Chip Ford's 1974 Catalina 22 Restoration Project
Sail #3282  l  Marblehead, Massachusetts

Chip Ahoy's 2010 Cape Cod Cruise

July 21 - Aug 5, 2010

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Click thumbnails for a larger picture


Less than a quarter mile before the railroad bridge, the sign (left) marked the demarcation, where boats must stop if the bridge is down. The bridge stayed up and Chip Ahoy and I flew right under and officially out into Buzzard's Bay.  (Jul. 28, 2010)

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 closed-up cabin.

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 four hours.

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 direct Chip 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, most dramatic 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 California?

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 28, 2010)

Chip Ahoy's track coming out of the canal into Buzzard's Bay,
then back up and into Onset Bay
  a PDF file

The next morning the SW wind was still blowing, so hard I had to drop the Origo stove down onto the cockpit sole to boil a pot of coffee, block the wind with a cribboard to keep the flame from going out.

Chip Ahoy, still the smallest (by far) boat on the dock -- like everywhere else I go.  (July 29, 2010)

After a couple days' stay, I departed Onset Bay Marina early for the canal; its flood current would begin at 7:30 am so Chip Ahoy and I were underway at 6:30.  (Jul. 31, 2010)

For Chip Ahoy's complete log of the 2010 cruise, click here


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