Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Shoals of Nantucket

We woke this morning to no fog, though chilly, breezy, and overcast. Do we go for Nantucket or do we stay? If we time our departure carefully, we should be able to ride a knot or two of westerly current, which would be particularly helpful given the easterly wind that we must beat into for the duration of our winding travels through the Nantucket shoals.

The cruising guide provides this helpful cautionary note. So subjective. Take 'easterly wind'. The Nantucket buoy is telling us 18 kts. out of the ENE. Is that wind proper, or just a breeze? Not strictly out of the east either. Eldridge gives us a knot or two of current at peak ebb. Is that enough to be 'unpleasant'. And just what is 'unpleasant' anyway. Spilling your gin and tonic or knocking the fillings out of your teeth.

Having beat, as in bashed, our way upwind to Nantucket under cold gray skies (I wore wool and foulies in July), we can quantify it a bit better for you. We did not loose any fillings. My eyes are still bouncing around a bit. Something like riding a road bike at speed on the Nantucket cobblestone streets with the tires pumped up to 1000 psi. Still, it was a good time to push Alizée a bit harder than we have to date. She sailed well and fast. Hard on the wind with one reef in, we rarely saw less than 6 knots and stayed mostly around 7. We have to press her to minimize the pounding in these square waves. Though we plowed the bow under several times, the cockpit remained dry. As we cracked off a bit coming into the harbor, I could feel the aft sections starting lift and see the wake flatten out. We never quite took off, 9 knots max, but she was thinking about it.

Sitting on our mooring digesting a celebratory dinner, we are grateful for the weather break this morning and feel we justly earned our right to harbor. Paid our dues we did. We are moored close to the dinghy dock for any easy row in, avoiding the cost of a launch (kinda water taxi) service, which effectively brings the cost the mooring down to the normal New England overpriced category. Nantucket has a strong identity (and brand): quite unique in both character and appearance.

We'll be here for a couple of days before heading back the way we came. The fog has rolled back in and the inlet channel fog horn sounds in the misty distance. The rig and sails have begun to 'sweat'. A small trickle of water runs off the end of the boom and into the cockpit. Tomorrow looks dreary, so we are planning an indoor day, including the whaling museum and, perhaps, laundry :) Nantucket is our oyster, though their oysters are way too expensive for us plebeians to eat.

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