Sunday, August 26, 2007; 7:30 pm
My mooring – Salem Harbor
At last I’m going to get away, tomorrow morning at
dawn. It’s been a long and unproductive season since damaging my
shoulder in mid-May: But finally I’m about to set off alone going
somewhere – even if only to Scituate, my regular shakedown cruise
destination before lengthier trips.
The sun is setting and I just got settled aboard for
the night. At the crack of dawn tomorrow I’ll drop my mooring and
begin the trip across Boston Harbor’s shipping channel at about 10
miles offshore, then down to the 4-5
miles stretch off the coast of the South Shore to reach Scituate. I should
arrive by early afternoon if everything goes right. I’ve been
assured by the Scituate harbormaster’s office that there will be a
number of transient slips available upon my arrival.
It feels great just being aboard for the night again
– the first time this season – with a destination ahead for the morning.
How I’ve missed this.
I picked my weather, put off my original planned
departure last Friday morning when the wind would have been all wrong,
going down and returning. Tomorrow there’s supposed to be a
NE wind at about 8 knots; coming back up on Wednesday it should be SW at
about the same. Seas are supposed to be 1-2 feet. It
should be sunny with temperatures in the mid-70s. The forecast
just before I came out were steady with my plans.
I came out earlier today and repaired the small hole
in Chip Ahoy’s genoa with sail repair tape on both sides: it'd
grown from the size of a BB or .22 hold to that of a quarter. All
the other bugs and glitches should now be ironed out. The boat I
believe is ready to go at last! And so am I, for sure.
I love this little
cabin oil lamp
– can’t beat the ambiance. I’m aboard, so switched to Battery #1.
It’s now dark – almost a full moon after a
When I checked all the lights I found them all working, for sure now.
This is the first time I’ve been able to see whether or not the anchor
light at the top of the mast is working; happily it too is.
Never mind "pick your weather" – know your
weather so you can pick it! I’m listening to NOAA weather radio:
the next three days still sound excellent.
This will tell you I’ve got too much time on my hands
(read: bored). I’m laying back looking up at Chip Ahoy's
sliding hatch cover. Repairing it was one of my very first
projects on the boat. It was cracked seriously – warped – from the
previous owner leaving the mast laid on it for years. I did my
very first fiberglass repair on this hatch – no cloth, just epoxy – yet
it has held together very well, amazingly so even yet. It’s not
pretty, but it’s remained functional. This season I bought a teak
handrail to add to the outside, to make opening and closing it from the
cockpit easier – but lost the time to install it. Still, for its
shortcomings in beauty, the darned thing still functions near-perfectly.
Did I mention how much I love this oil lamp?
The new Humminbird depth-sounder beeps (squeals) when
turned on. Who knew? It took me a few minutes to figure out what
that sound was, where it came from. I knew from adding the tiny
speaker that it emits sound if set to a depth level – but I’ve never set
Monday, August 27, 2007; 6:25 am
My mooring, Salem Harbor
Well it’s coffee, if instant in a "tea bag" – better
than none and awfully convenient. Since I want an early start, I
had no intention of brewing a pot this morning. Barbara came up
with these two "filter bags" just before I left – Maxwell House Filter
Pack Singles – and they work great without the big ritual then clean-up.
The new Origo 3000 stove fired right up, heats a pan of water
surprisingly quickly for an almost invisible flame.
The sun’s just rising – I just closed the new
curtains on the starboard side to stop from being blinded. It’s
nice having them at last.
The weather sill sounds good through at least
Wednesday. Today should be in the mid-70s, wind NE at 5-10 knots,
waves one foot or less. This should be near-perfect. I plan
to be underway within an hour, after another cup of coffee – which is
actually quite good. I’ll pick up more in Scituate and keep it
onboard for other early morning starts.
I brought along only my small cooler for this
relatively short trip: A few beers, bottled water, a couple cans
of Coke, and two chicken salad pocket sandwiches. There was little
room remaining for ice – maybe a third of a bag and it’s pretty much
melted already. I hope those sandwiches don’t go bad before I get
to them. The next ice is in Scituate.
After uncovering the main sail my first job is to
attach the radar reflector and run it up its halyard to the starboard
spreader. I don’t expect it’s necessary – except while crossing
the Boston Harbor shipping channel – some 15 miles across and about 10 from the nearest coast.
Visibility is perfect, but those big ships use radar.
