NEW ENGLAND 1984

 

© By Ellis Simon

 

Heartened by our lack of success in 1981, which was described in tedious detail in this publication, we decided once again to assault New England by water this summer.Our 1981 trip was from Barnegat to Nantucket in a week.Our transport was the old Amberjack, a 37-foot cabin cruiser.This year we are comfortably ensconced on our new (to us) 34-foot Mainship trawler.We decide to take two weeks and travel all the way to Maine.The crew has also changed somewhat, since our son, Donald, has other commitments.The crew complement remains at three, however, since our daughter Leigh Ann has joined us this time.

 

SUNDAY, JULY 29.After the obligatory day of panic preparations, we leave the dock at 6 am.We stop at Barnegat Light to top up the fuel tanks and take departure of the Barnegat Inlet sea buoy at 8 am.Our initial objective is Shinnecock Inlet on the eastern end of Long Island.This time the autopilot works fine and we are soon established on course.The seas are light, less than two feet.Skies are overcast but there is no rain in the forecast.As the day progresses, the seas quiet.Life aboard falls into a routine of taking a loran fix every hour and making minute course corrections for the currents and winds.

 

Big items to look for are the crossing of the Hudson Canyon and visual sighting of the Long Island south shore.Quite accidentally, the Amberjack III is equipped with a depth recorder that has a 960-foot range, so we get a fine profile of the canyon.A little way beyond the far side of the canyon, you reach the furthest point from either shore, about 30 nautical miles.This is always a point of great interest.It passes uneventfully.By midafternoon, we have the shoreline of Long Island clearly in view.Just as darkness is approaching, we are at the entrance buoy to Shinnecock Inlet.

 

A fuel check shows that we haven't made a dent in our fuel supply although we've averaged 8 knots.The VHF weather reports promise more quiet waters so we decide to push on.We parallel the shore to the sea buoy off Montauk.Leigh Ann handles this leg of the trip while the skipper gets a few hours of shuteye.Lobster pot markers are a constant problem in New England.They are difficult to see at night, and can become entangled in the prop.Fortunately, they have nylon lines that hang straight down.If you are not doing more than hull speed, they will move off to the side along the hull and not give any trouble.Still, it is very desirable to avoid them.We have a very powerful spotlight which, when looking ahead, hits the signal mast and blinds the helmsman.We use two methods to look for pots.First, the white 20 point light which shines forward gives enough light for the dark adapted eye to pick up the markers.Second, we have just equipped the boat with one of the new digital radars by Raytheon.The radar on the quarter mile scale will pick up a marker about 2 out of 3.For future night running in those waters, I plan to add one of those driving lamps sold in auto stores.Way up on the bow where there won't be any extraneous reflections.

 

At 11 pm I take the helm from Leigh Ann.The sea is calm, the sky is partly cloudy, and visibility is excellent.The only thing missing is the moon, so it is dark indeed.Montauk Light, which is very powerful, is so bright as to be distracting.By the time we reach Montauk, we have the Southeast Light on Block Island in sight.I lay in a course for this light on the autopilot.In the distance to the east I can see a bright light with a strobe like flicker to it.It is steady and doesn't correspond to anything on the charts.Binoculars don't reveal anything.After an hour's running the light is much brighter.It turns out to be a party fishing boat with more mercury vapor lights than a small city.It literally lights up the sea for about a mile around.He has no problem navigating as he could see anything nearby.We round Block Island, keeping a respectful half-mile distance by radar and once again we're in 1210 chart waters.

 

I lay a course directly to Buzzards Light, off Cuttyhunk.Everything is progressing smoothly when at about 2 am I notice that the engine oil pressure is slowly drifting down.Assuring that there is nothing on the radar, I go below and checked the oil.I make my first mistake in assuming that the dipstick is protected from crankshaft splash as it is on most diesels.It shows a quart below the low mark.I put in a couple of quarts to bring it back up into the range.Soon we pick up the 23-mile light on Buzzards Light Platform.As the night drags on, those 23 miles seem an eternity as I fight sleep.Finally, we make our swing and start up Buzzards Bay for the Cape Cod Canal.

 

MONDAY, JULY 30.Along about Cozen's Ledge, the sky starts to lighten.I quickly call Marilyn and turn over the helm to her.The oil pressure is again dropping, so I add another two quarts to bring the level back up.I then get a couple hours of much needed sleep before the big event of transiting the Cape Cod Canal.I awake just as we pass Cleveland East Ledge Light.As we proceed up the channel, I check the current tables and find that we have luckily arrived at the best time.We have a 4.2-knot current to help us through.As we approach the canal itself, several boats are laying off to the side.They are waiting for a tug towing a huge cement barge to exit the canal.It is an experience to watch such a large vessel pass close aboard.There is very little wake, but the water is disturbed for a half-mile behind.We enter the canal.There are no locks in this canal.It is much like the C&D Canal.The western end, entering Buzzards Bay, is rather narrow with strong currents.The rest of the canal is wide, with sides lined with jetty rock.The depth varies from 60 feet to 40 feet.Due to the strong hydraulic currents, the shallower rock outcroppings cause LARGE standing waves.

 

A little after 8:00 am, we are off the breakwater at the east end of the canal.We set off on the 20-mile trip across Cape Cod Bay.The seas are calm.Marilyn whips up a wonderful breakfast and we enjoy the trip.The only dark cloud on the horizon is that the oil pressure is down again.By this time I'm running low on oil!At 11:00 am, we are in the harbor at Provincetown, on the tip of Cape Cod.The marina there has room for us, so we take a slip.

 

The total trip from Barnegat Inlet to Ptown has taken 27 hours of continuous running.We've run at 1800 rpm on the single 160-HP turbocharged Perkins diesel and have averaged 8 knots.Except for five minutes waiting for the barge to come through the canal, the throttle hasn't been touched.

 

The engine room is understandably hot, so I opt for a much-needed bunk while the ladies explore the shops in town.Provincetown is an excellent port of call for the yachtsman.The marina consists of some moorings with a launch service, and a long pier with floating docks with finger docks riding with the tide at the side of the pier.The pier is located right at the center of the town.The town itself is loaded with gift shops, restaurants, and bars.A large commercial dock next to the marina dock gives you whale-watching cruises, harbor trips, old schooner trips, and a couple of seafood stores.The marina is complete with fuel, showers and Laundromat.An extensive hardware store and marine store are within walking distance.

 

TUESDAY, JULY 31, dawns bright and clear.An examination of the engine reveals a crack in the upper part of the cast oil pan.Running the engine confirms the diagnosis as oil drips out.We are faced with aborting the trip and having the engine repaired or finding a solution.Having had very good results with MarineTex on other engines, I decide to try this approach.By midafternoon, I have a very extensive patch on the trouble spot.MarineTex recommends several hours of curing time so we choose to remain at the dock Tuesday night.By the way, the ladies spent the day Tuesday shopping too.

