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Birdface 05-13-2008 09:33 PM

Trip Planning: Salem, MA to Cape Cod
Hey everyone,


Those of you up here in the Northeast....

I'm heading from Salem, MA to Provincetown - tip of Cape Cod the second week of July 2008.

I've roughly planned heading out to Buoy Y"AB-2" and then cutting a bit south in to the cape cod bay.

I'm taking my younger sister who has very little sailing experience. I want to make sure the trip is as efficient as possible but also in line to normal winds and comfortable for her. My current route has us a good 15knots from any solid land, should I hug the coast more?

Has anyone done this trip regularly and have any advice for me?

(25 foot 1976 O'day, 15hp Evenrude o/b, 7knot hull speed)

JohnRPollard 05-14-2008 07:38 AM


You'd probably be fine, but my suggestion would be to cut across Massachusetts Bay to Minots Ledge (Cohassett), then hug (a few miles out) the coast down to about Brant Rock (Marshfield), then cut across to P-Town. This route will give you options in case you need to duck in out of the weather and will keep you closer to shore if you require assistance.

As it stands, the route you charted out to YAB-2 takes you even further off-shore than a straight rhumline course, which seems unnecessary and unwise. (That is, unless you are hoping to do some whale watching along Stellwagen Bank!!) If you are determined to go the "off-shore" route, why not keep that initial course a bit further west since it won't add any distance? This would also put your course closer to perpendicular on the inbound and outbound shipping lanes, which will get you through them more quickly.

Of course, we can plan routes all we like, but the wind will be a factor when the departure day comes.

July is about the most benign time of year to make the trip, but as always, watch the weather. Sounds like fun and a great adventure!

sailingfool 05-14-2008 09:12 AM

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That trip sounds like a very looooong day, especiallly for a young novice guest, who will probably be bored to death and wonder what's so great about sailing. Sort of like a delivery rather than a pleasure crtuise.

My advice is to go to Scituate on the first day, stay in the town marina, eat at the Mill wharf, see a movie, etc. Next day shoot over to P-town. Return the following day to Plymouth for an over night, same routine as Scituate. Following day return to Salem.

That way you break the sailing in to more bite size nuggets surrounded by the adventure of seeing a new place...much mor elikely to be enjoyable for someone who doesn't think 10 hours beating to windward is fun.

PS - do you really get 7 knots in a 25 O'Day, its not a Mac26 in disguise, is it?

sailingdog 05-14-2008 09:20 AM

I would think that you'd want to cut across the main shipping lanes as quickly as possible. I'd suggest a route more like this.

Cutting across Mass Bay down to Cohasset will force you to deal with a lot more shipping traffic, which is no fun. By going a bit further out, you'll miss a lot of the congestion, or at least spread it out a bit...

Given that the wind will generally be out of the Southwest, this route allows you to have a pretty easy sail for most of it, reaching almost the entire trip. It crosses the main E-W shipping channel almost perpendicular to the TSS.

The route I've listed is about 45 NM... so it'd be a pretty good eight hours or more of sailing for you. If you left early in the morning, it might be a really nice day sail, if you get the weather.

I do like Sailingfool's suggestion of breaking it down into two days... but that is only if you've got the time to do that. One major advantage of doing this is that you can pretty much assure that you'll get into P-Town during daylight hours, which will simplify your anchoring, picking up a mooring ball, or finding a slip. However, I'd reverse his suggestion and do Plymouth on the outbound trip...and Scituate on the return trip—because if the winds are out of the southwest, it will be easier to go from P-town to Scituate, than it would to go from P-town to Plymouth. :)

christyleigh 05-14-2008 09:48 AM


Originally Posted by Birdface (Post 314048)
(25 foot 1976 O'day, 15hp Evenrude o/b, 7knot hull speed)

Your hull speed is only a bit over 6 and that O/B certainly isn't going to make you surf over that. That number really isn't that important .... unless... you are making judgements on how far you will get in X hours. That's when you can get yourself in trouble. I would use 5 or maybe even only 4 kts. in any time/distance calculations for your trip.
That's one of my reasons for going motorsailer as my hull speed is only 7.1 ..... but I can hold that all day almost no matter what, and being way over-powered I can even break the rules and hit 8 if I want to Waste a lot of fuel. I usually figure my speed at 5 or 6 when planning trips point A to point B.

