Going under the railroad bridge.

@ 12:42 GMT
Position: 41º 57.382 N x 70º 37.568 W
Course: At anchor
Speed: 0 kts

Much of Wednesday consisted of motoring in light winds and dense fog. But, as we arrived near the Cape Cod Canal (CCC) the fog lifted. We made a WhatsApp video call to Paula and Lester Searle in Australia, two supporters of Sail For Epilepsy, then continued to motor into the canal. The canal is an important waterway for commercial and recreational traffic, as well as life-saving and military benefits. It allows a shortcut from Buzzards Bay up to Massachusetts Bay, saves countless hours and treachery going around Cape Cod in the shifting Nantucket shoals. It is not without its own navigational concerns, however. The currents are swift with peaks of 4-5kts. Thus it is important to time your trip so that the current helps push you – a sailboat might motor at 6kts. If you were motoring into a current of 5kts, you’d only be making 1kt of progress and the passage would take a long time.

The Cape Cod Canal first opened to vessel traffic more than 100 years ago, with the idea of a canal having been explored since the 1600s. The basic infrastructure of today’s modern canal was completed in 1940 and is 480 ft wide, 32 ft deep, and 7.4 miles long. When it was finished, it was the widest sea level canal in the world at the time.

A 1922 map of the Cape Cod Canal, showing bridges, mooring points, and other features. Source: Wikipedia.
Approaching the end of the canal.

As we transited the canal it was late evening, about 7:30-8pm, and there were countless people out fishing, walking and biking. I think we were all relieved to see the sun for the first time, in what seems likes weeks, with our recent weather. Joy was abundant, we were all waving to one another and enjoying the ride. 

The maritime police approached us to inform us that an ATB was coming and to check that we had our engine turned on – we had left our mainsail up so they were likely a little confused (transiting the canal under sail only is not permitted). The Kristin Polin then approached and radioed us to request permission to pass us with two whistles which means that “I intend to leave you on my starboard side”. We had a brief conversation and continued to the end of the canal.

As we exited the canal we had the best wind of the day and were able to hoist a spinnaker and sail at about 9kts up near Plymouth where we anchored for the night. This morning, the fog is dense again, but as I write I see the sun is peaking through the clouds. Maybe we will have better views today as we set sail for our destination of Marblehead. 

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