Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Nantucket Adventures: Welcome to New England Weather

Below are the predictions I made on Sunday evening for the cruise back to Hingham on Monday.  Let's see how the day played out.

The waterway salong our route
Tomorrow we retrace our steps and cruise back to Hingham.  The weather looks OK enough with diminishing winds and waves on Nantucket Sound at 2 to 3 feet.  With a 7:00 AM departure we will cover the first 44 nautical miles in about six hours and arrive at the Cape Cod Canal at 1:00 PM as the flood tide begins giving us, at worst, a neutral current through the canal. Then 7 NM through the canal and then 44 more NM to Hingham. We should be pulling into our slip at 7:00 PM.

We awoke to moderate rain with winds out of the northeast at 15 with gusts to 20.  So much for diminishing winds.

The next prediction was for a 7:00 AM departure with 2 to 3 foot seas on Nantucket Sound.  Dead on. The "crew" was on top on things and we departed the slip at 6:59.  The waves were in fact 2 to 3 with an occasional four.

Nantucket Sound and the islands
Our initial course had us heading northeast which gave us a head sea for the first hour, the 63's least favorite point of sail.  However, three to fours are not a problem.  We need to get over 6 feet before it starts to become uncomfortable. After a hour we turned to a northwest heading placing the seas squarely on the beam , which allowed the stabilizers to give us a comfortable ride.

That said, we did have a minor incident.  As we headed northeast we heard a crash, which we quickly found our was the bow flag pole bouncing down the pilot house stairs.  I forgot to mount the bow pennant, which I have historically stored on a shelf along the stair to the flybridge (and which I will not do going forward).

Three stair were damaged.  Below is a photo of the worst.  Later in the afternoon as we cruised north on Massachusetts Bay I contacted a furniture refinisher, sent them photos, got and estimate and contracted to "make the problem go away" by Saturday at 2:00 PM.  $248 thank you!

The flag pole chipped the teak stair edge
The sun came out as we headed north on Buzzards Bay and the temperature climbed to 68 degrees.

The next prediction placed us at the west (south) end of the Cape Cod Canal at 1:00 PM.  We were helped by a favorable current through Woods Hole that had us hitting a top speed of 12.6 knots. As a result, we were 40 minutes early but still "on time" to catch a favorable flood tide current (i.e., heading northeast).  Our average speed through the canal was 10.2 knots.  At 1500 RPM we cruise at 8.9 knots.  Thus the flood tide gave us a 1.3 knot push.  We covered the 7 nautical miles in 40 minutes and exited the canal into Cape Cod Bay at 1:00 PM.

The next prediction had us covering 44 nautical miles on Cape Cod and Massachusetts Bays and arriving in Hingham at 7:00 PM.  We experienced neutral to favorable currents as we headed north along with light winds.  As a result we arrived in Hingham at 6:09 PM (and were docked by 6:12 PM.

Back to the "light winds."  We literally entered another weather zone after exiting the canal.  The waves were less than a foot with light winds out of the north northeast and the temperature dropped 7 degrees.  With air temperature at 61 degrees and water temperature about the same and light winds we had the perfect conditions for fog and that's exactly what we got.

Fog as we head north on Cape Cod Bay
At 2:43 PM we were off Plymouth Light with visibility of 1/4 mile.  By 4:15 we were off Situate.  Our course took us very close to the Situate open water buoy.  We saw the buoy and noted that we had visibility of 600 feet.

Our course took us very close to Plymouth Light
The next major landmark was Minots Light off Cohasset.  Minots marks a rocky area between it and the coast.  However, you can come very close to Minots on the east side.  We barely saw it when the GPS indicated a distance of 700 feet.  Check out the photo below.

Minots viewed from shore on a clear day

Look hard (like we did) and you can see Minots Light in the fog.  Distance: 700 feet.
As we continued northwest toward Point Allerton (Hull Mass) at the entrance to Nantasket Roads (Boston Light) the fog began to lift.  I recorded 1/3rd of a mile at Harding's Ledge and over a mile as we turned southwest into Nantasket Roads at Boston Light (on Little Brewster Island).  By the time we hit Hull Gut we has 3 to 5 mile visibility.