 

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 1, again promises a fine day. We depart the dock at 6:00 am.The destination is Portsmouth, New Hampshire.The seas near Race Point on Cape Cod are a nasty chop, but as we move into deeper water the surface again levels out to where it looks like a lake.It is at this point that we spot the first whale of the trip.They keep a good distance from us as we travel on.A check on the engine shows that the patch has cracked, but the leak is only a drip.I fashion a catch pan out of an aluminum pie pan and fasten it in place with some leader wire.

 

We pass off Cape Ann north of Boston about 11:00 am and head across the Scantum Basin for Portsmouth.This takes us across the deepest water of our trip, almost 400 feet deep.At 1:00 pm we pass close aboard the Isles of Shoals to our east.This small group of islands, 6 miles off the coast, boasts a hotel and some houses.They are low and flat, without trees.They look like Island Beach with the addition of some rocks.

 

By 2:30 pm we are in the harbor at Portsmouth.We travel past a large island which supported an abandoned federal prison and come to the foot of the city.There, we find a delightful little floating city dock, next to a park with a grandstand at which the US Army Band is in mid-concert.They really don't have to do that for our arrival!After tying up, we find that dockage was free, compliments of the City of Portsmouth.I mean was, for we are served with notices that starting the next day, there will be a fee of $10 per day.This, by the way, is because the local residents were abusing the facility by keeping their boats there all the time.

 

Portsmouth, like many of the seacoast towns of New England, has undergone considerable urban renewal.Zillions of cobblestones. (Somebody made a fortune on cobblestones in the past few years.)Park benches and little squares.Plenty of pleasant stores and shops.There is also a huge quantity of banks.Portsmouth must be the Zurich of New England.I go out jogging in the morning and soon find myself on Route 1 South.Oh well, I can always find my way home.There are three things you should know about the water in Portsmouth.

 

1.†††††††††††††† The harbor is a river with a large body of water inland and an 8-foot tide at the mouth.The currents are awesome!

 

2.†††††††††††††† You do well to tie off the floating dock.The rollers that come in from long gone river traffic set the boats to rolling in a way that sends all hands catching pots and holding off.

 

3.†††††††††††††† The water is CCCOLD!After watching the local kids swim in it all afternoon, I went over the side with a shorty wetsuit to check the bottom.It is so cold it is painful!!

 

We sit on the flybridge that night and enjoy a ringside seat for a repeat performance by the army band, under the stars.

 

THURSDAY MORNING, AUGUST 2, I set out to put a patch on a patch while the ladies (guess!) go shopping.Using the manufacturer's recommendation, I use heat on the epoxy to hasten the cure.This is achieved by applying Leigh Ann's hair dryer for about an hour.We then set out to find a fuel dock, since we've now been 36 hours since topping off.We ask around the dock but no one knows where to buy diesel.We accost a lobsterman in the harbor but he doesn't know where to go.We find a large trawler dock and stop there.It is a fisherman's cooperative.They not only have fuel, but the price is $1.00 per gallon!I ask if we could buy some ice.They have no system for charging for ice in small quantities but they can give me some from the large system they use for the dragger holds.I stand there holding my little ice chest in front of this huge spout.The attendant throws a couple of impressive looking switches.Nothing happens.He enters the machine through a big refrigerator door.I hear some hammering sounds. The next thing my ice chest and I are standing in four feet of chopped ice!No charge.

 

A few quick calculations show that we've used 4.1 gallons per hour at a speed just over 8 knots.Two nautical miles per gallon.Due to the oil pan patches, I decide to reduce speed a little and put less heat stress on the patch.We depart Portsmouth at 1600 rpm for Kennebunkport, Maine at about 2:00 pm.The seas are absolutely calm but the visibility is 1 to 3 miles in patchy fog.At 4:45 we are entering the breakwater of the Kennebunk River.This harbor has to be one of the most picturesque on the East Coast.The channel is incredibly narrow.I have to look for a wide spot to turn the Amberjack around!Boats are moored on both sides with rock outcroppings every so often.

 

We raft alongside a beautiful 45-foot motor sailor at Chick's Marina.By the way, the procedure in these waters is to call the marina on VHF and arrange for your accommodations before you arrive.The town of Kennebunkport is a compact town given over almost fully to the tourist trade.Numerous tiny shops line the narrow streets.The head of navigation is an ancient swing bridge that opens on a 20-acre tidal pond.A number of seafood restaurants dot the narrow waterfront, along with a motel and an elegant hotel.After we returned, we found that the Pendzicks had stayed at the motel and dined at the hotel just a week or two before we were there.

 

FRIDAY, AUGUST 3, produces dense fog at dawn but by the time we are ready to leave at 10:00 am we are up to a mile of visibility.As we start down the river, I'm shocked!The tide is at its lowest and the narrow river has shrunk to a mere stream.With an 8 and 1/2 foot tide range, we are looking up at the banks from the flybridge!The river is true to the charts, however, and we made our way out with 2 feet under the keel.Our next objective is Portland, Maine, on the southern end of Casco Bay.Casco Bay consists of about a hundred rockbound islands situated in 40-foot water, a beautiful place.

 

The run from Kennebunkport to Portland takes us four hours.The seas are calm and the ever-present fog is with us.If you're going to cruise these waters, loran is a must and radar is a near must.In fact, after this trip, I intend to add a second loran unit to the boat.The common bottom profile here is to go from 50 feet deep to 100 feet above water in about 20 horizontal feet.You don't go aground here, you collide with a rock the size of the QE-II.After a very pleasant trip, 2:00 pm finds us entering Portland Harbor.Since it is Friday afternoon, pleasure boating traffic is heavy.The harbor is also filled with tiny ferryboats traveling to and from the islands.Most are passenger ferries but a couple have an athwart ships accommodation for one car or light truck.

 

We tie up at DeMillio's Marina right at the heart of the city.This large complex of floating docks is bordered on one side by a huge ferryboat restaurant where we devour an excellent lobster dinner that night.Again, we experience considerable rolling from the harbor traffic.While we are there, one of the sportfisherman brings in a 900-lbtuna.This brings out crowds of people as well as the local TV crews.I later heard that the fish paid close to $2000.We do a short walking tour of the city.Again, there is considerable evidence of renewal.There are many small shops, restaurants, and bars.

 

SATURDAY, AUGUST 4, I talk to the skipper of a fine old wooden ketch.He is kind enough to educate me on the more attractive spots in Casco Bay and to point out a tight little cove where he and some friends have put down some moorings.He says I'm welcome to use one of the moorings if I wish.He and his wife take charters out for overnight trips into the bay.The name of their vessel is the "Alice Elizabeth."I suggest you look them up if you are interested in a charter in the Casco Bay area.

