The Labor Day Weekend short cruise
Sunday, September 6, 2009; 2:30 pm
Brown's Yacht Yard, Gloucester
alongside me just returned. They left late this morning, but seas
outside Gloucester Harbor are running “6-8 feet and wild,” they just
reported. I'm glad I arranged in advance to stay until tomorrow – or
I'd be begging to stay another day.
And didn't that work
out well. My initial plan was to sail up to Rockport again, but when I
called the harbormaster up there yesterday morning I was informed the
town dock was booked and over-booked, nothing available, slips or even
moorings. I'd have to settle for anchoring – if there was space when I
arrived, but already the anchorage was pretty much full. With Chip Mate, the
dinghy, back up in my yard, that'd mean no getting ashore. So on a
long-shot I called here.
There was nothing
available either, but Greg the dockmaster told me there was still room
out at the anchorage across from the marina. I used to letter boats
here and he seemed to remember me when I mentioned it, told me he'd hold
open any cancellation that might occur; to call when I got into the
harbor entrance. I crossed my fingers, went out to Chip Ahoy, and was
on my way at 11:45 am.
pretty good: Though the wind was from the north, it was supposed to
change to east later in the day. The sea was running about 2-3 feet,
the sky was virtually cloudless, and the temperature was in the high-70s
pushing 80º by early afternoon.
I had one setback
along the way, catching a lobster pot buoy on the outboard. I
immediately threw the motor into neutral, loosed the sheets and luffed
the sails, then turned to untangling the line. It ended up being
relatively easy, just a matter of raising and tilting the outboard, much
to my relief. That accomplished, I made
Gloucester Harbor in about
I called Brown's Yacht Yard once inside the breakwater;
Greg gave me the great news – someone had canceled and I had a slip for
the weekend ($123 for Saturday and Sunday nights). I was soon tied up
and settled in for the Labor Day weekend – the busiest of the year, Greg
noted. Combined with our unreasonably short summer this year, the great
(if a bit cool already) weather forecast drew out everyone with a boat.
And it turned out that this is Gloucester's annual
schooner race weekend and the place is packed; he added that I should be
grateful I'm not trying to drive into Gloucester
today in the gridlock.
Coming in through the
inner harbor I passed some of
the schooners docked
behind the Maritime Heritage Center.
In appreciation for
his going the extra mile for me, I walked across the street to a
convenience store and picked
up a six-pack of Heineken beer for him, his favorite second to a brand
of Coors the store didn't stock and I’d never heard of.
I met another 1974
C22 skipper soon after I pulled in and got more or less settled. Greg
told me someone had just tied up to the outer dock and said "Wow, Chip
Ahoy -- Chip Ford's here!" John Dugger and his wife had to pull
“Forevor & A Day” in for an emergency: His boat's starboard-side
forward lower shroud had broken. I thought he'd be alright in
yesterday's light air but – but since the standing rigging is original
(35-years old now!) -- he should replace it all. He still has the
aluminum spreader brackets too, which I recommended he replace at the
The atmosphere was
festive here at the marina, a crowd of folks on the dock. When the
fireworks spectacle began, some of the locals on the dock
Chip Ahoy began their traditional homemade cannon-firing competition.
These cannon are quite remarkable: Small, the biggest no longer than
two feet at most, constructed of brass, mounted on heavy blocks of wood,
taken out of fancy wood cases. Apparently the goal is to see who can
load the biggest, loudest charge. My ears are still ringing.
I met a lot of great
people, had a really good time with all the activity on the dock. The
fireworks were impressive, coming from two directions, crossing and
bursting over the harbor to the roar of cannon fire.
hoisted and working great, though the marina provides WiFi so I really don't need the boost. I'm getting five bars –
“excellent” – from it. I'm receiving about 14-16 network signals, a
number of them strong – four bars – unsecured and accessible. My
LogMeIn account is working, so I'm now actually working from my home
computer while aboard Chip Ahoy in Gloucester using my laptop. Pretty
damn neat-o, e-mail access and all the programs on my home/office
The weather outside
the harbor is challenging, as return of the C34 from Quincy attests.
