Friday, October 9, 2020

Wrapping up in New England

We are under way across Massachusetts Bay, southbound for the canal, with the Boston skyline seeming to rise directly from the water to our starboard. We have precisely one good day of offshore weather, and we're making a run for it. We left Gloucester early, and we hope to have the anchor down in Onset, Massachusetts just before sunset, an uncharacteristic 60 nautical mile day.

When last I posted here, we had just dropped the hook at Rockport outer harbor, in the dark, to find a mildly annoying swell that was off-forecast. We made the best of it for the evening, but we both retired early, as any sort of motion is always more comfortable down in the master stateroom, more or less at the center of roll and pitch.

That turned out to be the harbinger of what was to come; we both awoke before dawn to the boat pitching rather dramatically in three foot waves from the east. Fortunately, we were bow-in to them; if this had been a rolling motion instead it would have been untenable. The forecast had been for waves out of the south, and we had positioned ourselves well for those, but these instead were coming from the northeast. The forecast remained incorrect the entire time.

We weighed anchor and got underway just as soon as it was light enough to see the pot floats. As soon as we cleared the harbor, past the remains of the old breakwater, we found conditions much rougher than anticipated. While we had previously contemplated going perhaps a bit farther than Gloucester on Monday, we opted not to bash through any more than we needed to, and we turned north into the harbor as soon as we rounded Cape Ann.

That immediately got us out of Monday's roughness, but we knew we had two days of high winds ahead of us, so we wanted to be tucked in to the inner harbor, where there is basically one spot just large enough for us to anchor. On our AIS, we could see the schooner Roseway anchored right where we needed to be; they had shadowed us out of Portsmouth, but we lost sight of them in the dark on our way into Rockport. Clearly they had sailed through the evening into Gloucester harbor.

Fishermen's Memorial. Some dweeb left his e-bike in the shot. Also, I kept wanting to scream  "They WHO go ..."

We circled around them hunting for a spot, but at 137', they pretty much took up the entire anchorage. Yet it looked like they were making ready to get under way. With no answer on the radio, we acted on our hunch, and dropped a lunch hook (breakfast hook?) at the north end of the outer harbor, near Black Rock (map).

Within an hour, the fuel barge pulled up alongside them, and we realized they were in that spot to bunker. After bunkering they moved back to the outer harbor where they had more swing room, and we quickly moved to our preferred spot, right across from the harbormaster docks (map).

With at least three nights ahead of us, we remained on board Monday evening. In hindsight, it was the most pleasant evening of our stay and would have afforded our only real chance to eat out (maybe). Tuesday we splashed the tender and I went ashore in search of parts for various projects I undertook during our stay.

On my walk around town I determined that the fairly well surrounded patio at Tonno would be our best bet for dinner, and we made reservations and headed ashore in the evening. The forecast winds were already picking up, and, unfortunately, the entrance to the patio enclosure was oriented perfectly to catch them. As soon as we were seated our menus blew away, and we bailed out. We ended up picking up take-out from the Topside Grill near the dock and eating back aboard.

Wednesday I went ashore with the e-bike to drop seven gallons of used motor oil off at the auto parts store for recycling, and picked up a few groceries while I was out. I also rode the waterfront, past the fishermen's memorial and across the Blynman Bridge to the old fort. I made it back aboard just as the winds began building in earnest and a few drops of rain arrived,

Fort Stage Park, where you can picnic next to a canon.

As if a gale-force wind forecast and marine advisory was not enough, a line of strong thunderstorms that spanned from New Hampshire to Rhode Island formed, and the weather alert went off a half dozen times in the span of a half hour. We paid out more chain, increasing scope to 6:1.

The storm gave us a good rinse and a wild ride, with the anemometer clocking winds of 50 mph. That was followed up by the previously forecast gale that lasted well into the night. Our anchor buried itself so far into the mud we had trouble pulling it up this morning, but we held fast. By contrast, a cruising sailboat just a hundred yards from us, who had picked up a municipal transient mooring for the storm, dragged that mooring at least a hundred feet. Yesterday morning he had to move to a different mooring.

Things calmed down throughout the day yesterday, and by dinner time it was certainly calm enough to go ashore. But it was also very cold, in the low 50's at dinner time. Comfortable for a walk, but not outside dining. We picked up a pizza at Leonardo's, not far from the dock, and carried it home in our insulated pizza carrier that makes me look like a Door Dash runner.

With three and a half full days of downtime I made some progress on the never-ending project front. I installed a control microphone for the pilothouse VHF radio down in the master stateroom, principally so we can acknowledge the weather alert down there when it goes off. Previously, one of us had to get out of bed and trudge upstairs to cancel the alarm, and often we'd miss the first sentence or two of the actual alert by the time we got there.

I also relocated a VHF antenna to see if that helps with a radio cross-talk problem we've been having, updated all the charts, and put together bills-of-materials and orders for the replacement of some of the waste hoses to get our system fully functional again.

In the middle of Massachusetts Bay this chickadee alighted on our windshield wiper for a rest, and hitched a ride for a few minutes. Duck unrelated.

I'm a little sad to be racing past this part of Massachusetts. I had hoped to stop maybe in Marblehead, or return to P-town, but we can't afford to be pinned down in either of those fairly exposed places when the weather window closes. And while I love Boston and its environs, the same things that make it attractive normally make it feel less than safe right now, and it's becoming too cold to just enjoy dinner out.

As we enter Cape Cod Bay, we are on track to enter the canal with a fair tide all the way to Onset. We could actually finish the whole canal, but there are really no protected harbors beyond for what is coming our way. At this writing, it looks like we will be hunkered down in Onset until Monday morning, when we can make a run for New Bedford.

I needed a delivery address for parts, and access to an Amazon locker, and a place to get our mail which will include our ballots, and New Bedford filled the bill. We've booked a mooring ball for a few nights, inside the hurricane barrier. New Bedford also has some of the cheapest diesel in New England, and we may top up before moving along.

Diesel is actually ten cents cheaper in Narragansett, but if we stop in Rhode Island at all, we'd be required to quarantine for two weeks upon entering NY/NJ/CT. That's not in the cards, so we'll be passing through without stopping, as much as I'd like to spend a night or two. I expect to be in New Bedford until we have a window to go all the way to Connecticut.

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