Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Eleven years on the run

We are under way across Buzzards Bay, heading towards the Cape Cod Canal from Wood's Hole. Although I had planned for just an overnight stop, we ended up spending a lovely two nights anchored in the Great Harbor of Wood's Hole, Massachusetts (map).

Nobska Point Light, approaching Wood's Hole.

I found it odd, when planning our stop, that there were no anchorages listed anywhere in Wood's Hole, despite the enormous size of the well-protected harbor. Upon arrival, we soon found out why, as the entire basin is filled with moorings. We found a spot on the very edge of the mooring field, and anchored on a short 4:1 scope in 40'-50' of water. Still, it was a great spot.

Just a few of the many Wood's Hole "houseboats" moored in the harbor, with $15M houses in the background.

We enjoyed a lovely dinner on deck, with a view of the harbor and its funky floating summer cottages, interspersed with myriad sailboats and the occasional powerboat. Three of the mooring balls are for transients, run by the yacht club, and these were our closest neighbors. On our other side was moored the storied R/V Knorr, which carried the team and equipment that discovered Titanic, among many other scientific achievements. Knorr is being decommissioned after a long career, replaced by the R/V Neil Armstrong.

R/V Knorr, owned by the US Navy and operated by WHOI, at the WHOI docks.

In the morning we dropped the tender and headed ashore to explore the small town. The dinghy dock is in the even more protected Eel Pond, which has enough depth for Vector but is also filled to the brim with moorings (these, at least, I expected). The bascule bridge at the entrance is just four to five feet above the water, so even in the dinghy we had to duck.

The entire town has the look and feel of a college campus. Between the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI), the Marine Biological Laboratory, and NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center, virtually the entire village revolves around science and visiting and resident scientists. As such, it's a real community, with a community center and other town services for actual residents, a refreshing change from our recent spate of stops in places where the principal industry is tourism and high-end vacation homes.

Vector at anchor in Great Harbor, as seen from WHOI.

Wood's Hole does have a small tourist district, since this is the other terminus of the ferry system to Martha's Vineyard. We've watched the same ferries coming and going here that we saw at the other end, although they were a bit further from us here. This morning, the ferries were accompanied by an armed Coast Guard escort, with the 50-caliber guns both mounted and manned. I'm not sure what that was about, but if I had to guess I would say the Secret Service and the military have been offloading all the gear they brought to the island for the President's vacation; he departed the island on Marine One Sunday afternoon.

After walking all around town, including the ferry terminal, we spent some time in the visitor exhibit center for WHOI before heading back to the tender. Even though we had more or less seen the whole town, it was so refreshing to be here that we decided to spend a second night. That would give us a chance to sample a local restaurant, and also see the Woods Hole Science Aquarium this morning, as it is closed on Sunday and Monday.

In celebration of our 11th anniversary of full-time nomadic living, we had a nice dinner overlooking the ferries at Quicks Hole Tavern. The place was packed, so we ate at the bar, where a clearly local crowd chatted us up. We ended up making the acquaintance of one of the local scientists, but this was his off-season gig; his day job is one of the endowed chairs of Neuroscience at Harvard. We talked boating.

This morning we tendered back in to town for the 11am opening of the aquarium (part of NOAA's fisheries office) which was small but interesting. After returning to Vector we immediately hoisted the tender and made ready to depart, so we could have a favorable tide both through "Wood's Hole" (the hole, or pass through the islands, rather than the eponymous town) and up Buzzards Bay. This afternoon we should be anchored in Onset Bay, near the town of that name, to position ourselves for a canal transit tomorrow afternoon.

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