-out before returning to Vector.

"Padanaram's front porch." Check out some of the sweets.

Current Covid-19 rules have us bypassing Rhode Island, lest we be mandated to quarantine for two weeks in New York. Ideally we would have left Massachusetts this morning, and run straight through to Long Island this afternoon. Unfortunately, that would put us at the entrance to Long Island Sound with some three knots of current against us. Instead we will shelter tonight at the Point Judith "Harbor of Refuge," an enormous anchorage enclosed by breakwaters near the point, but we will not land or go ashore.


  1. So kind of you to help that single hander! Living the pledge.

  2. I so appreciate you guys taking Covid seriously, wearing masks, and dining outdoors or doing takeout. IMO so many people just don't get it. It takes all of us to make a difference! Stay safe and enjoy your travels.

  3. Hello, I am Bob. I am the original owner of your boat. My wife
    Debbie and I will be in FL this winter from mid Dec until end of
    Mar. If you will be in FL during that time we would love to see
    the boat. My email address is .


Share your comments on this post! We currently allow anyone to comment without registering. If you choose to use the "anonymous" option, please add your name or nickname to the bottom of your comment, within the main comment box. Getting feedback signed simply "anonymous" is kind of like having strangers shout things at us on the street: a bit disconcerting. Thanks!