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Gloucester Harbor - 9/28 SNG


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Late start...

Eleven went out, eight came back.

Goal of the day was to play in the waves, swells and rocks. Couldn't keep from grinning the whole day - what a blast!


(PS - perhaps someone else would like to "flesh" this out... Christopher?? - we all know I can't estimate the swell size!)

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Suzanne is right in her counting! 11 actually launched from the greasy pole, became 13 for an short while (father Cooper giving Cooper junior some wave experience! Good job!), then later became 8 after 3 decided wisely to bag any further adventures after our stop at Magnolia (smelly beach! and you mean people actually big money to live with that?)

The raison d'etre was simply to play in waves, swells, rocks, whatever we could find...we put in on an almost-glassy, foggy, inner harbour; but soon discovered some minor swells along the western perimeter. The fog was lifting, with visibility of between a quarter-of-a-mile (perhaps) and a mile, early in our trip. This later became more uniformly a quarter- to half-a-mile during the morning, with some periods of only a few hundred yards.

As we got closer to the ocean, the swells progressively increased, until at Norman's Friendly Cafe, we stopped for a double espresso and played among the big swells that were pounding the outer side of the rock (whoah!! Woe? Woe!). These were refracting around the island, exactly as they did for me a couple of weeks ago, but on a larger, grander scale! On the northwestern side, the waves coming in from the south were meeting those refracted waves and causing some nice playful conditions. Sitting patiently among the swells on the , some of us had to await messrs. Luby, Crangle and others who were playing ! It was growing increasingly, grinningly FUN! We had a surprise visit from Ken Cooper and his son who stayed but a short time before they left us to continue on their own itinerary. That young man looked very comfortable in the rough water. Visibility was poor for the remains of the trip, with the hooting of buoys constantly in our ears (when not clogged with saltwater).

We had thought of landing on Kettle, but never made it beyond the aforementioned Magnolia. A few of our number were finding conditions somewhat "fun" and decided to stay put there. Even our landing and launching off "stinky beach" caused many of us to ship sand and water in our boats...there were some beautifully-shaped waves flowing into the bay, there, too. We were observed through the fog by sundry speckled 'tators along the coastal road, who probably adjudged us mad dogs and Englishmen out in the midday gloom (they were right, too, weren't they?)!!

We had even more fun on the return trip, as the tide was now at near-peak and the swells felt bigger and more powerful than before -- maybe the odd one was 10-12 feet? It certainly felt like it when you were sitting up on top of a swell, looking down into the cauldron below, when the incoming swell was reflected, off the rocks, back out at you!

Funny thing: when one of those big swells is reaching its zenith and just about to break, if you are sitting on its topside, the water actually pitter-patters up and down, bouncing on top of the wave and causing a most amusing-looking landscape (lunar -- if the moon were wet!).

A certain, nameless sea-kayaker who never stops grinning when she is having fun decided to allow others to practise their rescues when she got out of her boat: magnanimous of her!

Norman's Woe was again exciting and we played there a while more. The fog was really dense by then and we cautiously made our way back to the Greasy Pole, where miraculously visibility was decent again. There was much evidence of flotsam in the harbour -- chunks of trees and dunnage, vast fields of spume and seaweed, plus the inevitable plastics (early in the trip we retrieved an enormous plastic barrel out of the water and Rick took it, somehow, to terra firma)

Another wonderful day on the ever-changing waters of New England. Thank you, all who joined us! We all learned from it.

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Blast......Double Blast....TRIPPLE BLAST!!!!!

I'm still grinning.

I'm with you. Lots of numbers were mentioned yesterday.

From inexperienced sources, the unofficial, unconfirmed wave height estimates ranged from 3' to 33' (maybe more). ;-)

All I know is that when a wave would hit a cliff, it was like Old Faithful. It may have been unofficially reported that the FAA was warning aircraft to stay clear of Normans Rock. What a sensational show!!!!

Each time I asked when we could do this again, I received the same answer:

"you'll just have to wait for the next hurricane".

Come on Kate!

We'll have to rely on Christopher, Rick and Jed for the real stats.


Living to learn.

Romany White, Blue trim

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I wanted to come over and say hello but you guys were too close to the rocks for me and my son.

