Jump to content

Around Cape Ann, MA, USA, solo Sept 17 2003

Guest guest

Recommended Posts

I had a great trip going around around Cape Ann yesterday, starting at about 9:15 EDT from the public boat ramp behind Gloucester High School. Low tide was 9:57, high tide 4:18. Forecast winds were 4kts from the NW, shifting to 10kts from the east. The forecast came true.

The town of Gloucester gets $5.00 in an honor-system envelope for use of the ramp and parking lot. Bring exact change -- I had to go someplace to break a twenty. I asked a harbormaster whether they were collecting; he said they indeed were. The sign on the parking lot says "cars with boat trailers only" -- I made sure my roofrack and ropes were evident, and wasn't hassled. It's possible things might be different on a busy summer day.

This was my first time in Cape Ann waters; I have spent a lot of time around Plum Island and Newburyport.

I got back about 5:15, just after the tide turned in the Blynham Canal.

Man, things in the recreational boating world SHUT DOWN on labor day. I didn't see a single jetski all day. Hooray.

It took me about 50 min to get to the Annisquam Harbor Light. Things were very quiet on the Annisquam; no sounds at all except those of carpenters working on some of the mansions along the river. Coming out into the Gulf of Maine, I saw what looked like breakers, but when I got closer they turned out to be about a foot high. The weather was very clear, and I could see all the way up to the hills near Newburyport.

Heading east towards Halibut Point was great. Shorebirds, a couple of lobster boats, swells under two feet breaking on the shore. Being new to this water I couldn't help the impression that the coves look like construction sites, with huge breakwaters made of stone blocks.

At the tip of Halibut Point is a heap of granite that looks like it's human in origin. There were several pairs of lovers wandering around on the shore rocks enjoying the beautiful end-of-summer day.

All the guidebooks say to beware of confused waves off Halibut Point. Those waves were very minor, but I can see how they might be horrendous if there was actually a swell.

I rounded Halibut Point about 11 and headed south into Sandy Bay (Rockport). The coastline past Andrews Point becomes more and more forbidding. Pigeon Cove's huge breakwater walls look like an ancient temple built by legions of slaves; so does the aptly named Granite Pier. The swell was very small so I paddled close in to the shoreline, and caught glimpses of what it must be like to be wealthy in the shoreline houses.

Lunch break at about noon on the beach just SW of Granite Pier. Nobody bothered me about landing there; it must be OK in the offseason.

I set out at 12:30 to Straightsmouth Gap and thence to Thacher's Island, arriving about 1:15. The swell picked up to two-plus feet as I passed through Straightsmount (of course Hurricane Isabel was churning the Atlantic several hundred miles south).

Landing on the boat ramp on Thacher's was easy -- a swell pushed me up, then drained out through the wooden slats leaving me high and dry.

The couple who are the Island Keepers were there with a big crew of workers (including volunteers and some paid carpenters) mowing lawns and renovating one of the houses, and they were very gracious and welcoming. Apparently the boat ramp was destroyed in the Halloween Storm and was only rebuilt recently, and as the keeper said, the houses fell into "rack and ruin." But, it looks really delightful now. I'd say a camping trip out there is in my future. The folks caring for the Island seem to be engaged in a labor of love: making it into a really nice place to visit.

I hung out for a while, just walking around and enjoying the place, and finally took off about 2:30. The swells were picking up, to about three feet; typical afternoon.

I passed Milk Island about ten minutes later. I decided not to land, and proceeded on to Brier Neck. I passed outside Salt Island and Good Harbor, then followed the coastline southwest.

The coastline sure is beautiful there. I'm used to Plum Island and Cape Code-style beach coastlines; the rocky shore is new. I found myself lollygagging and sightseeing, and a few times had to discipline myself, saying to myself, OK, 100 hard double strokes now, 1-and-2-and-3-and .... or I'd never get back to the high school.

When I passed Brace Cove I could see the Boston skyline in the far distance. I passed the lighthouse on Eastern Point at about 4pm, rounded Dogbar Jetty, and paddled north into the harbor. After a long day, I was starting to drag a bit.

Gloucester Harbor was almost deserted. A couple of big trawlers passed me, and the NOAA vessel Thomas Jefferson, a large oceanographic research vessel, was riding quietly at anchor, with somebody playing rock and roll on a boombox.

I passed under the drawbridge behind a couple of big fishing boats. You know how it says, "No wake -- headway speed only" on the canal wall? Well, it must not apply to big fishing boats -- the worst waves I had all day were in the canal.

As I came up to the boat ramp behind the high school, I could hear the football team practicing ... the tweet of the whistle and some kind of thumping sound.

Great trip! Best possible weather! Beautiful waters.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...