Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: New England
Thanked 7 Times in 7 Posts
Rep Power: 10
WOW!! The force of the Merrimack River
Saturday, I sailed/motored up to the Newburyport from Marblehead to haul the boat (Pearson 10M) for the winter. Great sail until we rounded Thatchers Island/Cape Anne, then we were nose into the wind in 4 to 6 foot seas for 14 nm to the Merrimack River entrance, then Newburyport. Thank god for Autopilot and the Diesel. 3 1/2 h later, were were leaving the big wide open ocean and lining up to for the run between the jetty's into the Merrimack River.
At the mouth were 5 to 6 foot standing waves for 200 yards with maximum height just before the jetty entrance. The waves were so high that 27 foot Searays PB's were getting air born with the enitre hull out of the water. We were going in about 2 h before slack water at low tide, so close to the max ebb flow. Once inside the jetty the water was relativley flat, but near the northern jetty the current was very strong, just were we needed to go.
I had the 27 hp Yanmar at nearly full throttle (3400 rpm) and barely making 1.5 knots. The low point was 1.2 knots. Normally at 3400, I am near hull speed of the boat (7 knots). There wasn't much room to manuever, so if we got below 1 knot, I was going to get concerned. We estimated that the current was 4 to 5 knots in this section.
After twenty minutes of going 1.5 knots, the river suddenly widens and we were up to 3 then 4 knots. It took us nearly 1 h 15 m to get through the jetty and pull up to the harbormaster/city docks; about 2 nm.
We took a photo of one of the channel markers in the current. It was leaning about 20 deg off verticle and half buried under water from being pulled so hard.
Now that we did it (first time), what a relief, but what a rush.
To top it off, the sailboat that pulled in about 30 minutes behind us, was 26/27 foot with a 9.9 outboard towing a dinghy. It went in about 10 minutes before us under full sail and full motor. We passed it once we were going 4 to 5 knots further up river. He said when he went in, ther were times that he was going backwards and had to end up sailing from eddy to eddy for most of the way up.