 

Armed with our newfound wealth of knowledge, we go out for a brief cruise in Casco Bay.Again, the weather is perfect, though a trifle too hot.It is really difficult, psychologically, for a flat land boater like me to take his prized vessel through a 100-foot wide cut between two islands composed obviously of granite!The chart says it should be OK but the chart doesn't show any buoys and believe me, there aren't any.After laying back and watching a couple of local boats go through without slacking power, I (very gingerly) ease into the break.The water is forty feet deep.Presumably right up to the rock walls.

 

We tour along several of the islands and coves and passes of the Bay.Many of the larger islands are dotted with summer homes but there still seems to be plenty of space for development.Lobster pot markers and lobster boats are everywhere.When we tire of sightseeing, we made our way to the cove that our friend had recommended.It is indeed beautiful.Located on the western side of a substantial island, all you have to do is to slip around the large pile of rock that is awash at low tide and pick one of five or six moorings.You are then safely moored about 100 feet from solid stone walls, natural, with a pretty little gravel beach leading up to the hardwood forest which crowns the island.The water at low tide is about 25 feet deep and about 50 degrees Fahrenheit.Underwater visibility is excellent, and we can see the bottom.The water temperature makes me more than a little reluctant to go diving, however.Each mooring is labeled with the name of a boat, and I have considerable concern that the owner will show up at any moment and indignantly evict us.We hope to be settled for the night, and as the afternoon wears on, boats come in, pick up moorings, explore the cove or eat lunch and depart.None of them match the names on the moorings.We also note that each mooring is equipped with stout 3/4-inch nylon line.Not one line but two lines with eyes spliced in.Putting the absence of owners and the ruggedness of the moorings together, I finally realize that these are hurricane moorings.This cove would make a perfect hidey-hole in the event of a major storm.

 

SATURDAY, AUGUST 4.Casco Bay, and all of Maine is suffering from a real heat wave.We are safely moored in our hurricane hole on the northwest side of Diamond Island, but it seems an effort to move.The temperature is in the nineties.Marilyn and Leigh Ann take the dinghy and paddle over to a small pebble beach to do some exploring.They find the water to be very clear and very cold.Our mentor had informed us that the island abounds with berries, but the bluffs are formidable and there are no berries to be found on the lower reaches.††††

 

I consider a dive to look for lobster but the cold water would require full suiting.I neglected to mention earlier that Marilyn had taken a fall at home the week before the trip.She suffered a badly sprained ankle and a broken bone in the foot.She is getting around in a limited fashion on crutches and is in no shape to go scuba diving.Leigh Ann is not fully certified as a diver and has no experience in a full wet suit.I can't dive alone so we scrub the diving.In the afternoon, I paddle over to some rocks that had been awash in the morning to see what I can see. The rocks are vaguely visible when I get over them.I push a paddle down to them and am surprised that I can't touch them at 6 feet!Of course!†† The tide range is 8 feet!

 

We while away the hot afternoon watching the lobstermen work at close range.I had always assumed that the floats mark a single pot.To the contrary, there is a line that travels about 200 feet on the bottom.†† Each end of the line is attached to an identical float.†† The pots, eight or ten of them, are attached by short painters to this main line.The lobsterman picks up a float and winches the main line up until he has the first pot line.He then pulls the pot up on the wide rail.He removes the lobster and crabs, keeping the keepers.The rest go back.The pot is slid down the gunnel to his helper who rebaits the trap and slides it around the stern and up the other gunnel.When all the pots have been done and are lined up on the boat, the skipper takes off at hull speed and aligns the boat on the line where he wants to drop the pots.The tail end float is towed behind.When they reach the right spot, the mate starts sliding the pots off the stern.Last to go is the other marker.††††††

 

I'm amused to see that the vast majority of lobster boats are not the commonly pictured wood boats.They are what appears to be a standard manufacture fiberglass boat, about 30 feet in length and identical down to the placement of the winch.About the only way to tell them apart is by the name.Lobstering is big business up here and they have pickup points out on the water, which consist of docks, which have bait and piles of rocks to weight the pots.

 

SUNDAY, AUGUST 5.At 5:00 am, we depart Diamond Island and start our long trek south.The seas are again with us, averaging less than one foot.Visibility is good and we have no trouble taking departure from the whistle buoy off Cape Elizabeth.Somewhere north of the Isles of Shoals, I spot a lobster marker floating free with no line attached.We pick it up and it bears a slash mark where it has been hit by a propeller.†††††

 

At 3:00 pm we pull into Gloucester Harbor on the south side of Cape Ann.We have traveled for ten hours on calm seas.The patch on a patch on the engine is still holding well.No oil leaks.We tour the large harbor by boat.It seems to be largely commercial with some tightly packed moorings and docks for pleasure boats.Signs tell us that overnight dockage is 75 cents a foot.The town doesnít seem very exciting so we choose to anchor out.†† Gloucester Harbor is a large cove, 3 miles long, with two large and well-maintained breakwaters at the mouth.†† There is a large yacht club on the eastern shore at the breakwater.This yacht club has an anchorage in front of it.We anchor a short distance from it in 20 feet of water.The only disadvantage to the anchorage is the rollers produced by the commercial traffic plying the channel a half-mile away.

 

MONDAY, AUGUST 6, we depart Gloucester at about 8:00 am for Plymouth Harbor.Seas are calm and there is a light fog.At the same time that we clear the breakwater, a beautiful old sailing ship makes to sea. She is about eighty feet in length and has three masts.They are setting sail and we get several magnificent pictures of her under sail, one with the sun on the horizon directly behind her.This subsequently turns out to be a work of art.A large print hangs framed in the living room.

 

Since this leg of our trip takes us directly across the shipping approaches to Boston Harbor, we keep a sharp lookout but we don't even get a major return on the radar.The fog lifts as we come up on Stellwagen Bank and we come upon several whales feeding slowly.†† We ease up to a respectful distance and watch them for a while.There is a mother and her calf.They move slowly and we have the distinct impression that they are watching us.This area is noted for the quantity of whales that can be seen.Boaters are directed not to molest or chase the whales, but to move quietly in their vicinity.

 

Our next landfall is Scituate Harbor, Mass.Having heard that this is a nice harbor from some of our tuna fishing friends, we take a few minutes and tour the harbor.It is an excellent port, with an easy entrance in quiet weather (except for 4385 lobster buoys.)The port itself is a mostly mooring which are closely spaced on both sides with a narrow traffic lane down the middle.

