Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cape Cod Canal and New Bedford

[Kyle]We made it through the Cape Cod Canal quickly with only the need for a single engine to propel us with the current doing much of the work to push us along. On the western side, in the open water of Buzzards Bay, things started getting a little rough.

The wind of the past few days had whipped the bay into a mess of steep, choppy waves. In the deep water of the canal approach channel, the fast opposing current was creating big, scary standing waves. We would come off of the tops of these waves and plunge into the face of the next one, which sometimes stopped us completely dead in the water. Several times, Begonia lost steerageway and began to be blown beam to the waves. Not good. We started the other engine and were able to regain control for the last few miles until the bay opened up on either side and the current abated. Once things calmed down to the point where we felt we could safely go forward to the mast, we hoisted sail. Begonia sped up to faster than the motors would push her, the motion dampened and we started long tacks down the bay. Meanwhile the VHF radio was abuzz with rescue calls to the coastguard and boat towing services; the two ends of the canal were very different worlds today.

Calm seas were a rare view for most of the journey, but we were pleased to eventually reach the Butler Flats Light just outside the harbor entrance

By afternoon, we arrived at New Bedford, Massachusetts (MA). The forecast wouldn’t allow us enough time to go ashore but I was looking forward to being anchored in the historic harbor for the night behind the security of the major hurricane wall and barrier system that protects the harbor.

The secure gates that close off the hurricane protection for the town and harbor

Once we got inside, we found all of the anchoring spots recommended by our cruising guides were completely filled with moorings. Most of these didn’t even have boats. There was no space left to actually anchor. We tried every spot we could, but ended up with no choice but to either pay for a private mooring that had been placed in a public anchorage by someone trying to make a buck, or leave.

Moorings are great for getting a lot of boats into a limited space and we don’t mind paying for one occasionally if it gives us access to other services like showers, garbage disposal and laundry. Paying for a night onboard to swing from a ball in a mostly empty harbor just because no room has been left to anchor is not cool with us. We’ve already paid a small fortune for our capable ground tackle and we trust it more than some mooring of unknown condition.

So we left the harbor proper and anchored on the outside of the hurricane barrier where we swung peacefully for the night as we watched traffic in the channel which included the apparent tug boat assistance of a fishing vessel whose outriggers (long beams for trolling multiple lines) would not retract back into the boat and thus prevented entrance through the hurricane gates.

From outside the hurricane barrier we had views of the distant Fort Phoenix, and plenty of passing commercial fishing boats

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