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Old 26-03-2017, 10:08   #1
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Block Island to Maine

Hi all,

looking for advice on sailing to Maine from Block Island.

Would appreciate any advice to make the trip comfortable, and safe in our 31 ft. Cape Dory.

Thanks in advance

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Old 26-03-2017, 10:37   #2
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Re: Block Island to Maine

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Originally Posted by hrsail920 View Post
Hi all,

looking for advice on sailing to Maine from Block Island.

Would appreciate any advice to make the trip comfortable, and safe in our 31 ft. Cape Dory.

Thanks in advance

hr
How about a few more details. When are you planning to sail? Now? It's a little bit chilly until late June. Also, please remember this word: "Fog". The coast of Maine can get so foggy that you can often not see 2 meters past the bow. In Maine, we call that fog "pea soup", and it can run miles offshore. Oh, and also, Maine's coastline is "rocky". Just be aware. Lobster pots and kelp? Those are only a concern for your prop.
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Old 26-03-2017, 10:55   #3
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Re: Block Island to Maine

We used to make the trip from Boston to Maine frequently. We are now doing more of our sailing south of the Cape Cod Canal, but I'm happy to help. It's a wonderful trip. In addition to PortClydeMe's questions, it would help to know how long you have for the trip. Are you and crew up for overnights or do you want to make it in day hops? Do you have a specific destination in mind? Maine has a lot of coastline

Meanwhile, a few generic recommendations:

While I agree with PortClydeMe that the fog, lobster traps and rocks are omnipresent, they are features to prepare for, not reasons to not make the trip. Radar is very useful. We've done the trip without, but I wouldn't again unless we were sailing late in the season when the fog tends to be much less likely. We didn't have AIS the last time we went, but we do now. It is particularly useful if you're doing overnights to coordinate with commercial traffic.

If you don't use it already, get a copy of Eldredge's and be prepared to plan your travels around currents and tides. From the start, figure out when and how you plan to transit the Canal. If you can ride a flood up Buzzard's Bay and get through on the same tide at a reasonable time of day, do so.

If you're making a round trip in the summer, realize that the prevailing winds are going to make it a lot easier to get to Maine than to come home. We tended to overnight from Boston (but P'town is a good jump off if you've come through the Canal) on the way up and then plan to head back with day hops leaving very early in the AM and ready to quit if the afternoon winds came up on our nose.
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Old 28-03-2017, 10:55   #4
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Re: Block Island to Maine

We haven't decided where exactly in Maine yet.
We would like to leave end June with no set time, but likely 3 weeks.
Will be departing Jamaica Bay NY and have made the overnight to Montauk and block half a dozen times.
We don't have AIS, but are installing Radar.

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Old 28-03-2017, 11:24   #5
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Re: Block Island to Maine

I sailed from long island sound to kittery maine this past December.


Take buzzards bay and use the canal, don't go around the cape.

Stop off at fiddler's cove (north Falmouth MA) before entering the canal, this gives you the chance to time your approach to the canal, which is kinda important. Spend the night, enjoy the out of the way marina. They have nice facilities.

Go when the predominant wind is westerly to keep the waves down once you get out of the east end of the canal. Once there, it's pretty much just open ocean.


Time your approach to the canal so that the current is just turning your way as you enter it, or you'll get stuck halfway through for 6 hours fighting the current, you can't anchor in the canal so you'll be burning 6 hours of fuel dodging ships. If you enter the canal just before the tide turns, you'll be shot through it much faster (I actually sailed through the canal on my way to maine without my engine running, but that's frowned upon.)


Stop in Plymouth to resupply if you need to, but only enter Plymouth harbor during the day. The entrance to harbor is not safe to navigate at night, it's long and its tricky and you'll ground your boat. I'll go ahead and plug Brewers Plymouth Marina, but I am a brewers employee...not withstanding although I don't work at that marina, they were very accommodating when I needed some winter time mechanical help.


There are fewer marinas on the atlantic coast line than you are accustomed to in the LIS. So plan your stops. Go from Plymouth to Gloucester, then glouster to Portsmouth NH, and from there perhaps Portland me if you plan on going farther. I haven't been past Portland, so I can't advise you past there, but I know there is a huge island trail up there that is a huge draw to tourist boaters in the summer.


When crossing the boston harbor you are likely to see a LOT of big ships...they sneak up on you so keep a good watch. If you cross from Plymouth straight to cape anne (Gloucester), then you will be out of cell range and out of VHF range of land, and will for a short while be in international waters. There are also a LOT of deep water lobster traps out there, so keep your eyes open for those as well.


Crossing from Cape Anne to Portsmouth NH is less eventful, not much going on. Out of sight of land for the most part, and lots more lobster traps.


Let me know when you are taking the trip, if you stop off in Portsmouth NH or Kittery ME (it's the same river harbor) let me know and I'll show you around if you like.


Beware, marinas in maine are REALLY expensive in the summer and in short supply. I was very shocked by that.
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Old 28-03-2017, 11:48   #6
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Re: Block Island to Maine

Quote:
Originally Posted by hrsail920 View Post
We haven't decided where exactly in Maine yet.
We would like to leave end June with no set time, but likely 3 weeks.
Will be departing Jamaica Bay NY and have made the overnight to Montauk and block half a dozen times.
We don't have AIS, but are installing Radar.

hr
Will be a fun trip for you.

The only advice that we can give you is to time the Cape Cod Canal so you go through at a little past half tide. If you go through at full force current you will have a fast ride but it will dump you into huge static water waves at the exit. You want the current working in your direction, just not that full force current.

