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williamkiester 05-30-2011 02:25 AM

Salem to Buzzards Bay
I'm sailing from Salem to Buzzards Bay shoving off July 20. Trying to figure out the timing on the first leg to get through the Cape Cod canal. Can anyone give me a sense of how long I should allow to get to the canal. Also am I better to overnight in P Town or around the mouth of the canal or can I get through in one long haul? I'm happy to sail overnight.

Any other advice would be welcome. I'm sailing an Allied Luders 33 (hull speed 7 knots on a good day) that is new to me. I'll have one able bodied but green crew.

capecodda 05-30-2011 07:18 AM

You could certainly get through the canal in one hop. Make sure you time for the tide so it is with you in the canal, can be 5kn-ish.

Given prevailing SW wind in July, if you want to sail and beat your way down, and take your time, Situate is a great stop as is P-town. Depending on exact wind direction, one may be easier than the other (usually Situate for me, YMMV). Plymouth is an interesting stop, but its a long way in and out. Once you get through the canal, we like Onset, and then you have lots of choices.

fallard 05-30-2011 10:16 AM

Unless you are leaving in the dark, I don't see this as an overnight trip, unless you are under a lot of time pressure. I agree with capecodda: you can make it in one shot, but its about 55 miles to the Mass Bay end of the canal, which would make for a very long day. Scituate is a great stop and is "easy in, easy out", compared to P-town, but it's not that far from Salem. You might consider Plymouth for an overnight, taking a mooring inside the harbor or anchoring further out.

The current at the canal turns fair (to the west) around 1:30-2:00 PM on July 20-21, so you might plan your arrival at the Sandwich end of the canal NLT 3:30 PM. My guess is that you'd have to leave Salem before 5:30 AM and maintain 5kts to have a chance of arriving at that time. You would still have another 2 hours before you'd be at anchor in Onset. It's doable, but it would be a slog.

You want to time your passage through the canal for a fair tide, but avoid the maximum currrent. I've been through a half dozen times or so and one time caught it at max. current (7 kts current, SOG = 11.5 kts!) as I passed by the west end. The eddies made the trip more interesting, but it's a good thing the RR lift bridge didn't come down in front of me!

Agree with Onset as a good stop. You can anchor or pick up a mooring at IPYC or Onset Marine. If you keep going into Buzzards Bay on a fair current, you may be opposing the typical SW breeze and could find it a little rough along the Hog Island channel.

catamount 05-30-2011 10:27 AM

It's about 50 nm from Salem/Marblehead to the Cape Cod Canal. If you can make good 5 knots, it should take about 10 hours to get there, another 1-1/2 hours through the canal, and then however long to get from the canal exit to your Buzzards Bay destination.

I just made a trip from Marblehead to Newport two weeks ago, leaving MBHD about 9:30, or about 10 hours before the current change in canal. We had SE winds going S so it took us about 12 hours or so to get to the canal--arriving there still within the window of favorable current. We kept going through the night to get to Newport, arriving there about 7:30 the next morning.

williamkiester 05-31-2011 08:52 PM

Thank you all for your advice. It's helpful. I'm thinking of two different options. 1. Shove off from Salem at last light on July 19th and sail overnight to P-Town. Then rest and head towards the canal or rest and explore P Town and overnight there.

Or head out in the morning on July 20, explore Boston Harbor (which I can do whenever, but I want to get a feel for it before I take people there) then head to P-town during the day for an overnight. Then hit the canal in the afternoon the next day. It looks like 19nm to the canal from P Town and I'm guessing about an hour to get out of the harbor so I'd leave five hours to arrive just after the tide has turned.

I'm leaning towards option 1. Comments and criticism are welcomed.

fallard 05-31-2011 10:34 PM

Salem to P-town looks like 45 nm. My half dozen trips across Mass Bay had the wind all over the place and we found ourselves choosing a destination based on the wind direction. Scituate turned into P-town on at least 2 occasions.

Unless you want to go to P-town (sounds like you do) you might otherwise choose your intermediate stop based on the wind direction and velocity. Our last trip had us turning around to spend an extra day at Manchester-by-the-Sea when we encountered gusts to 47 kts out of the NW. My wife noticed that even the lobstermen were returning to port and so did we.