 

From Scituate, it is a short run down the coast to the entrance to Plymouth Harbor.As all of you know, this is where the Mayflower landed with the pilgrims.†† How the Mayflower found its way in to somewhere near Plymouth Rock, I have still to find out!The harbor has no less than five miles of shoals to be negotiated with several doglegs and turns.It is roughly similar to getting from back of Barnegat Light to the Bay.I must, however, qualify that by saying that the entrance from Cape Cod Bay is excellent, being a half-mile wide and 23 feet deep.A breakwater protects the harbor, and Plymouth Marine at the southern end of the harbor offers superb floating docks with fuel, haulout, and repair facilities.This is all within a short walk to the rock and the town.As usual, the skipper is assigned the cleanup and provisioning details while the ladies go off to explore the town.

 

I should back up here to review a little history.†† First, the Mayflower wasn't built for the voyage, as was Christopherís ships.It was chartered!That's right, chartered, by friendly merchants in England.The ship dropped off its cargo in the new land and went on about its business as a commercial vessel until its demise.Its demise is unknown.It is believed to have fallen into disuse and disrepair back in England.Some believe that some of the original Mayflower timbers are part of some buildings in England.

 

The second little tidbit of history is that the Mayflower didn't trundle across the Atlantic and deposit the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock.They were headed for New York and because of navigational problems, they made landfall on Cape Cod.They went ashore at what is now known as Provincetown and stayed there about five weeks.They found the natives to be hostile and the landing to be rough and wet in the month of November.†† (From our experiences, the natives are a little better, but still hostile at times, and the waters can sure as hell be rough in that area.)The pilgrims decided to look for a better place to settle and crossed Cape Cod Bay and found Plymouth.They found more friendly natives and large boulders, awash in seas protected by the natural reef system that I mentioned above.This made it easy to bring a longboat up to a rock and offload its cargo.

 

Marilyn and Leigh Ann brought all this information back to the overworked skipper from a visit to the replica of the Mayflower, which sits at the wharf at the foot of town.The Mayflower II is a full-scale reproduction built in England and sailed across the Atlantic in 1957.She is of 181 tons burden, 106 feet long, with a beam of 25 feet and a draft of 13 feet.The specifications are those of a medium sized merchant vessel of the early 17th century.†† The plans for the original Mayflower, if there were any, havenít been found.††† Moored alongside the Mayflower II is a 33-foot shallop or workboat, like the one carried on the original Mayflower.This vessel was used by the colonists for exploring, fishing and coastal trading.††† The Mayflower is staffed by people portraying passengers and crew.They are dressed in the garb of 1620 and will only discuss events that have occurred prior to 1620.If reference is made by a visitor to an event that occurred later, they say "What a miracle!This person can foretell the future!"When Marilyn appeared on crutches, one said, "Oh look, that lady has wooden legs!"They do a realistic job of transporting you back to the time frame of the seventeenth century.Having just completed a 66-day voyage, the passengers are looking forward to building a colony here in the new world.The crew on the other hand is anxious to be off on the return trip to England and home.

 

The town of Plymouth and its environs has many interesting points to visit.There is an open-air bus route that carries the boating visitor to most of these points.The Commonwealth Winery and Plimoth Plantation, which is a recreation of a Pilgrim village are two of the more well known.The people are very friendly, including the 80-year-old lady who wanted to help Marilyn across the street.Shopping is easy with supermarkets, gift shops, and liquor stores all within a few blocks of the marina.The famous rock is about a block away.Restaurants abound.You can have a fine seafood dinner outside where the gulls will steal scraps or dine in one of the original Pilgrim homes.We dined on lobster at one of the seafood houses and then took a leisurely after dinner drink on the veranda overlooking the marina.

 

TUESDAY, AUGUST 7, we depart at 7:00 am for Nantucket.The weather is calm at departure and Cape Cod Bay is flat.The visibility is about 3 miles but it isnít bad enough to need radar.As we make our way south to the eastern entrance to the Cape Cod Canal, I pick up a very large target directly astern at about 4 miles.Soon, it breaks through the light fog.We are being overtaken by a seagoing tug towing a 500-foot container barge.I watch as he slowly closes the distance between us over the next couple of hours.In the last hour to the canal breakwater, I'm faced with one of those classic dilemmas.I know that he'll have to slow way down to transit the canal.I don't want to be stuck behind him.On the other hand, I don't want to put any unwarranted strain on my crankcase patch.Itís looking pretty dicey.I also don't want to be in his way at the breakwater.

 

We're monitoring channel 14, which is the operating channel for the canal.There's a tanker traveling eastbound thru the canal.Much to my relief, our monster radios that he has to lie by to shorten his towline for the transition.But this gives me a new headache!Just how big is this eastbound tanker?I could be out of the frying pan and into the fire!Just then, the tanker announces that he is just passing the power plant, which is about a mile from the breakwater.I scan the area of the power plant with the glasses and can't pick up any giant superstructure.With a strong current and considerable trepidation, we move into the canal.†† Shortly, a 150-foot fuel tanker comes round the bend and we all breathe easier.

 

We've hit the canal with the maximum helping current, 4.5 knots at some points.Our timing has just worked out right going to Provincetown and coming back.†† A current of that strength in a canal that is 500 feet wide and 40 feet deep is something to treat with respect, however.There are several points where the water passes over bedrock outcroppings 10 feet high.Even though it is over 40 feet deep, it produces a standing chop at the surface that is about 3 to 4 feet high with white combers at the crests.Fortunately, there is plenty of room to go around these on the side.†††

 

We exit the canal with an average speed over the ground of 10 knots.Mother Nature has a surprise for us here, however.The wind, which had been calm east of the canal, is whipping along at about 15 knots and has stirred up a 3 foot chop which we are running square into.The water rocketing out of the canal, and directly against the chop, quickly steepens and intensifies the condition.Here we are with a considerable amount of pleasure boat traffic taking a hell of a beating.I look over to the side, out of the channel, and note that the water is considerably quieter there.A check of the chart shows that there is at least 15 feet in that area.I take us over there where the ride is much smoother.Iím bemused to watch the other boaters doggedly stay in the channel where all the rough water is.

 

The ride down Buzzards Bay to Wood's Hole isn't to be smooth, however.The chop continues to stiffen and the fog thickens.Our course takes us to the southwest to Wood's Hole and then eastward to Nantucket after we have slipped through the semi-submerged peninsula that separates Buzzards Bay from Vineyard Sound.There is nothing quite so patience wearing as slamming into a head sea for hours to make a quiet harbor.You start twiddling the VHF to see what you can hear.The frequency of position checks increases dramatically.The skipper becomes short tempered and is soon left alone on the bridge.

