Fog in the Bay

Last weekend my wife, Janet, and I sailed from Mattapoisett to Red Brook Harbor, across Buzzards Bay on Cape Cod. Red Brook is a great harbor, I’ll describe that in another blog. Anyways, that Saturday was a beautiful, warm, sunny June day. The sailing itself was a bit sloppy. We had following seas with southwest winds blowing at at about 10 to 15 knots. Typical conditions for the Bay.
During the trip, I mentioned to my wife that, well yes, waves do build up quite frequently here but at least we have very little fog. I went on to explain how foggy Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds are. It’s not uncommon to be in pea soup fog in Vineyard Sound, go through Woods Hole, and sail into brilliant sunshine in Buzzards Bay.
Of course, wouldn’t you know, waking up the next morning in Red Brook Harbor we were socked in with heavy fog. We had to wait till about 11 in the morning for the fog to clear enough to head out of the harbor. And for anyone who’s ever entered Red Brook Harbor, you know how narrow the channel is and how it skirts around the sand bar at the southern end of Bassetts Island. Not a good area to weave your way through in the fog.

While we waited for the fog to lift, Janet called our friends John & Suzanne who were staying on their sailboat in Mattapoisett Harbor to chat. During the conversation Suzanne told Janet that Mattapoisett was sunny and beautiful. All I could think was what the heck was going on.
We managed to get through the channel heading out of the harbor. The fog wasn’t bad at all at that point. It got worse after we left the harbor. We sailed into the Bay with 100 to 200 feet visability. Not bad at all in open water. So, we headed for home with our trusty hand held GPS pointing the way.
As we sailed further south and east away from Cape Cod, the fog grew lighter. By the mid point of our trip, approximately in the middle of Buzzards Bay it was a sunny, beautiful day. We could see the fog bank blowing up from the south over Falmouth and Bourne and onto the Bay. At that point I knew exactly was was occurring. There was heavy fog over Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds. The wind was out of the south-southeast (instead of the usual southwesterlies) and was pushing the fog banks over Cape Cod and onto the northeastern section of the Bay.
The lesson to keep in mind for any sailor heading south though the canal from Cape Cod Bay. If you’re seeing wind out of the south or southeast you’re facing the possibility of fog as you exit the canal. For sailors heading north, making their way to the canal, if you see fog over in Vineyard Sound and you have southeast winds, you know what to expect.

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