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

Chip Ahoy’s 2007 Misery Island Overnighter
September 25-26, 2007

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The late-September weather forecast was too good to pass up:  It was supposed to be sunny and in the mid-80s to mid-90s for Tuesday, Wednesday, and into Thursday.  There won't be many more days like this in the remaining sailing season, so I decided to take a couple of my leftover vacation days and take advantage of this rare opportunity; at least an overnight sail out to Misery Island where I'd spend the night in its cove then leisurely sail home on Wednesday.

Though off to a slow start with a problem starting up the outboard (again), I finally got underway and had a good sail out to the island and back, a pleasant overnight stay on a borrowed mooring out there.

Chip Ford
Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Log of Chip Ahoy’s 2007 Misery Island Overnighter

Wednesday, September 26, 2007; 7:15 pm - 67°
A mooring in Misery Island Cove off the coast of Manchester, Mass.

"Cowboy coffee" brewed in the percolator on the Origo 3000 stove this morning, my first cup done and onto number two.  I got it ready to fire up last evening, just needed to light the stove at dawn.

Chip Ahoy and I got off to a bad start yesterday, with outboard problems.  The "new" Honda would not start again -- I could not even pull-start it, again.  Locked up solid just like the last time.  On my mooring I removed the outboard's cover, unbolted the pull-cord drum's three 10mm bolts, and checked the starter gear and flywheel, as instructed after the last time this happened.  It didn't seem to be stuck in the flywheel, as reportedly was the problem the last time.

I replaced the drum but was unable to get the aft-most bolt's threads to catch, no matter what I tried.  With the drum held by two bolts, with the cover still off, I tried electric-starting the motor again -- and it started right up!  The only conclusion I can reach is that I loosened the starter gear from the flywheel when disassembling the pull-cord drum and didn't realize it; when I got the drum off, the gears were free.

After wasting over an hour wrestling with that one bolt, I called Ryan Marine Service to find out how essential, critical it was -- if I could run the motor without the third bolt holding the pull-cord drum fastened without doing any harm.  Fortunately Mark had a guy in a boat nearby and sent him over to Chip Ahoy.  Adam arrived about twenty minutes later and had the bolt in and tightened within a minute or two!  I was afraid of breaking something -- so much in there is mere plastic/nylon, like the pull-cord drum with its interlocking tabs and pins -- so I was reluctant to force things together strenuously enough, apparently.  To me, the bolt didn't seem long enough, couldn't catch, so forcing the drum had to have been the solution.

With that unexpectedly late start -- I dropped the mooring at about 1:30 pm -- I decided to head straight out to Misery Island along my familiar route up the coastline instead of my intended "new" route around Coney Island and its ledge up to Eagle Island then Bakers Island, around Misery Island to its cove.

It was a perfect day:  Sunny and in the mid-80s.  The wind was out of the SW at about 10 knots; waves were about one foot, making for a very pleasant sail out here, wing-to-wing most of the way.  I arrived at the cove around 3:30 pm and found the moorings about half full with other boats.  Finding and grabbing an empty one was not a problem, though I had quite a bit of company with the other boats in the cove around Chip Ahoy.

Once settled in, I realized that I'd forgotten to bring along the sandwiches as planned, but not a problem.  I opened the "food locker" and chose a can of Campbell's Chunky Soup and heated it up on stove out in the cockpit.  At dusk I lit the oil lamp, made a couple of phone calls, read for a couple of hours, pulled out the AM/FM radio from its storage and waterproof bag, and eventually fell asleep with the companionway hatch wide open.  (I'd closed the forward hatch for the night earlier.)  I slept very well, hardly needed the sleeping bag.  The full moon illuminated the cove brightly all around Chip Ahoy when I climbed out to the cockpit to check the situation during the night.

I was up before dawn as usual, watched a dramatic 6:30 sunrise as the coffee was brewing.  I was glad the percolator was ready to go with a touch of flame to stove.  I'm close enough to the kelp-covered island rocks to hear the quiet splashing of gentle ocean edging in against them.  The seagulls have awakened too, raucously calling to each other from the nearby rocks.  A couple of large herons have been flying in, landing in treetops just above the rocky shoreline, apparently checking things out before flying off.