Monday, August 27, 2007; 8:15 pm
A transient slip – town dock, Scituate Harbor
I didn’t depart my mooring this morning until 8:30
and the weather was on the mark according to the forecast. For the
first few hours anyway – then the wind picked up, the seas built
quickly. It became a bigger challenge than the leisurely sail I’d
First came the man-eating flies, just after leaving
Marblehead out onto Massachusetts Bay, with House Island still easily in
sight just off my stern. You know they have arrived after the
first bite. I jumped down into the cabin and came out with the
always within reach can of
("never leave port without it!"); I immediately closed up the cabin to
keep them out. I’ve learned the hard way! What finally chased them
off wasn’t the casualty count – though I certainly did thin their swam –
but the increasing wind.
As I was crossing into the Boston Harbor shipping
channel, running between two huge
at anchor, the wind and sea began to
from about noon until around 3:00 pm. NOAA’s "seas one foot or
less" was in fact a good two to three feet; its NE wind at 5-10 knots
became a good 15-20. I furled my headsail a bit, then had to reef
the main – yet Chip Ahoy’s speed (according to the GPS) remained 5-6
knots. I almost rounded up even with the tiller-pilot doing the
steering as I reefed, had to quickly grab the tiller and get the boat
back on course manually.
At one point – a good 10 miles offshore – a tiny
bird, a warbler, landed on the starboard cabin top handrail.
"Welcome aboard, little buddy," I said. "I know how you feel.
Take a break," and he did for about 45 minutes. He fluttered up to
the boom then crawled into the folds of the reefed main sail, out of
sight but for tail feathers for half an hour or so. I had the top
two cribboards out at the time, hoped he’d find the cabin to get out of
the wind. He came out, tried crawling down the main halyard, but
was getting whacked by the loose downhaul alongside. When I
tightened the downhaul, my new crewmate took off heading toward land off
on the horizon. "Best of luck little buddy," I wished him as he
winged out of sight over the waves. I hope he made it the ten-plus
miles to the nearest shore – but he did
somehow manage to get out to Chip Ahoy on his own. Prevailing
winds should have given him a boost to shore.
The wind lessened later in the afternoon, down to
10-15 knots, but the seas out of the NE were steady all the way through
Scituate’s breakwater – a good two feet, some larger, cresting and
foaming past. About an hour and a half before reaching the
Scituate offshore sea buoy – off Minot Ledge – I shook out the reef and
added headsail. Half an hour earlier, the wind had slackened so
much that I’d started the motor and furled the useless headsail
entirely, leaving up the main sail to stabilize the boat’s roll in the
waves hitting on the port quarter to broadside.
I reached the Scituate sea buoy just before 4:00 pm
and dropped the main sail. Chip Ahoy surfed the two-foot rolling
swells from the northeast through the breakwater and into the harbor,
where the surface immediately flattened. A radio call (channel 9,
switch to 14) as instructed arranged my slip for two nights. I was
tied up to it by 4:30.
I called Barbara to let her know that I’d arrived,
then went about setting up the boat for a stay: Plugging into
shore power; digging out and hooking up the battery charger; hanging the
"pup tent" over the cockpit; setting up the various charging units for
the handheld VHF radio and the AM/FM radio unit.
Settled in, I walked up to the harbormaster’s office
and settled up for my stay ($2/foot per night). Surprisingly, they
won’t accept credit cards: Cash or checks only. I’ve never
heard of such a thing. In most marinas I’ve stayed at they prefer
credit cards, won’t accept personal checks. I’ve had difficulty in
some getting them to accept traveler’s checks. For this short of a
trip I didn’t bring a lot of cash along, or any traveler’s checks – and
certainly not my checkbook. I’m $88.00 cash-lighter now but will
get by until Wednesday’s return.
Just before I called it a night, the
near full moon
came up over the harbor and sea beyond.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007; 7:00 am
A transient slip – town dock, Scituate Harbor
With all the cabin curtains closed last night, I
slept later than usual for me, until just after sunrise, now streaming
over the stern and into the companionway. I needed the rest after
yesterday – was exhausted last night by "lights out" at about 9:30 pm.
Coffee was the first order of business this morning.
I decided, instead of bothering with percolating a pot, dragging out the
stove and all the fixings then cleaning up, to walk up to the nearby
Dunkin Donuts, use their bathroom while at it. I’m back aboard
with two large cups and a couple of donuts. The top cribboard is
in, to block the glaring sunrise.
