... it comes with a portage now.
After a short night with much fretting, my alarm clock signaled its already awake owner that a decision needed to be made. Stay or go?
Recently equipped with a boat that just eats up miles, I had been eyeing a Cape Ann circumnavigation for the last few weeks. NOAA predicted southwesterly and later northwesterly winds at around 10 kn w gusts of 20 kn, < 1 ft seas. The Windfinder Superforecast predicted mellower winds at 6-15 from WSW, then W, then NNW. Of course I chose the lighter forecast! Go!
Tip: To avoid my endless going on about platitudes, skip to the link at the bottom!
Trip planning focused on the morning crux and the noon crux, the Annisquam northward and Blynman Canal and Annisquam, again northward, respectively, as well as parking restrictions during COVID.
I chose Long Wharf and this early had the place to myself. With a 7:45 put in, the Jones River and Annisquam River carried me northwards with a 1.17 kn current, a nice easy warm up for a tired weekend warrior.
I quickly found my rhythm with a nice push from a WSWerly along the SW-NE-axis that the north shore of Cape Ann follows.
It was immense fun ticking off all the points around Cape Ann on a list next to a miniature Cape Ann chart on my foredeck and finding that google pedometer was quite accurate.
Coming around Andrews Point, I was greeted with a stunning view to the SE, the Straitsmouth Gap and Island with the two Thatcher I. lighthouses behind with the W wind just picking up and the sun glistening off the rough surface of Sandy Bay in the foreground.
I was surprised at the exceptional rock play possibilities between Straightsmouth and Emerson point and then again between Good Harbor Beach and Eastern point, especially the latter segment. Well worth a dedicated rock play trip S from GHB! I couldn’t help myself running some passages in passing.
Lower back pain and right leg numbness after sitting in the boat for 3 hours forced me to make a quick stretch landing in a slot. Amazing what 7 minutes can do for your musculoskeletal and nervous system. No symptoms after that.
Next was rounding the Gloucester Harbor breakwater and pushing N across an essentially empty Gloucester Harbor to the entrance of Blynman canal, through which I proceeded at a combined speed of 8 mph.
Approaching the railway bridge (which, in retrospect, has “Bridge under construction” written next to it, so I guess I was forewarned), I noticed a police boat...with lights flashing. Construction was obviously under way. My heart sank. The two officers declined to “let me sneak through real quick”. OK, in that case I would just quickly add Cape Ann CCW, until someone who shall remain unnamed said “if you go over there [a few hundred yards W] and quickly carry the kayak over the tracks, you’ll be gone before they can get to you”.
Looking at the unappetizing portage, I again pleaded with the officers that I was parked at Long Wharf and that this would “mess up my time” (big shrug) and if they could let me portage across the relatively flat construction area under the bridge (“they’re welding there”, accompanied by a head shake).
I had little stomach for the relatively steep, rocky way up and the very steep, thorny, bouldery way down the other side. Without a choice, I quickly portaged twice before “they got to me” and, back in my boat, was rewarded by an against wind and current scenario. The S flowing Annisquam flood current back to Long Wharf was always going to be unavoidable if I wanted to be carried N through the narrow Blynman Canal (a must).
A sharp left at GC 17 and the flooding Jones River carried me back towards Long Wharf with speed.
Around 22 statute miles, 4:56:23 including a 7 minute stretch break, pleading with two (otherwise very friendly) cops and a nasty little portage that resulted in my new boat’s first scratches. My goal was under 4:30:00. Next time maybe.