The schooner races continue today, but I don’t imagine many other boats
are venturing out beyond the breakwater to watch.
COASTAL WATERS FORECAST
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAUNTON MA
1020 AM EDT SUN SEP 6 2009
COASTAL WATERS FROM THE MERRIMACK RIVER MA TO WATCH HILL RI OUT TO 25 NM
ANZ 200-070215-1020 AM EDT SUN SEP 6 2009
SYNOPSIS FOR RHODE ISLAND COASTAL WATERS... HIGH PRESSURE BUILDS OVER NEW ENGLAND
TODAY...BRINGING GUSTY NORTHEAST TO EAST WINDS DURING THE DAY. THE HIGH WILL LINGER OVER THE REGION THROUGH THURSDAY.
FOR INFORMATION ON POSSIBLE HAZARDOUS WEATHER BEYOND THE 24-36 HOUR FORECAST PERIOD...PLEASE VISIT
WWW.WEATHER.GOV/BOSTON AND FOLLOW THE HAZARDOUS OUTLOOKS LINK AT THE TOP OF THE BLUE BAR ON THE LEFT.
COASTAL WATERS EAST OF IPSWICH BAY AND THE STELLWAGEN BANK NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY- 1020 AM
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL 6 PM EDT THIS EVENING...
REST OF TODAY...NE WINDS 15 TO 20 KT...DIMINISHING TO 10 TO 15 KT LATE. SEAS 4 TO 7 FT.
TONIGHT...SE WINDS 5 TO 10 KT. SEAS 3 TO 5 FT... SUBSIDING TO 2 TO 3 FT AFTER MIDNIGHT.
MON...SE WINDS 5 TO 10 KT. SEAS AROUND 2 FT.
MON NIGHT...S WINDS 5 TO 10 KT...BECOMING SW AFTER MIDNIGHT. SEAS AROUND 2 FT.
TUE...SW WINDS AROUND 5 KT...BECOMING S IN THE AFTERNOON. SEAS AROUND 2 FT.
TUE NIGHT...SE WINDS 5 TO 10 KT...BECOMING NE 10 TO 15 KT WITH GUSTS UP TO 20 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. SEAS 2 TO 3 FT.
Monday, September 7, 2009; 8:30 am
Brown's Yacht Yard, Gloucester
Yesterday I had a
late lunch across the street at the Harbor House Restaurant, a bowl of
their chili with nacho chips on the side; quite good and hit the spot.
There’s not a whole lot really nearby, but the convenience store and
restaurant across the street are sure handy and all I need. The
convenience store has coffee, so I haven’t had to brew any aboard.
Gloucester is under a water ban – for the past 18 days its drinking
water has been contaminated with coliform bacteria, unusable. I’ve got
my own fresh water aboard in its five-gallon jug, but with coffee so
handy across the street, haven’t needed to use it.
It's been cool,
especially at night when it drops down into the mid-50s. Yesterday it
reached just the high-60s, not quite 70º. Definitely sleeping bag time;
last night I read for a few hours, under the sleeping bag. It's still
only in the mid-50s now.
I plan to leave here
for home sometime soon after 10 am. There doesn't look to be much wind
coming up, so I'll probably have to motor-sail back. Seas look to be
about two feet with the wind coming from the east but clocking southeast
then south later today – the direction I'll be sailing into, as usual.
At least the sky is clear and the sun is bright. It appears today is a
good day to get home, before the wind and seas build up again by
Wednesday and into Thursday.
Schooner Race Photos/Slide Show by The GloucesterTimes
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAUNTON MA
351 AM EDT MON SEP 7 2009
COASTAL WATERS FROM THE MERRIMACK RIVER MA TO WATCH HILL RI OUT TO 25 NM
AM EDT MON SEP 7 2009
SYNOPSIS FOR MASSACHUSETTS
RHODE ISLAND COASTAL WATERS... HIGH PRESSURE COVERS THE REGION
THROUGH TUE. A WEAK COLD FRONT CROSSES THE WATERS TUESDAY NIGHT FOLLOWED BY GUSTY NORTHEAST WINDS ON WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY. LOW
PRESSURE APPROACHES FROM THE SOUTH ON FRIDAY.