Last night, after leaving the harbormaster’s office,
I walked over to the Mill Wharf Restaurant for a good meal. Yikes,
it was expensive – $32.00 for a broiled haddock dinner and a frozen
Margarita – but they accepted credit cards! The hostess asked if I
wanted a table inside or out on their deck overlooking the harbor.
With all the sun I got sailing and on the "outside" I’d already done all
day, I told her inside would be just fine. I took out the
paperback novel and enjoyed my leisurely drink and meal, barely looking
out the plate-glass windows at the harbor below.
Scituate Harbor is busy with lobster boats going out
in the morning, returning in the afternoon. About a dozen have
passed close astern so far, rocking Chip Ahoy gently but noticeably.
I’m looking forward to a relaxing day of R&R in port
today. I’ve got some work to do aboard after yesterday’s
experience. I want to re-run my reefing line from the mast down to
the aft-most step plate block now used by the jib halyard – instead of
the middle one. Just swap them over. I had a bit of
difficulty when I had to reef yesterday with the line binding, being
hard to tighten down. This should help at least somewhat.
Small world! "Ahoy, Chip Ahoy," someone in a
small outboard dinghy just shouted from astern. I stepped out to
the cockpit and met Robert McPherson – who’s been to the Chip Ahoy
website and recognized my boat in his harbor! "How many Catalina 22s
with red hulls are there?" he asked with a grin. I told him that I
knew of two others owned by subscribers to my discussion group list.
Incredibly, he knew all about Chip Ahoy and my
cruises, asked where I was heading. I explained this year’s
problem and that this annual "shakedown" cruise was my annual event for
Amazing. Have I become famous, infamous, or
The weather remains as predicted a couple of day ago
– for all that’s worth after yesterday’s experience. Today is
supposed to be in the low- to mid-80s and sunny: wind N turning E
later, seas "one-foot or less." Tomorrow, for my trip home, the
temperature should remain about the same: wind SW turning SE late
in the day; seas "one-foot or less."
I just called my Tennessee buddy, Bob Keim.
"I’ve got a probably dumb question to ask," I told him. "Then I’ve
probably got a brilliant answer!" he replied. I related
yesterday’s "seas one foot or less" experience and explained that I have
wondered since if, after all these years on those cruises, I’ve been
somehow mis-defining how waves are measured. He confirmed my
interpretation: From trough to crest. He added that he too
has often found NOAA predictions to be inaccurate. What confused
me was – even after spending a few hours out in 2-3 foot seas, after
arriving here – NOAA was still reporting "seas one foot or less" out
By the way – Bad cell phone service/signal down here
on the docks. I thought it was my phone last night, now fully
recharged. I couldn’t get my calls out from down here, but it
worked fine outside the harbormaster’s office up on land.
NOAA weather is now predicting SE winds for tomorrow,
5-10 knots; seas one foot or less. Turning S in the
evening/overnight. We’ll see . . .
Wednesday, August 29, 2007; 6:15 am
A transient slip – town dock, Scituate Harbor
Another brilliant sunrise blasting in over the
transom and harbor. It should be a good sail home ahead today:
Mid-80s with the wind coming from the S at 5-10 knots; waves one foot or
less; wind turning SW late this afternoon.
Yesterday I laid back after correcting the jib
halyard and reefing lines, straightening out the boat a bit more.
I took a nap after reading for a while. My buddy from Scituate,
Norm Paley, returned my call/message from the morning – I was invited to
his home to watch the Red Sox-Yankees game but declined. I’d
rather be aboard.
The lobster boat fleet is on the move out; quite a
busy working harbor now.
I just returned from Dunkin Donuts with another two
large cups of coffee and breakfast. Soon as I’m done I’ll start
"breaking camp" and preparing for departure, I expect shortly after 8:00
am. Norm is supposed to stop down for coffee and to say hello – or
more accurately bon voyage, I suppose.
Thursday, August 30, 2007; 6:00 am
Yesterday I had Chip Ahoy ready to head home by 7:45
am, but waited a while for Norm Paley to arrive for his short visit.
I’d forgotten to tell him where Chip Ahoy was docked, but thought he’d
find it eventually. Coming back down to the boat from the
harbormaster’s office I found him on the dock alongside my boat. A
Coast Guard utility boat was docked right behind me, and a guardsmen
from the local station was aboard testing its equipment. When Norm
arrived, he saw its flashing blue light. "I figured if I followed
the flashing blue light I’d find your boat nearby," he explained.
