Monday, July 4, 2011

Sailing Day Five - Wood's Hole and Hadley's Harbor

Wood's Hole is the main passageway between Vineyard Sound and Buzzard's Bay. It is relatively narrow, with several turns, and a strong current. Worrier that I am, I make sure to read all about it in our navigation book the night before. This has both good and bad points. It's good because I know what we should and should not do. It's bad because the scary-sounding warnings put me on high alert. No fog! Avoid times of maximum current! Okay, let's go.

We don't get very far toward our first mark as we head across Vineyard Sound before we head into what appears to be a large fog bank. "I think that's fog", I comment anxiously. Lee isn't convinced, and besides we're still quite a ways from Woods Hole. I'm like the boy who cried wolf to him on a sailboat, since I nervously see danger at every turn.

Of course it IS fog, so we have to turn around. Our plan at this point is to zig and zag between a couple of marks until it lifts, which fortunately doesn't take that long.

The second thing that happens is that the wind picks up. It's not long before it's blowing 15 knots or more. We have both our jib and mainsail up, and this turns out to be a little much for our group of inexperienced sailors, not to mention the dishes that we left drying all over the kitchen counter that proceed to go flying across the galley when we start to really heel. Well, sheesh, Lee and I ought to know better than that!

Once we drop the jib and sail with only the main, things become much more manageable. We sail the remainder of the way across the sound without incident.

I'm steering, so Lee goes below to plot our course through Woods Hole. There's a series of markers, and two different passageways we can choose. Lee chooses what appears to be the larger passage. He has been through Wood's Hole before during his cruising course and for this I'm very glad, because at first glance it is intimidating indeed. The ferries streaming past us in the narrow passage don't help.

Lee has written navigational notes on a post-it note, but when we change positions and he takes that helm they make no sense to me and of course I have to go look at the chart. But we do okay. We check off the markers one by one, changing our heading at each turn until we are through the hole. Yay! We made it! The entrance to Hadley's Harbor is now in view.

Hadley's Harbor is quiet and serene. A string of small private islands surround the harbor, where a few mooring balls are available for free, first come, first serve. We have no trouble getting a place to moor, however, since it is still early in the season.

It's beautiful here. Rustic old houses peek through the trees. Children swim and play on a distant dock. Little wooden boats and grand yachts calmly share this space.

It's time for Harper's evening walk, so Lee and I jump in the dinghy and head to shore. There Harper encounters her first live horse, as it comes ambling down the dirt path. No bridle and no human accompany the horse, but then I guess on a quiet little island there's no need to worry about it running away.

Harper watches the horse with interest, and respect. Then the horse snorts loudly as it passes by. Harper jumps about a foot, and then trots on nonchalantly, preserving her doggie dignity.

A little further on we come upon a doe and her fawn. They see us right away, so I stop and watch them for a bit. When we continue to walk toward them they turn and disappear from our view.

I don't think Harper ever sees them, but when we get closer she can certainly smell them. She goes into a bit of a frenzy, sniffing madly, but the deer are long gone.

The wind rocks the boat gently this night. Our last day will be a 15 mile trek back across Buzzard's Bay to Fairhaven. With the amount of wind we're getting, this should take no time at all.

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