May 12, 2009
Tuesday morning was time to set off for our next leg. I wasn’t sure how far we would get, but I wanted to leave after 8:00 AM to arrive at the Cape Cod Canal as the current was turning west.
Grant and I had an early breakfast, practiced backing into the fuel dock (with a quick theory-to-practice lesson on prop walk) and started out on another beautiful morning. Unfortunately, it was a rather calm beautiful morning. Once out of the Plymouth channel, we raised the sails, but there really wasn’t any wind to speak of.
I had read all of the regulations about transiting the Cape Cod Canal and had studied the current tables, but I wasn’t sure how my slow boat would mix with larger and faster traffic transiting the canal. Soon enough a huge barge being pushed by a tug passed by us, and the whole thing was a non event.
Now the more imminent concern was the darkening skies and cumulonimbus clouds building to the west of us. They looked pretty threatening to me, and that was confirmed by a look at the weather radar using Grant’s iPhone. technology sure is great. I figured the cells would move to the north of us, but I have always been an optimist.
We were out of the canal into Buzzard’s Bay when it became pretty obvious that the building storms were going to have a direct impact on us. We donned our foul weather gear and inflatable life jackets and hunkered down for the ride. There still wasn’t much wind and we had yet to raise the sails after transiting the canal. Sure enough, the rain started and the visibility decreased. The seas didn’t get too choppy, so we were doing pretty well, and we never got below about a mile or so visibility. Once more, luck was on our side and the storms never developed any convective activity, but the rain was pretty heavy. A few hours later we were through the line of storms and the sun broke out.
Still not much wind, but we raised the sails and figured that we could make Newport by nightfall. We rounded Easton Point and headed up the East Passage just as the sun was settling into the horizon. Newport Harbor was filled with all sorts of boats and ships, including a huge cruise ship.
That night we had a slip at the Newport Hotel and Marina at the affordable pre-season price of $1 per foot. I expected the marina to have all sorts of open slips since the dockmaster had told me to tie up in any spot I could find. Turns out that the marina was more crowded and tight than I had expected, and I was a little challenged maneuvering in the tight quarters, but we finally found an empty slip. My beginner’s luck at docking had expired, and I had too much speed going into the slip. Our leg ended with a sickening bang, but luckily no damage. A sailor from an old wooden boat flying a French flag came up and asked if we needed any help, but of course we didn’t need any more help by then. I got the impression that the French guy had sailed his little boat across the ocean by himself. Talk about a different league.
Grant and I went to the Black Pearl (all of 75 yards away) for a great dinner, at that was the end of another successful day.