Monday, July 18, 2016

Cape Ann - Rockport, MA

July 6 - 7 - Rockport, Massachusetts

The cutter rig.




We thought Rockport was going to be a great stop. It was an easy sail from Provincetown. It looked like a quaint New England port. High rock walls. Protected harbor. And, for us, a nice anchorage around the corner, Back Harbor, that would give us access to a beach for Tilly and an easy ride into town. It turned out to be different. The anchorage was OK. We found a spot to drop the hook in a clear area between the gazillion lobster pot floats. We were feeling pretty good. We had a nice view of the beaches and the back side of town with restaurants overlooking the water - and us. We dropped the dinghy and loaded Tilly up for a promising visit to town. 


The 'Twin Towers' of Cape Anne







Rockport was less than welcoming to transient boaters. There were no real public dinghy docks in the rock-walled inner harbor. Especially not for a puppy looking for grass. We tooled around in circles for a while and finally asked somebody where we might land. It was obvious from the response that landing elsewhere would be best. We were directed to 'Old Harbor' which is a medieval looking entrance around the back corner of town. Take a look at Google Earth if you want a visual. 

We went into Old Harbor, wondering what prompted them to abandon this and build New Harbor, and found an absurd situation for us. The only docking provided was a floating dock with a ladder to climb up a vertical rock wall. About 15 feet, straight up. Tilly is athletic but not quite that good.

We left any visions of dinner overlooking the quaint harbor behind and decided to just take Tilly to the beach out in the harbor. That didn't work out either. We were striking out. So, back to SeaClearly we went with a very discouraged puppy. At least, we thought, we had a good spot to sit for the night.

Unfortunately, in a very uncharacteristic failure for us, we had not paid nearly enough attention to the weather forecast. We had looked at the local weather (which is land-based and usually inaccurate) and did not closely read the update from our weather service. Overnight, our perfectly lovely anchorage turned to s*%#. What was great for southwest winds was absolutely horrendous for the northeast winds that started in the middle of the night. We had the entire North Atlantic Ocean delivering swells and wind-driven waves into the bay. When we anchored, we were hundreds of feet from the rocky coast north of the town. Now, we were turned 180 degrees and hundreds of feet closer to the rocks with the wind and waves testing our anchoring skills and tackle. Not good.

We spent a sleepless night and woke to a new adversary. Fog. Dense, can't see the waves I can hear crashing on the rocks kind of, fog. We were bouncing up and down wondering whether we were holding or dragging in the increasing winds. At about this point, we realized that we are getting to be more experienced sailors. In the midst of the wind, waves, big swells and fog, we thought, 'We need to get out of here and into open water'.

We waited for a little while hoping that the fog would lift a little bit. It didn't. A small sailboat that had come in the evening before and anchored much closer to shore decided they had had enough of this beating. They passed a few yards behind us in the fog, bucking in the big waves and sounding their fog horn. We watched them inch away and knew we had to do the same. 


We put on our PFD's and tethers because this was no joke. This is one of those situations where you don't get to screw up. If you get the boat or anchor tangled in a lobster pot or the engine quits or someone goes overboard it won't be pretty. We had 175 feet of chain out with the anchor and we were in 35 feet of water. Junie went forward to work the windlass while I got ready to motor off into the fog with 30 feet of anchor and chain still hanging down from the bow once the anchor came off the bottom.


Everything went according to plan, Junie came back into the cockpit wet but safe and we were underway. We couldn't see more than 200 feet ahead and we were blowing the fog horn every minute but we were out of a bad situation. No matter how sloppy it was, it was better than where we were. There are no pictures of the fog but it wouldn't matter. Trust me when I say, you couldn't see much.

We set a course for Isle of Shoals. Not a very reassuring name but a great destination.

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