From the log book: July 5 2017 9:10 AM “We start the Great Loop from Zecco’s fuel dock. 86.3 gallons.” And then my favorite part: “Tranquil boating weather.”
The boat has been in the water since April. You’d think that sometime in the past 3 months I would have found time to fuel up. Nope. Gotta get fuel, too bad it’s in the opposite direction we want to go. Ah well, it’s a sweet morning and there is no hurry. So after fueling up, we once again say good-bye to our Swifts Neck mooring as we head southwest.
Even at this early hour there are a couple of boats anchored off Long Beach, Wareham’s popular party beach that disappears completely twice a day. Countless unsuspecting non-locals have anchored too close and found themselves high and dry for a complete tide cycle. It’s always entertaining. Good-bye Long Beach. See ya next year.
Todays destination is F.L Tripps in Westport Point, Ma., a full service marina tucked behind Horseneck Beach near the Rhode Island border. We set the throttles to a blistering 7 MPH and hang on. Even the sailboats pass us. But who cares? We’re on Great Loop time! There are no schedules to make, no appointments to keep, and nothing to do except watch the world go by. It’s amazing how quickly one can get used to going so slow.
When cruising from point A to point B in open waters, boring is good. You want to be bored out of your skull. When there’s no engine problems, no bilge alarms, and no warning lights flashing, it’s a good day.
We round Bird Island light and set a westerly straight line course to our first waypoint Hen and Chickens, a group of dangerous rocks that lay just outside of Horseneck Beach. You can see some of them, but most of them lurk just below the waterline waiting for unsuspecting mariners to smash their hulls. Not to worry though, the channel around them is well-marked and we’ve been there before plenty of times. It should be a nice, boring, four-hour trip.
“What do we got for snacks?” I ask
“We got apples.”
“Apples it is!” I said and leave the comfort of my passenger seat to tend to it. The XO likes hers cut up in dainty wedges. I handle the knife carefully so as not to slice my hand and ruin our first day with a trip to the emergency room.
ER doctor: “So, Mr. Coraccio, exactly how did you cut off your thumb?
Captain Rick: “Well Doc. I was cutting an apple for my wife…”
I actually worry about this shit. Maybe a year on this vessel, afloat on Gods vast waterways, where even the tiniest infraction could mean disaster, will cure me of such insignificant fears.
My wife asked me what I hoped for, during this trip.
“What a great question,” was my first thought. “Definitely not one I can answer right away,” was my second thought. “Did she mean spiritually, or accomplishment-wise?” While munching on my apple, I thought about it. Food for though so-to-speak. On the spiritual side, a few thoughts entered my mind: become a better person, a better man, a better husband. Look for the good in everyone. All the things many of us strive for. I went with a more relevant answer.
“For one thing, I’d like to become a better mariner,” I said, and I think that surprised her. She is the long distance, open water helmsman, and I take the helm for the close quarters stuff, like mooring, anchoring, and docking. Been like that for years.
“You seem to be doing alright.”
“It’s mostly the docking part,” I said. We just don’t do a heck of a lot of it. In our home port we keep Ginger Lee on a mooring so I’ve gotten pretty good at mooring the boat. But in our boating area, which is primarily southern New England, slips are wicked expensive, sometimes 4 or 5 bucks a foot per night, so if we can’t anchor, we rent a mooring instead. The only time I get to dock is when we need fuel.
In the early afternoon we leave Buzzards Bay, round Gooseberry Neck, and enter the Westport Harbor Channel. To me, this is one of the most scenic channels in New England. I am all eyes. Off to the port side, a fancy castle-like mansion perches on the rocky point called The Knubble. To starboard, the white sands of popular Horseneck beach arches east for nearly two nautical miles, and is dotted with people, colorful umbrellas, and pop-up cabanas. Again, to port, small cottages on the curved shoreline of Acoaxet grab my attention. Many of them have one unusual thing in common: roll-up garage doors that when opened, expose the complete interior to this amazing seaside scene. Again, to the starboard side, two fishermen stand ankle-deep right next to the red buoys that define the edge of the narrow channel.
“Tide’s low,” I said as I nudge Ginger Lee more towards the middle. The XO approves.
“Yeah, let’s stay off the nuns.”
The strong reversing current makes anchoring foolish. Nobody does it here. Everyone grabs a mooring at F.L Tripps. I set my sights on mooring number 77, no fool I. We glide past it 50 yards or so, turn around, and slowly approach against the current. With a boat hook the XO snags the float, pulls it up over the bow, and throws the loop onto the bitt. It’s 2:04 PM
“We’re in,” I said and shut down the motors and the electronics.
Quiet time. Those few moments after shutting down is quite spiritual. Without the drone of the engines, the water induced movement, and the squawking radio, everything seems so still. The world exhales. I open all the windows, feel the warm breeze on my face, observe the herons, gulls, and osprey plying the shallows, and hear the sounds of a nice summer day.