ON POSSIBLE HAZARDOUS WEATHER BEYOND THE 24-36 HOUR FORECAST
PERIOD...PLEASE VISIT WWW.WEATHER.GOV/BOSTON AND FOLLOW THE HAZARDOUS OUTLOOKS LINK AT THE TOP OF THE BLUE BAR ON THE LEFT.
COASTAL WATERS EAST OF IPSWICH BAY AND THE STELLWAGEN BANK NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY- 351 AM
MON SEP 7 2009
TODAY...SE WINDS 5 TO 10 KT. SEAS AROUND 2 FT.
TONIGHT...S WINDS 5 TO 10 KT...BECOMING SW AFTER MIDNIGHT. SEAS AROUND 2 FT.
TUE...SW WINDS 5 TO 10 KT...BECOMING SE IN THE AFTERNOON. SEAS AROUND 2 FT.
TUE NIGHT...SE WINDS 5 TO 10 KT...BECOMING E 10 TO 15 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. SEAS 2 TO 3 FT.
WED...NE WINDS AROUND 15 KT WITH GUSTS UP TO 20 KT. SEAS 2 TO 4 FT...BUILDING TO 4 TO 6 FT IN THE AFTERNOON.
WED NIGHT...E WINDS 10 TO 15 KT WITH GUSTS UP TO 25 KT. SEAS 4 TO 6 FT.
THU...E WINDS 10 TO 15 KT. GUSTS UP TO 25 KT. SEAS 5 TO 8 FT. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS.
Monday, September 7, 2009; 10:00 pm
Home in Marblehead
I didn’t get underway
until a few minutes before noon, arrived on my mooring in Marblehead at
about 3 pm. Getting out was a bit tricky, with all the small boats – a
few dinghies and inflatables – that were tied up behind Chip Ahoy and
the C34 from Quincy in the narrow channel between docks. Greg, the
dockmaster, caught me heading up to the bathroom earlier, told me I
needn’t be in any rush to leave – soon some of the other boats in the
way would be pulling out – so I went back down to Chip Ahoy and relaxed
for another hour, got the boat ready to depart, then read until the way
out was clear.
The C34 alongside was
also waiting to depart, pulled out just before I did. The crew from
Quincy, apparently a few boats who’d come up together for the
festivities, gathered up on the dock in front of Greg’s office and had
me take a few group shots of them with various cameras, then took a
couple of me they promised to send via e-mail when they got home.
Right after the C34
pulled out and got underway with lots of help from standers by on dock
lines, I slid out easily. One dockhand walked Chip Ahoy around the end
of the dock and got me pointed directly out of the marina, nice. I
shouted back my thanks again to Greg and was on my way.
Once out of the
harbor, past the breakwater, my course took me straight into the light
wind. The sea was running about two feet. I motored through it under
power, holding off hoisting sails. About an hour later the light air
shifted more from the southeast as predicted, so I hoisted the main
sail, was able to keep Chip Ahoy pointed high almost into it, but didn’t
bother with the genoa. It would only have flogged and need to be
Reaching home was
uneventful, but for dodging ubiquitous lobster pot buoys. At least I didn’t catch
any on the way back down the coast.
Early on the sky was clear and
sunny, but high clouds soon moved in overhead, blocking the sun. I
started out wearing just shorts and a t-shirt, but needed the
long-sleeve t-shirt before long, then the boat shoes went back on.
Overall, the weather and seas were comfortable. It was a good weekend
aboard, another little adventure squeezed into a too-short season.
