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

The never-ending project to fill my hole in the ocean while bailing it out

Misery Island Overnighter 2010
September 7-8, 2010

Click thumbnails for a larger picture


On Tuesday I took Chip Ahoy out shortly before noon for a sail on one of the predicted last warm days of summer. The temperature was supposed to be in the mid- to high-80s, sunny, with the wind from the south; seas neglible. Once out in such perfect weather -- likely the last of it -- and reaching the islands at the edge of Salem Sound, I decided to spend the night on a mooring in Misery Island's cove. It's times like this that I'm most gratified that Chip Ahoy is always stocked for basic comfort; the amenities and plenty of food, water, and especially coffee; sleeping bag aboard.  (Sep. 7, 2010)

As I expected at the end of a weekday, the moorings were almost all empty; I had my pick. I grabbed one out at the cove's entrance to secure some privacy, away from any boats that might come in later. Naturally, one from Boston came in shortly after me, and of all the empty moorings available grabbed the one right alongside Chip Ahoy; the six crew proceeded to party heavy with lots of loud music. (I can't complain; been there, done that in my youth!) Of the few boats that were moored when I arrived, and my new neighbors, all but one well inside the cove near the beach departed as the sun began to set.

The sunset was pretty spectacular, but had the feeling of autumn, not summer. As the sun dropped I percolated a pot of "cowboy coffee" and settled in for a quiet night. I missed my laptop; couldn't write a journal and felt like writing.

After sunset, certainly being the most outside boat among the two of us, I turned on Chip Ahoy's anchor light at the top of the mast so I'd be seen by any incoming vessels. It was definitely dark; millions of stars visible. Soon after, another large powerboat pulled in -- what appeared to be some sort of research vessel with all its antennas and radar domes. It anchored out a little further with its anchor light lit; I decided to leave Chip Ahoy's on overnight anyway -- now that I've resolved the batteries/electric starter problem. My plan was to awake with the dawn, heat up some more coffee, then be on my way back home. I should be back to my office by 9-10 am . . .


I awoke to the false dawn, the eastern sky beginning to brighten with the sun just below the horizon. After packing my sleeping bag, I added more alcohol to the Origo stove and fired it up, got the coffee heating up. Strange, I thought I heard a very distant rumble of thunder -- but it seemed too early for a storm.

As the coffee percolated I continued securing the cabin, ready for a departure as soon as I finished a casual couple cups of coffee -- but those distant rumbles continued. I checked with NOAA/NWS radio forecasts; "chance of showers and thunderstorms" later in the day; so what was I hearing?

To the southwest the sky was definitely darkening and moving this way, darkening and darker. Uh oh, something was coming, and I didn't need a forecast to inform me. I was going nowhere for a while.

Very soon the approaching storm was apparent, with stark lightning bolts flashing down from the black clouds, thunder arriving soon behind the flashes. Soon it approached overhead. I disconnected the mast top VHF antenna connection to the radio, switched over to the handheld. I turned the battery switch from "Both" to "Off," pulled the cockpit seat cushion into the cabin, set the cribboards just in time, then sat out the storm -- storms actually -- except to reach out for the coffee pot to refill my cup. They came in three sort of waves over the next 2-3 hours with short breaks between.

As usual, I sat below wondering when Chip Ahoy's mast would again be struck, what would happen when and if it was, and what I'd do if it happened; reasonably comfortable that I'd done everything I could, and that the boat had survived a previous strike even without the current precautions.

By about 10:30 it'd passed. Soon thereafter I was on my way home, hopefully to reach my destination before another wave of lightning and rain. On the trip back to my mooring I couldn't help but wonder why even a simple, unplanned overnighter had turned into another adventure.  (Sep. 8, 2010)


Back home on Chip Ahoy's mooring, with clouds still threatening. It was a longer morning than anticipated, but all's well that ends well.

Sailing Season 2010 is here, but fading fast!