First Days at Sea: The Bad, the Good, and the Ugly

10/15/2007, Portsmouth, RI


We left Marblehead Harbor on Friday, October 12. We have sailed to Portsmouth, RI, to have some more work done on the boat.

The first three days were an introduction to the ups and downs that we will no doubt experience during our journey. These first three days might best be labeled the Bad, the Good, and the Ugly.

Day 1: The Bad. We left Marblehead Harbor under overcast skies on Friday, October 12. The weather forecast a rough day, but not too bad, and we were keen to leave on the date that we had set. It wasn’t a comfortable sail. The wind blew 35 shifting from being on our nose to coming across the beam. It was foggy and rainy, too boot, and the wind whipped the waves white and the spray thick. It would have been nice to have an easier first day, especially as we are both prone to sea sickness. The heavy, rolling seas set both of our stomachs churning. But we made Scituate Harbor at about 5:30, where provided with a comfortable mooring by the friendly fellow at EZ Launch, and ate dinner in a light breeze.

Day 2: The Good. On Saturday, we sailed from Scituate, down the South Shore, and through the Cape Cod Canal. It was a spectactular sail. The wind blew 10-15 knots on our beam, and it was a gentle, pleasant sail. We timed the current in the canal just right, and surfed the four knot current with little effort. The folliage in the canal painted the shores in yellows and reds. Fishermen were in waders casting into the swift moving current. Families, sitting on the banks on blankets, waved as we went by. One little fellow jumped up, and ran next to us on the shore waving as sailed next to him. We got through the canal, and took a right hand turn into Onset Harbor. We took a mooring close to the public dock, and watched the sunset paint the sky purple.

Day 3: The Ugly. Our third day was to take us from Onset Harbor to Sakonnet Point Marina, in Rhode Island. As bad as the weather was on day one, Sunday was worse. The wind blew just off our nose, and the seas were again pretty heavy. We both felt it in our stomachs. About an hour out of Sakonnet harbor, the wind began to gust up to 35, and we marked some gusts up to 38. We had a double-reefed main and a mostly-furled genoa up for sails. The genoa was not in very good shape to begin with. It has no UV protecting wrapping on it, and the leach of the sail was pretty thin. It began to fray in the stiff wind, and we furled both to protect the fraying part, and to present less sail area to get pushed around. But it didn’t help. The genoa tore along the leach, and we furled the rest of it in. We had earlier taken in the main sail, and, with no sails out, the boat was even less stable. We began to head in to Sakonnet Point, and pulled up the center board. But it didn’t come! Well, the cable came, up and up, but felt awfully light. When we saw the frayed end of a cable spinning in the winch, we knew that the centerboard wouldn’t be coming up after all. With the centerboard down, we draw 10 feet. That meant that Sakonnet Point, with its depth of only 5 feet, was not an option. So we pushed on to Newport, 3 hours away in the dark. We made it to Newport at 10:30 p.m., hunting for moorings with a spotlight. We took up the mooring, peeled off our wet clothes, and collapsed into bed.

We made the short sail up to Portsmouth the next day, and will be here for about seven days to have some final prep work done on the boat.

More later.

Paul and Sima

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