It’s late September. The time of year when South Coast boaters must come to grips with the horrible notion that the boating season is nearly over. Exactly when depends on the fickle forces of nature, and ones tolerance for chillier temperatures. Boating has never been strictly a warm weather activity, but jeez, it’s so much better in shorts.
In New England, a wicked bad snow storm can happen anytime between October and March. I’ll keep an eye on the weather to see how long we can cruise before I have to put ol’ Ginger Lee on the hard and cover her in a shrink-wrap blanket for the Winter.
We are in Onset Bay, Massachusetts, hanging off a town mooring. This afternoon the temperature is in the mid seventies and the sun is shining brightly. I’ll take it! Will I be swimming today? No. Unless I fall in. For now, I’m comfortable sitting on the aft deck in my shorts and tee-shirt. There won’t be too many more warm days like this.
As soon as the sun drops below the trees, I need to fire up the heater to stave off the nighttime chill.
I am excited about our trip to Scituate tomorrow morning. We will transit the Cape Cod Canal and head North up the coast for about three hours. Ginger Lee hasn’t seen the other side of the ditch for a couple of years now.
The morning brings us cloudless skies and calm winds. Warm, wonderful sunlight streams into the salon, drying the fog on the windshield. We watch the osprey hunt while sipping hot mugs of strong coffee.
“Ready?” I ask after a while.
“Sure,” the XO answers, draining that last drop. Still in her plaid pajamas she makes her way to the bow, drops the mooring pennant, and we are underway, boating in our pee-jays.
The current in the Canal will be working slightly against us, but since it will be hours before it swings the other way, we’ll just have to power through in order to catch the favorable northern winds on the other side.
As expected, we fight the swirling current in the Canal, barely making 5 knots until we round the breakwater in Cape Cod Bay, where a decent northerly catches us and sends us speeding along at a breakneck 8 MPH. The seas are running one to two feet and going our way, pushing us along smartly.
All winter long we pray for that first sixty degree day. When it finally happens, we open our windows and run outside and do stuff in short sleeves. Right now it’s seventy degrees inside the salon, yet I close the windows, turn on the heat, and dig out a pair of socks and a sweatshirt. The air has definitely lost that summertime feeling.
Off our port beam, between us and Gurnet Point, a fisherman in a white and grey lobster boat toils away. A cloud of seagulls swirl over his wake. To starboard, a lone sail breaks the horizon. We wonder where she’s heading.
“Can’t be P’Town. She’s way too North.”
“Ocean crossing? Canadian Maritimes? Greenland?” we romanticize, wishing we could talk to its captain. It would be nice to know the destination, but mostly it would help pass the time. I’ve already washed the dishes, made the bed, vacuumed, and repaired the shower head.
All around the friendly ocean sparkles, whitecaps paint the tips of a wave or two, just to add a touch of scenic beauty. The big houses on the rocky shoreline catch our attention. From our vantage point a nautical mile away, erosion is an obvious problem for many of them. A few look as though they could topple into the sea at any moment.
Finally, Scituate Harbor is in sight. Suddenly, Pollux, our port side engine, drops out of sync with his twin brother Castor. I’m so attuned to their consistent hum, and in general, all noises on this boat, the effect is immediate and dramatic. Time stops. Something is definitely wrong. Boaters hate when stuff goes wrong; when at sea, everything is potentially life threatening. The left tachometer drops to 900 RPM, holds for a few seconds, then plummets to zero. Oh crap. Pollux has stopped running!
It’s not the first time we’ve come into port on one engine, but I am concerned. I try a restart. No joy. I can tell by the momentary movement of the oil pressure and temperature gauges that Pollux most likely still retains his life-giving fluids. No time to fully diagnose the problem; we are in the entrance channel. “Let’s get a mooring and figure it out later. There’s not much else we can do.” I contact the launch service and request a mooring. The captain instructs me follow her through the crowded mooring field, but with the strong current and gusty wind, I quickly realize that maneuvering Ginger Lee on one engine is gonna be a problem. Even with the rudders hard to the left, she refuses to respond. I look out at all the expensive boats between us and our rented mooring, cross my fingers, say a prayer to Neptune, and hit the starter button. To my surprise and relief, Pollux fires right up and stays running! Just like their namesake mythical twins, Castor has transferred his immortality to Pollux in order to save us all.
Whew! it’s just a clogged fuel filter. My bad. I let one of the fuel tanks empty to less than one eighth before switching to another. Some crud probably got sucked into the system after hitting a wave. I change the filters on both engines as well as the big Racor unit. After bleeding the fuel lines, both engines are singing happily.
We get a wonderful spot close to the Northern shore and the picturesque lighthouse. Later on, we ride our bikes through the Cedar Point neighborhood beside the massive sea wall. There is no sandy beach here so the residents simply perch on the rocks.
It’s always hard to leave beautiful Scituate Harbor with its dramatic skies, amazing scenery, and friendly people. Hopefully we will visit again soon.
The weather gods smile on us the whole way home. And we catch the good current through the Canal to boot! Is this our last cruise for the season? If so, it is a worthy one.