Provincetown

 
 
We chase the setting moon westward. At half-full the moon’s illumination still provides a silver path directly on our course. For hours we motor along that road till the moon’s arc takes it further westward than our track. Slowly we seem to veer off course as our “road” moves to our starboard while our route takes us to port. Finally, it sets in a blaze of orange glory and we are in darkness.

We left Southwest Harbor at 11 AM. It was a bittersweet departure. After 3 months in Maine and Nova Scotia we have come to love this place. Our friends on Bluewater and Spirit of Zopilote could not have been more hospitable or gracious. They provided invaluable insight and expertise in all things cruising. We were honored to meet them and enjoy their company. But, the season is coming to a close, the weather is turning. Soon, northerlies will blow through with regularity and making our way south will become more difficult. Not wanting to winter in Maine, we must make our way south.

The weather forecast is decent, though we expect a lumpy ride to start conditions should improve with time. In fact, conditions were lumpy for 8 hours before finally settling down. We motor along in 5-6 foot head seas at 8-10 second periods. Though it is difficult to walk around on the boat it is still not too uncomfortable. We watch Acadia National Park, Cadillac Mountain, and Cranberry Island recede into the distance. We plod westward at a slow pace; 6.5 knots. We have made arrangements to stay at Provincetown Marina for two nights and they have a fairly strict policy of not allowing boats into the marina until 1 PM; departure is at 11:00 AM. Like a hotel for crying out loud! The logic escapes me. Do they clean the slips between guests? So, we slow way down so that we don’t arrive too early to check in.

Our progress is uneventful except for two encounters with sea life. Twenty miles out of Southwest Harbor we pass through a pod of dolphins numbering in the dozens. They were heading east as we motored west. Broaching the surface all around us. Interestingly, none played in our wake or followed us along on the bow. These northern dolphins are not nearly as playful as their southern cousins. Soon we are through the pod and alone again on the vast north Atlantic.

We chose to run offshore at least 30 miles to escape the lobster pots. Once we reached a depth of 500 feet or more we have a small amount of confidence we are unlikely to snag a pot. We settle in to the usual overnight routine.

As we proceed conditions improve as predicted; soon we are in 3-4 foot seas with long periods and enjoy a comfortable ride. The miles pass. Penobscot Bay recedes into the distance, then Casco Bay. We observe the high speed ferry that runs from Portland to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia; 38 knots and the catammaran can carry 700 passengers and 200 vehicles. Impressive. We want to stay well clear of this vessel.

No other traffic on the run other than a single fishing boat and a couple sail boats. The first sailboat was kind enough to hail Tivoli on the VHF. Deanna was at the helm and I was attempting to get some sleep. They were a Canadian boat enroute from Halifax to Portsmouth, NH and planned to pass our stern by at least a half mile. Nice to have clarity. A second sailboat crossed in front of us; no AIS, very little radar return. Deanna got me up to confer and we opted to continue on our course. A short mile away it turns on an AIS unit and we see its course and CPA. After we pass it shuts its AIS off. What the heck? Is he trying to conserve his AIS? Save some electricity? Makes no sense whatever. Leave the damn thing on so people know where you are headed and how fast! Instead he leaves us in the dark, literally, about his intentions until the last few minutes. Not rocket science.

By sunrise we’ve reached the approaches to Boston; thankfully, no ship traffic as we cross the traffic separation zone. As we approach Cape Cod we see the radar light up with dozens of targets. A quick scan of the horizon with our binoculars reveals dozens of small fishing boats. Must be a tournament of some type. We weave our our way through the fleet and make our way past Race Light. We have the second encounter with sea life. I spot whales off the port bow; 6-8 humpbacks are on the surface spewing water into the air. None breach but they are clearly enormous. Glad we are some distance. Hate to hit a whale larger than Tivoli; wouldn’t be a good day.

We round Long Point and head for the marina breakwater. It’s Saturday afternoon and Provincetown harbor is swarming with boats. A dozen pass as we approach the breakwater. I hail the marina and am advised to hold short while they contend with incoming boats and allow outgoing commercial traffic. Ferrys come and go bringing tourists from Boston and Plymouth. What a zoo. Finally, we are given a slip assignment and proceed into the marina. We are obliged to back in to our slip to tie up on the starboard side; my favorite thing! Though it takes a couple tries we finally tie up; plug in, and settle in for a two day stay in Provincetown. The big 68-foot yacht next to us is, I’m sure, happy we were able to get in without any contact with them or their fenders.

Another nice run offshore in the Tivoli.

We walk a few blocks into town to a recommended restaurant for lunch. Upon returning to the boat we are delighted that the owners of Dana A, another Nordhavn 50 in the harbor, came by to introduce themselves. We had a wonderful time showing them Tivoli and discussing the similarities and differences with their boat. It’s always a delight and a learning experience to chat with the owners of sister ships. There is much to learn from the experiences and different systems one finds on these boats. No two are alike. As somebody once said: “If you’ve seen one Nordhavn you’ve seen one Nordhavn”.

Provincetown Harbor Marina is a great facility. D and I enjoyed a cool evening sitting on a deck, with a glass of wine, heated by a novel gas heater in the shape of planet Earth, admiring the schooners and ferries, and watching the sky turn pink and orange as the sun set. Pretty cool!

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