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September 17, 1999, Salem Harbor, MA.
I've been through my first hurricane which was later downgraded to a "tropical storm." It was last night. The owner of a 35 foot catboat rafted on our port side said he'd been through 14 hurricanes. He stayed on his boat as well. His wife wouldn't come near the boat. We spent the day before expected hurricane arrival preparing for the heavy rain and high winds. We, all of us nestled behind the seawall, placed spring lines, bow lines and breast lines and adjusted them as the tide shifted. It looked like a crowded elevator ... and there was even "room for one more." We used fender boards against the pilings and adjusted them as the boat and those rafted aside shifted against the rough pilings. We took down the dodger and bimini canvas and lashed the sail covers with lacings. I dropped the roller furled jib and stowed it below. The skies darkened all afternoon with light to moderate rain beginning around 4:00 PM. By 5:00 PM the rain was heavy and the winds were increasing to15 to 20 k. It was dark, dark gray outside. Ellen, in the galley below, cooked a great pasta with shrimp, olives and capers as the winds began to howl. There was a kind of joviality amongst us, strangers as we were. We had our pasta with some red wine by candlelight and sat in the main cabin waiting for 10:30 PM. NOAA weather service said that 10:30 PM was the transit time for the maximum winds. Luckily that was also the time of low tide. The tide drops 9 feet here and that would lower "Silver Heels' " hull well down below the top of the seawall. The wind did blow merrily over the top. All we really felt at the height was the slap of the halyards that stuck up into the windy area above the seawall. Two boats down from our stern was a 65 foot motorsailer that had roller furled sails inside the mast. That furling design with its hollow space inside the mast is notorious for noise making in high winds and that's exactly what it did. The high pitched and loud howling went on all night perfusing the harbor. I'd heard about that kind of rig causing noise, but the real thing was worse than I imagined, somewhat like a continuous and loud, high moaning sound. The cell phone seemed to be working well, so we contacted some friends in San Jose. We held the phone outside the hatch. They could hear the noise clearly. We went to sleep around 11:30 PM and awoke at 4:00 AM to check the mooring lines at high tide. All was OK. The winds were beginning to drop although the skies were still gray and cloudy. Nevertheless, the signs were diminishing and ..... we knew Floyd was gone!
September 18, 1999, Salem Harbor,MA
Cloudy skies and blustery winds marked this day after. Nobody left the hurricane hole today, not even the lobster boats. There was still a heavy sea running outside. Almost everyone waited another day crammed chock-a-block in this small slot of water. Then, the next day, all cleared out except three boats. We waited yet another day, enjoying the calm after the storm.
September 19, 1999
We left Salem Harbor at 6:15 AM under clear skies and light NW winds. Keith, my crew, had to return home and left just before we cast off lines. The sun was just rising as we motored buoy to buoy exiting Salem. The wind was out of the north, and it was cold. I sipped my coffee as we took a departure from the red and white harbor entrance buoy. There were some lobster boats already out retrieving traps. Ellen and I then had an uneventful 46 mile trip down to Plymouth, MA. Skies were now clear, seas were 1 to 2 feet, and THE SUN WAS VISIBLE. Entering the harbor, we motored past Plymouth Rock - yes THE Plymouth Rock - where a copy of the "Mayflower" is moored nearby. After anchoring in a shallow cove near the channel, we studied the charts for tomorrow's passage through the Cape Cod Canal. We're still 2 hours away from the canal. We'll have to leave early tomorrow to "catch" the current. A favorable current is desirable for this 7 mile trip. Opposing currents can run 4 to 5 k. Considering the opposing and helping aspects of the current, it could make a difference of 8 or 9 k over the ground. It looks like another "up at 5:00 AM for departure day" to take advantage of the 9:30 AM maximum ebb current in the canal.
September 20, 1999
Exiting Plymouth at sunrise we moved into Cape Cod Bay for an hour and a half ride to the canal entrance. Our plan was to pass through the Cape Cod Canal and enter Buzzsards Bay with favorable current. Then, with good weather at the south end, we'd go on to Padanaram Harbor and the New Bedford Yacht Club. The seas at the departure end of the Canal were moderate. With the foresail used as a steadying sail, we cruised easily and steadily at 8.0 k close hauled. In Padanaram (now let's see the correct pronunciation is Pah'-dahr-rhum??) Harbor we topped off the fuel tanks and water tanks and then picked up a mooring. The weather man said rain and heavy winds for awhile. Two more days pass with rain and winds gusting to 28 to 30 k. We wait.