 

Finally, we make the long awaited swing around the aptly named Penzance Peninsula and start to fight the current through Wood's Hole.Fortunately, the channels are well marked and the distance is short.As a bonus, the quiet waters have revived my crew and I'm presented with a nice sandwich and some liquid refreshment to improve my disposition.††††††

 

Breaking out of Wood's Hole to the east, we find ourselves with the same chop, but now it is on the starboard quarter.The visibility in the fog is less than a mile.We are finally getting to pay the piper for that glorious first week.The current that was helping us in Buzzards Bay is now holding us back.Still, a quartering sea is better than a head sea any day.We slowly make our way between Hedge Fence shoal and the northern headlands of West Chop and Oak Bluffs on Marthaís Vineyard.At about this point, Marilyn takes over and I get a chance to take a much-needed nap.When I get back on the bridge, we are rounding Tuckernuck Shoal for the final 6-mile run into Nantucket Harbor.

 

By the way, it has occurred to me that some scholar/historian could make a nice career just researching the names that are given to shoals, rocks, cuts, headlands, etc.Where in hell did the name"Tuckernuck" come from anyway?(An article inNantucket's tourist newspaper, "Yesterday's Island," tellsus that Tuckernuck is a corruption of the AlgonquinIndian word, "Tookernook," which means "a loaf of bread."†† The island on the western end of Nantucket was sonamed, and the shoal to the north got the same name.)††††

 

The famous Nantucket fog is out in force, but we have no trouble making our way to the wide harbor entrance.I'm a little surprised that the radar doesnít seem to see the jetties, but when we got in close, I realize that we have arrived at high tide and the jetties just break the water then.†† Nantucket Harbor is the most popular touring boater's haven in the world!The marina is large and is always filled.I suspect you have to make a reservation weeks in advance to get a slip.There is a large quantity of moorings for rent at about $20 per night.Normally, these are available, but when we arrive, they are all taken.After cruising around for a while, we get one from a departing boat.

 

We lock up the boat and hail the harbor launch to look around the town and have dinner.The launches have changed over the last couple of years.They are still the traditional double enders, but they are now fiberglass and fitted with boarding rails, which is very helpful in getting Marilyn aboard.They are also larger now, which means you sometimes get a long tour of a fogbound harbor while passengers are picked up and dropped off.†††

 

As we head for the launch landing, we see the largest, newest yacht that I have ever seen.She is about 200 feet in length, with three decks in the superstructure.All smoked glass and sleek lines.I count four or five uniformed crew members visible!She has a square transom with a swim platform the size of your average sundeck.Tied up alongside the swim platform is a 30-foot performance racer.It doesn't extend beyond the platform on either side.Rich or poor, itís nice to have money.††††††

 

Nantucket is a compact town, easily toured on foot.Main Street and several other streets have been restored to their original cobblestone paving (which makes walking on crutches a challenge.)The town is comprised of museums, wharfs, restaurants, and shops catering to the tourist.It is a town steeped in whaling history and much of the historic flavor has been retained in the architecture.It is a very pleasant place to visit.††† The island beyond the town is large and would require some means of transportation.There are a number of tour services.It is also possible to rent mopeds and/or cars.†† You can also rent four-wheel drive vehicles for offroad touring.After an excellent seafood dinner at Captain Jackís and a short tour of town, we retired to the Amberjack.

 

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 8, starts out with the typical heavy fog in Nantucket Harbor.I catch the early morning launch to shore and go on a jogging tour of part of the island.Once out of town, the roads are bordered by blooming wildflowers and high shrubs.The homes and buildings have that weather-beaten Cape Cod look.Even the Sears catalog store has that look.Advertising signs are kept to a minimum and generally follow the carved in wood format.

 

I'm surprised to find that as soon as I get away from the waterfront and head toward the interior of the island, the warm land has lifted the fog, but not very far.Airplanes departing the Nantucket airport are lost in the overcast at four or five hundred feet of altitude.Back at the waterfront, I pick up some freshly baked croissants for breakfast.After a leisurely meal to the tune of the ever-present foghorn, we drop our mooring and run in to the fuel dock for some ice and fresh water.††

 

At 12:15 PM we depart the breakwater.Our plans for the day are to travel back westward through Nantucket Sound, and run down Vineyard Sound to the harbor at Cuttyhunk Island.At the beginning of our trip, the seas are running about 2 to 3 feet with the wind out of the north.Visibility is about a mile due to the fog.As we make our way north of Martha's Vineyard, the wind freshens and the seas climb to about four feet.The ride isn't bad, but the wind is just about abeam and that isn't the most comfortable riding situation.It is a great day for sailing, and we watch many beautiful 40 and 50 footers flying along with a bone in their teeth and the leeward rail awash.One powerboat catches my attention from a long distance as it comes toward us eastbound.It is running on plane and looks unusually stable in these seas.When it gets close, it turns out to be the 36-foot Mainship double cabin.

 

The current tables have shown that we will be getting some help until we made the turn to the southwest down Vineyard Sound, but a check of our actual speed shows that we are making our usual 8 knots.Oh well, at least we aren't fighting a current. As we pass West Chop on our way to the sea buoy off Nobska Point, I fire up the old radio direction finder and get a line of position on the radiobeacon on Nobska Point.The fog lifts and visibility goes up to more than ten miles.At 4:00 PM we make the turn to the southwest and begin the run down Vineyard Sound.On this part of the passage, we will be fighting a building current up the sound.Since the water on the western side of the sound is deep to within a couple of hundred yards of shore, I decide to minimize the current effects by running as close to the western shore as possible.This also put us in the lee of Naushon and Nashawena Islands.The seas are almost flat.Tarpaulin Cove, on the eastern flank of Naushon Island, is busy with cruising boats at anchor.

 

This long string of islands is apparently a sunken mountain ridge, with Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound forming the valleys.These large islands are largely uninhabited.There are a few dirt tracks but no signs of people inhabiting them either seasonally or permanently.With help from the wind and no great hindrance from the current, we make our way past fishermen and sailors and come to the well-buoyed Canapitsit Channel, which separates Cuttyhunk Island from Nashawena Island.The channel is a scant 1/4-mile from end to end.On the western side, we travel another 1/2 mile to the entrance to Cuttyhunk Pond.Here, we had a problem!The entire anchorage is 300 yards by 300 yards and is filled with boats.There are rental moorings and private moorings, and every one that isn't taken is marked with a sign that says, "reserved."Just outside the Pond, there were some available moorings, which had a little floating sign near them that said, "Kermit's Moorings, Call on Channel xx."I'm not anxious to go back to them because the wind is blowing about 20 knots and there is a considerable swell rolling down on them.†††

 

