Wind against current, always a deterrent. This old mariner’s addage became our watchword for the day.
We depart Scituate Harbor at 8 AM with the goal of arriving at the Cape Cod Bay entrance to the Cape Cod Canal at 2 PM when the current turns westward. The morning begins with 8 knots of wind on our beam. Within 10 miles of the entrance to the Canal, Cutter Loose is plowing into 20 knot headwinds. The water in the lee of the Cape is smothered in whitecaps, but the wave height is minimal. We make good progress and enter the Canal 30 minutes ahead of schedule. So far, so good.
As we enter the Canal, there is one knot of adverse current on our bow. This situation quickly changes to slack current before the ebb begins in earnest. Within minutes, we are riding two knots of favorable current through the Canal towards Buzzards Bay. We are greeted with 18 knots of wind on our bow as we exit the Canal. This is not at all unusual for Buzzards Bay, where summer afternoon breezes out of the southwest can reach 30 knots. By this time, Cutter Loose is riding 4 knots of favorable ebb current. Eighteen knots of wind stacking up against 4 knots of current creates a wall of short, steep waves on our nose as we enter Buzzards Bay. It is as if we are riding a bucking bronco in a rodeo. Each time the bow crashes into a wave, a spray of salt water covers the foredeck. In the larger waves, our forward progress slows to two knots. Cutter Loose regains momentum in the smaller waves, only to be stalled by a larger wave. Buzzards Bay is living up to its nasty reputation.
While our progress was impeded, we never felt threatened or uncomfortable as a result of the conditions on Buzzards Bay. Wind and wave gradually diminish in late afternoon. At 6 PM, Cutter Loose is anchored securely in Hadley Harbor, a hurricane hole of an anchorage near Woods Hole. The evening sky is cloudy. Sirius marine weather radar shows a line of showers and thunderstorms moving northeast in Long Island Sound. We are hoping for a steady, all-night downpour to rinse the accumulation of salt from the boat.