10th - 14th July 2005

Our "Welcome to Massachusetts Committee" consisted of an irritating (non-local) power boater who complained that we'd anchored too close to him in the bay at Onset.  Perhaps we would have been a tad close if his boat was an aircraft carrier.   We decided to ignore his protestations, only to hear him on the VHF reporting the suspicious foreign boat to the Harbour Master, who duly stopped by to check out our paperwork.   He, however, was a welcoming face, wished us a good stay in Onset and told us not to worry about the time limit on the dinghy dock when we went ashore sightseeing.   When we'd viewed the town and purchased ice-cream within twenty minutes, it didn't seem that the time limit was going to be a problem in any case!    

We'd selected the anchorage at Onset as a good starting point to pass through the Cape Cod Canal with a favourable tide early the following morning.   We made it to Provincetown on Cape Cod in time for lunch.  We found that the entire harbour, like many in New England, was filled with mooring balls which can be rented for $35 per night.    We, as usual, opted to use our own anchor in a spot only a hundred feet away which was available free of charge.

In Provincetown we were reunited with friends Rob and Beth from Boston and met their daughter Megan.   We'd first met them during their holiday in Antigua, when we made landfall there three years ago after crossing the Atlantic.  We'd kept in touch by e-mail ever since.   We'd spent only a very short time together previously but Rob and Beth easily recognised us with our distinctive yachtie style (i.e. big hats, big shoes and a little scruffy!).   

We spent a great evening with them catching up on three years worth of news at a nearby hostelry before heading to a local restaurant for a delicious seafood dinner.     After dinner and several of the local brews, we decided to take a stroll around town to take a look at the local nightlife.    

One of Provincetown's beautifully kept gardens, complete with sea dragon!

Christine, Rob, Megan and Beth.

Rob pointed us in the direction of a salvage shop with an amazing and bizarre assortment of items for sale, ranging from secondhand UK Royal Mail uniforms, military helmets, French firemen's uniforms and Dutch railway coats, not to mention a huge range of nautical knick-knacks.    We spent several silly minutes dressing up in the various hats on display.    However, we decided against venturing into the neighbouring shop to try on the chain-mail underwear which was on display there!

On our way home we saw the town's impressive floodlit monument, built to prove that the pilgrims did land there first, no matter what anybody else says!

At this point Beth and Megan disowned us!

Provincetown's monument to the pilgrims


Next day Rob, Beth and Megan kindly offered to take us on a tour by car.    Our first stop on the tour was Highland Light, a lighthouse on the Atlantic coast of Cape Cod, which had been painstakingly lifted up and moved several hundred yards further away from the cliff edge, when cliff erosion put it in peril.   It was hard to believe that they were able to pick up the whole light house and slide it to safety!

Highland Lighthouse


One stop into the tour and it was time for refreshments.   Rob and Beth took us to their favourite beach bar for a snack.   We then headed to Wellfleet and visited their rented holiday home before taking a walk along the seashore, much needed after all the eating we'd been doing!    It was great to meet up with them again and we really appreciated the tour, a rare treat as we don't normally have access to a car.   We hoped we'd be able to meet up with them again in Boston later in the year, as we'd decided to leave our visit to Boston for our southbound trip. 

Walking off lunch in scenic Wellfleet

Next morning we were off to Gloucester, Massachusetts.    Other cruisers had told us that we were bound to see whales at sea just north of Cape Cod and we weren't disappointed.    The first thing we spotted was a tourist whale watching boat which suddenly changed direction close to us.   As we continued on our course, we spotted spouts of water as a whale surfaced nearby to breathe.   Next thing we knew the whale surfaced directly in front of our bow as it crossed our path.  It was moving slowly and we had to change course to avoid it.    It was an amazing experience as we had found it hard to believe that in the four years we had been travelling we hadn't spotted a single whale previously.    Later on visiting the whale centre in Gloucester, we found out that it was probably a Fin Whale.

In Gloucester we were able to anchor right in the heart of town, near the fishing boat docks.   As we dinghied ashore, the Harbour Master rushed out to welcome us to the town and presented us with a boater's welcome pack of maps, free pens and key rings.   The way he rushed out to welcome us was all the more remarkable considering that his badly injured knee was heavily bandaged.   The welcome was so friendly we were almost embarrassed to tell him we'd be leaving next morning but we hoped to return later in the year.


Phil dwarfed by the huge whale skeleton

Gloucester's striking "Our Lady of Good Voyage Church"

The town is a major centre of commercial fishing, brought to fame as a result of "The Perfect Storm", the boat Andrea Gail which was lost and its crew being based in Gloucester.    During our town tour we called at the "Crow's Nest" bar, the hang-out of many local fishermen and saw the tributes to those lost during the storm. 

Our trip next day was to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, another new state for us.   We dropped our hook and then were disappointed to realise that we'd actually anchored on the side of the river over the Maine border, missing out New Hampshire's short shoreline altogether!    We tried to visit Portsmouth by dinghy but a sudden thunderstorm put paid to our plan, so we decided we'd have to leave New Hampshire for our southbound trip!

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