With the 5-6 knot current pushing me into a SW wind, the
channel out was pretty rough, but I expected it to settle once I got out
further, as I've experienced on the Merrimac and Piscataqua Rivers.
The 3-foot seas grew to four, soon to five, and kept getting larger. So
much spray was coming over the bow from our pounding that soon I
couldn't see through my glasses and rubbing them only smeared the salt.
The waves kept building -- six, seven footers, yeow. There was no way to
dig out the foul-weather gear, or the SAR lifevest, from within the
The boat and I were taking a pounding; I was soaked,
didn't know how much more either boat or I could take and hold together.
I quickly opened the cabin, grabbed and clipped on the PLB by the time we hit the first 8-footers, looked for
an emergency exit strategy, tried heading east into what appeared to be
slightly calmer water but
it shallowed way too quickly; at a depth of 5 feet I spun the boat about
and headed back out into the seas, then decided on a full retreat. But
then what? That canal current running out would be doing so for another
I called Barbara to say goodbye -- I didn't think
boat and I would
make it this time. She called Wally, who in turn called me and helped
Ahoy and me back up the channel and into Onset Harbor, where he'd called
and arranged a slip reservation. Fortunately, I still had the waypoints
and a route into the bay from the channel programmed in the GPS from a
previously planned visit (that never happened).
I took these photos -- mostly just
point-and-shoot snapshots so I'd have something if I survived -- before
it got too crazy out there, and during my retreat. I missed the best,
ones while my single focus was survival, and when taking out the camera
would have been good for one shot before killing it with spray.
These were the worst conditions I've ever had Chip Ahoy
out in, and hope to never do it again. I wonder if Catalina Yachts
designer Frank Butler heard my prayers of thanks out there in
Even at the slip at
pretty well sheltered Onset Bay and its marina (photo on right), the wind was
blowing, the water rough. But after today I recognize better than
ever that "rough" is relative! (July
Chip Ahoy's track
coming out of the canal into Buzzard's Bay,
then back up and into Onset Bay --
a PDF file