Saturday, July 05, 2008
Journey To Boston for 4th July
[Maryanne]After a glorious last day in Maine, we set off early for the trip to Boston. As you may expect, it was thick fog, which made us even more grateful for the previous day. We had occasional glimpses of land or other boats, but mostly we navigated by radar and chart plotter; listening out for the fog horns of others. We were once again very grateful for our automatic hailer – which sounded the appropriate fog horn for us at least every 2 minutes.
Early in the journey we saw seals (which were such a common sight in the area) – but one in particular displayed a behavior I had personally never seen; and it seemed intended just to please us! The seal dove head first – raising its feet/tail out of the water and curling and flicking its hind quarters to make a huge splash. I understand other larger mammals do something similar to stun fish locally – but I have no idea if this is what the seal was up to! It repeated the show about 5 times and each time seemed to check out we were watching before it started.
At one point on the journey, I had just retired for some sleep and Kyle was skipper – I heard a radio call to us. Basically asking if we knew the area – were we lost (the lobsterman could obviously not understand what a sail boat was doing out towards sea in the fog). Kyle explained all was well, and thanked him for his concern. Immediately we heard the same lobsterman on the radio with a colleague – explaining there was a sailboat “out here – not sure if he knows even where he is”. His friend replied – “they probably have a better chart plotter than you do!”. I heard Kyle laugh heartily for a good 10 minutes after that.
Once at sea the wind was variable – during the journey we had fully reefed everything at times – easily managing 5-6kt, and at other times our biggest lightweight sail (the screacher) and still moving barely at less than 1 knot.
A direct route path from start to finish was 147 nautical miles, but we knew before we started that the wind direction was such that we could not sail directly in the direction we wanted – we needed to zig zag and tack our way to our destination. [Kyle: Following winds were not forecast to last long enough to get the whole way.] And because we are in the ocean with bigger, waves, we have to do larger tacks than we would do in calmer conditions to ease the ride. [Kyle: I absolutely hate having to tack back and forth to get anywhere offshore. It can be great fun in a harbor in flat water as a way of 'playing' with the boat but in big offshore waves it is always a test of endurance and misery. The boat and the crew get pounded to death. It is almost impossible to sleep in those conditions. This is made worse by the fact that almost all forward progress has stopped and the bashing is going to take FOREVER. One good thing was that on the end of one tack, we got one more look at Maine on a clear day at Cape Elizabeth, just south of Portland.] Eventually the journey took 182 nautical miles – not too bad, but the journey took us 2.5 days – about 70 miles a day and much of that was frustratingly slow, or at a good clip but pounding into the seas. We probably did a few more miles than that - but our speed wheel stops working at slow speeds of less than 1 kt. Poor Kyle was sea sick, but amazingly I was fine for the whole trip.
Boston harbor is accessed from sea, via the Massachusetts Bay – and we turned from sea into the Bay on Friday around 7am – turning close to Cape Anne (Gloucester). It was not until 10pm that we finally arrived at our anchorage at one of the Boston Harbor Islands at a snail’s pace. There were three things that kept us entertained. Firstly for that whole day in Mass. Harbor – we saw very few boats – maybe 20 in total. This is on a FRIDAY of a long weekend / holiday in the USA – where was everyone? Secondly – there was one of those rare amazing sunsets – and we in particular enjoyed some spectacular views of the Boston Light (the US only remaining manned lighthouse) and the Boston Skyline all with a beautiful glow of the sunset. [Kyle: About the sunset. There's no way I can be sure, of course, but this may have been the prettiest sunset I have ever seen. As we sailed/drifted into Boston Harbor on a shimmering, mirror flat sea, the sky turned red. Then it turned even more red and then even redder still. It actually got to where it hurt to look at it. It reminded me of being in a darkroom developing photos. It's possible to see, but your eyes and brain struggle to make sense of everything in the weird light, trying to make it fit into a mental map you have of the world. This sunset was like that. All of the other colors gradually bled out until there was nothing but deep red sky reflected in deep red water with the islands and the city in silhouette.] Finally it was a holiday, my first 4th July as a citizen of the USA and we were lucky enough to enjoy at least 30 different firework displays as we crawled to our anchorage – felt like quite a welcome to the Boston area. [Kyle: Because of where we anchored, we were completely surrounded on all sides as we set anchor in the still night. it was hard to know where to look. between the sunset and the fireworks, our arrival in the Boston area was beyond spectacular.] We have reserved our marina mooring for Sunday onward, so for now we are resting up and enjoying our views.
On our last day we skipped the standard watch schedule and spent most of the day together in the cockpit enjoying the views. We often quiz ourselves and Kyle wanted to know what the fog signal was for a vessel limited in its ability to maneuver - I told him, it is the same as a vessel under sail. Kyle loves our hailer with all its fancy options, and wanted to see if it had this particular option on the menu - but the hailer would not work - broken! [Kyle: I distinctly remember Maryanne turning the fog signal off after clearing the Maine fog. I think it must have failed somehow during the subsequent beating we took. Still, it lasted EXACTLY as long as we needed it.] Obviously we have to fix it but we consider ourselves lucky that it lasted while we needed it in Maine.
Kyle hates motoring, and we had recently checked our engine hours per trip (2.5 engine hours per trip) stat and engine hours per hour underway (28% of time is under motor). Kyle was particularly unhappy with the answer. He was on a mission. For this leg we motored for the first hour and a half (no wind and we wanted to clear the islands in the thick fog) – but sailed the rest of the journey (64.5 hours in total). That should help the stats, and certainly made Kyle feel better (only 2% of the journey under engine power)!