Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Hot Zone

We are under way across Massachusetts Bay, with Race Point, the northwestern tip of Cape Cod, receding behind us. We were hoping to still be in Provincetown for the next few days, but, alas, it was not to be. Just as it did at this time last year, the pandemic is dictating our course of action.

After my last post we came whizzing out of the Cape Cod Canal and set a direct course for Provincetown Harbor, pretty much an exact repeat of our last cruise out of Penzance. We arrived a little before 6pm and dropped the hook in 50', very close to where we anchored last time (map). Not long after the anchor touched bottom the windlass jammed, and I found the chain bunched up and hockled in the locker.

Last night's sunset next to the Pilgrim Monument, as seen from MacMillan Pier. The haze is smoke from the western fires.

Even with just 100' out we were not moving, so I changed into grubbies and descended into the chain locker to continuously de-foul the chain as Louise paid out the second hundred feet. Between the late arrival, the fact that many places in town are dark Monday, and the fact that it was in the low 60s and damp, we opted to just leave the tender on deck and eat aboard. The forecast for Tuesday was much more pleasant.

Tuesday morning several boats that were around us when we dropped all weighed anchor and left, and we decided that would be a great time to pay all the chain out of the locker, untwist it, and re-anchor. That took the better part of an hour, but it was good to get all the chain out for inspection. The first 100' of chain is now so worn that it occasionally jumps the gypsy, whereas the last 300' is in much better condition. We are overdue to reverse the chain.

After we were set in a slightly different and shallower spot (map), I dug into another overdue project, to wit, servicing the tender. I changed the engine oil and filter, the final drive oil, and the external anodes, and greased all the lube points. I still have a leaky patch on the port tube that I need to replace, but I need a few days where we don't need to use it to get that done.

A hastily-snapped photo of P-Town from our anchorage this morning.

The dinghy thus fully serviced, we splashed it before dinner time and headed ashore to the town landing, aiming to stroll Commercial Street and find a nice outdoor table for dinner. In contrast to our last visit, which happened to be during Carnival, the town seemed fairly sedate mid-week. It was far less crowded than our last visit, and we had no trouble scoring a nice outdoor table upstairs at JD's, where we shared a pizza. Even the outdoor tables were separated by Plexiglas dividers, and the staff were masked.

A check of the passage weather when we returned home suggested a Saturday or Sunday departure, and I was looking forward to a relaxing few days in the harbor, capped with more casual meals and people-watching ashore at dinner time. I have Amazon packages arriving to a locker in Salem on Friday, but a weekend departure would still get us there within the three-day pickup window.

Today's errands were to be finding a couple of grocery items, and taking our giant bag of accumulated recycling ashore. I opened up the city's recycling web site first thing this morning to find out what they accept, and was immediately greeted by a Covid alert with a link to a public health advisory issued just Monday. And when I opened the news with my morning coffee, the reason for the alert was front-page center: a post-holiday outbreak is raging here. Ominously, many of those infected were fully vaccinated.

Race Point lighthouse behind us.

As much as I had been looking forward to a few days in town, and even though we are still practicing all of our safety protocols, we both agreed it was ill-advised to remain in a known hot spot, packed with people. Tomorrow's passage weather is lousy, so instead we scrambled to get underway this morning. We're very glad we took the time yesterday to get the anchor chain sorted.

On the plus side, this will put us in Salem in time to catch up with our friends Steph and Martin on Blossom, and also Bob and Dori on Liberdade. We just missed both of them in P-Town, and we were on track to miss them again in Salem this weekend. Conditions are flat calm here on the Stellwagen Bank and the plotter is projecting an arrival before 6pm. We can see whales about a mile off our starboard beam, surrounded by whale-watch tour boats.

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