September 23, 1999 Padanaram Harbor, MA
This is the location of Concordia Company, designer and builder of the Concordia Yawls as well as several other notable boats. They did me a great favor. The Margas propane tank that fuels our stove was installed three months ago, and as we were using stove fuel each day, it had emptied. To have the tank filled requires us to - propane tank in hand - locate a car rental agency, get a ride to the car rental agency, rent the car, go to a propane filling station, fill the tank, return the car to the agency, get a ride back to the boat, and finally take the launch out to the boat's mooring. All worked well 'till we got to the propane station and were advised that due to a design problem, the tank couldn't be filled! We returned the car and went back to the boat with tank in hand. Calls to Margas for some help produced no results and no return calls and finally a denial that, "... any such thing could happen." Enter The Concordia Company! I called them via the cell phone, and they said come on in. Hailing the launch, we went ashore, carried the tank to the Concordia yard. I explained the problem. They said, "Leave the tank and come back after lunch." I returned, the tank was repaired! They said, "No charges." True gentlemen, feeling sympathetic for our dilemma, I suppose? Anyhow, they were great helpers. I should have known that after reading Waldo Howland's book about the yard called "The Concordia Years."
September 24, 1999 Cuttyhunk Harbor, westernmost of the Elizabeth Island chain.
Cuttyhunk? It's an Indian work meaning "land's end." And, that's where we are. We left Padanaram Harbor before sunrise expecting a long, for us, passage to Stonington. Weather reports mentioned winds 25 to 28 k, small craft warnings for Buzzards Bay and seas 4 to 6 feet. It also was supposed to be sunny with clear skies. I guess that bit about "sunny weather" got me to discount the small craft warning, and we headed out. Departing the harbor entrance buoy as the sun just started to inch above the horizon, we started to push into head seas. It got more uncomfortable as we motored on. I couldn't carry any steadying sail as the winds were almost over the bow. "Silver Heels" has a good flare in the bow and she's heavy. So we pressed into the seas with some spectacular white water roiling off to the sides. Every so often we'd bury the bow, but we never got solid water aft. Water flowed down the stepped-down foredeck and poured overboard through the doors in the rail, port and starboard. Some spray was reaching us in the cockpit, and our speed was reduced from 7.8 k to 3.5 knots at cruise rpm. Things were starting to come off the shelves and out of the cabinets below. I don't know if I'm playing this cruise too conservative, but I'm too old to do that kind of powering all day. So, I took out the charts. Ellen plotted the course for Cuttyhunk Harbor about two miles away. I sighted the entrance buoy, and we weaved our way past the shoals between the green cans and red nuns toward the protection of Cuttyhunk. Inside the dredged harbor the winds still blew but the water was calm. The landscape is somewhat barren, the trees are low, and there's a little town with some houses strewn about, most seem for summer use only. It looks very much like the tip of Pt. Reyes on the California coast. Here we will spend the day with about ten other boats and wait for better conditions tomorrow.
September 25, 1999
Still blustery. Other cruisers here say, "You're retired. There's no rush. Wait for your weather." So, we'll stay here for another day. We'll go ashore and see the town and take some photos. Some of the ten boats here leave. There's three of us that stay, and I'm glad to have a rest.
September 27, 1999
We left Cuttyhunk and had a fast motor sail to Stonington, CT. Here we picked up a mooring for $35 for the first day and $25 for each day after. This was a good 48 mile day with Silver Heels, foresail up, doing 8.5 k sliding down some waves. I seem to get more tired as we move along. It's just the two of us managing the boat, and Silver Heels is more like a larger boat of perhaps 50 feet loa. Ellen and I have been aboard since the end of June with little time ashore. We have a long trip down the exposed New Jersey coast in about 5 days, about 80 miles. I called Maynard Bray and Giffy Full and asked about getting some help. My good friends gave me the name of a captain that would help with this leg of the trip. Maynard also urged us to go on to Mystic Seaport Museum and arranged for a berth there. We cast off the mooring and moved on to Mystic.
September 28, 1999
An old cruiser friend we met in Tenants Harbor, ME saw us in Mystic, CT. Russ, who has cruised Ireland, England, the Med and Turkey came aboard with his friend George. We had a good reunion. George was staying at his beach house in Niantic and invited us over for dinner and the night. A chance for a hot shower and a trip to the grocery store and a trip to the barber! We had a wonderful dinner and met two other "cruisers" from South Carolina. We'll go back to Mystic in the morning and see about obtaining a captain's help for the New Jersey leg.
With our best regards, Terry and Ellen
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