Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Wampanoag Canoe Passage: 2. Attempt

No, I didn't get far.  But my failure may be instructive.

I reconnoitered a couple of days before the attempt, checking out most of the roads I would need to cross and portages that were called for in the first half of the Passage.  One portage had become nearly impossible: the one from Little Sandy Bottom Pond to Stetson Pond was supposed to cross a cranberry bog, but the bog was overgrown with no clear way in or across.  I drove an alternate portage of well over a mile with the first stretch on a busy road with no shoulder.  Much of the rest was very hilly--challenging even to drive.  My recon left me pessimistic, so I planned to get as far as I could, rather than believing I could do the whole thing.

The passage is supposed to begin where route 3A crosses the North River.  The marina just upstream of the bridge wanted fifteen dollars for me to put my kayak in the water--it would have been twice that if I needed to use the ramp or park!  The boatyard on the downstream side of the bridge wouldn't allow me to put in at all.  A little park beside rt 3A had adjacent a drainage ditch, but when I arrived with boat and gear, the ditch proved to be mud even at half-tide.  So off we went to the Driftway, a little local park that gives free access to the north branch of the river, adding about two miles to the paddling.

The North River is tidal supposedly all the way to Pembroke, as Herring Brook.  Tide at the river mouth is the same as at Boston, which was low at about 1pm.  I pushed off with my fully-laden two-person kayak Serendipity before 3:30pm.  Although the first mile was against the tidal current as I headed first downriver towards the main channel, it was mild enough not to slow me much.

The kayak was full with--
1. a large dry-bag with an air mattress, light sleeping bag, "chaps" for negotiating brambles, etc., made of old jeans, a jacket, several changes of clothing, and dry shoes.
2. a small dry-bag with a number of things that I might want to get at under way, including a change of clothes, rain suit, headlamp, first aid kit, D-cell-powered charging set up for my phone and camera, and spare batteries for charger and GPS.
3. a cloth bag with stuff I wanted available from the boat that wasn't endangered by water, including sunscreen, insect repellent, head net, knife, GPS, compass, "wamping shoes," and pruning shear.
4. the cooking box containing stove, pot, travel mug, dishes and silver, lighter, coffee and tea, etc.
5. a food bag containing several days worth of meals and snacks.
6. loose in the boat were the tent, a spare paddle, bailer, chamois for cleaning up water, kayak seat (really a folding beach chair), my hat, and a machete.  Of course I wore my life jacket.
7. the folded-up kayak dolly that I made partly to make it possible to portage the kayak single-handed.

The gear crowded me and I couldn't move easily.  (I'd not expected a problem, since I'd done a trial loading for a winter trip that didn't materialize.  This presents a mystery: though this trip added the kayak dolly and bushwacking tools, it also omitted two full-sized sleeping bags and bulky cold-weather clothes.)

The lowest mile or two of the North River is ruled by powerboats based at marinas.  (The one I reconnoitered with the exorbitant ramp fee had an outdoor deck where drinks were being served to nicely-dressed customers.  Not my kind of establishment.)  The salt marsh on either bank is extensive and healthy-looking.

As I got higher into the river, cabin cruisers gave way to small runabouts, then skiffs, and the marsh changed to freshwater.  Entering Stetson Marsh, I came upon the first "island"--a small but rather high hill whose feet bathed in the river.  Teenagers on a nearby bank led me to keep paddling.  I came to two more, lower, "islands."  The last had a powerboat drawn up on the shore, so I paddled farther to see if there were any more camping places.  Finding none, I turned back to the last, where the powerboat had just motored away, and went ashore.  All of this time, and for some time after, the current continued to flow slowly upriver.

I cannot compare it to the two islands I passed up, but this was a great camp site.  A clearing in the middle at a low elevation had a stone ring fireplace with a couple of plank benches.  At the back and higher up was a site just big enough for my 3-man tent, with a view of the marsh below.  A few steps away was an overlook, where you could contemplate events in the marsh perhaps ten feet below your feet with a morning cup of coffee or an evening glass of wine in hand.

