Today, we leave island life behind and return to the mainland. Our destination for today is the town of New Bedford, MA, a journey of 24 miles.
The navigational challenge of the day is Woods Hole, home of the famous Oceanographic Institute and point of disembarkation for various island ferries. This cut is a small opening between Nantucket Sound on the east and Buzzards Bay on the west. Although it is well marked with navigational aids, the channel is narrow and profoundly affected by tidal currents, especially during periods of maximum ebb and flood.
Our timing for transiting Woods Hole cut is not the best. We enter the channel facing an adverse current of 4 knots, which means that our speed over ground is a paltry 2 or 3 knots. Cutter Loose is overtaken in the channel, first by the conventional Vineyard Haven ferry, and then by a high speed catamaran ferry making 32 knots. It is incredible to us that a 100 foot+ passenger vessel would transit such a narrow, twisted channel at 32 knots. We reduce our speed to hold our position while the high speed ferry blasts past our bow and executes a series of quick twists and turns, similar to a slalom skier working the gates.
New Bedford is an industrial waterfront that is now home to a large fleet of offshore fishing trawlers that ply the waters of Georges Bank. An interesting feature of the waterfront is a mechanical hurricane barrier that can be closed by city officials to prevent storm surge damage in the harbor.
We decide to take a slip for the night at Popes Island Marina on the Acushnet River so that we can catch up on laundry, clean Cutter Loose inside and out, and position ourselves for a visit to the reknown whaling museum in the morning.