We're about a mile away from Boston Light

When we docked at our slip in Hingham Shipyard Marinas the temperature was 72 degrees with clear skies.


Total Distance: 99.5 nautical miles
Average RPM: 1,500 (8.9 knots)
Fuel Used: 95.7 gallons
Efficiency: 1.04 GPM (Gallons Per Mile)
Time Enroute: 11 hours and 11 minutes
Total Cost of Dockage: $1,307

Cruising the 63 is an absolute pleasure, regardless of the weather.  We spent our day running from the pilothouse in heated or air conditioned comfort.

Hope you enjoyed this series.

Written by Les.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Nantucket Adventures: Exploring Nantucket & Wheeler History

More about Nantucket.  In the photo below you see Guided Discovery next to two buildings on the docks. Those are cottages that can be rented by the day.  A two bedroom rents for $1,000 while a three bedroom rents for $1,200.

Explanatory Note: Knowledgeable boats may notice the fender hanging forward of the dock and will be thinking (correctly) "not yacht."  Guilty: I was too lazy to put the fenders in the lazarette.  There are three more hidden by the pilings.  We threw them over the side to clear the walkways.

Rental cottages behind Guided Discovery 
More about Wheeler.  I have searched on line unsuccessfully for photos of a 1958 65 foot Wheeler Motor Yacht. I've also looked for photos of their 50 footer as that was the boat where I first worked as first mate. Again no success.   The photo below of the 1937 65 foot model is the closest I've come.

1937 Wheeler 65 Motoryacht (for sale in Spain0
In the previous article I spoke about meeting Jane, the former wife of a son of the Wheeler who owned the shipyard that built these magnificent boats.  Jane gave me the phone number of her former husband, Gene who I contacted today.  He was stuck in traffic on the Bourne Bridge that crosses the Cape Cod Canal at the south end (we were within 50 miles of each other)  We had a lovely conversation.  Turns out he was in college when the 65 foot Randy Boatshoe was built and worked on her construction during the summer.

From Gene I learned some Wheeler history.  Wheeler was founded in 1910 and build boats through the early 60s.  Wheeler is famous for building Ernest Hemingway's 38 foot yacht, Pilar, in 1938.  Hemingway paid $7,495 for her (value today would be approximately $1,000,000).

Ernest Hemingway aboard Pilar
Ernest Hemingway's yach Pilar built by Wheeler
During World War II the Wheeler Shipyard built 230 wooden hull subchasers to patrol US waters. Following the war they built wooden yachts, of which the Randy Boatshoe 50 and 65 and a 65 foot sister ship named Fram are three of the boats I knew. I first saw Fram on Nantucket during my 1959 visit.

In the early sixties Wheeler saw the then emerging movement to build boats in fiberglass and floated a
$500,000 stock offering ($20,000,000 today) to set up a facility.  Around that time, five New York firefighters were killed in a fire involving the polymer resin used in making fiberglass boats.  The City Council passed a law requiring manufacturing facilities working with polymer resins to be sprinklered.  The Wheelers, who were stretch financially, could not comply and that ended their business.

And more about Nantucket.  Sunday morning we awoke to partly cloudy skies and a forecast of rain for later in the day.  Today's adventure was a visit to Sconset (short for Sciasconset), a fishing village founded in 1670 on the eastern end of Nantucket. We used the NRTA's Wave bus service to get there ($1.00 per ride for seniors).

Siasconset Post Office
We walked the village until it started to rain.  I'll let the photos give you a feel for what we saw in this lovely setting.  Note: The value of the rather modest single family homes in this village are well over a $1,000,000.

The Summer House Inn and Restaurant pictured above is located on the ocean.  It charges $275 to $695 per person per night for a room and $495 to $2,000 per night for a cottage.  Our slip at just under $500 a night almost seems like a bargain.

Gastronomical adventures.  Dinner tonight was at the Straight Wharf Restaurant, which turned out to be 100 yards from the boat on the opposite side of the fairway.  However, at 5:30 PM we were unsure of the restaurant's location and it was raining.  So we went to their website and clicked on directions to determine if we could walk there.  The link took us to the Ipad's mapping software where we learned that that the address, 6 Harbor Square, was 1 mile east.  Umbrella's in hand we walked to the cabstand, got into a cab and gave the driver the restaurant's name.  He replied it right behind us.  Google's mapping software got it wrong.

