Passage to Provincetown

When I am in my ship, I see

The other ships go sailing by.

A sailor leans and calls to me

As his ship goes sailing by.

Across the sea he leans to me,

Above the winds I hear him cry:

“Is this the way to Round-the-World?”

He calls as he goes by.

A. A. Milne

Testing out the new sculling oar
An early quiet foggy departure

It could have been the way to “Round-the-World”, or the way to Topeka, for all we could see in the thick fog as we cast off Ganymede’s dock lines and gently sculled out of the marina to avoid waking the neighbors with the sound of the engine.  All that could be seen as we motored out of Narragansett Bay and past Castle Hill was the occasional dark cliff looming out of the water on the portside and a buoy or two, clanging mournfully in the swell off of Brenton Reef.  The fog continued as we made sail, and prevailed until we had just passed the little island to the north of Cuttyhunk called Penikese, a half-mile to Starboard but still unseen.

sailing in Buzzard's Bay
Ganymede’s new jib

The fog lifted briefly while the wind went a little more west of south, then socked in hard while Ganymede swept up Buzzard’s Bay, bringing sail in gradually until we were down to double-reefed main and stay’sl.  It wasn’t cold, though, and Damaris even got a little sunburn, since the fog was not thick overhead, just side-to-side.

Watching the Cape Cod Canal go by
So glad to be sailing again.

We debated trying to make it through the Cape Cod Canal that evening, but decided against, and good thing too, since the wind went to the North as soon as we had anchored in the lee of Piney Point, and it was no longer a lee.  There wasn’t much fetch, though, and it was most pleasant to be on the hook again, and in a new place, and cruising.  It’s been a whole year since we arrived in Newport, which is a terrible long time to be anywhere, even a favorite place like that.  We had to wait until afternoon for a fair tide for the canal, so while the girls did very thorough lessons I sorted out some rigging odds and ends.

tidal overfalls in the Cape Cod Canal
Watching wonderous tidal eddies and overfalls.

After lunch we sailed to the canal, only to have to anchor and wait for overhead cable work until 3:30.  So it was pretty late when we finally popped out into the turbulence of the other end, and twenty miles still to go to Provincetown.  Of course there’s nowhere to anchor in between, so we motorsailed at a good clip (Ganymede does splendidly close-hauled with the engine at low RPM; helps her point and goes lots faster than with just engine or sails).

New England is known for fog, and as we approached Provincetown in the dark it did not disappoint.  After carefully avoiding several big fishing boats anchored with only tiny or no lights at all, we anchored in the northern bight, which made a good lee from the East wind that had brought us in.  It did not make a lee at all, though, from the SW wind and seas that came up after midnight, and shortly thereafter we got up the hook at the expense of several skinned knuckles and probed slowly past the seaward side of the breakwall and into what turned out to be a group moored boats.  The water being mostly flat there, we joined them and went to bed again.

a good swing on the halyard
Safe at anchor and time to play.

In the morning the wind was blowing 25-30, and we knew why the pilgrims didn’t stay around long: there’s no shelter from it, and the long shallow area to windward lets some nasty chop develop.  Still, anchor’s holding, and if we can’t lauch the dinghy and go ashore, there’s plenty of tidying to do aboard, and lessons, and books to read.  It doesn’t matter really, whether we get off the boat today or not till Sunday.  We’re in a new port, we had some splendid sailing, and if our cruise begins under slightly adverse conditions, we can look forward to any improvement with joy.

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