Every summer we treat ourselves to an extended boat trip, and this year is no different. We will cruise as usual, but thanks to the economy, cruising has gotten a lot easier. Allow me to explain: Way back in the stone age, when fossil fuel was cheaper than bottled water, there were many happy boaters blissfully feeding their big V-8 engines with many gallons of high-octane. Marinas everywhere were filled to capacity. I had to carefully plan and make reservations way ahead of time, I’m talkin’ months in advance. Then the cost of fuel spiked astronomically and we lost many boaters. So many, in fact, that it is no longer necessary to reserve dockage so far in advance. I still like to reserve whenever possible, but the day before is usually enough time. It’s kinda exciting to wing it.
The XO: “Where are we cruising this year?”
So we packed up our stuff, loaded it onto our boat Ginger Lee, and headed out. In order for us to go north from Wareham, we must first go east through the Cape Cod Canal.
When traversing the canal in a slow boat like ours, it’s important to time our trip so that the water is pushing us along. Fighting the strong current can knock our speed down to 2 MPH and literally waste a boatload of diesel.
Near the canals eastern end, there is a marina with a fuel dock. A fellow boater told us he took a slip there once, and the wave action was so bad, that his wife cried all night. Ever since then, the XO has dubbed it The Harbor of Tears. I really like that moniker. I may even write a song about it.
We didn’t hit the current exactly right and only averaged about 5 MPH, which is not so bad. Hey, it’s a gorgeous July morning, and we’re on vacation.
Along the way, we amuse ourselves with our new toy: AIS (Automatic Identification System.) This gizmo is sort of like radar only better. Radar will show other ships and aids to navigation as a ‘blip’ on a screen, AIS will show the blip, the name of the vessel, its registration numbers; its length, beam, and draft; its position, speed, and destination. It also transmits our information to everyone, just like airplanes do. We’re not invisible anymore, unless we want to be by simply turning it off. It all ties into the Coast Guard MMSI (Marine Mobile Service Identity) system.
“But Rick,” you ask. “Why is this good?”
“Well, dear reader,” I answer suavely. “Because, God forbid, if there was a serious problem on this vessel, all we need to do is push a single emergency button on our radio and the Coast Guard would instantly know who we are and where we are.”
After a few hours the lighthouse on Gurnet Point comes into view. This iconic nav aid guards Plymouth Bay, and I figure this is as far as I care to travel today. I call the Plymouth Yacht Club and arrange for an overnight mooring, but the first leg of our trip is not over yet. To get to Plymouth Harbor, we must wind our way through the notorious shifting shoals, and it very near low tide.