The Gloucester Daily Times
Monday, September 6, 2009
By Gail McCarthy
picture-perfect holiday weekend, Gloucester residents and visitors
got a picture of what the city's harbor must have looked like
Thousands lined Stacy Boulevard yesterday to view the largest
assembly of ships ever to mark the Gloucester Schooner Festival for
the Labor Day Weekend event's 25th anniversary. As the schooners
headed out past the breakwater for the annual races yesterday
morning, one of the largest crowds ever turned up with chairs,
binoculars, cameras and coffee to witness the event.
Joe Garland, local author and historian, along with Daisy Nell, one
of the founders of the schooner festival, shared a tete-a-tete near
the Fishermen's Memorial, created to honor the same fishermen the
races and the Schooner Festival commemorate.
Like a television talk show, the two sailors bounced historical
facts and humorous gibes as they watched the spectacle of sails
proceed from the Inner Harbor out to sea.
"This is the best collection of schooners I've seen in a quarter
century," said Garland.
In addition to the 21 schooners, some original and some replicas,
there was a new arrival at the Sunday morning Parade of Sails.
Salem's fire boat, the Endeavor, brought a new image to the harbor
with its two enormous spires of water, creating aquatic arcs of
water falling back into the harbor. At times, the water spouts
appeared forked depending on one's perspective of the vessel.
Watching the huge towers of water falling back into the ocean, one
of the commentators ventured in jest: "I wonder if they have to boil
"Everyone should come down to see this," said Sherry Warner of
Lanesville, who took snapshots of what the harbor must have looked
like a century ago.
"It's not to be missed," agreed Jim Anson of Arlington.
Garland noted that yesterday's breezes were among the best ever he
can remember for the festival races off the shores of America's
"It favors the race," he said. "I think this may be the best of all
races in the past 25 years."
Nell said the event recalls Harold Burnham of Essex, a family of
shipbuilders since 1819, many which fished out of Gloucester. An
estimated 4,000 schooners were built in Essex.
She described the "raked mast" of the 157-foot Pride of Baltimore.
The mast is so named because of its slant. She also explained how
the Chebacco boats got their name, because the town, known today as
Essex, was formerly known as the Chebacco Parish, which used to be
part of the town of Ipswich.
The Bluenose II also made an appearance this year. The schooner is a
replica of the former Canadian champion, the Bluenose, and has the
largest working mainsail in the world, measuring 4,150 square feet.
But the Bluenose II does not race.
"They have no desire to tamper with its fame and glory," explained
Nell. "But does anyone have a Canadian dime? It has the image of the
Bluenose on it."
Nell also noted the Green Dragon. Construction on the vessel began
in 1939, but it was not launched until 1951. The vessel was named
after the Green Dragon Tavern, "the headquarters of the Revolution."
She explained the difference between a sloop and a schooner, with
the former being a vessel with one-mast, and the latter having two
"(A sloop) looks a little like half a schooner, and they can be used
for fishing and lobstering," said Nell.
While those on land went about their business yesterday afternoon,
the schooners were out doing their racing business at sea.
"They say it's just a friendly little backyard race, but when they
get out there, they bring out all their sails in their quest to
win," said Nel.
The idea of racing fishing schooner dates to 1920, when the first
international fishermen's race was held between the Americans and
the Canadians. The Esperanto — owned then by Gorton's fish company,
now Gorton's of Gloucester — won two years in a row.
But Gloucester's Schooner Festival in its 25 years has grown to be
much more than schooner racing.
Beyond yesterday's Parade of Sails and races, the weekend
festivities featured a variety of art exhibits and other
presentations, all showcasing the role of the historic schooner in
Gloucester's heritage. Fireworks burst and rained down over the
harbor, and the Annisquam River and its shoreline came alive
Saturday night with the annual Boat Parade of Lights that included a
"Discovery Gloucester" space-page boat that not only lit up the
river, but the crowd as well.
Warner, for one, said she's already looking forward to the Parade of
Sails and the 26th Schooner Festival next year.
"It's the greatest show on earth, and it's free," she said. "It's
also the best way to cap the summer and it will be nice to look back
on this during the long coming winter."
of the Gloucester Schooner Days Weekend
By Jay Albert of Gloucester