Saturday, October 17, 2009

Day 14: Farewell to Cape Cod

Normally I love to sleep late. But I had a looming deadline. My family were going to show up in Maine in just a few days, and I had already spent two weeks creeping along the coast. I was eager to get under way, and so I woke -- uncharacteristically -- at dawn on Day 14.

Ishamel and I had discussed my battery problem the previous evening. I haven't mentioned it before. The problem was that the navigation lights wouldn't burn all night on battery power. Was the battery bad? Was the motor not charging it up properly when it ran?

Ishmael and I were both inclined to blame the battery, and we had mooted the idea of going back into Provincetown in the morning -- there is a great and well-stocked chandlery there -- and buying a new battery. (Hey, it's only money).

I was tempted, but I also wanted to get going. So while Ishmael slept -- and he snores like a buzz-saw, let me tell you -- I quietly made my coffee, and recovered the anchors, and made our escape from Provincetown.

The Pilgrim Monument was just a nick on the horizon when Ishmael awoke. He took the helm while I made some more coffee, and then like a stalwart fellow he kept the helm through a very lively day, crossing Massachusetts Bay from Provincetown to Cape Ann:

The wind was brisk, from the north-northeast, and we were quite close-hauled to weather Cape Ann. A stiff sharp swell had built up, sending spray over our bow with each sea. But Ishmael has a light steady hand on the helm, and kept us going where we were supposed to go, and seemed to be enjoying himself, so I very gratefully left him to it. I updated the log and pottered away in the cabin -- there is always something to do, on a boat. This observation may already have been made.

About midday we sighted some whales, maybe a half-mile or so away, leaping out of the water and blowing spectacular brilliant white plumes of vapor. Ishmael knows one whale from another, but we were too far away for him to discern what class of whales these were -- but he sus[ected humpbacks. I had never seen whales before, on the water, so this was a red-letter day for me.

As afternoon drew into evening, the wind diminished and the sea became more calm. We soon realized that we weren't going to weather Cape Ann on the starboard tack we'd been on all day, so we decided to anchor somewhere on the south side of the cape.

The place we finally found was a little shallow cove off Emerson Point:

It wasn't a great anchorage -- looked better on the chart than it proved to be in fact. Sheltered only from due north, rocky, narrow. We came in a little close to some nasty-looking rocks just barely submerged, then dropped one anchor and spent the usual fretful ten minutes backing down that anchor line, into deeper water a bit farther from the rocks, before dropping the other.

We drank some of my crummy boat wine and, though I didn't make a note of it at the time, I believe we cooked something to eat. We must have had some fresh food -- I remember that we got a new supply of ice for the cooler in Wellfleet.

Being an old Southern boy, I never feel quite at home unless there's an old grungy blackened cast-iron frying pan somewhere close at hand, and so I have one aboard the Scapegrace:

I think we deployed this household god for dinner, though what we cooked in it is anybody's guess. I'll ask Ishmael next time I see him. Perhaps he will remember. It vexes me when something like this gets lost: the details are everything.

Ishmael's plan was to accompany me all the way to Maine. But after dinner, he got a cell phone call. Family crisis. Cousin in a jam down South. Ishmael wondered whether he needed to cut his sail short and go help out. We kicked the question around inconclusively for half an hour or so, then agreed that we were both dead tired and should defer the matter till tomorrow morning -- there was nothing to be done tonight in any case.

I raised my improvised little anchor light and we turned in.

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