Tired and unwilling to use mosquito repellent, I did not light up the stove but dined on tortilla chips and cheesy dip, and of course after-dinner wine.  I didn't sleep well: the air mattress which used to be adequate for sleeping is no more: it's too narrow, making it difficult to roll over.  (Next time I will take my self-inflating camp mattress; I've already figured out how to strap it to the rear deck to make enough room.) 

The next day I had a lazy breakfast of oatmeal with a huge cup of coffee despite the danger of missing my tide, and didn't leave until about 8:40am--when the water was already higher than when I'd landed the evening before.  I passed under route 3 less than an hour later; the tidal current sped up under the bridge, but not enough to cause real concern. I continued to ride the incoming (albeit slow) tide for the whole of the morning and a little beyond.

I somehow passed the confluence with the Indian Head River without realizing, later finding I'd mistaken a later little offshoot channel for the Indian Head River.  Herring Brook narrowed and became increasingly choked by waterweed and then grass, until I could not be sure where the channel was.  I worried that I would miss a left-hand turn that the instructions spoke of, and constantly probed for alternative channels.  Finding the right channel should have been easy: I had made Google Earth images of the entire passage and put them in my phone, I had Google Maps in my phone with its built-in GPS, and I had an actual dedicated GPS (really intended for keeping track of distance run). 

But a few simple, practical issues kept me confused.  First, Google Maps would rotate the image to conform with my direction, but slow movement and the meandering stream meant it never settled in one direction, so that I was constantly trying to orient myself.  The sun was too high to make a good compass.  The phone screen was not bright enough in full sun, so that I had great difficulty in seeing the tiny blue thread that marked the supposed channels, and difficulty converting what I saw into compass directions.  The Google Earth images, besides being difficult to see in the sun, were of little help without a precise idea of where I was.  And the hand-held GPS was a cheap model with only the most rudimentary map. 

The one thing that could have helped at that moment was the Google Earth app: I did not realize it at the time, but a few touches on the screen would bring up a dot on my position.  (I was convinced the feature should exist, but didn't find it while afloat.)  But even this has its drawbacks: I have since found that it is often only good to the nearest 10 meters.  The little winding stream I was trying to follow had meanders so sharp that I sometimes had to work my 16 foot kayak around them by degrees, going forward and back several times to make the turn. 

High in the brook, and shortly after working the boat over a sunken branch, I decided I had made a wrong turn and had to return the way I'd come.  But the boat could not be turned around in a channel barely five feet wide, so--unable to paddle backwards without a way to see behind me, I put on my "wamping shoes," climbed out of the kayak, and half waded, half swum the boat backwards until I had room to work it around.  I was surprised to find that the channel almost as deep as wide, with sides sloping steeply: until I learned to keep my weight off the slippery bottom by lying on my stomach on the kayak foredeck, I was in danger of slipping underneath the boat.  Afraid of upsetting kayak and gear by trying to climb in in deep water, I finally found a submerged branch I could balance on, and flopped back into my seat.

Convinced I needed to backtrack to find the right channel, I decided to go back downriver a little.  I also wanted to find some shade so that I could rest, possibly make out my phone screen, and recharge the phone.  It was then that I downloaded the Google Earth app, but failed to find the trick to  locating myself on it.  It was now nearing midafternoon, and the current had reversed.  I tried a bit more to find possible alternative channels in the sea of surrounding grass using a useful trick: a mass of shrubs and small trees very near shows no channel in that direction, since these need soil above water in which too grow.  This trick isn't foolproof, though: the windings of the channel might skirt shrubbery and then change direction to find a way through that isn't evident from my vantage point.  The current was too weak to indicate the channel through the choking grass.

In the end, the only direction I could go with any confidence was back down the river.  I abandoned the attempt for now, and headed back down, planning to pull out at Pantooset Farms, just up from the route 53 bridge.  Arriving there in late afternoon, it became clear that no farm existed there: my guess is that it had been sold to developers years before, resulting in the high-priced condo development I could see in its stead.  So instead I pulled the boat through ankle-deep mud to a private ramp, assembled the dolly, and got everything to the street, possibly leaving the absent owner none the wiser.  My patient wife picked me up an hour later.

