After a good nights rest in Scituate, the next leg would be a much shorter 20 mile run due north to the historic fishing port of Gloucester, MA. Getting to Gloucester, and then through the Annisquam River with it's current, tight turns and low bridges was always a sort of watershed goal that was present since we had left Warren. From here it would only be one more long run into Maine.
I left around noontime, to catch the fair tide into Gloucester Harbor, and finally it would seem that the wind REALLY came up! I pulled out of the harbor and pointed the bow 0 degrees true north, the fresh breeze putting me on a broad reach where I sped along in flat seas at 6+ knots touching 7.2- nicely making way. Just a few days later in these same waters off of Scituate I read that a ferry bound for Provincetown had been hit by a twenty foot rogue wave and got roughed up pretty good. Today fortunately was not that day, as we pushed north.
Now, you'll hear me use "we" quite a bit, and just to be clear even though it's just me on board, this boat and I are in it together, real thick like thieves. When things are going great like this and we are flying along I know she's having just as much fun as I am, and when things get rough I'll say things to her like "c'mon now, this is what you were made for!" and she always pulls through in fine style, knifing through swells like nobody's business.
Since this leg would largely be about 15 miles offshore in a couple of hundred feet of water, leaving nothing (hopefully) to run into, the main task of the day would be crossing the Boston shipping lanes, which are very busy. About 2 hours in, I spotted a large freighter making it's way to Boston from the east. I took a bearing and monitored it over the next 40 minutes. I concluded that it would be reasonably close but at the speed I was making we would pass safely. You don't want to play chicken with these boys, and since they are a working vessel it's up to me to stay out of the way. We passed through without incident, but close enough to get a good look at her massive size. I continued north, towards my target until I arrived just outside the breakwater. By this point in the late afternoon, there were some squalls rolling through which left some decent size rollers in the bay. This made dropping the mainsail quite challenging - you've always got to make sure you are holding on to something! For particularly snotty weather I also carry a safety harness that I can clip in for added security.
Once that task was complete, I motored proudly into Gloucester Harbor and in my haste, promptly anchored right in the mooring field in the inner harbor. The harbormaster kindly let me know this when he stopped by to say hello, but with the weather conditions continuing to deteriorate we both agreed that it would be better for me to stay put until it passed. I took the time to straighten up a bit, and make a nice hot beef and rice dinner, along with a little wine. After dinner I re-anchored in the proper anchorage just a bit to the south right next to a heavily built black steel boat from Newport, RI, the kind that looks like it's been some places. We chatted pleasantly for a while about the boats, and home and also agreed that we would keep an eye on the swing of the boats in this tight anchorage to see if we had enough room to pass. Well, we didn't and about an hour later we had another pleasant conversation, but this time while fending off our boats from each other! I'm no genius, but I'm smart enough to know that steel wins, every time.
At this point, I finally reached Jason on the radio and found that he had anchored well outside the inner harbor behind Ten Pound Island. I pulled up the anchor, again, and made my way around the island. In the summer of 1880, the American artist Winslow Homer isolated himself on the island in order to more intensely focus on his subject; men and women who live and work by the sea. He produced over 100 watercolors and drawings in this time and it set the stage for the subject he would focus on for the rest of his life. I anchored for the third and final time just off the beach and made my way over to visit Jason and Mary for the evening.
The next morning Jason and I dinghied into town to provision for the next leg. We needed oil, diesel fuel, ice and food. As it turns out none of these things was located in any logical or convenient order so we left the diesel jugs with the gas station attendants and walked about a mile to the nearest auto parts store. I picked up some Marvel Mystery Oil to add to the fuel and engine crankcase at the suggestion of my good friend from home Mike Dee. We chatted on the phone the night before and he suggested that it might help stem the amount of oil that I was burning, well let's give it a shot then, shall we? We grabbed the fuel, some food and then lugged the whole mess back to the landing. See, all those farmers walks do come in handy! Jason stayed to watch our cargo while I grabbed the ice which was about 10 minutes away. In that time, he managed to rescue a seagull covered in oil who was stranded on an embankment. It's always amazing to see someone in tune with all these creatures (Jason has worked in conservation), enough so to grab a gull and have him relax enough to know he was being helped. He managed to clean him up quite a bit and get him on solid ground to at least give the little guy a fighting chance.
After getting provisioned, we waited around a few hours until 3pm to make the tide for the short run through the Annisquam River. This was more of a transition day to place the boats on the doorstep of Ipswitch Bay and set us up for the morning run to Cape Porpoise, ME. There were 3 bridges to contend with; 1 fixed and passable which was a highway bridge that was sandwiched between two bascule bridges that we would need to radio ahead to have opened.
We idled outside the entrance, and the Blynman bridge for a few minutes while the bridge operator waited for an approaching boat coming from the other direction. This bridge reminded me a lot of the Pope's Island bridge in New Bedford. Once it opened we motored through the opening into a serene river, the waiting motorists looking at us with what was a mix of envy and annoyance that we had impeded their way for a few minutes. We continued through the twisty narrow river and under the fixed highway bridge and called for the final bridge to be opened, this one was an Amtrak bridge. This was a tight squeeze with an immediate left after getting through. Approach this at the wrong time and the current might wash your mast into the undersides of the span..not fun. On this day we made it through unscathed and entered into the last section of the river, just before the entrance to Ipswitch Bay.
Anchoring just off the grassy marshes, this place was quite a contrast to gritty Gloucester harbor. As a matter of fact it was just about one of the prettiest places I had seen so far. It was about 4:30pm and I opened up all the port lights and hatches to let the sweet smells fill the cabin until just about sunset when the nastiest little black flies descended on me, just as I was hoisting the dinghy onto the foredeck to get ready for tomorrow's 40 mile leg! As soon as it was secure I vaulted myself down the companionway steps and sealed her up tight. Later on, once the flies moved on to other victims, I took some time to enjoy the cool night air, but a 6:30 am departure didn't allow me to linger for too long, I wanted to be on my toes for tomorrow and ready to go.
A floating house in the Annisquam River.