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

The Scituate 2011 Week Away
July 18 - 25, 2011


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Marblehead/Scituate course indicated in yellow

Click thumbnails for a larger picture

Aboard waiting for the rain. (Jul. 18)

Monday, July 18, 2011; 1:40 pm
On the mooring, Salem Harbor off Village Street

It’s been an inauspicious beginning to a delayed-by-a-day cruise. Packed up and ready to go late this morning, the sky opened with rain and the thunder-and-lightning exploded.

I’d thought I would be good if I could get out to the boat ahead of the major weather event by 2:00 pm – thought I was ahead of the weather, even if behind by a day on my cruise plan.

Oh well, after a short I’m here now; more or less settled in for my week's cruise down to Scituate and back. It’ll get nasty later from everything I’m hearing, but tomorrow should be golden.

I called this morning, rescheduled a mooring for tomorrow. Scituate thought this was a good decision on my part; it’ll be waiting tomorrow.

Last evening after most of the boater traffic had diminished; I came out to Chip Ahoy with the clothes bag and computer ‘briefcase,” left them aboard. That was half the load that needed to be brought aboard. Today it was just my sea-bag filled with everything I need (up to the last minute) and the collapsible cooler filled with ice and what I’ll need for a day or two.

– 2:00 pm –

Just shut down and dogged the forward hatch, pulled out the sliding hatch over the cabin. It’s starting to rain. For once the forecast seems to be accurate; two o’clock the worst was supposed to arrive. Nothing impressive yet, just showers – the leading edge.

In another situation I’d have the “pup-tent” up, the cabin and cockpit covered. But I want an early start tomorrow morning so the less I need to do the quicker I can be out.

It was gratifying coming aboard today after the short deluge and climbing into the cabin, finding it dry. This year’s ‘windows project revisited’ seems to have worked! I didn’t trust it enough to leave anything (but the cushions) beneath. All’s well that ends well – but we’ll see after tonight.

– 7:30 –

A nice sunset, not much of a breeze, and comfortable temperature, about 78-80 degrees. But for a few intermittent showers (one spell of heavy rain forcing me to close up the cabin) the thunderstorms that were warned never happened. I read a bit, had one of the two ham and cheese sandwiches I made this morning for lunch, napped, hooked the 5-Mile-Wifi antenna to the stern pulpit, and checked the weather on the VHF, eventually the radar map on my laptop Accuweather account. The worst of the weather passed south of Marblehead. Good that I sat it out though or I’d have run into it before reaching Scituate, but not by much.

With the threat of lightning removed I ran the 5-Mile-Wifi antenna up the mast, am getting a much stronger signal from the Palmer Cove Yacht Club with it up there than bungied onto the stern pulpit; can pick up “Beacon Wifi Network,” public and unsecured, probably across in Salem too, with 4 bars strength as well now. First time I’ve come across it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011; 6:30 am
On the mooring, Salem Harbor off Village Street

National Weather Service forecast for



A beautiful sunrise this morning after a comfortable night aboard. I got the stove going, a cup of coffee within reach, listening to the NWS forecast.

My plan is to be out of here and on my way at 8:00 am – there’s supposed to be patchy fog outside the harbor, and this looks likely from here. Reportedly it should lift about that time. It appears today will provide good conditions until the wind shifts from the south this afternoon – but of course. That’s the direction I’ll be sailing, into it. Pretty normal when I head for Scituate.

The temperature under a sunny sky is supposed to reach the high-80s today; comfortable, I expect.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011; 5:00 pm
On a mooring, Scituate outer harbor

I dropped the home mooring this morning at 8:10 am, arrived here in Scituate’s outer harbor at about 2:30 pm and picked up this rental mooring.

It was a decent day at sea – if you don’t count light wind if any; man-eating flies attacking almost as soon as I left Salem Sound into open Massachusetts Bay, unrelenting all the way and still, and; visibility akin to but not quite fog for most of the way. Haze I suppose it's called.

Once I realized early on that the first few flies weren’t simply coincidence I remembered to shut up the cabin completely. When the attack became more serious, I had to remove the cribboards to jump in and grab ammunition, one of the two cans of Raid Flying Insect spray I always carry aboard since the second bad experience with the buggers, when I almost emptied the only can I had aboard, after my first bad experience with them the year earlier.

Even those few seconds in-and-out let a few inside, but back at the tiller the war was engaged and waged for the entire crossing. I got bitten probably a dozen times, mostly shins and calves, but the attackers’ body count mounted; I blasted probably about 75-100 of the fast little meat-eaters. It’s eerie seeing the swarm clinging to sails and rigging like vultures, waiting each’s turn to attack.

The weather conditions didn’t help, with virtually no wind, a shifting and puffy little breeze. Leaving Salem Sound into Massachusetts Bay I hoisted the genoa to join the main sail. With such light air the genoa was doing nothing, couldn’t decide whether it belonged on the port or starboard side. I furled it after about an hour of helping it decide to no avail.

Leaving Salem Harbor under motor and main sail, it became the best option for the rest of the trip, and the main sail wasn’t contributing much. Most the other sailboats I saw along the trip were under power and bare poles, a couple doing the power and main sail thing too.

The ocean was literally flat, hardly a ripple on its surface – like sailing on a sea of oil. I think these are the perfect conditions for those ocean man-eating flies – but where do they come from way out there in the middle of nowhere with land to the west so far off it’s a dim outline on the horizon, and nothing in sight to the east?