Post Mortem

After the fact, I was able to figure out my position at every point along the journey by manually plotting latitudes and longitudes from my old hand-held GPS onto Google Earth.  I now know that I was in the right channel when I decided to turn around, but I also know I was unable to figure out where to go next in the sea of grass.  I could not find my way in a little, meandering stream merely by knowing the general direction I was bound: the meanders often took me ninety degrees or even more from that overall trend at any given moment.  The best tool is probably the Google Earth app, keeping in mind that it cannot reliably show you the channel, but it can certainly narrow down the choices to about a ten meter width most of the time.  I have found that Google Earth typically locates my position about twenty feet southeast of my actual position, but once it was an inexplicable half-mile off.  The hand-held GPS is still good for basic information such as distance and speed, and the track can be plotted on Google Earth afterwards.

Physical Issues

Discomfort and fatigue were factors in abandoning the attempt.  I'm not young anymore, nor in good shape.  I hadn't slept well.  My seat did not allow for changes in position, and it wasn't soft enough for such long sitting.  The difficulty of getting in and out of the kayak exacerbated this.  There was no gentle bank on which I could disembark: water in which the kayak could float was usually at least thigh deep, often with a soft mud bottom.  I worried about overturning the kayak if I needed to get back aboard from deeper water.

Despite my efforts to avoid blisters on my fingers (bandaids in advance on places I've gotten them in the past), I got at least one anyway.  Gloves are in order on the next long paddle.  My old gel padded bicycling gloves might do the trick.

The seat was another source of annoyance: I got very sore from sitting in the same position for seven hours with only one break.  This despite having padded my seat with the nearly-deflated air mattress from the night before. I have a gel kneeling pad that I may try next, or a small inflated inner tube.  (The inner tube could also double as a paddle float to help stabilize myself and the boat when getting in and out in deeper water.)

Some equipment needs to go, or at least be distributed to leave room for me to move.  My big sleeping mattress will be added, but it can be tied on the rear deck to leave room in the cockpit.  At risk of raising the center of gravity a bit, some gear can be tied atop big dry bag.  I am unsure what equipment can be left behind.  The machete was probably overkill, but takes up very little room, and I still don't know how useful it might be.  

Lower North River

Lower river around marinas.

Lower but more unpeopled North River.

Drifting with the current.

Spartina saltmarsh.

Cattail (freshwater) marsh.

 Stetson Marsh.

 Sunset from camp.

Landing place.

Tour of camp.

Landing place.

Marsh overlook in evening.

 Loaded for departure.  (Looks a bit worse than it is: gray airbed in it for seat cushion.)

 Freshwater marsh dominated here by narrow-leaved cattail.
 Log house right on the river would be an interesting place to live.
First sign of the grass that would become my nemesis.

 Channel narrows.

 Grass begins to become an impediment.  Trees and shrubs near left bank show channel probably doesn't go that way.


Headed back downriver.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Wampanoag Historic Canoe Passage 1: Conception

I've always thought of myself as an adventurer.  As a teenager, I saved up for a frame backpack and kept it in my bedroom, provisioned for sudden needs.  --say, if the Soviets invaded, and I needed to hide out in the woods.  I did, in fact, use it for occasional overnights--including once or twice in winter--though always close to home.  I also sailed a little Styrofoam boat called a Snark, and later a Sunfish.  Half-a-dozen or so times I made sail camping trips in the upper part of Narragansett Bay, RI where I grew up.  As a college student, I walked home from URI to Warwick one Christmas break, camping out two nights.  Nevertheless, I always traveled farther and longer in more challenging conditions in my mind than ever in real life.  But I always felt there was an adventure in me, one waiting for me.  The wild Alaska of John McPhee's Coming into the Country, perhaps...

After many years and much real life intervening, I developed a touch of arthritis, and a year ago a bad knee.  I was accustomed to walking the dogs a mile or two, and my knee sometimes made this difficult.  In the grand scheme of things, I wasn't bad off, and physical therapy helped.  But I had to admit that setting off into real wilderness for a week or more with a pack on my back was never going to happen.  "Never had" became "Never would."