P-town to the canal entrance is about 22 nm and you might find the wind on the nose. We've also stayed over in P-town awaiting better weather (different trip) on the way to the canal. Your estimate of 5 hours sounds right, even if you are motoring.

The Boston option may take more time than you expect, especially if you are really going to check out the harbor. Salem-Boston-P-town looks like about 60 nm and would mean at least 12 hours sailing plus whatever time you take to explore Boston Harbor. It's doable, but sounds more like work than fun. If you want to do Boston, you might allow a whole day to a cursory check of the harbor and the outer islands, ending up in Scituate for the night.

In the end, the weatherman may be choosing your course. Hope you are allowing for such contingencies.

sailingfool 05-31-2011 10:36 PM

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You might save P-Town any weekend you have nothing else to do.

My advice is to get to the Cape Cod Canal asap and spend as much time on the other side as you can. Hopefully you are getting to MV, Cuttyhunk, etc... all are far more enjoyable than P-Town...

JKCatalina310 06-01-2011 07:59 AM

Just did the opposite trip
Two weeks ago (You know that fun week with all the rain and fog, made for an interesting trip. Especially when the GPS crapped out entering the Plymouth channel with less then 100 foot visibility. Had to go all the way in on dead reckoning.) we did the opposite trip to relocate our new to us Catalina 310 from Warwick, RI to Hingham, MA.

We overnighted at the Sandwich Basin. Brand new bathrooms and showers that were great. From the Mass Bay side I believe you can make the basin in any tide. So you might consider Salem to Sandwich, overnight to wait for a good tide and then head into Buzzards Bay.

I would second some of the others that mentioned the long trip in and out of Plymouth. It is a nice stop but it takes a good amount of time off of your trip.

Here are a couple of links that we found helpful in planning our trip:
-Active Captain - Good source of general information and reviews of marinas and anchorages - Another good source for marinas
-US Army Corps. Canal Navigation
-Canal Tides and Currents - pdf format

Salem to Boston is a quick trip and I would recommend saving that for another trip. The winds in the Harbor can get shifty due to the buildings and you can get a lot of chop on the weekends due to the power boaters. A good, short overnight trip for you might be Salem to Boston and stay at Spectacle Island or on the hook at Portuguese Cove.

Good luck with your trip and remember to be prepared for anything in Buzzards Bay. The weather can change quickly on you there and can be very different from what is predicted. On our trip it was predicted to be 10-15 kts winds and 2 foot seas. When we got out there it was 25 kts winds with gusts to 35 kts and 5 to 10 foot seas.

eherlihy 06-01-2011 08:54 AM

I've done the exact trip on a Sabre 28, and a Catalina 380.

On the Sabre, I believe that we left the dock at 1400 and sailed to Scituate harbor. We picked up a mooring at 2030. The next morning we left Scituate at 0800 and arrived at the canal without favorable current. So, we sailed around the entrance for an hour, and then started through the canal with the current still against us, but it would turn favorable. It was frustrating to be motoring at 5 knots, yet the people strolling along the bike path were passing us... According to my GPS log, our SOG through the canal was between 1 and 3 MPH. After passing through a squall with visibility reduced to 50' (and from which a car carrier emerged:eek:) at the west end of the canal we finally put in to Onset at 2000.

On the return trip, on the same boat, we left Cuttyhunk at 0700, and sailed on a reach the entire way, and put in to Salem at 2000 on the same day.

sailingfool 06-01-2011 09:51 AM

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Originally Posted by eherlihy (Post 736227)
... So, we sailed around the entrance for an hour, and then started through the canal with the current still against us, but it would turn favorable. It was frustrating to be motoring at 5 knots, yet the people strolling along the bike path were passing us... According to my GPS log, our SOG through the canal was between 1 and 3 MPH. ...

FWIW, when passaging against the current, if you stay in 15-20' of water along the edge of the Canal, the opposing current largely disappears and you can make good progress...nowhere as good as you do if the current is boosting your speed of course, but at least you pass the walkers. You are however close enough to the paths to shake their hands.

On the Buzzards Bay side, stay out of the main channel by ducking over to the little channel along Monument beach.

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