sailingfool 05-14-2008 12:01 PM

54 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by sailingdog (Post 314241)
I would think that you'd want to cut across the main shipping lanes as quickly as possible. ...
Cutting across Mass Bay down to Cohasset will force you to deal with a lot more shipping traffic, which is no fun. ... :)

FWIW, unfortunately for Boston there is very little shipping in the shipping lanes nowadays, and absolutely no need for planning a trip around them. Excluding the Boston Harbor main channel, I haven't come within a quarter mile of a ship in Mass Bay in ten years...many days you don't even see one.

jonlgauthier 05-14-2008 12:23 PM

Hey Birdface!

We've done several Beringer Bowls (overnight from Marblehead to P-town), and to add others have said - prevailing winds tend to favor heading south and then cutting east across - at least at night. Last year for Labor Day weekend, we just did a straight shot, and it was a wild ride. Winds from the southwest, but swells from a low-pressure system out in the Atlantic left us with huge swells running at right angles to the wind-driven waves. And this was on a 26-ton full-keeled cruiser! Just pick a good weather window and you should be fine. And make sure the VHF is in good working order!

We'll probably see you around Salem Harbor - we'll be in Hawthorne Cove this summer. Look for the pirate ship!

sailingdog 05-14-2008 12:25 PM


I was thinking of the main shipping channel, shown on the two charts... also, closer into Boston, you have to deal with more idiot power boaters... :) the further out you are, the fewer of them you have to deal with. As for shipping, yes, Boston probably doesn't get as much traffic as New Bedford these days.

nolatom 05-14-2008 01:11 PM

Good advice above. Don't sweat the shipping lanes, at least during daytime and good visibility, there just aren't that many ships. Keep your VHF radio handy in case you want to call on 16 and make sure they see you.

Let the wind guide your route. Got a good brisk summer sou'wester? Then start early and go for it, it's a close reach, about 10 hours at 5 knots, and you have what, about 14-15 hours of daylight? You'll be fine. For a couple of hours you'll be out of sight of land, which is exciting (or boring, or both).
Use your GPS and chart, but you'll see the lighthouse from way off.

Lighter winds or different direction? Consider Scituate, then hop over from there. Might be less boring for your sister. And you have the Boston Monster buoy (used to be the Lightship) and then Minot's light as prominent landmarks to get to Scituate. Don't go as far south as Plymouth, which takes a LONG time to get in and out of.

Then for your return trip, you're both veterans by then, if you get a good persistent summer SW breeze, then definitely one day, a long but easy beam/broad reach.

Birdface 05-14-2008 07:01 PM

Thank you all so much. I'm reading these, will make some plans while talking to the guests on-board, and edit this post to let you know the outcome.

You guys are terrific.


Edit 1: Yes, I've actually hit 7 knots. It's the taller-rig, full keel 25' O'day from 1976. After speaking with Rudy at D&R I found out this specific mix of models was pretty rare. The knot-meter is about as old as the boat, so that might just be the speed transducer whipping around ;).

Edit 2: SD/SF, very wise advice both of you. I neglected to mention that we're heading for the cape where our parents will be waiting at a vacation home. So I was thinking "as fast as possible while assuring arrival with daylight". But now that I see the logic in the stop-over I might reconsider and make the sail more of the vacation than the cape-cod house. This would be up to the crew as I'd be cutting into their "beach time". But they seem really excited, more-so about the sail than the vacation on the Cape. (they are from the same Northern Italian sailor blood after all) This would also be our first south shore sail, so I think there's a good deal of logic in stopping in and seeing the towns.

Edit 3: Nola and others, I was actually hoping to get out of sight of land. We haven't done it yet and it would be a rush I'm sure. (Even with two GPS systems and all charts) I actually think Nola's write-up is the best mix of all your advice. It's two plans which are dependent on conditions. So I have a backup. My original plot had me rounding that YAB-2 as a sanity check. I figured we'd be just about out of sight from land and having a buoy to make us confident would've helped.

I'll honor you all and share this with the entire crew and get them involved in the planning. This way they're all less likely to mutiny.... Right?

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