17 August 2014

A Tale of Two Extremes: Around The Outer Cape from Provincetown to Chatham

Teaser = 95% of this day was fantastic.  5% was terrifying.  Read on to learn more.....

Day 2 of LASVA (Long Awaited Summer Vacation on Argon)

We have enjoyed traveling through the Cape Cod Canal many times but Linda has been wanting to take the adventurous route around the outer Cape for a few years.  We examined several sources of wind and weather reports and determined that there were close to ideal conditions for this trip Sunday with 8-15kt winds shifting SW to W (then back to SW which was less than ideal).  We studied several sources of charts and information about preparing to cross Pollock and Butler Rip originally hoping to go to Nantucket (no moorings available) and instead planning on Chatham.  Determining that slack through Butler Hole would at 15:45, we selected an early morning departure time.
Pulled anchor at 0600 leaving PTown; Chin Chin pulled behind as we watch the sun rise behind interesting clouds
Long Point Lighthouse:   Oc G 4s Horn
Approaching Wood End as we prepare to turn NW and hoist sails (Fl R 10s 13M Horn)
All is well
Spinnaker Time!!
As we rounded Race Point to head NE then E, we expected to be downwind.  Winds were still around 8kts thus perfect for practicing our weak spinnaker skills.  The spinnaker has been up only once this season during a practice run out by The Graves early in the season and our prior sailboat, Fujin, did not have a spinnaker.  Thus we are novices for sure.

All rigged and ready for the sock to be lifted

Beautiful (note we have an asymmetrical design for the asymmetrical spinnaker)

Hummed along at 6-7 kts in 8kts of wind (positive current around Race Point helping out)

Wind shifted from the west as if the wind gods had us in their favor thus we were on a beam reach vs the expected broad.  Learned that our spinnaker (name TBD) does quite nicely on a beam.

All is well, perfect actually, as we round the Cape
Enjoying the Scenery, Perfect Conditions and Seclusion
The wind oscillated from W to slightly SW inching up to 12+kts allowing for a nice run with the spinnaker before we doused and pulled out the Genoa.  We were surprised that for hours there were virtually no boats in sight and enjoyed the miles of serene national seashore off our starboard.

Cape Cod National Seashore south of Truro

Linda ensures backstay pressure is just over 1000 lbs (Bill would be satisfied)
Hey, we're on a heading for Bermuda - tempting.....
Milestone Achieved
We hit 1000 nm on Argon since her commissioning in May just a few months ago - hurrah!!
Celebrating our first 1000 nm on Argon and looking forward to many 1000's more in the years to come!!
We re-examine our Richardson's Chart, Navionics, GPS and cruising guides in preparation for sailing through the infamous Pollock Rip Channel and Butler Hole as this is not to be taken lightly.  We were still going against a current about 45 minutes ahead of schedule and slack.  Given that we were going to Chatham since there were no mooring in Nantucket, we examined staying close to the southern tip of Monomoy Island vs. making the 15 nm U shaped course south then north of Hadkerchief Shoal.  WRONG DECISION!
Wind has picked up - switch Genoa for jib and sail a bit higher; heeling over quite a bit but very little weather helm; wind is picking up to 15+ kts.  Needed to head in to wind so took sails down shortly after.  Then the fun ended.
Fun is Over - Hang On
Most of the trip through Pollock Rip and Butler Hole was fine.  We decided we would turn NW near R"10" and carefully go through an area of 11 and 13 foot charted depth having checked multiple sources and knowing it was high tide.  However, the tide is only about 3-4' thus not a lot of extra depth at high tide and there are numerous warnings about shoaling.  Linda spotted what we think was hundreds of seals sunning themselves on Monomoy Point and asked Bob to get some pictures.  You will notice that we have no pictures of the seals.....

We were suddenly hit with 7 foot waves with Argon being tossed around in the troughs; we immediately donned our life jackets and soon found ourselves in alarmingly shallow depths.  The stability of Argon in these churning waters was fantastic (would not have felt so confident in the much lighter Fujin) but we had not counted on being in such dramatic troughs in such shallow depths.  In addition, the extreme shoaling in this area made even our very up-to-date sources not very reliable.