Approaching the Boston Harbor shipping channel (some 15 miles across), I noted one large freighter coming out of Boston, kept my eyes on it, but also what ahead looked like thick fog. I could see the Boston skyline way off to the east, but the shore further south seemed to fade as if shrouded in fog – but not quite as thick. Ahead and to the east, it appeared thick fog was present. This morning’s weather forecast called for early fog dissipating and by then (about 10:30 am), under the bright morning sun and building heat, I hadn’t expected this.

I’ve cruised blindly in thick fog by GPS only, but this was fog like I’ve never seen before. It was more a thick haze over the water – evaporation maybe?

With the tiller pilot steering and me navigating by GPS and chart, I spent most of my attention on battling the man-eating flies. Single accurate shots with the can of Raid instead of bursts or shotgun sprays conserves ammunition, I’ve learned, and is more effective in the long run. Moving faster than my 5-6 knots would have been a far better advantage, but you work with what you have so I moved as fast as Chip Ahoy could manage.

A few miles offshore of Cohasset Ledge and Minot Light, ahead half a mile or so, I spotted a whale rolling its hump through the breaking surface, a small boat slowly following it. I got my Olympus camera turned on and at the ready. As we closed, the small boat wasn’t something official tracking the whale, as I’d suspected, but a family out for the day. We exchanged waves as we passed closely, but the whale and they were slowly heading inshore. I had to decide between a good photo or two of the giant mammal or a longer fight with the circling flies. I doubt any of my “whale photos” will show much, but it was worth a try, again.

The remainder of the trip was otherwise uneventful. I reached the ocean buoy at the entrance to Scituate Harbor, called in to EZ Rider moorings, arranged to meet them inside the harbor so they could lead me to my assigned mooring. Picking up the mooring was a challenge in the tight mooring area, took two tries before I could grab it. I’m glad I’ve gotten good at backing up Chip Ahoy; if not, it could have turned a bit embarrassing.

I’ve just got settled in, the “pup tent” up over the boom, cabin and cockpit. That sun is sure baking strong – what a difference that pup tent makes, and especially that forward hatch I put in a few years back. How did I live without it? When I opened it to get some hot air circulating, I left the screen off/open; better to perhaps encourage a departure of the small fleet of man-eating flies that made it into the cabin before I could shut it up, or when I had to open the companionway to grab something from within.

This mooring is located pretty far out in the boondocks of Scituate Harbor, its furthest reaches though among many others. I ran the 5-Mile-Wifi up the mast, hooked up my laptop, and even with the system's amplifier could pick up only a good number of weak signals – not even the harbormaster’s I've used in the past. Almost all of them were secure, a password required. An EZ Rider moorings and launch service driver, Jamie, didn’t think I’d pick up anything this far out; thought I’d have to take the laptop ashore.

One strong signal is available, “Mill Wharf,” and tracking it down was a real challenge – nobody I called, even the harbormaster, knew who it might belong to. There are all sorts of “Mill Wharf” establishments along the waterfront. When I learned that Mill Wharf Marina’s new owner a year ago dropped the service, I called the Mill Wharf Restaurant. Sure enough, the network is theirs, and the lady who answered the phone was happy to provide me with its password. It’s working for me now, more or less. Still not what I want but we’ll see later.

Guess where I’ll be eating dinner tonight, once ashore!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011; 1:30 am
On a mooring, Scituate outer harbor

After a good steak dinner – actually more like a very late lunch – at the Mill Wharf Restaurant (now apparently called “Chester’s” which explains the Wifi password!) later yesterday I picked up a couple bags of ice from the harbormaster’s office before taking the launch back to Chip Ahoy. Back aboard I busied myself with organizing the boat for overnight and the coming few day’s stay here.

Done with that, or most of it, I turned on the laptop and checked the Wifi connection – still problems staying connected. By 7:00 pm I’d had enough, needed a nap. I awoke at 9:00, but only long enough to call Barbara and check in. After reading for a short while, I was back asleep until about an hour ago. Uh oh, wide awake soon after midnight, now what?

So I moved the Origo stove out into the cockpit, made coffee, and went back at the Wifi problem. I think the problem is solved. With the 5-Mile-Wifi system, one needs to turn off the built-in network card, disable it, for an IP address to work with the 5-Mile system.

The weather forecast for the coming days (radio and now online since the Wifi works) sounds oppressive. While no dramatic events, today will reach the 90s – tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday probably 100 degrees. I have no fixed plan how long I’ll remain here, but heading back on Sunday when the temperature drops into the mid-80s is looking like a good idea.

The rain arrives while I begin the trip's journal/log on the laptop, running of its cigarette lighter power plug.

The rain and clouds moved off.

Sunset on the moorning.

I hooked up the laptop to the 5Mile Wifi, the antenna to the stern pulpit, getting a good signal from PCYC.

The Salem power plant after dark.

Marblehead under the rising moon.

Dawn over Marblehead and a dead calm Salem harbor. (Jul. 19)

Crossing the Boston Harbor shipping channel, a freighter at anchor ahead in the haze.

Passing the Boston Harbor entrance sea buoy, land barely visible on the horizon through the haze.

The man-eating flies kept me and the Raid busy for the entire crossing.

No wind for sailing, but hope springs eternal.

Dawn over Scituate Harbor's breakwater entrance.  (Jul. 20)

Scituate Harbor's outer harbor taken from the Chip Ahoy's cockpit.

Across the channel to the shallows.

Scituate's inner harbor, with the Mill Wharf Restaurant in the near distance above the sailboat Momentum's bow.

Getting the coffee pot boiling.

A good line of sight to the Mill Wharf Restaurant and its Wifi signal.

The 5MileWifi antenna, after taking it down from the mast and attaching it to the stern pulpit.

Sunset over Scituate.

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Enjoying Sailing Season 2011!