Sailing, sailing

The learning curve has been steep, challenging, and awesome. While we were in Sandwich we learned that our diesel engine burns 2 gallons an hour at 3000 rpm, but only 1 quart an hour at 2000 rpm. The speed difference is about a knot and a half, which is a pretty decent trade for an 800% improvement in fuel efficiency. Having traveled from Scituate to Sandwich at 3000 rpm, we refilled the fuel tank in Sandwich and resolved to keep the engine rpms down around 2000 when possible.

We spent Easter Sunday in Sandwich, which was totally awesome. We would happily stay here forever, except that they charge us $65 per night to tie up to their dock. Steph made pancakes! And they were awesome! We ate them on a beautiful day overlooking the Cape Cod Canal and pondering how the hell we would possibly get around to Portsmouth RI in just one day.

Monday morning we got our asses in gear and steamed through the Cape Cod Canal. It was nerve-wracking, but not so harrowing as we had been led to believe (thanks, Dad, for putting the fear of God in us). In order to transit the Cape Cod Canal, you need to follow a few rules:

  • Keep your speed below ten knots. No problem. We could barely make ten knots if you dropped us off a cliff.
  • Keep your speed above six knots. No problem, again. Turn on engine, which is a great idea anyway since it is not permitted to transit the canal except under auxiliary power
  • Complete the transit in less than 2 1/2 hours. Well I should hope so. It’s only six nautical miles, so we would be screwed if it took longer than that, anyway.
A great iPhone background

The place where we made a potentially big mistake was in deciding tha we should sail fifty miles after getting though the canal. We had to go all the way out Buzzards Bay, then around what appeared to be a treacherously rocky point, then eleven miles up a river. And all, it seemed, with the tide against us. How is that even possible?

We timed the Cape Cod Canal transit pretty well. Going from East to West, as we were, it was necessary to go through on a falling tide. So we caught the tail end of the falling tide, not realizing that the current turns about an hour before the tide turns (???!!!!). So we began to fight an opposing current toward the end of our trip through, but it wasn’t too bad and soon we were out into Buzzards Bay.

In Buzzards Bay, we had some of the best sailing we could ever have hoped for. The wind was almost directly ahead of us, but it was so awesome that we had to take a chance on not making our evening destination and sail. Anyway all the motoring was not why we bought a sailboat in the first place, so we heaved up the sails and had a go.

It was awesome. Despite the fact that we still have an accidental twist in the genoa track, we made five knots with a weak wind and over six with a slightly stronger wind. The pictures above are from the weak wind. I was too nervous to take photos when the wind came up even a little. We gradually made our way south through Buzzards Bay.

Sailing south on Buzzards Bay

Eventually we had to turn the motor back on because we still aren’t confident in our anchoring abilities. So the choice was either “sail through the night” or “motor to Pirate Cove.” We motored to Pirate Cove. Actually, after we rounded Sakonnet Point and turned north, we sailed most of the way up the river (against an opposing tide, again) and arrived just before sunset. We tied up to the dock with almost no drama. I didn’t hit anything, and no one fell in the water, so it was a huge win.

Then we collapsed into bed. Since then, we’ve been tied up to the dock here at Pirate Cove, exploring the town by foot and by dinghy. The trip South was pretty exciting! I hope the rest of our adventures are as interesting as this one has been.

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