This was the worst rip and biggest waves we have ever been in.  Linda was at the helm and we both kept a nervous eye on the depth gauge as it oscillated from 14ft to 8ft to 16ft to 10ft, then the dreaded 7ft to 6ft to @#$%! 5ft (we have a 5"11' draft) and then we felt the dreaded thud as we hit bottom. Our heart rates increased even more as we felt another shot of adrenaline course through our bodies. If we ran aground in these rough waters that would be catastrophic. Bob yelled "turn around!" but Linda, estimating that we were more than two thirds of the way through the dangerous section, quickly decided to press on rationalizing that we could easily hit bottom again if we turned around and ended up on a more shallow path. We were both on high alert during the 30 minutes it took us to weave through these difficult waters.  We will never ever go this route again!  (Instead one can take the 14nm longer route around the southern tip of Monomoy Refuge.)  When the charts showed deeper depths and the seas calmed, our bodies and minds still swirled with anxiety thinking about what almost happened and not yet allowing ourselves to put our guard down.

On the other side of the rip near Monomoy Point but we will take the long way around Handkershief Shoal next time 
Chatham Roads Entering Stage Harbor for Respite
We were very happy to arrive safely in Chatham.  The harbor is absolutely lovely.
All is well again

Chatted with a dockhand in the Harbormaster office about our harrowing trip around Monomoy Point.  He replied "Yup, good rip out thar today."  Yup.

Stage Harbor:  One can take a long dinghy ride up in to Little Mill Pond and tie up a few steps away from Main Street in lovely Chatham.
End of Day 2 of our LASVA
We took Chin Chin over calm harbor water under a tiny wooden draw bridge up in to Little Mill Pond where one can tie up and enjoy a stroll in town.  It was great to see so many open shops and museums on a Sunday evening with a nice choice of restaurants.  We had a wonderful dinner at Vining's Bistro a few steps off Main Street, reminisced about our adventures of the day, and indulged in ice cream on our stroll back to the dinghy.  We discussed how we handled today's adventures - What did we do right? What did we do wrong? The key error was that as soon as the sudden 7 foot waves hit, we should have known that our depth would be precarious and decided on the much longer southerly route at that time. The positive aspects is that we did not panic, we communicated clearly (even when Linda decided against Bob's plea to turn around), and we handled the boat confidently.

A night ride on glass smooth water back to Argon was a peaceful end to a long, fantastical, memorable day.  

16 August 2014

Day (Night) One of our LASVA: Charlestown-Provincetown

Finally our LASVA (Long Awaited Summer Vacation on Argon)
Beginning of our three week trip:  Departure at 21:00 on Friday Evening with a destination of Provincetown and no mooring reservation.  After enjoying a dinner of We enjoyed a dinner of sesame salmon with broccoli under sail, Bob takes the first watch until 03:00 while Linda gets some sleep.

First Watch
Overnight, the wind was light getting out of Boston Harbor, but once around Hull, MA the predicted westerly of 10+kt gave us a nice beam reach all the way to Provincetown. From there on, we were doing high 6s and low 7s the whole way.

Arriving Early
Linda took over the helm at 0300 which meant Bob did the longest leg (this is normal) and it was Bob's turn to get some shuteye. With a hot cup of coffee in hand Linda sailed Argon in the dark continuing on nicely around 7kts sailing a bit higher. Bob had predicted landing at Provincetown at 06:00 but given the nice speed we made, it ended up being more like 05:00. We decided we would anchor in the harbor which we have never done before in Provincetown (and learned that getting a mooring at this early hour was not possible anyway). This harbor is mostly over 50 feet deep with very narrow shallower contours near the beach. We have 150 feet of chain plus 100 feet of line for the anchor so we're really limited to about 30 feet of water for safe overnight anchoring with appropriate scope.

Sunrise over Long Point

Completed night sail - We had to dress as if it was October, not August but a wonderful sail and in time to watch the sunrise from our anchorage in PTown Harbor off Long Point Beach

And We Still Had A Whole Day Ahead .....
After a lovely morning nap in the cockpit, we both awoke around 0900 and were happily cognizant that we still had all of Saturday in front of us.  After a relaxing late breakfast of broccoli cheese omelet (with leftover from dinner, of course) and sausage, we noticed an arriving trawler behind us having trouble getting one of the few mooring balls in the area.

