A Whale of a day!
28 May 2007 | Isles of Shoals, N.H.
Actually, I'm not certain if we are in New Hampshire or Maine tonight. The state line runs through the group of Islands. Yesterday (Sunday) we got to the canal a bit early, and as a result spent the first part of the trip fighting the current. It changes quite suddenly, so one minute we were going 4 knots into it, the next we were doing 9 knots as it changed and swept us out into Cape Cod Bay. The wind was forecast to start out easterly, then clock into the south east. As our course was north-east, we were hoping for it to clock early, but by the time we left the canal it was still in the east, so we hoisted the main and motor-sailed. But shortly after, it clocked, as forecast, and we pulled out the jib, shut down the engine, and had a beautiful beam reach (wind coming across our beam at right angles to our course) and swept across the bay and into Provincetown. We picked up a mooring from Provincetown Marine, and just as we settled in, a tender came alongside to collect the $40 mooring fee, so we hopped in and went ashore. I was running out of cash and Jeannie wanted to mail some postcards, so we had a quick walk down Main Street, then up to a small deli we knew for some fresh fruit. Then we headed back to the boat. On the tender, we met a couple we had chatted with in Block Island. They are from England, and sailed over last year and are now cruising this side of the Atlantic. They are headed for Halifax, and wanted to chat with us about Nova Scotia, but they were off to dinner ashore and we were headed back to the boat, so never got to chat. Then this morning, we left early and, although we tried to call them on the VHF, they must have been asleep, so we never did connect. We dropped the mooring pennant a few minutes after 7:00 am and motor-sailed out the harbor, expecting our 10-15 knot winds to spring up (I had woken in the night to the sounds of wind and thought we would have a great day), but they never showed up. All day they went from zero to ten and back as we motor-sailed across the Stellwagen Bank, a feeding ground for whales. And at one time, we had to slow down for fear we would hit them, as they rose and dived all around us, some as close as 20' off our beam! And as the whales were considerably larger than our boat, we were a bit concerned about a collision, or more to the point, what the whale would think about a collision! We were so mesmerized that we never thought of the camera! But that was the excitement for the day. All day long we motor-sailed, crossing the shipping lanes to Boston without sighting a single ship, passing Cape Anne and Rockport, a beautiful and tiny harbor where we stayed on 2003, then across Jefferys Ledge, then across Scantum Basin and into the Gulf of Maine, where the Isles of Shoals lie. And, as seems to be the pattern, about 3:30, the wind rose quickly to 25 knots, so we scrambled to put two reefs in both main & jib, and we accelerated to a nice 7.5 knots on a close reach. We got in about 7:00 pm, a 12 hour day, as all day we seemed to be fighting a counter-current and only averaged 5.5 knots, not our usual 6.5. Big day on the SSB today! I finally made contact with Eric Orms on Tabitha. He is off Horta in the Azors, and the signal was weak, but readable. Our problem was that someone else kept interrupting us on the frequency and we couldn't find a free one. But we had contact, so that's a big improvement. Most of today's conversation sounded like a typical cell phone conversation... "can you hear me now?" but it was good to hear his voice, and we will be trying again tomorrow. We also heard Herb talking to Pilgrim, another Canadian boat that we have met a few times. Yesterday they made only 30 miles, and Herb is trying to give them a new course, but they can't hear them. Tomorrow, off to Maine. We hope to make Five Islands, where we have friends with an empty mooring we will use. Hopefully tomorrow's forecast (N-W 10-15) will hold, as motor-sailing is not a lot of fun!