Our dinners were spectacular as was the white burgundy wine.  By the time we departed at 8:15 the rain had stopped.  This prompted us to take an early evening dock walk.

Walking the Nantucket Boat Basin docks is like being at a smaller version of the Miami Boat Show.  We saw no less than a dozen spectacular mega yachts (120 to 150 feet) med moored on the north side of the marina.  Even the smaller boats (50 to 100) were mostly late models in pristine condition.

Tomorrow we retrace our steps and cruise back to Hingham.  The weather looks OK enough with diminishing winds and waves on Nantucket Sound at 2 to 3 feet.  With a 7:00 AM departure we will cover the first 44 nautical miles in about six hours and arrive at the Cape Cod Canal at 1:00 PM as the flood tide begins giving us, at worst, a neutral current through the canal. Then 7 NM through the canal and then 44 more NM to Hingham. We should be pulling into our slip at 7:00 PM.

Bottom line: We all (including Kodi) loved Nantucket.

Written by Les.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Nantucket Adventures: We arrive!

Well first we had to depart Kingman Marina in Cataumet and that had elements of an adventure.  It was 7:15 AM and dead low tide.  The question that Myrna and I pondered at that early hour was whether to retrace our previous route, which involved heading north and west around Bassetts Island to Wings Neck, or head south and west around the island.  The latter was the shorter distance and the "official channel" according to the dockhand yesterday.  It was also consistent with our proposed route south through Buzzards Bay to Woods Hole.

Morning in Cataumet
What caused the "question" was the paper chart.  While it clearly showed the channel markers it also showed that there was no water at low tide.  Myrna felt we should retrace our route while I wanted to use use the "official channel."  The Garmin chartplotter showed 9 feet of water in the southern channel.  Which media should we trust?

Explanatory Note: Myrna's boating resume is quite extensive involving 27 years of sailing in New England and the Caribbean.  Her chart reading skills are as good a mine and her judgment is extremely sound.  Her opinion has weight.

We settled the matter with local knowledge.  Diana recruited Tom to help us cast off and he provided the local knowledge needed to move forward.  It did not hurt that he had a boat that drew 4 feet (we draw 5).

Look close and you can see Guided Discovery on the southern route about to turn west
We proceeded slowly along the southern route and encountered no problems despite the extremely low water.  We never saw less than 6 feet on the depth sounder, which adjusted for transponder location translated into 8 feet of water at the lowest point.

The next challenge was Woods Hole, which links Buzzards Bay to Nantucket Sound.  This is a tricky piece of water due to raging currents, intersecting routes, converging traffic and often wind driven waves.  We arrived there at 9:25 AM.

View of Wood' Hole heading eastbound.  Lots of buoys
Negotiating Woods Hole requires an understanding of the lateral buoy system along with knowing where you are going.  We also programmed the chartplotter with a route through Wood's Hole, which made the passage even easier.

With Woods Hole behind us and a route programmed all the way to Nantucket, we proceeded east across Nantucket Sound.  The winds had picked up as the morning progressed resulting in inconsequential one foot waves.  However the number of boats headed toward Nantucket, many of them big and fast resulted in considerable man made wake turbulence.  Our stabilizers totally smoothed out the ride.

Below are photos of a few of the many ferries we encountered as we crossed Nantucket Sound.

Luxury Yacht headed west bound (most likely returning from Nantucket)
At 1:30 PM we entered Nantucket Harbor, past Bradley Point Light and called Nantucket Boat Basin to announce our arrival.  The dockmaster told they were very busy and asked us to approach the marina from the south east via the moorings so as not to disrupt the big yachts that were med mooring.

Nantucket viewed from the channel

The Bradley Point Lighthouse and Coast Guard Station

Luxury Yachts "Med Moored" at Nantucket Boat Basin

An old wooden Trumpy motoryacht moored in the harbor
The next challenge involved negotiating the rather narrow fairway to our assigned slip.  Here we have to give the dockmaster kudos for the best directions to a slip that we have ever encountered (and those of you who follow our travels know we have been to hundreds of marinas).

