Sailing over to Onset


We spent last weekend in Onset. Sailing over in a moderate southwest breeze on Saturday morning with patchy fog. By the term patchy I mean being hit with varying degrees of fog density / variable visibility. We’d be in light fog with 1/2 mile visibility followed by denser fog with 150 yard visibility and so on back and forth. Luckily by the time we reached the entrance to the Cape Cod canal we had enough visibility to see a couple of bouys ahead of us. Enough to get us through the canal safely. I was nervous during the approach. I did not want to enter the canal if we had dense fog. I could plot a course easy enough. My worry was shipping, especially barges coming out of the fog and heading for us. Luckily, as I mentioned, the fog lightened up enough for us to make the trip and no big ships passed us by.

Overall, it took 2 and a half hours to sail from Mattapoisett to Onset. The picture above is Wicket’s Island that we anchored behind.

The channel to Onset is narrow and winding. Though, well marked. After the red nun #10 we steered to starboard and anchored  near Wickets Island. Good holding ground there, all mud. Not many boats where anchored for the night. But that didn’t mean Onset was quiet or idyllic. Just the opposite. Onset has changed significantly since I was last there in 2001. I found Onset Harbor to be noisy and crowded. Much of the Federally designated anchorage is now filled with moorings. Jet ski’s and powerboats towing tubes were noisily buzzing about everywhere. The shore, between Wickets and Onset  Island is lined with marina’s. And at night, while we we trying to get to sleep, one of the big party boats motored to and fro in the harbor while they glared such god aweful dance music like “YMCA”. The drunken partiers aboard screaming “Whew, Yeah!!!!” whenever the next horrible dance tune began.

Onset had it’s good points, as well. It’s a well protected anchorage.  It has a nice quaint little town, a nice beach, and lots of water to kayak in. I’ll write a separate blog entry about going ashore.

We spent all morning Sunday kayaking around Onset harbor. It was really fun exploring the area. It was the first time we blew up the kayak on the deck of Galatea and launched it over the side. It was easy. Except one of the seats fell out and I had to row after it with the dinghy. But hey, those things happen. By mid morning we pulled up to the beach, where Janet took a walk to get some coffee and I just hung out by the kayak and went swimming. It was a beautiful summer day, one I’ll remember this winter while I’m shivering to keep warm. Another note to make was how much interest people had in our inflatable kayak. While I was drying off in the sun and waiting for Janet to get back from the coffee shop, I had several people walk up to me and ask about the kayak. They mentioned how they saw us paddling around and thought what a great idea the inflatable was. They asked lots of questions and mentioned how they hated having to lug their old hard shelled kayaks around, having to put them on top of their cars, etc. I felt like a sales person for SeaEagle. But I was glad to talk with them.

On Sunday, after the kayak trip, we got back to Galatea about noontime and had lunch before heading for home. The original weather forecast for Sunday called for 5 – 10 knot South East winds which would have given us a nice beam reach all the way back to Mattapoisett. It wasn’t to be. We had the usual South West winds blowing a strong 15 knots, which meant we were dead into the wind and waves for our course home. We decided to motor through the seas instead of tacking down Buzzards Bay.  It would have taken us 6 or 7 hours tacking against those seas to get home. Instead, we slogged it out for three hours until reaching Angelica Point, where we could turn to starboard and put those seas on our beam for the final leg of our journey home.

Final notes: there’s a good reason why we haven’t sailed to Onset for the past 8 years. Getting into an out of the canal is tough for a sailboat. I’ll post another blog about that. And getting back home from the canal and facing those soutwesterlies is not easy. We probably won’t be sailing there for a long time, maybe another 8 years? But going there last weekend was a great change from our usual routine, and just exploring new waterways.

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