Friday, September 13, 2013

Homeward bound, Day Three: A good run

Above, Pepperell Cove as it appeared early in the morning of Day Three (George's photo). That was a very handsome boat next to us.

We popped across the river to the Portsmouth Yacht club for an eye-opener Martini.

(Of course that's a lie. The PYC operates a very efficient and easily-accessed fuel dock, and we got our tank topped up, sans Martinis. But there's something about the phrase 'yacht club' that seems so out of keeping with my particular kind of sailing that I can't resist these puerile jokes.)

The wind was more or less from the west, so thirty seconds after we left the fuel dock, we had the jib up, and sailed majestically down the Piscataqua estuary with the following wind, fortunately at the very tail of the ebb. (I'm told the tidal current hereabouts is as bad as the Hudson.) This was sheer dumb luck; I hadn't checked the tables, or known how strong the current can be.

Once we were out in the open water we raised the main -- reefed, because the wind seemed pretty brisk -- and bounced along on a beam reach for the next three hours or so, which brought us into the lee of Cape Ann.

There, the wind got very fluky and frustrating, so we ran a couple miles offshore, shook out the reef, and picked up the wind again. It had come a little southerly, so we thought we'd head for Provincetown -- no coarse humor here, please.

That proved perfectly feasible, and in fact we pegged the tiller and adjusted the sails just so and brother GPS told us we were headed right for those famous fleshpots, so we made lunch and relaxed and let the boat sail herself.

This is my idea of sailing, actually.

A bit later I checked our heading and discovered that the wind had veered west again, and now, without any effort on our part, we were headed straight for Sandwich, the entrance to the Cape Cod canal, not that much farther away and very much more on our way.

So we acceded to our good fortune and took turns popping our heads up every few minutes, to check for shipping and fishing boats and so on, through the afternoon and evening and night. We arrived about a mile or two from Sandwich at four AM the following morning, almost literally without touching a sheet -- though I can't resist the occasional tweak, like one of those annoying guys who always pokes the fire about five minutes before he needs to.

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