This was a shock to my system.  Possibilities are always before us, until they aren't.  I don't feel especially regretful, but do feel a bit sad that I will never do some things.  I suppose it comes with age. 

I began thinking about workarounds.  Long distance walking with a heavy backpack was out, but not boating.  (Most of my adventures in recent years has involved sailing the local inshore waters.)  I began looking at videos of canoe trips, searching out wilderness canoe routes.  I began to follow public radio in Alaska, trying to get a sense of everyday life there.  I watched videos of other peoples' canoe trips.  But all of these required travel, which in turn requires money we don't have--in the case of Alaska, lots of it.

Close to home, I looked up the Wampanoag Canoe Passage.*

The Passage begins near the mouth of the North River on Massachusetts' "south shore" inland into smaller and smaller streams, then hops over roads and cranberry bogs and among ponds and marshes to a tributary of the Taunton River, and thence down this river to Narragansett Bay--a total of some seventy miles traveled--about thirty miles as the crow flies.  It is supposed to have been a major waterway of the Wampanoag Indians.  I had already traversed about a third of it, in my sailing, drifting and paddling the Taunton River.

The more I studied the account of the Wampanaog Commemorative Canoe Passage, the more excitement I felt at an impending real adventure.  I pored over Google Earth images, following the track of the passage as well as I could, and trying to read the landscape and guess at conditions.  I found a blog by Nik Tyack, who has paddled the passage a number of times to raise funds for a local organization.  I found a Google Map with the passage pinned to it.  Finally, I created my own maps and a document that was meant to bring together details from these sources into one place.  I wanted to be able to decide whether I could accomplish the entire passage myself in a solo kayak.  

Before committing myself, I needed to know how much of the passage would be paddling, how much would be portaging, and how much would involve dragging my kayak and gear through knee-deep mud.  Nik Tyacks' blog promised all of this, but with little in the way of specifics as to where and when.  Adding to the uncertainty, the last trip his blog recorded was six years ago. Clearly, though, it would be an ordeal in some places.  Just as clearly, the river and stream levels would be a factor--especially in the smallest and shallowest streams, ponds and marshes.

My opportunity would come in July--perhaps the driest month on the calendar.  Could the trip be managed then?  Tyack's all seemed to be in spring or fall.  

I was going to find out.

Mouth of North River, and start of the Passage.

Stetson Marsh, and the first good campsites.

Route 3 to the confluence of the Indian Head River.

confluence of Indian Head River into Herring Brook

Herring Brook through rt 14 portage

Mountain Avenue portage through Great Sandy Bottom Pond

Great Sandy Bottom Pond to Stetson Pond.

Stetson Pond through most of Stump Brook.  The straight line from Chandler Millpond to East Lake shows my uncertainty over the course of any waterway through the marsh .

Stump Brook well into the Satucket River.

Satucket River into the Matfield River.

Matfield River into the Town River.

 Taunton River

This and the remaining maps are at half the scale, so that the map is about 3 miles from top to bottom.

(Half scale.)

(Half scale.)

The Passage ends here with Dighton Rock, but for completeness, the remainder of the Taunton River is shown below.  (Half scale.)

(Half scale.)

(Half scale.)

Mouth of the Taunton River, city of Fall River. (Half scale.)

*A hint at the age of this document--which I missed until just now--is the very dated description of pre-Columbian Indian life: "The tangled growth of great forests," and "Wampanoags lived in peace and harmony with nature."  (In fact, the Wampanoag cleared land for agriculture and burned forest to encourage the deer herd; harmony consisted mainly in having a low enough population density to avoid too much environmental damage.)  Age makes the description of the Passage less trustworthy.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

A portable diy kayak dolly brings Adventure a step closer

Not long ago I came across a reference to the "Wampanoag Canoe Passage"--a historical watery highway that wound seventy miles across eastern Massachusetts from the Cape Cod Bay town of Scituate to Narragansett Bay--by way mainly of the North River and its tributaries and the Taunton River.  The route has been researched and reestablished in modern times.  Of course, a canoeist must portage not only from stream to stream but also around obstacles and shallows--carrying canoe and gear varying distances.  Portaging is not my idea of fun.  To do this trip in my big kayak, Serendipity, I would need a way to move her easily--perhaps on a folding dolly.  