Most of the other boats left the cove one by one last evening, the last to leave departed from nearby behind Chip Ahoy at about 9:00 pm.  It became very quiet, peaceful after the exodus.  This morning there are only four of us left at moorings:  Two powerboats moored further in toward the beach and a sailboat of about 36 feet that came in late, moored out further to the mouth of the cove.

Though I packed the anti-virul pills (for my shingles), I forgot to pack the Advil (for the accompanying aches).  Fortunately, I have the bottle of surplus prescription Tylenol 3 from my broken shoulder in the boat's First Aid kit, so took one of them this morning.

Today's supposed to be another hot one, hotter than yesterday and likely to break the record for today's historical temperature -- reaching into the 90s.  Though dead calm now, the wind is supposed to become SW at 10-15 knots with gusts to 25 late this morning, 30 knots in the afternoon.  Waves are supposed to become 1-2 feet.

It's calm at 8:30 am, the sea is flat but for a very gentle rocking, just enough to let me know I'm on a boat.  I'm in no rush to go anywhere -- I've got another cup of coffee to go in the percolator and no schedule to maintain.  This is so relaxing that I'm reluctant to leave.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007; 5:30 pm - 87°
Home in Marblehead, Mass.

I dropped my borrowed mooring out in the cove at just before noon.  It was calm but a slight breeze had arrived.  The outboard started right up this morning; I let it run for a bit before shutting it off.  It started up again when it was time to depart.  Each time I'm about to start it -- this brand new motor -- I now cross my fingers before pushing the starter button.

Off the mooring and out of the cove I raised the main sail.  Unfortunately, heading into the slight breeze to raise it was heading directly back toward home.  Even away from the island there was little air moving.  I hoped once I got out of the lee it'd pick up, and it did, very slightly.  I unfurled the genoa about halfway, but it was just beating itself to death.  I kept the motor running, hoping the breeze would pick up at least somewhat.  What breeze was present was coming straight at Chip Ahoy, bow on, pushing the genoa first to one side then the other.  I found that if I tacked a little closer toward the coast I could keep on a somewhat port tack, keep the head sail from flogging, the boom and main sail consistently to starboard.

When I got too close to the mainland's rocky coastline I tacked back out.  I'd planned to take my "new" route home, out beyond Misery Island then down to Eagle Island, around Coney Island and its ledge, along the end of Marblehead's peninsula then into Salem Harbor and my mooring area.  Considering the conditions, I decided to head back straight down the coast toward Salem Harbor.  I had enough wind barely to shut off the motor at last and still make progress, barely three knots.

It was a slow and leisurely sail back at first, a lot of tacking to keep on a close-hauled heading while dodging lobster pot buoys.  Within about an hour the wind picked up, though still from the SW, dead ahead, and continued to increase, about 10 knots gusting to maybe 15-20 now and then.  It made sailing a whole lot more interesting and fun -- I regretted not taking my "new" route home.  The closer I got to Salem Harbor the more the wind built, to some 15-20 knots with an occasionally stronger gust.  As soon as I entered the "No Wake" zone inside the harbor I furled the genoa, started the outboard (yahoo, it started right up again!), and dropped the main sail -- I was into the "wind tunnel" again.

My mooring area inside Salem Harbor is often like coming into a wind tunnel, regardless of wind direction.  From my mooring it's often hard to judge what conditions out on the Sound will be.  With a SW wind particularly, it's blowing from the far end directly through and out to the Sound, almost howling.  Just motoring through the field of closely moored boats is frequently a challenge, and it was this afternoon.  I was a bit concerned about being able to pick up my mooring, with my still-mending broken collar bone and rib, weakened left shoulder, but lined the boat up perfectly and grabbed it on my first approach, dragged it from the cockpit to the bow around the shrouds with some effort and tied off the boat.

With the motor shut down, lifted and tilted, the rudder secured up and out of the water, the sail cover secured over the boom and main sail, and things aboard put away and straightened up, I took a deep breath and a short break -- opened the forward hatch and cracked open a beer to celebrate a great overnighter out to Misery Island and back.  The temperature then was about 90° at 3:00 pm.  It was satisfying to be back on Chip Ahoy's mooring, just across the water to the dock and up the street to home -- and air-conditioning.  Imagine, looking forward toward air-conditioning in late September?  I was back home here about an hour later.