Early Wednesday morning, Swifts Neck, Wareham, MA
The Sun is just below the horizon. Its reddish gold glow illuminates thin streaks of silvery clouds over Tempest Knob. A gentle northern breeze funnels its way down the Wareham River, swinging Ginger Lee on her mooring, allowing me a perfect view of the spectacle from the aft deck. With steaming cup of coffee in hand, I take it all in, vowing to never forget its beauty, at least until the next perfect sunrise. It’s already 72 degrees. “It’s gonna be a hot one” I say aloud to myself.
“Coffee’s ready Hon,” I announce. My way of saying: please get up, I’d love to get going soon. Yawns emanate from the berth, and soon my wife’s small feet hit the floor. She doesn’t ask the time. We have tucked our watches away in a drawer and turned off the old brass ships clock for the duration of our trip. We won’t need them, don’t want them. It’s a luxury we are treating ourselves to.
“I saw a red sky last night,” she says as she joins me on the aft deck. Sailors delight,” I finish the age-old adage. “Good coffee,” she says sweetly, and I agree. “I’ve finally figured out that old percolator. You have to wet the screen before adding the coffee. It keeps the crunch factor down to near zero.”
The Sun, now free from its bedding, washes over us, warming our faces and arms. Momentarily, we fall under its spell.
“Let’s go boating!” I gush, breaking out of my trance.
We both have our own jobs to do before getting underway. Susan readies Salty II, our 12 foot aluminum dinghy , attaching a bridle line to the floating tow painter.
I climb up to the fly-bridge and remove three Gullsweeps, then go out to the fore deck and cut away the fishing line I have strung across the bow rail to keep the birds away. Susan now preps the mooring pennant, the mast buoy, and clips our custom-made dog burgee onto the bow staff. The whole process takes all of five minutes.
“Lighting ’em up” I shout, and hit the starters. Both engines, which we have named Castor and Pollux, fire right up and settle into a nice 800 rpm rumble. I scan the gauges and they all look pretty good. Leaning over the transom railing, I check the flow of water coming out of the exhaust. “Good boys,” I say, then return to the helm, flash two thumbs up, and Susan slips the mooring lines off the bitt. We are floating free.
After rounding can 15 into the Wareham River channel, I bring the engines up to 1200 rpm and hand the helm over to my wife. She is the open water, long distance driver, and I am the close quarters, finesse driver. Time-wise, this may not seem like an equitable division of labor when you consider she sometimes spends many hours at the wheel, but I don’t just sit around eating bon-bons. I do stuff too! Like chart our course, arrange dockage, wash dishes, make the bed, vacuum floors and generally clean up. There’s always something to do on a boat. Anyway, this is the routine we have settled into.
Ginger Lee is doing a whopping 6 MPH as we leave the protection of Sippican Neck. Not a typo folks; this is a slow boat! We steel ourselves for the usual 3 foot Buzzards Bay swells but they never come. In fact it’s surprisingly flat.
The wind turbine at the Mass Maritime Academy is barely turning as we motor under the railroad bridge and enter the Cape Cod Canal. The tide is flowing in our direction and soon we are doing 14 MPH even after throttling all the way down to the minimum 600 RPM. Normally, Canal Control will scold boats breaking the 10 MPH speed limit, but today they are leaving us alone. I can only assume it’s because there is only one other boat in the canal and we are not leaving a wake. Jeez! I’d have to use reverse to slow the boat down!
10:00 am Bourne MA
I love going through the Cape Cod Canal with its lush greenery and nice houses. A paved path along both sides of the entire length is well used by walkers, joggers, skaters, bikers, and what I call “cycling fishermen”. They rig their bicycles with coolers and rod holders, sometimes carrying as many as six fishing rods. Dozens of them spend the entire day fishing off the large rocks that line the canal. We toss them all friendly waves as we pass; they mostly all wave back.
The Sun is streaming in, warming the cabin so much that I need to open every window and hatch. When a colorful Monarch butterfly flits across the windshield, I know Neptune has blessed us with the good Ju-Ju. I feel great! Downright giddy. Susan senses my joy and threatens to jump overboard if I start dancing. Okay. I can’t dance. I freely admit it. So I break out into a song! She rolls her eyes, but thank goodness she stays on the boat.
All around us, the water is swirling in unpredictable eddy’s, reflecting greenish beams of light off the salon headliner. “Washing machine!” I warn Susan, but she is already deftly cutting through it, ruddering hard to port, then quickly correcting to starboard. “Not so bad,” she answers. You get used to this sort of thing cruising around Buzzards Bay. Ask anyone who has entered Onset Harbor, or gone through the Woods Hole Cut, where the nuns and cans lean at a forty-five degree angle from the intense current twisting through.
On the eastern end of the canal, the Sagamore Bridge is being serviced and workmen are climbing through scaffolding set up underneath. Above, there are lane restrictions. “It must be a mess up there,” I comment. On any given Summer day, the Sagamore’s constant flow of traffic on route 6, the Cape’s main highway, is absolutely crazy. I will avoid it like the plague this time of year.
“Not much traffic down here,” I say as we glide under the massive span, past the power plant, the Harbor of Refuge, and out into beautiful Cape Cod Bay. From here it’s a straight line course to Scituate Harbor, our next stop. The seas are running less than one foot, the wind negligible. This is very, very good.
The old familiar New England summertime phrase, Triple H, perfectly describes the weather conditions today: Hazy, hot and humid. I love it, but November Bob, the computer generated voice on the VHF weather channel WX1, is being a wicked bummer, warning us of a possible thunderstorm mid afternoon. Hopefully, before then, we will be in Situate, safely tied to our rented mooring float.