Noting that many boats have anchored at the edge of the moorings inside, we find a clear spot with about the same space as Tice's Shoal on the 4th of July and set about anchoring.This proves to be more difficult than I expected.The bottom is heavily fouled with grass.We make two tries before I realize that we can't get the hook down and enough line out using the winch.We pay out enough rode to set us up and then manually drop the anchor when we're in exactly the right spot.It finally holds, but I'm unable to let out more than about 3 to 1 scope.Since we are on the windward side of an incredibly tightly packed anchorage, with a poor holding bottom, this is little comfort, indeed.††

 

Remembering my lessons from Piloting, I decide to use a messenger.You will recall that a messenger is a weight that you slide down the anchor rode to flatten the angle on the anchor stock and thereby get a better bite into the holding ground.We don't have a suitable weight, so I rig the backup anchor on a snap hook with some 3/8-inch line and let it slide down the rode until I just feel it touch bottom.From the angle of the line, I figure that the main anchor is looking at a 10 to 1 scope.More than enough to hold.I'm greatly amused when Marilyn points out to me that several nearby skippers have suddenly appeared with their own versions of my jury rigged messenger after we get settled.This will all do well so long as the wind holds.Our anchor is in 10 feet of water right on the edge of a 2-foot shoal.††† As we are having an evening drink and getting ready for dinner, several kids from the island come by in an outboard.They have set up a worktable on the boat and are selling freshly opened clams on the half shell and shrimp.We buy a dozen clams for $6.00.They are served with crackers and sauce on a nice plastic tray.

 

Cuttyhunk Island is inhabited, with a small town fronting on the Pond.Unfortunately, we don't get to go ashore and so we can't fill you in on the area, but it appears as though it is a fishing village.There don't seem to be any stores or restaurants.At least, they aren't obvious from the water. As the sun sinks, more and more boats cram into the tiny harbor to get shelter from the seas outside.We watch a 50-footer pick up a private mooring that was obviously meant for a 25-footer.I really expect to see the mooring anchor itself hanging from this guy's bow.Kermit is in fat city and a considerable number of vessels have dropped the hook outside the harbor as well.The wind is predicted to hold through the night, but we decide to sleep on the flying bridge just so that we can be ready to take action if anything changes.The rain curtains that I had labored so long and hard on before the trip started come in handy for this purpose.With the side seats converted into beds, and the vinyl curtains protecting us from the wind, it's almost like a motel room.One of the good parts about a restless weather night like this is that I get to sleep like a rock.I know that Marilyn will be up every 15 minutes to check everything so why should both of us go without sleep?†††

 

THURSDAY, AUGUST 9 dawns with the wind out of the same direction, but much diminished to a mere breeze.Today we go to Newport!There is a certain amount of anticipation in this for me since Newport is where we were headed with the old Amberjack when disaster struck.A seam opened and we spent our Newport time on the marine railway at Tiverton, just south of Fall River.

 

At 7:00 AM we take departure from Cuttyhunk Pond and skirt Penikese Island to the south.The weather is good.Visibility is 2 to 4 miles and the seas are following at 1 to 2 feet.We are immediately caught in the outflow of current from Buzzards Bay, requiring a course correction to the north.We amble past Buzzards Light Platform and make our way uneventfully (Thank God!) past the mouth of the Sakonnet River.By 9:45 we are passing the shoals off Brenton Point and heading into the East Passage.As we ride up the East Passage, we pass the Castle Hill Coast Guard Station on our right and then Hammersmith Farm, the home of Mrs. Hugh Auchincloss.You may recall that she is Jackie Kennedy's mother.The Kennedys often vacationed there.The dock for the presidential yacht still extends out from an expanse of green pasture.Mrs. Auchincloss moved out of the mansion to a small guesthouse on the estate some years ago.Shortly thereafter, we round the point at Fort Adams and slip past Goat Island into Newport Harbor.The total run from Brenton Reef Light to the harbor is just about 5 miles.The passage is about a mile wide with deep water right up to the shore.

 

Newport is one of America's premier yachting centers.The harbor is about 1 mile long by 1/2 mile wide.It has hundreds of moorings in 15 to 20 foot water in the center and is ringed by marinas, yacht clubs, and boatyards.An open fairway travels along the shore in a full circle around the anchorage.The town perches on the eastern side of the harbor.We make our way past the anchorage and come to the Newport Yachting Center, located at the center of the waterfront.I inquire whether they have an overnight slip and am informed that if I would tie up to the outside float, they will have something for us in an hour or two.We tie up and set out to explore the town.The marina is an excellent place to stay.Full floating docks with plenty of power and water.But it would be wise to make a reservation in advance for they are also a convention and exposition center.It would have been impossible for us to get in a few days later as that is the start of the Wooden Boat Show.††

 

By the time we have the boat cleaned up, they have a spot for us on the inside of the dock.We have just gotten settled in our new spot when the outside float, which we have just vacated, is occupied by a 100-foot tour boat from Point Judith.I watch while the crew went through the same procedures of washing down the boat while the passengers went ashore.The skipper is overheard expressing his concern that the port engine is running ten degrees hotter than it has been running.Boating is the same whether you are in a dinghy or a battleship!

 

The tour boat has collected its passengers and departed.Life at the marina has settled down to the easy ambience of summer midweek.Suddenly, out of nowhere appears Desperate Alfred!Alfred is at the wheel of a 30-foot current model cabin cruiser.The boat is doing that speed just below planing which throws the maximum possible wake.He is doing this just 50 feet from the fuel dock where people are refueling.After making a full pass of the dock to get people's attention, he returns to get fuel for his boat.Despite two dock attendants at full alert, panic reigns supreme.His wife stands helplessly on the bow as he tries to ram the dock and then backs away at full throttle as soon as someone hands him a line.He eventually gets settled alongside and goes about refueling.††

 

The show over, I go back to reading in the cabin.I have just picked up the thread of the story when Marilyn sounds general quarters!Desperate Alfred has been billeted next to us and he is headed in at full steam!We deploy every available fender in record time.With considerable instruction from the dockhands and with considerable manhandling by the Amberjack crew, we get him to a shutdown state.Trouble is, he and the Amberjack are packed in between two finger floats with about 6 inches to spare.Further, my finger pier extends about 500 feet and I have a 50-foot trawler yacht right behind me.We inform D. A. rather firmly that we intend to get an early departure the next morning, but more on that later.

 

Security is heavy at this marina, with fences and gates and armed guards on the gates.You are issued a dated pass to get in and out.When you look at the vessels at the docks, you can see why.There are some beautiful boats there.Newport was and is the gathering place for high society in the summer.These people made a point of competing with one another as to who could build the most impressive summer home, or mansion.

 

Today, the costs of maintaining these structures have overloaded even the wealthiest.They are often sold at ridiculous prices to historical societies or to colleges in the area.These organizations depend on the admittance fees from tours to handle the maintenance.Several years ago, one of these mansions is reported to have sold for $8000.

