Buzzards Bay Sailing, racing Earl - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 5 Old 09-07-2010 Thread Starter
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Buzzards Bay Sailing, racing Earl

At the beginning of my vacation last week, my brother and I had sailed Amulet, my O'Day 27, up Buzzards Bay and through the Cape Cod Canal to Barnstable Harbor.

Our trip over was leisurely, uneventful, slow, and HOT. We motorsailed the whole way, navigated the tricky entrance to Barnstable, and found anchorage behind Sandy Neck for a few days.

No similarities to the return trip, however. With Hurricane Earl approaching I needed to have the boat back on my mooring in Fairhaven rather than at anchor on the sandbars in Barnstable Harbor. We weighed anchor at 6am last Thursday morning and raced to make the tides in the canal. Arrived a little late, however, and had to fight the current with my 12hp outboard for 3 hours.

When we emerged on the west end at 1:30pm we were immediately thrown into a cement mixer for a 10 mile trek directly to windward. After motoring out of the canal and observing the conditions, I was pretty sure we would be miserable motoring the whole way, and I wasn't confident the outboard could handle it. However to even think about beating into the wind, I had to raise the jib; we had up only the reefed main. My jib is a hank-on, so I had to go forward. I was clipped on and it was thrilling to be on the bow as the boat crashed through the waves, but all the while I was secretly praying the boat would be able to carry that much sail so I wouldn't have to go back up and douse it.

The winds were 20knots+ and the seas a steep 3-5 ft. We weren't the only boat out, but one of just a few. For a while a good number of the waves were breaking, which I have not seen before in the Bay. The boat made 4 to 4.5 knots and tacked through about 120 degrees; considering the intensity of the waves, we were towing a dinghy, and my sails are pretty old, I was impressed by its performance.

Here's a video from one of the calmer stretches, shot erratically by me via cellphone camera:

I am mostly a fair-weather daysailer. I've been out in almost similar conditions, but for much shorter periods of time and without a need to get somewhere that's directly to windward. The impending arrival of a hurricane (as we thought at the time) caused us to push ourselves and the boat much harder than I would have otherwise. I learned it would be really nice to have an inboard engine and roller furling, but otherwise the boat can probably handle much more than its crew. I learned also that a ~12 hour trip with pounding chop for the last 4 hours is exhausting, and I have a profound respect for heavy weather passagemakers who endure worse conditions for far longer.

In the end it was by far the most challenging, tiring, and rewarding sailing I have done. Can't wait to do it again!
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post #2 of 5 Old 09-09-2010
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Great Report

Thanks for the report. I posted in the spring about getting pounded coming out of the canal in the same direction. I chickened out and tucked into Mattapoisset. My beer in bottles got so assaulted in the cooler that when I arrived in port, the bottles were empty, but the bottlecaps were still firmly in place. Weird. I sail out of Cozy Cove area of New Bedford. What's the name of your boat?
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post #3 of 5 Old 09-09-2010 Thread Starter
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Great story about the beer bottles. I would have "chickened out" too if there wasn't a hurricane on the way.

The boat is Amulet. We are in Earl's Marina on West Island.
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post #4 of 5 Old 05-13-2011
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Originally Posted by ccollins0601 View Post
At the beginning of my vacation last week, my brother and I had sailed Amulet...
Fascinated by the fact that Facebook somehow connected the video in your message to me on the basis that my boat is called "Amulet" too! Click here for a video of her sailing off the East Coast of England.
Here story is documented here

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post #5 of 5 Old 05-13-2011
Learning the HARD way...
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I'm glad that AmuletUK posted, as I missed the OP.

I did the same trip last year in two different boats:

First on a friend's Sabre 28. We sailed from Onset Harbor to Westport, beating the whole way in 25-30kts. We had steep chop (typical for Buzzard's bay) and green water broke over the bow several times... The next morning, as we headed out of Westport, we noticed that we weren't the only ones to take a beating. The jib had two small, but serious rips along the seams.

On the return trip through the bay we left from Cuttyhunk at 07:00. We had a very pleasant run the whole way, and made the trip to Beverly Harbor (91 miles) in 13 hours.

The next trip was with another friend in his Catalina 380. Again, the infamous Buzzard's Bay Chop made it a thrill ride. After transiting the canal in mid afternoon, we thought about trying to make it to Cuttyhunk for the night. Bigger, faster boat, right? No way! Two more tacks would have put us at Cleveland light, but we had had enough. We ducked into Red Brook Harbor at 15:00 and called it a day.

I can't imagine trying to transit the bay in the afternoon with a hank on jib...
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