We talked for about 45 minutes then he gave me a hand
with the dock lines and I was on my way at 8:45.
NOAA weather radio called for winds from the south at
5-10 knots, seas one foot or less. When I motored through the
Scituate breakwater and out into the ocean on a flat almost oily sea
heading toward the sea buoy a mile or two out it was almost dead on into
the wind, blowing at maybe 5 knots. I headed a little further
south than the buoy and hoisted the sails quickly. Back on the
first leg of my northerly course toward the Minot Ledge sea buoy, my
next waypoint, the wind was coming out of the SE still at about 5 knots,
but gradually increased to 10 by late morning, maybe 15 by mid-afternoon
and became more SSE.
The calm ocean built a bit by the time I reached the
Minot Ledge sea buoy (Green "21" flashing green 4 seconds, whistle),
larger gently rolling swells and waves about a foot but mounting.
Chip Ahoy managed to keep up a steady 3 to 3˝ knots running almost
before the wind wing-and-wing – it coming from just a few degrees just
off starboard of the transom. I figured that the boat and I would
do better beyond my next waypoint, the Boston Harbor sea buoy, when my
route would take us more northeasterly and the afternoon would likely
increase the breeze.
skyscrapers way off on the distant horizon, coming across the Boston
Harbor shipping channel I had to slow a bit to wait for a
freighter coming out of Boston at a good clip to cross heading out
to sea. By then, around noon, one o’clock, the breeze had
increased to a steady 10 knots and the sea coming at my starboard
quarter, almost following, continued to build; larger swells, waves 1-2
feet. Off the Boston Harbor sea buoy I was making about four knots
– I kept it about a mile off Chip Ahoy’s port side as the next leg would
jag more northeast anyway and heading closer to the buoy would have cost
me speed. By then I had ended the wing-and-wing run, but could
have used a gin pole during it to hold out the roller-furled genoa as it filled
then flapped then filled.
Taking a more northeasterly heading toward the first
Marblehead sea buoy ("TR" gong, green light) Chip Ahoy’s speed picked up
to about 5 knots as the seas continued to build. The wind too
seemed to be increasing as I’d expected, to a steady ten knots or
better. By the time I reached the buoy, the wind was at about 15 knots
and the seas were running 2-3 feet, still off the starboard quarter.
Chip Ahoy was making over five knots steady.
The sail to the next sea buoy marking the entrance to
Salem Sound and Marblehead Harbor ("FR" bell, red/green, flashing 2+1,
red 6 seconds) got interesting. The
seas were still building, then at
2-3 feet; the wind had increased to about 15 knots, more from the ESE.
The Coast Guard was out doing what appeared to be a search pattern or
grid. I turned on my handheld VHF radio to Channel 16 and sure
enough, a 25-foot powerboat had been reported overdue and a major search
for it was in progress: Other boats in the area were asked to keep
a lookout for it. At least they weren’t looking for an overdue
Catalina 22 named Chip Ahoy!
Rounding the Salem Sound entrance sea buoy toward
Marblehead Harbor I was running before the wind again, wing-and-wing.
So close to home and at mid-tide, I decided to risk taking the
close-to-shore route between the rocky coastline nearby off to port, and
the rocky shoals and small islands and rocks with their day markers
sticking up into the air close to starboard, through the shallows.
On the other side and approaching the mooring area, I furled the genoa
then lowered and started the motor. As I entered the "No Wake"
zone I dropped the main sail. The wind was howling through the
mooring harbor, as it often does like a wind tunnel, but I managed to
reach and pick up my mooring on the first approach as usual. I
arrived at it at 4:15 pm.
On the mooring I called Barbara to let her know I was
back, spent the next hour straightening up the boat, making it
shipshape. I packed up my seabag, my backpack, and the cooler
that’d all be coming home with me, then I decided to take a nap before
calling the launch and going ashore – I was exhausted. At 7:30 pm
I took the launch in to the dock, where Barbara met and drove me and my
baggage up the hill to home.
All in all it was a good three-day cruise – a little
more challenging than I’d anticipated, even day-to-day, but overall
excellent weather. I’m still tired from it, using muscles and
focus that aren’t ordinarily called upon on land, but at least the floor beneath
me has almost stopped rolling at last.