Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Rubber Boat in the North Atlantic???

We’re at Woods Hole MA, site of an amazing amount of brainpower researching all things marine. There are tours here of the Oceanographic Research Institute and the Marine Biological Laboratory which would be very cool, but are only offered in season – July and August. So, we are left with watching the seals being fed at the NOAA Aquarium. Another item of interest—we are just south of the Cape Cod Canal which separates Cape Cod Bay from Buzzards Bay. But the tides north of the canal in Cape Cod Bay are 10 ft. They are 4 ft in Buzzards Bay and only 18” in Falmouth, just off Nantucket Sound where we will be docked tomorrow through Sunday waiting out Tropical Storm Hanna.

You’ll recall that on our way north in June some things were closed because the season hadn’t yet started. Now, in early September on our way south, things are again closed because it’s after the season. The New England boating season is July and August. What a waste. June was lovely here and September is beautiful so far. Having lived over 20 years in Milwaukee, we know something about short boating seasons. There’s a huge difference in mindset about short seasons in New England and in Milwaukee. In Milwaukee, we stretch the season by taking advantage of every nice day, even if it occurs in May or October and we certainly count June and September as summer months even though it can be chilly on the water. Goodness, the ice cream stands in Wisconsin stay open into November. We’re proud to be hearty Midwesterners!

Speaking of weather… we’re preparing for Hannah or her remnants to come up the coast. The forecast is brutal for Saturday/Sunday with wave heights of 15 feet outside Nantucket Bay and winds of 40-50 mph. We have reservations for dockage in a harbor at Falmouth MA on the south shore of Cape Cod just a few miles east of here. We’re not worried about waves; they’ll be far less in Nantucket Sound and less yet in harbor. But, the winds will be fierce – we haven’t been in winds that strong on Tide Hiker.

We had a big scary lesson yesterday. We’re at Hadley Harbor, an anchorage across the channel about 1.5 miles from the town of Woods Hole. By the way, look at the channel entrance to this place...the red and green markers are only about 30 ft apart. Once we got through, though, we found a great surprise. Hadley Harbor is a "gunk-holish" type anchorage/mooring field. If you get here early enough you can just catch a mooring ball and its free.

We dinghied to Woods Hole yesterday and then started to dinghy back and realized that our path didn’t look familiar. We were lost! And, here’s the lesson – didn’t have a chart with us to figure out where we were or where we should go. We backtracked to Woods Hole intending to ask for directions and discovered our error when we arrived back in the Woods Hole Harbor. We had missed a turn and had headed across a six mile expanse in THE NORTH ATLANTIC toward Martha’s Vineyard in an 11-ft rubber boat in 2-3 ft waves. Yikes! From here on, we take a chart with us and follow it! Or, as Norm says, this is a good reason to have a hand-held gps/plotter.

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