I wanted to start out with the group but didn't think it was wise with a 12 year old so we started well after you. I figured if all went well we'd meet up and if not we'd stay in the harbor. A few weeks ago we had a great trip on a sunny day from Granite Pier to Thatchers and on the way back he told me it was "kind of boring". Kids today!! I'm pleased to report he thought Sunday was "pretty good!" and "the fog is nice too!". He enjoyed seeing the other kayaks in the water.

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I was one of the three who decided it was "too much" fun and stayed on the smelly Magnolia Beach. I had unwisely taken my new Sirius M simply because it was new. Shoulda taken the Avocet, which I'm more comfortable in "in conditions." So I paddled "out of control," it seemed, and scared witless. Sometimes that can be great fun, but those waves coming at us from all directions and heights, sneaking up and then making great displays of power on the cliffs, well I can understand how it was Norman's Woe 'cause after awhile it was, "Woe is me!" We were moving forward even though it seemed we were merely bobbing about like tiny toys in Neptune's bathtub and he was MAD! Many thanks to Christopher and Al and Rick and others who encouraged me to press on and focus on the basics, and thanks too for the fellowship at the beach with the other refugees, Marteen and Bill. Hope to see you again.

Thought some of you might like to see the poem the place inspired, and note, it was during a huricane, and they heard clangs and foghorns like we did!


red over white Sirius or yellow Avocet


It was the schooner Hesperus,

That sailed the wintery sea;

And the skipper had taken his little daughter,

To bear him company.

Blue were her eyes as the fairy flax,

Her cheeks like the dawn of day,

And her bosom white as the hawthorn buds,

That ope in the month of May.

The Skipper he stood beside the helm,

His pipe was in his mouth,

And he watched how the veering flaw did blow

The smoke now West, now South.

Then up and spake an old Sailor,

Had sailed the Spanish Main,

"I pray thee, put into yonder port,

for I fear a hurricane.

"Last night the moon had a golden ring,

And to-night no moon we see!"

The skipper, he blew whiff from his pipe,

And a scornful laugh laughed he.

Colder and louder blew the wind,

A gale from the Northeast,

The snow fell hissing in the brine,

And the billows frothed like yeast.

Down came the storm, and smote amain

The vessel in its strength;

She shuddered and paused, like a frighted steed,

Then leaped her cable's length.

"Come hither! come hither! my little daughter,

And do not tremble so;

For I can weather the roughest gale

That ever wind did blow."

He wrapped her warm in his seaman's coat

Against the stinging blast;

He cut a rope from a broken spar,

And bound her to the mast.

"O father! I hear the church bells ring,

Oh, say, what may it be?"

"Tis a fog-bell on a rock bound coast!" --

And he steered for the open sea.

"O father! I hear the sound of guns;

Oh, say, what may it be?"

Some ship in distress, that cannot live

In such an angry sea!"

"O father! I see a gleaming light.

Oh say, what may it be?"

But the father answered never a word,

A frozen corpse was he.

Lashed to the helm, all stiff and stark,

With his face turned to the skies,

The lantern gleamed through the gleaming snow

On his fixed and glassy eyes.

Then the maiden clasped her hands and prayed

That saved she might be;

And she thought of Christ, who stilled the wave,

On the Lake of Galilee.

And fast through the midnight dark and drear,

Through the whistling sleet and snow,

Like a sheeted ghost, the vessel swept

Tow'rds the reef of Norman's Woe.

And ever the fitful gusts between

A sound came from the land;

It was the sound of the trampling surf,

On the rocks and hard sea-sand.

The breakers were right beneath her bows,

She drifted a dreary wreck,

And a whooping billow swept the crew

Like icicles from her deck.

She struck where the white and fleecy waves

Looked soft as carded wool,

But the cruel rocks, they gored her side

Like the horns of an angry bull.

Her rattling shrouds, all sheathed in ice,

With the masts went by the board;

Like a vessel of glass, she stove and sank,

Ho! ho! the breakers roared!

At daybreak, on the bleak sea-beach,

A fisherman stood aghast,

To see the form of a maiden fair,

Lashed close to a drifting mast.

The salt sea was frozen on her breast,

The salt tears in her eyes;

And he saw her hair, like the brown sea-weed,

On the billows fall and rise.

Such was the wreck of the Hesperus,

In the midnight and the snow!

Christ save us all from a death like this,

On the reef of Norman's Woe!

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

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