It was a bit fussy cutting the base to fit.  I designed as I went along, solving problems as they arose.  But now my big cruising kayak has become a portable "canoe" for inland river adventure.

My dolly packed neatly into the kayak amongst tent, sleeping bag, cooking gear, etc: this is what Adventure looks like.


Unfolding the dolly for use

Construction details: base and longitudinals of 5/4" pressure-treated lumber, sides of about 5/4 square pine turning on #10 machine screws and fixed in place by more of the same, axle is 1/2-inch threaded steel rod held to base by pieces of steel angle.  7" lawnmower wheels are maybe too small for rough ground and brush, but larger were much heavier and more expensive, and would take up more room in the boat.  (If size were no object, small bicycle wheels would ride over branches, etc., much better.)

Friday, April 28, 2017

April Surprise to Prudence Island

I hadn't been sailing in almost two years--a far cry from my regular adventures of a few years ago.  The itch had been growing, so I decided upon a trip during the April school vacation.  My fifteen-foot, full-cabin Jewelbox Jr, Surprise, would keep me comfortable in the cool weather, since she is sailed from inside the (relatively) roomy cabin.  It would also enable me to carry my bicycle: five-mile-long Prudence Island--a whale-shaped island in the middle of Narragansett Bay--I had found a little too big for comfortable walking.  This would be a welcome trip for Surprise, as well--she had spent three years quietly rotting in the backyard under various inadequate tarps--in fact since the last time I'd made this very trip.  

The first order of business was to make Surprise seaworthy.  This trip would be entirely in protected waters, so I hoped that wasn't asking too much.  A rotten wale was cut out, and the aft deck reinforce with inside bracing.  Decks and roof were scraped and painted just in time to cure for the trip.  I ran out of time and had to leave with a sail in need of patching.  

The trip would take me from Fall River, MA down Mount Hope Bay, under the Mt. Hope Bridge, across the entrance to Bristol Harbor and finally to Potter Cove on Prudence Island, RI--a modest ten nautical miles altogether.

The trailer was the next obstacle.  When I built Surprise I bought a Harbor Freight utility trailer to carry her with.  Right after I finished recent boat work, I discovered that--true to her low cost--the trailer had rusted into brown crud leaving only a pair of wheels on either side of a half-inch plywood bed. With the Fall River launch ramp twenty-five miles away,  I wasn't willing to blow more money on another Harbor Freight trailer.  Craigslist had nothing appropriate close by, even at twice the price.  I was nearly in despair.  

But U-Haul came to the rescue, sort of.  Renting a trailer was a reasonable expense for my rare sailing trips.  But none of the trailers were simple flat bed affairs that I could load the boat onto with both ends overhanging.  I had to rent a massive, two-axle 6X12 foot trailer and even then leave the tailgate open to accommodate Surprise's fifteen feet.  The trailer was so wide I could get it down my narrow driveway only by running one pair of tires atop a curb.  (Leaving the driveway to return the trailer at the end of the voyage, I accidentally allowed both pairs of wheels to slip down, wedging the trailer so effectively that the car's wheels spun and skidded trying to move it.)

The only problem with a rented trailer--and it's a big one--is the time it requires.  I picked up the trailer from UHaul on the summer-ish Monday morning at 8:30, got the boat loaded onto it with the help of my son, loaded the boat (cool weather gear for an expected temperature drop), got it down to Fall River and left it on a dock, and returned the trailer to UHaul at 4pm.  I was finally able to go aboard just before six pm.  

I went aboard then...and waited.  NOAA's marine forecast had five to ten knots out of the south with gusts to twenty, but the wind was blowing a steady fifteen from the northwest.  Much better direction, but too much wind for me, and maybe too much for my torn sail and weakened boat.  I determined to anchor a little way off the ramp and spend the night, sailing in the morning.  Because the wind was on the ramp, I couldn't drift off the dock but had to rig and actually sail off close-hauled--even though I only wanted to go a few dozen yards.  

