Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cuttyhunk to Annisquam

Annisquam, MA 42 39.12 N 70 40.58 W
As we were enjoying one more day on Cuttyhunk we were surprised to see another Manta Catamaran enter the pond. We soon realized it was Mattie & Ed Sears aboard Piscataqua. We first met Mattie and Ed in 2007 during the Manta Migration in the Abacos. They've been cruising for the past eleven years between Maine and the Bahamas so we were eager to pick their brains about favorite stops along the way. We all enjoyed dinner and (too much) wine aboard Carina that night. It turned out that we both had Onset, MA as our next planned destination. Mattie’s daughter works at a horse farm in Buzzard’s Bay and they were planning an extended stay there. Our plan was to stay in Onset for a few days to wait for a favorable weather before transiting Cape Cod Canal for a possible overnight to Maine..
We left Cuttyhunk on Thursday and had a nice casual sail up Buzzards Bay in light winds and calm seas. About half way to our destination we caught a 24” Bluefish. Believe it or not this is the first fish we ever landed and it was quite exciting. He was quickly dispatched with about 1/4 bottle of Jim Bean whiskey. It was the first thing available and although we probably over-did it he definitely went to fish heaven with a smile on his face. Next time we will be better prepared with a small squirt bottle of booze. Mark filleted him on the trampoline and he became a delicious dinner of bluefish au gratin.

Onset is a quaint village with many Victorian era and styled houses, similar to Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard or Cape May, NJ. It is located just off the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal so it’s a very convenient place for boats like us waiting to transit the canal. We planned to spend a few days in Onset to wait out some forecasted thunderstorms and favorable winds but it turned out to be four days.
We anchored off Wicket’s Island for the 1st two nights but on Saturday chose to rent a mooring ball from the nearby Point Independence Yacht Club. This allowed us use of their dinghy dock, laundry, Wi-Fi, trash disposal and fresh water. Mark was able to wash the boat and top off the diesel tank. Although we didn’t really need fuel we couldn’t pass up the very low price at their fuel dock.

We enjoyed our four days in Onset visiting with Mattie & Ed, exploring the town and harbor by foot, kayak and dinghy. Mattie had use of her daughter’s vehicle and they were gracious enough to take us along for errands and re-provisioning as well as dinner out. Kathy had a few much appreciated days off from galley duty as a result.
We left Onset early Monday morning to ride the flood through Cape Cod Canal. You are not allowed to sail through the canal so under engine power Carina was pushed through the 15 mile long canal with the help of a 4-1/2 kt current in about 45 minutes. There are three bridges you pass under: the 544' span, spire-tipped railroad lift bridge, the Rt 28 Bourne Bridge as well as the Rt 3 Sagamore Bridge. We raised sails in Cape Cod Bay in what looked to be a perfect sail to our next destination of Rockport, MA on the Cape Ann peninsula.

After a few hours the winds shifted to our stern and became very light so down the sails came and we fired up the engines for what proved to be a very long day of motoring. As the afternoon progressed the thunderstorms that had developed over the mainland began approaching us with darkening skies and lightning. We were able to safely alter course around the storms by tracking the rainfall returns on our radar and the thunderstorm cell movements on our sat weather as the chartplotter images show.
We finally anchored just outside Rockport harbor in Sandy Bay,
 amidst a sea of lobster pot floats, exhausted from traveling 65 miles and being underway for over 9 hours. The anchorage proved to be a bit rolly from ocean swells wrapping around the point so we did not enjoy a restful sleep. We awoke Tuesday morning to heavy fog and more unsettled weather forecasted for the next 24-48 hours. The hot and muggy weather that afflicted the northeast this past week was unfortunately perfect conditions for producing fog over the colder northern waters. We’ve been in our share of fog and choose to avoid traveling in it if possible, gladly waiting for a better day(s). We also awoke that morning to a significant amount of condensation – like rain, on all of the hull walls, cabinetry and floors below waterline. Just the right combination of 57 degree outside water temperatures, high air humidity and warm engine compartments from all the motoring done the previous day. It was clear we did not want to spend another night in this location. Thinking the inner harbor of Rockport (which we’ve visited before) would offer us more protection, Mark called the harbormaster to check on availability of a mooring ball for the night. As (good) luck would have it there was no room for us so we opted for plan B which was to motor and hug the coast just on the edge of the fog bank for the 1 hour trip to Annisquam (which we had never visited) on the north side of Cape Ann.

Annisquam is actually a village of Gloucester. The Annisquam River flows into Ipswich Bay but it also connects via the Blyman Canal to Gloucester Harbor on the south side of Cape Ann, essentially dividing the mainland from the cape. Many power boats and small sailboats use the 4 mile river and canal as a short cut avoiding the need to deal with the open ocean around Cape Ann. We knew as we entered the river passing by a beautiful lighthouse to port and a long powder white sand beach to starboard that this was going to be a nice place. We picked up a mooring ball from the aptly named Lobster Cove Marina. Lobster Cove is a small protected cove rimmed by elegant homes with cut granite wharfs. There is a 10’ tidal elevation change in this area. Note the two photos of high tide vs low tide taken adjacent to where we were moored and where we dined that night.

We spent the day exploring the river and surrounding marshes by dinghy. Later in the afternoon we took a walk through “town” to stretch our legs. The town consists of quiet streets, well tended homes & gardens, a library and a church – no stores, banks or commerce. We met a local resident who suggested we visit Squam Rock Land Preserve just a short walk away. We were not disappointed as the preserve has a trail that leads from a very impressive granite outcropping “Squam Rock” down through a rolling meadow to a beach and the very same lighthouse we passed on the way in. We ended a perfect day with a memorable meal at the Lobster Cove Marina restaurant followed by a very restful sleep.

That brings us to today, which is Wednesday with more fog and rain – but thankfully no condensation inside. We decided to sit out today and wait for all this nastiness to pass before moving on tomorrow … if the weather and sea gods are agreeable.

Sinbad is wondering where were going next.

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