Nantucket Boat Basin.  Note the med moored large yachts on the outer perimeter
Our slip, number 1216, was located in the third fairway from the left and about three quarters of the way in on the left hand side.  We were given a stern in starboard tie.  Again we had favorable conditions consisting of a slack ebb tide with low winds.  The slip proved to be a narrow with about one foot of space on either side of the boat.  Again, the remote saved the day.  We slid into the slip without touching the pilings.  It was now about 2:30.  It had taken just over an hour from the time we announced our arrival at the lighthouse until we were safely docked.

Guided Discovery at Nantucket Boat Basin
Time to have fun.  Diana, Myrna, Kodi and I went exploring in downtown Nantucket.  I took charge of Kodi while Myrna and Diana shopped.  The Furry Kid and I had a ball entertaining passersby with Kodi's wide range of behaviors.  The invariable question is how old is she.  My response is she can tell you and the smiles are incredible when she counts out her age (6) by tapping her paw on the ground.

Shops just outside the docks

Myrna and Diana

The Social Director (Kodi) makes another new friend

Cobblestone streets in the city center
Nantucket's city center is a very unique place and thoroughly charming with its cobblestoned streets, old very well maintained buildings and a wide variety of very nice shop.  This place caters to tourists with money to spend..and they do.

Antique car carved in wood.  Only $800
Folk art windmill $3,400
At 4:30 PM we adjourned to the aft deck for a class of wine (Rombauer Chardonnay 2012) and light appetizers.  As we were sitting there we noticed a plume of black smoke just east of the marina.  I learned that a 30 foot center cockpit boat moored just outside the marina had caught fire.

Smoke indicating a fire, which was on a boat moored in the harbor just outside the marina
Side Story: Fire on a boat is scary and dangerous.  Fire in a marina is scary and dangerous on steroids. We experienced this in July of 2008 when a 45 foot Sundancer on I-dock caught fire after midnight when a canvas cockpit cover blew onto a lit citronella candle.  The 45 Sundancer was completely destroyed as was a pristine vintage 46 foot Bertram sedan with a flybridge.  A 36 foot gasoline powered express next to the Sundancer and a sailboat next to the Bertram were also severely damaged.

More details: The Chicago Police Marine Unit quickly relocated the 36 express to prevent a massive explosion had fire reached her GAS tanks.  That would have been a game changer as flaming debris would have rained down on other boats potentially igniting them.  Still more.  The Chicago Fire Department had the fire out by 3:00 AM.  At 8:00 AM the following morning the 45 Sundancer started to smoke and caught fire again.  This time the Fire Department sunk her.

Fire breaks out on the 45 Sundancer at 8:00 AM

The 45 down at the stern after being sunk by the Fire Department

Aftermath of the fire on I-dock.  The 45 Sundancer, now raised from the bottom,
and the Bertram (Honey Girl) are a total loss
We had a spectacular dinner at Venturo, a lovely gourmet Italian restaurant on Federal Street and  then proceeded to explore the city at night.  The shops were open and filled with people.  We then explored the residential district just off main street.  The homes were charming, old and well preserved.  Seeing them at night was magical.

Venturo restaurant on Federal Street

The marina was magical at dusk
Willy's Jeepster circa 1948 to 1950
The photo above is of a Willy's Jeepster.  Parked just outside the marina it brought back found memories of my first trip to Nantucket circa 1959.  I arrived here as first mate on a new 1959 65 foot Wheeler Flush Deck Motor Yacht named the Randy Boatshoe (after the boat shoe of the same name). Bobby Cohen, the owner of the yacht and CEO of the Randolph Manufacturing Company, asked me to go to the grocery store and told me to take the rented Jeepster.  Turns out it was a stick shift and I did not know how to drive a stick. Well I learned very quickly and probably destroyed the Jeepster's clutch and gears in the process.

Last Thursday, Diana and I (and Kodi of course) visited a laundromat to wash our canvas settee covers. While there, Diana struck up a conversation (resulting from Kodi performing) with a woman who turned out have been married to the son of the Wheelers who built the Randy Boatshoe that brought me to Nantucket 55 years ago.  We of course left for Nantucket the next day.  Funny how the world works.

Written by Les.