Shortly before six pm with the wind easing, I shoved off.   Sliding sideways until moving fast enough for the leeboard to bite, I missed the adjacent seawall by only inches. But I was so tickled to be under way after so long, that I didn't drop the anchor I had ready.  On impulse I determined to sail on, with evening coming on and without any clear plan.  Consulting the chart showed that there was no protected anchorage until reaching Hog Island after sailing the six-mile length of Mt. Hope Bay.  With the wind continuing to decline and sunset an hour away, I could not reach the anchorage without a fair bit of night sailing, but so be it.  At least I had anchored at Hog Island several times before.  And I did have a nine-volt charging system for my phone and camera that I could use to power the navigation lights.

The plan.

Day fades.

You can't make these colors up.

Except when I hooked up the lights, they didn't work.  Unable even find my flashlight in the dark cabin, I had to trust to the fact that few boats were in the water this early in the year, and even fewer were dumb enough to be out at night.  (Hopefully none so dumb as to be out at night unlit.) 

Passing under Mt. Hope Bridge and by Hog Island light, I paralleled the south shore of the island, judging the distance to trees silhouetted against the night sky.  But the shore simultaneously curved and the water shallowed, and the leeboard hit bottom as I approached my turn into the lee of the island.  I accomplished the rest of that trip splashing through the water in galoshes, pulling the boat by her painter, and finally dropped anchor just a few yards from shore in shallow water.  I had done nearly the entire sail on one tack, but the failing wind meant I only dropped anchor about ten pm.  Too tired to light the stove, I had a snack and a little wine and turned in.

--only to wake up a few hours later with gravel crunching under the bottom.  The wind had shifted from nw to ne (not predicted by NOAA) and put me on the beach.  Back into galoshes to move the boat once more, and finally to bed for good at 1:30am.  Slept very little after: the leeboard rattles when it is not locked down, and I'd forgotten how much this boat pounds in even the slightest sea.

Hog Island anchorage.  (I goofed--start at 52 seconds in.)

On Hog Island.

 Black-backed gulls on Hog Island headed for safety as I approached.

 Osprey platform on Hog Island.

 Surprise riding to a batwing gunter mizzen and a shore anchor on Hog I.

After a late breakfast of oatmeal and strong coffee in the growing wind and cold, I went ashore on Hog Island for a bit, then made the last part of the trip and dropped anchor near the nw shore of Potter Cove--hoping that the wind wouldn't push the boat ashore again.  (My plan was to anchor close in with a separate line ashore, so that I could pull the boat in to go back and forth--avoiding the need for a tender.)  By about 11am I was ashore with the bike and my backpack. 

Sailing from Hog Island to Prudence.

House porn.  I especially enjoy the decks and porches.

West shore.

More house porn.

Broad Street crosses the island.

More houses of interest.

On the trail.

I rode the rock-strewn unpaved roads of the island most of the day, fascinated as always with how homes--large and small, palatial and modest--are designed to take advantage of their location.  I took many photos of "house porn." I also spent a little time at the Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve station near the south end of the island: the NBNERR holds a large fraction of the 85% of Prudence Island that is protected land, and is a site of long-term ecological research.  My mother phoned that evening--knowing I was planning this trip--to tell me of a news article she had read about funding being cut for the NBNERR, which is one of a handful of such organizations that carry out long-term ecological research.  I assume this was a Trump budget cut.  I ended the day walking nature trails around a historical farm site in the middle of the island. 