Good Samaritan, Bob, helping retrieve their mooring hook
Peaceful view westward off bow
 We took the dinghy ashore to lovely and quiet Long Point Beach.  It is always fairly secluded there since one can only reach by boat.  Flyers, in town, runs a shuttle back and forth and as the day progresses power boats will anchor near the shallow shore.  We arrive in the middle of a rising tide thus were sure to haul chin chin up the beach a generous distance.
Argon at anchor off Long Point Beach PTown Harbor

Near the tip of Long Point Beach

Plenty of seals; no sharks spotted

Time to Venture in to Town
We embarked on a very long and moderately choppy dinghy ride across the harbor towards town keeping our eye out for the impressive 50+' Amel, Ipanema, owned by our D Dock friends, Jose and Magnolia as we knew they were in the neighborhood.  Their schooner was easily spotted anchored on the south side of Flyers mooring field.  We had a wonderful visit on board and were treated to an unexpected snake of spicy shrimp (Jose's special recipe).  We agreed to meet up a couple hours later at a place recommended by other D Dock friends.

Unique drinks at Sage with Jose and Magnolia - our D Dock friends from Ipenema

Indulged in Key Lime Creme Brulee
Monument for Linda's People (she's a Mayflower decent, ya know)

And that was Day 1 of our LASVA (Long Awaited Summer Vacation on Argon) :-)

Photo Album from Friday
Photo Album
Photo Album

14 August 2014

Weekend with Friends and Sailing with the Master - 1 Aug and 11 Aug 2014

Lori and Todd Visit from DC
We were thrilled to host Linda's deer friends of nearly 30 years, Lori and Todd, for a weekend in Boston.  Lori and Todd are in the marines currently living outside of Washington DC.  (They were with Linda during the birth of her first son when he was born nearly 8 weeks early as they vacationed together more than 26 years ago - so there is a lot of history among this group.)

Lori chills in the cockpit while docked at Constitution Marina on a warm, sunny Friday afternoon

Todd naps in the hammock

Bob plays killer guitar and keyboards with Tsunami of Sound at Sally O'Brien's in Somerville Friday night
Despite low wind, clouds and rain in the forecast we set sail Saturday late morning.  Motored out of the harbor and beyond Deer Island but then were able to hoist the sails and catch some gentle winds.

Todd, Lori and Linda (I love this couple)

"Lori O" lobster boat - coincidental connection to Lori Oneto D'Agostino :-)


Marblehead for the Night
We grabbed a mooring with Boston Yacht Club (no hats) for an overnight stay.  Met up with Brenton and Jillien for a fun visit over drinks at Jack Tars (forgot to take a pick - but we remember the laughs!).
Moored in Marblehead Harbor for overnight stay

Departing Marblehead Harbor for a leisurely trip back to Boston

Final visit back at Constitution with Gersham and Ajay before Lori and Todd head back to DC

Argon taken from Prairie Gold as we glide northward in the mild wind 

Bill Shaw Jr
We had the most awesome broker for Argon. Bill Shaw Jr. has an illustrious family heritage in Sailing. He grew up immersed in the sailing business as his dad Bill Sr. ran Pearson Yachts for many years. We were lucky enough to have Bill and his wife Lynne join us for a sail and show us all the things we do wrong (lots).

This sail was at the same time as our "super moon" and we were out at low tide - by which I mean REALLY LOW tide. This next picture shows Lower Middle - a spot that is normally two or three feet under water at low tide. This is the first time I have ever seen it exposed

Busy week before taking off
We're getting ready to take off for three weeks of sailing but first we had a busy week between our normal day gigs and three charters including our first ever wedding charter. We picked up the happy couple after their reception at 22:30 and sailed around the harbor until after midnight.  We had that beautiful (super) full moon and a nice light breeze over the beam. Below are some photos of the pick-up at Liberty Wharf in South Boston.