Sea Conditions in Buzzards Bay

I often hear comments from other sailors, whether in person, from other blogs, sailing web sites, etc, how difficult sailing in Buzzards Bay is. Primary due to the tough sea conditions that can build up in the Bay. I just finished reading one sailing blog about a cruising couple sailing the up the New England coast dreaded entering Buzzards Bay. Well, I’ve been sailing here for a number of years and all I can say is: I absolutely agree.

The geographically funnel shaped bay directly exposed to the prevailing southwest winds of summer build up steep waves in Buzzards Bay. Sailing here is not for the faint of heart. On the other hand, if you can handle your sailboat in Buzzards Bay, you can sail anywhere. On an average day, there’s usually 3 to 5 foot chop.

That isn’t encouraging for people new to sailing or sailors looking for lazy summer day sails. My wife Janet has been terrified by the conditions we’ve been face with in the Bay on several occasions.

Sailing in Buzzards Bay can be grueling and it can be dangerous. Just refer to my blog dated Sept 2007 describing our harrowing sail in 10 foot seas in the Bay. And trust me when you read that story, I wasn’t exaggerating the height of the waves.

In addition, the western entrance to the Cape Cod Canal in Buzzards can build up to 15 feet as I’ve been told. Of which I’ve personally faced 12-13 footers in those treacherous waters. Those waves are built by the rushing waters exiting the Canal and the contrary southwesterly winds. Local sailors know to install their life lines if they’re entering into Buzzards Bay riding with the current and facing a strong wind.

Ok, so I’ve be describing how tough the seas can become in Buzzards Bay. But there are strategies for sailors who want to avoid being caught in the usually 3 -5 seas (or more). The easiest way is to plan your crossing of the Bay is in the morning. You can reach most destinations in Buzzards Bay in 4 or 5 hours with the right conditions. So, by leaving early enough chances are you’ll have a truly enjoyable sail. The southwesterlies are notorious for starting around noontime and building throughout the day. Even if theNational Weather Service is calling for light winds on the day of your sail, plan on getting hit with heavy winds in Buzzards Bay. It happens all the time.

It’s understandable why newcomers to Buzzards Bay might dread the area with everything they’re heard about, including what I wrote about here. However, there are many, many days where the Bay is just idyllic with flat seas and gentle winds. It’s like anywhere you go. Just be prepared and you’ll have a great sail.

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