22 June, 2015
Here we Go……..
An early start to Nantucket was out of the question, as we had to wait until midtide to have enough water to get out of the LakeTashmoo. Out near the point West of Vineyard Sound, we encountered a bizarre rip tide. There was a distinct line in the water, which extended for a mile or so in either direction. On one side, the water was very calm and smooth. On the other, choppy with one foot waves-weird. We had a windy, wavy crossing over to Nantucket Boat Basin, where we took a slip for the first time in a few weeks, as we needed lots of water and power to wash the Girl and loads of clothes. Suz got us in under the fiscal wire, as the rates went from $1.95/ft. to over $5.50 when “season” started in two days-Oh yeah, $55/night for electricity. This place is not for the faint-hearted or fiscally conservative. The waterfront around the marina was all about “see and be seen”. Not exactly my kind of place, but hey, we were there, so we did the best we could. It was hard to blend in, as I seemed to have misplaced my pink shorts and chartreuse plaid shirt. We hit the shops, and then did the self-guided walking tour. Once you drill down a bit below the extremely shallow crust, there’s plenty of history to enjoy here. The historic sites included the Old Gaol (jail), a 19th century fire station complete with antique pumpers, a working windmill (circa 1740), and the Nantucket whaling museum (which is nice, but pales in comparison to the whaling museum in New Bedford). Nighttime brought out the trust fund party animals who went ‘till the wee smalls. I like my folks with collars of the blue hue, and was ready to clear out after 2 days. The Admiral says I’m over sensitive and need to get over it, but it’s tough to change my stripes now.
Our plan had been to go outside to Provincetown, on the end of Cape Cod. The weather saw things differently, and told us that she would punish us if we tried in the next few days. Hmmm….Nantucket for two more days, or getting the snot kicked out of us. We didn’t like either option, so decided to backtrack down Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds, through Woods Hole, and into New Bedford, where we could get the cheapest fuel in Massachusetts, and a good meal before transiting the Cape Cod Canal and running across the (predicted to be placid)Cape Cod Bay to P’Town. Sounded like a good plan, so we departed Nantucket at 0600 to take advantage of a favorable tidal current up the Sounds for a few hours. It was windy and seas were 1’-3’ but it beat the heck out of what we were seeing on the direct course to Cape Cod. We had a steady rain from the minute that we left the dock, but as we passed north of Martha’s Vineyard, day turned to night. In 5 minutes, the wind went from 20 knots to 47(That'd be 54 miles per hour). The steady rain morphed to torrential. Visibility dropped to 50 yards. The scuppers and clearing ports on deck couldn’t keep up, and the deck was quickly awash. Our 62,000 pound Girl heeled 25 degrees to the starboard as she was pummeled with multiple right crosses. She didn’t miss a beat, and was ready to come back for more when the wind abated as the storm passed over her. The lightning and black clouds raced by, and within a few minutes, it was just pouring with 20 knot breezes. All Suzanne and I could do was laugh, as we realized that we had been holding our breath for the preceding 20 minutes. Woods Hole channel brought back memories of the St. Lawrence Seaway as we bucked a 4 knot current going through. Passing through the hurricane barrier at the entrance to New Bedford Harbor was like coming home. It’s a working class town that boasts the highest grossing fishing fleet in the U.S. of A., and has for the last couple decades. (See New Bedford blog from September, 2014). We made the fuel co-op 15 minutes before closing time at 1200, and topped off our tanks, hopefully for the last time ‘till Fall. Suz and I took a nice dinghy ride as the skies cleared, and had a fantastic Father’s Day dinner at Antonio’s, a Portuguese restaurant a short cab ride up the river. We were forewarned, but still both ordered an entrée, leaving enough for dinner the next day even after we were both stuffed.
Monday morning, the 22nd, we were off to Cape Cod Canal by 0700. The current through the canal can be significant, so we wanted to hit it on a rising tide to take advantage of the 4 knot flow. As predicted, the run across the bay to Provincetown was calm. We took a ball and headed in to the office to pick up our mail which we had forwarded there. It was like Christmas, as my new rod and reel were waiting with the more mundane packages. WaHoo! That afternoon, Suz gave me a much-needed haircut, and made an appointment for herself at the Aveda salon in town for the next day. As the afternoon wound down, the sippy cruise took us a couple miles along the beach that ringed the harbor. Around a mile-and-a-half from town we spotted a guy in a bathing suit on a moored fishing boat waving his arms frantically. When we motored over, he said something like “I swam here”. He just didn’t seem quite right, so I asked him if he was okay. He replied with a very concise “no”. Long story short (again), he had swum out to the beach, and found that he couldn’t make it in the cold water. As he started to panic, he hauled himself out of the water over the barnacle-encrusted hull, macerating his legs and torso in the process. Now hypothermic, he was in trouble. We took him aboard, shivering uncontrollably, and got him into a sweatshirt, laying him down in the tender to get him out of the wind. We dropped him off at the condo where he was staying with his family, leaving him in the care of his teenaged son. Hopefully, lesson learned. Over the next few days, we biked 17 miles of trails at the Cape Cod National Seashore, took a trolley ride, and walked the backstreets of P’Town. We learned that the Mayflower had initially landed in PTown in 1620, and wrote the Mayflower Compact here, before moving on to Plymouth, where fresh water and arable soil were more available. The hardwood forests that were here were eventually clear-cut, and as a result, the thin soil blew away, leaving the sand spit that is here today. There are a good number of old buildings still standing, as unlike many other cities, there was never a major fire to destroy them. There is also a rich history of the town supporting the arts, theater in particular, as Eugene O’Neil called P’Town home. Several venues in this small town advertised appearances by major headliners for the upcoming season.
Our tour through the islands, and including Cape Cod gave us our fill of quaint little tourist towns. No offense meant, but we were ready to get back to nature in the Canadian Maritimes.