 

Marilyn and Leigh Ann took the Viking Grande Mansion Tour, which covers 22 miles of Newport.For starters, you get a tour of the colonial homes in Newport.By the way, it costs between $40,000 and $50,000 to restore one of these relatively spartan colonial homes.You pass by countless mansions on the outskirts of Newport, some with extensive grounds and beautiful gardens.If you get the right bus driver, you get all the gossip about the owners, mainly the women. The package includes a walking tour of one mansion. The ladies chose to go to Hammersmith Farm, which I have mentioned earlier.††††

 

The mansion doesn't look as you would expect.Instead, it looks like a superb English country home, with many broken roofs, a Tudor facade, and guarded by a split rail fence.There are obvious signs that JFK had spent some time here.In the entranceway is the Presidential Seal.There are many rooms that show obvious signs that children lived here.Children were not allowed to eat in the main dining room until they had learned proper dinner etiquette. They had their own dining area surrounded by glass overlooking the East Passage, which we had traversed.We are impressed by the many varieties of fresh flowers in arrangements placed in every room.Later we tour the gardens from which these flowers came.Most of the entertaining occurred in a 20' x 40' recreation room, which had small conversation centers, a fireplace, game tables, and a nautical decor.

 

We strongly suggest that you take one of the packaged tours if you are visiting the area.While you may be going by car instead of by boat, the amount of information that you get from the driver on the tour makes the price well worthwhile.

 

In the evening, I met the ladies on America's Cup Avenue and we stroll down the Street of Sea Captains to Christie's for dinner.We have the eighth lobster dinner of the trip and it is excellent.The view of the harbor is also excellent.

 

The next morning, I'm inclined to go jogging.I have read of the Cliff Walk, which is a 6-mile footpath overlooking Easton Bay on the east side of Newport.Back in the days of opulence, the mansion owners had formed a loose coalition to provide a walkway that everyone could enjoy, along the sea cliffs.Each estate owner would provide and maintain a walkway at his own cost.This tradition continues to the present, but the maintenance is certainly a matter of debate.††

 

An easy run up Memorial Boulevard brings me to the entrance to the Cliff Walk.I'm delighted with the walk.Heavily shrubbed with various flowering bushes and berry bushes, the walk itself is well maintained.To the eastward, one looks over the sea spending itself on a rock cliff.To the west, there are a number of backyards of well-kept homes.After a mile or so, I found myself on the grounds of Salve Regina College, which, as we mentioned earlier, has taken over several of the mansions in Newport.As I chug along from there, the going becomes different.First, I pass a new development where the pathway changes from asphalt to rough grapefruit sized rocks.I then enter a stretch where the path is just that.A path.The atmosphere also is changing.At the start, the walk was asphalt and the bushes, albeit wild, are trimmed.Here, I'm on a dirt or rocky path with brambles catching at my legs.At the start, the gates to the backyards are for keeping pets in.Now I'm looking at chain link fences, chained gates, and God knows what else!††

 

I come shortly to a new solution to the agreement to provide an unimpeded cliff walk.The walk dips below ground into a tunnel.I'm more than happy that I'm traveling this tunnel in the morning.I wouldn't want to be there in the sunset hours.Above the tunnel is an authentic Japanese summerhouse with a couple of attendants watering all kinds of exotic plants.Needless to say, the ever-present chain link fence discouraged me from exploring this paradise.††

 

Further along, I find myself on a seawall about 40 feet high, with the seas pounding on the rocks below.†† The tangled brambles and underbrush finally caused me to run on the cap of the seawall itself.Then there is part of the seawall that has fallen victim to the relentless sea.I have to climb under the fence and then over it again to pass the washout.By now my running has slowed to a laborious walk.The path drops down to sea level.The trouble is that it gives onto jetty stone similar to that used on the Jersey Coast.After grinding forward another 15 minutes, I stop to question this whole endeavor.You might ask what took me so long?The Cliff Walk is roughly semicircular.If I could have made it to the end, it exits onto a main road back to town.

 

The area is spooking me.I'm already overtime.I call it quits.I turn back.Back over the jetty stone, back around the washout, back through the tunnels, back to the development, where I once again get out on paved streets.After a pleasant run past some of the great homes of yesteryear, I'm back at the boat.

 

My crew is about to call for the rescue squad!Desperate Alfred had taken his departure in my absence.With the now-standard platoon of dockhands, plus Marilyn and Leigh Ann, he got away with nothing more than a 1/4 inch deep, foot long gouge in the trawler behind me.We back out down the long, narrow runway flanked by boats on both sides.I can tell Alfred has come this way by the wary looks on the faces of the crews we pass.Stern thrusters really make you look good in situations like this.We back straight as an arrow down the passageway, then turn on our axis and proceed to the fuel dock.†† This is our second fueling of the trip.We take on 126 gallons of fuel.We have run for 44.5 hours.Allowing for idling in and out of restricted speed areas, we are burning about 3 gallons per hour at 8 knots, or 2.7 nautical miles per gallon.With a 200-gallon fuel capacity, we can travel 500 nautical miles with a 20-gallon reserve.The Marine Tex patch is still holding, and a quart of oil is all that is needed to bring the crankcase back to full.††

 

FRIDAY, AUGUST 10.At 9:30 am, we take our departure from Newport and start the passage to Shinnecock Inlet on the south shore of Long Island.The wind is out of the northeast at 5 to 10 knots and the seas are quartering at 2 feet.Visibility is 2 to 5 miles.This is the day that the tall ship, "EAGLE" is to pay its first visit to Newport.I have high hopes of meeting the Eagle as we depart.We listen to the Castle Hill Coast Guard as they try to establish contact with them.Alas, luck is not with us.We head to the southwest toward Block Island and never hear the EAGLE on the radio.We pass to the east of Block Island and start the westward run to Montauk Point.At this point, I retreat below to get some rest.Marilyn soon finds that while we are crossing the current in the area, the combination of wind and current is kicking up an unpleasant chop.When I reappear on the bridge, we are passing to the south of Montauk Point.We keep our track in 50 feet of water about a mile off the coast and shortly the seas flatten down to a comfortable ride.At 6:30 pm we are entering the inlet at Shinnecock.

