Editor's note: Here's a blog post from delivery skipper Charlie Agnew on a New England spring time delivery south from Maine. With warm temperatures and regular boating having arrived in most of the country weeks ago, this exercise in cool weather sailing may sound a little unusual for many readers! You can find Charlie's blog here.
How mean, then nice, the ocean can be! A short piece on a delivery from Portland, Maine, to Stamford, Conn.
The start of this spring delivery consisted of a good butt-kicking in the gulf of Maine. Gryphon (Swan44) sailed from Casco Bay on a fine early May morning, clear blue skies, light breeze, a welcoming to the waters. The weather and conditions slowly digressed over the day to a less than ideal 40 knots of cold southerlies with 3-5 foot seas and eventually some hard driving rain. We had squeezed in a nice lunch-time barbeque which we were pumped about until that all came flying back, literally, later in the day.
Laying the Cape Cod Canal became impossible and with conditions as they were, an undesirable push for us. Checking the charts we saw Cape Ann as a good bailout point, and due to our reduced crew strength, a necessary stopping point. We cracked off the wind and began visualizing the comforts of food and rest for the night. Our cruising guides mysteriously covered about all of the New England coast EXCEPT Boston to Maine. We knew a normal harbor of refuge choice would have been Gloucester, but we put a call in to the Ipswich Harbormaster to try to gain some insight on anchorages in the area north of Cape Ann. Surprisingly we were able to reach the Ipswich Harbormaster by cell phone, him being at home at 2030 on a Wednesday eve. He was great and offered us plenty of local info, advised on the concern for sand bars in Ipswich bay and the more obvious choice of finding a mooring in Gloucester. We decided to poke in to Ipswich bay which was well protected from the hard blowing southerly and see if we could make that work. This would save us some time getting in and out on our way again. We chose an depth area of 16-18’ west of the channel outside Annisquam Harbor with a sand bottom. We dropped the hook ~65' of chain and got her set in not too long of order, and proceeded to set up our chartplotter to track our movement, and add alarms for both depth and movement outside a small anchor swing radius. This gave us some confidence in catching a snooze with several anchor checks planned throughout the night. Despite the winds, the anchor held solid, no alarms, and we woke to a beautiful morning all alone in Ipswich Bay.
This day the winds shifted from the south to NW and as we rounded Cape Ann heading south to the Canal, the breeze filled in and we had a beautiful eight hours of close reach sailing through Stellwagen Bank and Cape Cod bay. This was very refreshing and kicked off a 30 hour stretch of smooth sailing all the way down to Stamford. The night watches were quiet, chilly, but tolerable, and the following day brought more NW breeze and some close hauled motor sailing down the Long Island Sound.
This was a great finish to a rough starting trip, arriving in Stamford at 1430 (elapsed 52 hours), time to fuel, pack up, and put the good ship Gryphon to bed before a great weekend of partying for the commissioning of the Stamford Yacht Club, 2013!