Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Provincetown: The End of Cape Cod

We departed Sandwich, MA without any wind, under motor, over a glassy sea so captain Bill took the opportunity to calibrate Alizée's compass - and North you go, then South, then West, then East, then round and round, slaloming around the lobster buoys to practice the skill before we get to Maine where we are told there are everywhere. By lunch we were pretty sick of hearing the engine so we just turned it off and ... the wind came. Not much, but just enough for Alizée to get going at 5 knots. She does not ask for much before gliding. Getting closer to Provincetown, the heat was so overbearing - despite the awesome helmsman awning Bill built - that it was time to hit the water. How do you jump in and make sure you can swim back as Alizée was moving? Just rig a line with a fender at the end and JUMP!!!! Poor captain stayed in the cockpit for safety reasons but Spence and I so enjoyed cooling off. We were in no rush to go on land with the crazy 85F and 100% humidity. Bill almost had a heat stroke when we arrived.

Awesome awning to cool off
Provincetown, often called 'P-town' is located at the very tip of Cape Cod and is a very diverse and accepting community. The guide even said "you can kiss whoever you want here!". An openly gay community, it seems to also have more foreign visitors - we heard French at least three times there, not once on Martha's Vineyard.

Similar to Nantucket, although not to the same scale, Provincetown was big in the whaling industry. Most of the P-Town whalers came from Portuguese families who kept the industry going when everyone else gave up. Those families' matriarchs are recognized on a very visible wall by the wharf. While Nantucket reinvented itself with tourism after whaling, ptown replaced whaling with arts. The number of art galleries for such a small town is pretty astonishing.

A couple more facts about ptown:
  • the Mayflower first landed here
  • its Pilgrim Memorial Monument - built from 1907 to 1910 is the tallest all-granite structure in the US. The granite came from Stonington, Maine which we will visit later. Its internal stairwell is well worth the 116 steps. The 360 view from atop was phenomenal.
  • it is close to the fertile whale feeding grounds on Stellwagen Bank where we got to see fin and humpback whales showing off. Hopefully the two videos below will show in the blog.
Pilgrim Memorial Monument (day)
Pilgrim Memorial Monument (night)
View from the Pilgrim Memorial Monument
    Can you find Alizée from the top of the monument?
    She is the only one with a yellow hull!

4 whales (4th blows)

Spencer, Cath, Barry, Ronan and Captain Bill
The best part of our P-Town stay was our friend Barry visiting with his 11-year old son Ronan from Boston via the 90 min high-speed ferry with their bikes. We rented bikes and joined them on the amazing biking trail through the dune Beech forest and the beaches. To beat the heat again, we all went on Alizée to jump off the boat and cool down afterwards.
Beech Forest biking trails
Race Beach

This ends the Cape Cod part of our journey. Do you know why Cape Cod is called Cape Cod? Originally, there was so much cod in here that you did not even have to get on a boat to fish.

Spencer returned to Boulder yesterday to get ready for his job in August. We'll miss him but, hey Spence, I grabbed my first mooring solo today without dropping the hook in the water (yea me), so I think I need another accomplishment certificate to supplement the "sailing Puff solo" one you gave me :)

This morning we left ptown at the crack of dawn to catch as much wind as we could on our way to Gloucester. Luckily it was not a foggy morning like many of them.

Foggy mornings
After an 8 hour sweet sail - more wind and, more importantly, better direction than expected - we are now taking a nap (well one is, the other one is catching up on blogging!) moored in Gloucester, MA, where we plan to stream The Perfect Storm tonight (if we can make it through) to honor the filming location.

Our Boston family gang - Jon Eric and Sherine - will come down to check on us and hunt for lobster rolls tomorrow. We love visitors!


  1. You'll have a couple more squatters in a couple weeks! And we'll be hard to get rid of!

  2. Can't wait! But first we need to get to Maine so we can scout the area before you and David get here. Captain talking about an overnight to speed things up!

  3. Sounds like you guys are having a great time. We had fun on our cruise up into British Columbia on Raven. You asked in a previous post about the availability of information on currents in the Pacific Northwest. Yes, all major passes, "rapids", canals, narrows, and straits have good data available. Some of the smaller ones you have to do a little guessing.

    Is Alizee behaving as expected? How are boat speed and tacking angles?

    1. Hey Jim! Sitting in Tenants harbor sipping coffee and watching the lobster boats disappear into the fog. Not a bad morning. Alizée, roughly speaking, does 1/2 the wind speed in the 4-10 knot range. When it's really light, we should move weight forward and to leeward, but that's not practical for cruising. We fly the kite almost everyday. Under 10 kts, we seem to do best wearing downwind through about 70 degrees. I'm not quite sure what the tacking angle is exactly. I did measure our over ground angle to be 94 so with 3 degrees of leeway we'd be tacking through 88. More-or-less. Close hauled, we reef at 15 and then again at 18, true. Just the main. Haven't had much more than that. Down wind, were fast enough that we can keep the spinnaker up through 18 kts true, but then it becomes work. I can fly it by hand for a few hours, but then I need a break. Cheers!


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