 

Shinnecock Inlet always worries me in that there is a note that says that there is a shoal right in the center of the inlet at the seaward end.The inlet has two parallel jetties similar to Manasquan.It would be simple to run if it weren't for that terrifying shoal.I still don't know whether that shoal still exists.Further, the currents are swift, and the water is hard to read by looking at the surface.Where you would think there is a shoal, the water is deep and the surface chop is coming from a tidal rip.Fortunately, the current is running out, so we pick a side and ease our way in.††

 

Once inside, your choices as to a place to dock are limited to two.One where all the fancy sportfishermen dock, and the other one.Back at Newport, I had decided to finally get my act together and phone in a reservation for this final night.I did so...at the wrong marina!Oh well, they are right next to each other and we're planning an early start in the morning.Years ago, when we stopped overnight here with the Souders, there was one dubious clam shack for food.We ate aboard that night.Now, I'm surprised to find that we have our choice of several fancy eateries.We have another excellent dinner on the outside deck of a restaurant overlooking the fancy marina and our boat (in the other marina) as well.Shinnecock still is the ideal place to visit for a loner like me.There are the restaurants, the two marinas, a commercial fishery, and a long uninhabited beach.You can walk a hundred yards to any of the above.

 

SATURDAY, AUGUST 11, is clear and quiet.This is the day for our twelfth and final leg of our trip.Shinnecock direct to Barnegat Inlet.I tune to the NOAA weather broadcast and am delighted to hear that winds will be 5 to 10 knots and seas less than 1 foot.We depart Shinnecock Inlet at 5:10 am for the 15-hour run.For the first few hours everything is as predicted.Life settles down to a quiet routine.We have breakfast on the bridge and verify that we are making 8 knots by our loran fixes.As the day goes on, I note that the seas, which are coming from astern, are growing higher.By noon, they are a good 5 feet.Yet the wind is still a gentle breeze.††

 

By early afternoon, I can tell that something is wrong!The wind is still below 15 knots out of the east, but we are now dealing with two seas.One is coming out of the east; the other is coming out of the northeast.They are now in excess of 6 feet.Any one of innumerable checks of three NOAA weather stations tells me that we are in seas of 1 foot or less.I have news for them!I have studied and taught weather, and I still have no explanation for those seas.There are no significant currents, or they would have shown up in our track.The wind is not strong enough to build waves of that height.And where did the cross-seas come from?One thing is clear.It is too late to run seven hours back to Shinnecock.Taking that mess on the beam for several hours to get to Fire Island is also crazy.We have no choice but to go where the seas are going...the Jersey Coast.††††

 

I decide that I do not want to run Barnegat Inlet in these sea conditions and make a 10-degree course correction to bring us in at Manasquan.This will cut an hour off our trip and give us a better inlet to run.The autopilot is having increasing trouble handling the seas and I have to help it with manual corrections.Then it seems to be totally incapable of keeping us headed on course.(Later I find that a setscrew on the drive motor has loosened and the pilot became useless at that point.)We settle in for some hard boat driving.Anticipate the effects of the sea sweeping under the boat from behind.Let her run while she is on the front of the wave, but control her tightly.Settle in for the long climb uphill on the back before the next run.Steering is a constant job with no margin for error.Take your eye off that cloud on the horizon to check the chart and you are abeam the seas.††

 

I finally have to have Marilyn take the wheel in order for me to do the 2-minute job of plotting a loran fix.Our course relative to the seas is such that we sometimes run for as long as a minute before the wave sweeps on past us.When we are on a run, the Sumlog indicates a hull speed as high as 14 knots.Since the Amberjack can do 12 knots on plane, I reason that it might be possible to get on a wave and ride it all the way to Manasquan.Despite grave misgivings about the crankcase, I open her up at the right time.I tried this several times but the seas are just a little too fast and we're unable to sustain our position.I just return to 1600 rpm and continue as before.

 

We finally cross the Hudson Canyon, which means that we have only a few hours to go, and we can start searching for some sign of the Atlantic Highlands.At about this point, Marilyn is idly gazing at the water off the starboard side when she sights a 2 foot fin rise out of the water about 15 feet from the boat, and head in the opposite direction.There are no further sightings, thank God!We don't know whether it was a sunfish or a white shark.

 

Land Ho!I can make out the Highlands and we only have 2 1/2 hours to go.The seas are now cresting at 8 feet.By the way, the way I measure wave heights is to get my eye to a point on the boat where the crests of the nearby waves just touch the horizon in the background.Then I measure the distance from that point to the water.That is the height from trough to crest of the waves.Slowly, the hours plod by.My shoulders are aching from the tension and the rapid corrections on the wheel.The shoreline is now distinct.The loran is ticking off the numbers.Now a new problem arises!I can't see the damned inlet!I've run Manasquan Inlet countless times.My father and I ran charter fishing trips out of Manasquan for years.I'm approaching the coast and it all looks strange.The loran says I'm on track.The radar says the coast is there but it shows no inlet.My eyes say the coast is there but I can't see the inlet.For a few minutes I wonder if we are caught in a special extension of the Bermuda Triangle.Then it dawns on me.The years have a habit of slipping by. It has been nearly a quarter of a century since Manasquan was my homeport.The landmarks have changed.Eventually the familiar jetties become apparent.††††

 

As we approach the inlet itself, we secure everything we can.I must say that here I make a basic mistake.As we are rolling toward the inlet with the seas still behind us, I'm surprised to see a head boat come up from the southwest, off the beach and swing around the south jetty to enter the inlet.I just keep on rolling along from the northeast.I then have to turn to the northwest to enter the inlet.This means taking three or four of those monster seas right on the beam.Had I followed the lead of the charter boat, I would have gone south of the inlet and made a quick turn into the seas.Then I would have had a relatively quiet ride up past the tip of the south jetty, where a quick turn would have put me into the protection of the north jetty.By the time we are into relatively quiet waters inside the jetties, a whole assortment of things is piled on the decks in the cabin and on the flybridge.I had directed Marilyn and Leigh Ann below for safety before the turn.They just hold on and watch everything tumble.I get smacked smartly in the shin by the RDF, which I hadn't noticed earlier.I finally just give it a kick out of the way.Shaken but unharmed by our encounter, we make our way into the incredibly congested Manasquan River.After weeks of blue water cruising where a boat within a mile was cause for mild concern, the scene in the river is totally unnerving!The trip on down Barnegat Bay is uneventful.We are amazed at how green and opaque the waters can seem after blue water.I remember having the same impression after previous trips.

 

To wrap up this saga, we covered over 800 nautical miles, nearly 1000 statute miles.We did it all at hull speed, averaging 8 knots.Our total breakdown log is as follows.The oft-remarked crankcase leak, fixed with Marine Tex, which was still holding when the Amberjack was laid up for the winter.A belt broke on the auxiliary generator.I replaced both belts in Provincetown with a pair bought at a True Value hardware store.The Sumlog transmitter started slipping on its shaft at Portsmouth.I fixed this with a shim on the spot.The autopilot drive shaft, which involved retightening a setscrew.

 

††††††††††† Next summer maybe we'll run to Bermuda..........