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Boating through Cape Cod Canal-Advice?

PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2016 10:18 am
by Riki
It sounds like there are many Freedom sailors in the Buzzards Bay/Cape Cod area, so I'm hoping someone can help us figure this out. We are transporting our new Freedom 40/40 from Maine to Portsmouth, RI. We've made it to Boston and the next part of the trip we're planning is to take it through the Cape Cod Canal and finally get it to RI. We've heard a lot about the tides/currents being very complicated and want to make sure we plan the trip appropriately. I've found the US ACE Cape Cod Canal Tide Chart and wanted to make sure of what the appropriate time to try to traverse the waters is. We will be travelling from East to West. So on the Tide Chart there is a column titled "Railroad Bridge Current Turns East/West". Should we plan to enter the mouth of the canal right when the current turns West or wait an hour or more? For example on June 4th it says that the current turns West at 0948 and current turns East at 1542. When would you recommend entering the mouth at Sandwich? Thanks for any and all advice!

Re: Boating through Cape Cod Canal-Advice?

PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2016 1:32 pm
by CaptLen
Mot all that difficult- as you know you go with the current. If you arrive at Sandwich early therr is a boat basin there (haven't been there for years but check your cruising guide for facilities). If you wait an hour into favorable current you'll get a better boost from the current but it's not necessary.
At Portsmouth you'll be approx 12 miles south of Warren, home of Warren River Boat Works and Paul Dennis, one of the most knowledgeable people on the subject of Freedom yachts. It's worth getting to know him! I've had lots of work done on my Freedom up there and he was recommended very highly by friends long before I owned a Freedom.
Enjoy the trip

Re: Boating through Cape Cod Canal-Advice?

PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2016 5:17 pm
by philipl
You can enter the canal as soon as it turns west at the bridge. If you exit the canal into Buzzards Bay in the afternoon you might encounter the "Buzzards Bay Chop". This occurs with the typical SW afternoon breeze against 5+ knots of current from the canal setting up an uncomfortable steep chop. If you need some shelter then pull into Pocasset harbor or even Onset. Coming from Boston is a bit of a haul if you only sail daylight hours. You might want to get to Scituate first and then shoot for the canal. If the wind is moderate in Buzzards Bay then I prefer to keep going to Quissett Harbor just before Woods Hole. No facilities at Quissett but a lovely harbor.

Re: Boating through Cape Cod Canal-Advice?

PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2016 1:57 pm
by AlanK
When I first did the canal I made 2 mistakes. The first is I was overly conservative about going at slack current. Much better to use the current to speed you along but keep in mind if the wind is against you going into Buzzards Bay you'll get some big chop and maybe standing waves ahead of that. If you go near peak current with you keep looking back for the buoys to ensure you're not being pushed off course without realizing it.
The second mistake I hate to admit. I didn't look up the current charts/time offset from high/low tide. I just looked at high/low tide times. Had to fight a 3 knot current.

Re: Boating through Cape Cod Canal-Advice?

PostPosted: Mon Jun 06, 2016 1:52 am
by Riki
Thanks for all your advice. We made it through the canal today. Other people we talked to had said, wait around in the Sandwich Marina and when the other sailboats are going out, follow them. Well, it was a cloudy day, so there were no other sailboats. We ended up going about 1 hour before the direction of the current changed at the RR bridge. Initially we were going against the current, but the current was not very strong at the time (that's what I learned, that before the switch it really slows down) and then when the current switched we got a bump in our speed. No issues at all. Thanks again! Luckily we didn't get the chop right out of the canal, but we got it later at the mouth of the Sakonnet River. We ended up making it up the Sakonnet River from Sandwich in just over 7 hours and sailing the entire way once we were out of the canal. We ended up reefing because winds were getting up to 30 kts. I may start another discussion on that...