Bicycling back to the cove in the early evening, I found the boat high-and-dry with the tide coming in.  This didn't worry me: a drying berth is a quiet berth--at least until the tide returns.  But as the water rose after dinner, the wind was also shifting to blow the boat up the beach.  Nothing for it but to pull the galoshes on once more and head up the curving coast until I could anchor safely once more.  But as the wind continued to shift, it became clear there would be no accessible windward shore I could hang off from on the hook: I needed to get out into the cove.  The wind was up again and I didn't want to rig to sail, so I finally managed to get a dozen or so yards off the beach by a combination of "sailing" the bare hull, wild paddling, and kedging with the big anchor.  The job was the more frustrating because I was trying to control a boat with neither leeboard nor rudder fully deployed in the shallow water.  I dropped the oversize claw over on a very short scope, and pulled off soaking wet socks at about ten pm.  I went to bed wrapped in all my clothing: even out of the wind, it was hard to keep completely warm.

After another loud night, I awoke to find the boat riding snug in a reasonable depth: the wind had shifted once more, this time for the better.  At this point I was due to head home, but Beatrice needed the van (tow vehicle) all day, so I'd decided to stay an extra day.  The only wrinkle was that I'd failed to pack the customary extra day's coffee: I do not willingly go without my special morning java.  I'd somehow managed not to pack even a few teabags.  (I was also out of wine, but sacrifices must be made.)  So after a relaxed morning, tucked half into my sleeping bag for warmth, dozing and reading, I went ashore in search of coffee. 
 A walk to the store.

The island has a little general store (and Post Office) by the ferry dock three or four miles away from the cove.  I decided to walk there, since the distance was not great and man-handling the bike ashore and over rocks to the road was a pretty major undertaking.  For once my scheme for going ashore dryshod worked perfectly, and I swung off down the road at a good walking pace. 

The woman who runs the store is getting on in years and doesn't keep usual business hours; I arrived at the store to find it locked and with a sign announcing the re-opening three hours hence.  Damn.  I was not hanging around all that time, so began the trek back to the boat.  The walk was not wasted, though: I took many photos of trees flowering and leafing-out, and walked some unfamiliar roads.

Back at the cove at midafternoon, I found the tide high and the boat inaccessible: somehow the amount of rode I'd left out was not enough to reach the shore at high tide.  Unless I wanted to wade in hip-deep water, I'd need to wait for the tide to drop.  I took up station on a convenient log out of the wind to wait, nodding off repeatedly, for almost two hours.  Then I was able to get aboard by leaping from a hummock without wetting my feet. 

I buttoned up the cabin against the cold wind and, after more reading and dozing and a dinner of stew and bread, I turned in wearing everything I had.

Ramp bow makes this seem something like a WWII "LST."

Line to shore allows boat to be pulled in to go aboard dryshod--in theory.

Potter Cove anchorage.

Potter Cove to Mt. Hope Bridge.

Mt. Hope Bridge.

Osprey perched on the 6A daymark by Mt. Hope Bridge.

Mt. Hope Bay.

Help arrives!

Around midnight, for the first time this trip, the wind and waves died completely away and it became quiet.  Given lack of sleep and the exercise I'd gotten, I should have slept very well, but still found sleep difficult. 

I was up at before seven, got under way quickly in the light winds, and ate a breakfast of granola and milk at the tiller.  NOAA's predicted moderate tailwind never materialized: the light wind died to bare steerageway by mid-morning, then became a strengthening headwind as the afternoon wore on.  The return trip was uneventful if slow as I tacked up Mt. Hope Bay, but it became more exciting as I approached the Braga Bridge. 

A strong current ran beneath the bridge--stronger than I'd ever experienced there.  I judge the current to have been running at well over one knot.  This might not seem like much of an impediment, but I was sailing close-hauled a tubby little boat, and trying to get under a bridge that baffled the wind in unpredictable ways.  In the end, I finally got though after tacking twice directly under the bridge and fending off one of the bridge piers with a paddle.  Once under the bridge, I still had to go up-current almost a mile to the ramp: the current was so strong that I could watch myself going downstream against the bank when sailing close-hauled--sometimes losing ground on both tacks.  I finally landed on the ramp at about 6pm to find my middle son Trevor waiting to help me; the extra hands and muscle were very welcome.

As soon as the boat was unloaded and the trailer returned, it was time to get some sleep: we would leave the next morning for Washington, D.C. and the March for Science.  More on the natural history of the trip can be found here.