If you find it to lumpy on the exit of the Cape Cod Canal then hook a hard left or right to get out of the current flow ASAP.

The first time we went through at 10 knots with the motor just over idle.
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Old 28-03-2017, 12:03   #7
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Re: Block Island to Maine

With three weeks to do the round trip and enjoy Maine, I would recommend doing the jump overnight from P'town to your primary cruising ground. Follow Scott's guidance and get a fair tide through the canal. It shifts west to east so you're going to be ok as long as you're not at the end of the tide. Onset and Pocasset are good options to stop on the Buzzard's Bay side. If you get through at a decent hour and are planning the overnight, go straight across Cape Cod Bay to P'town. It's a beautiful harbor with a good anchorage to the East as you enter and moorings closer to town if you want to go ashore. You'll be well positioned for a roughly 100 mile sail to Tennant's Harbor at the west end of the Penobscot Bay entrance. You'll also be starting your sail through Stellwagen Bank and some of the best whale watching on the East Coast.

In June you'll have plenty of daylight but a high risk of fog. Practice with your radar in clear conditions so that you know what you're seeing when you really need it. We like to plan our departure to arrive in mid-morning. That way you'll approach the coast in daylight and have some time to recover if issues slow you down.

On the way back, we plan to do day trips and leave pre-dawn to take advantage of the land breeze. There are lots of stops along the way, but we try to cut off the western bight of the Gulf of Maine to shorten the trip. If you are lucky and get a favorable wind forecast while headed home, jump on it. Slogging southwest is not the best part of the trip.
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Old 28-03-2017, 12:10   #8
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Re: Block Island to Maine

I am thinking about the same trip this summer, mid July or so. Without being told "Active Captain", is it easy to anchor out the whole trip?
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Old 28-03-2017, 12:28   #9
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Re: Block Island to Maine

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Originally Posted by Cotemar View Post
Will be a fun trip for you.

The only advice that we can give you is to time the Cape Cod Canal so you go through at a little past half tide. If you go through at full force current you will have a fast ride but it will dump you into huge static water waves at the exit. You want the current working in your direction, just not that full force current.

If you find it to lumpy on the exit of the Cape Cod Canal then hook a hard left or right to get out of the current flow ASAP.

The first time we went through at 10 knots with the motor just over idle.
The guidance about the CCC is particularly important on the way back if you're coming into a typical afternoon SW wind. If there is any gunk in your fuel tank you will find out about it pounding into standing waves in the channel. If you hit rough conditions at the Buzzards Bay end of the canal plan on heading east to the old channel which hugs the Cape Cod shore. It's out of the current so a lot less bumpy.
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Old 28-03-2017, 12:35   #10
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Re: Block Island to Maine

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I am thinking about the same trip this summer, mid July or so. Without being told "Active Captain", is it easy to anchor out the whole trip?
The answer is very much "It depends". South of the CCC you should be able to anchor in Block Island, outside Cuttyhunk, and in Pocasset around Basset's Island. You will certainly be able to anchor in P'town if you go that way. Once you get to Maine, there are too many choices of destinations to answer categorically, but, if anchoring is the priority, you will find plenty of harbors where it's the norm and easy to do.
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Old 28-03-2017, 13:40   #11
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Re: Block Island to Maine

The standing waves on the Buzzards Bay end of the canal are no joke. We've diverted before into the closest marina or anchorage to stop the pounding.
They have me seriously considering whether I want to try the canal with an outboard powered monohull where the prop will be ripped out every few seconds. Technically it's 'legal' as I can make the time cutoffs, but whether it's wise ...
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Old 28-03-2017, 21:04   #12
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Re: Block Island to Maine

I love this trip and have done it many times. My favorite way to do it includes an overnight sail from Provincetown with landfall at Monhegan Island (125 NM). With the prevailng southerlies, this can be a magical trip of a gentle broad reach under an incredible sky of stars. If you haven't done many overnight trips this is a great confidence builder that you will remember fondly for the rest of your life.

1. Get to Provincetown from Block Island stopping the first night at Cuttyhunk. The second night stay either at Red Brook Harbor, Wareham, or "Harbor of refuge" at the east end of the canal -- depending on canal current. Third night in Provincetown.

2. Wait in Provincetown for a good forecast of southerly winds (and clear skies for the stars). First rule of cruising under sail - wait for your weather window.

3. Leave P-Town so that at your boat's roughly 5-6 knot speed you'll see Monhegan in the distance as the sun rises the next morning.

4. Go into Monhegan and see if you want to stay (it can be a bit rolly). If so, rent a mooring (see instructions in ActiveCaptain) If not, go on to Port Clyde (10 miles) or as far towards Rockland as you feel like going. Anchor, make a hot meal, go to bed, and wake up the next morning smack in the middle of the best Maine cruising grounds.

5. If the weather turns bad or you change your mind after leaving P-Town, stop in Gloucester, Isle of Shoals, or Portland. But you save may miles and much time going straight through the night. Coming back you'll be beating and will stop at all these places anyways.

You have a great boat for Maine. The full keel, attached rudder and recessed prop are not likely to catch lobster pots. I first did this trip in 1977 in a 23ft Carl Alberg designed Sea Sprite. A little brother to your boat.

Fair winds.
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Old 28-03-2017, 21:25   #13
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Re: Block Island to Maine

Back in my sailing club days done the Cape Cod Canal many times. A few of those times it was really foggy. As in "OMG, this huge ship just appeared out of nowhere!" type of foggy. It's best to keep as far away from the middle as your draft will allow. The channel is deep enough close to shore anyway.

Most memorable moment - we had some party girls on board and one was really into fun and games so she kept flashing the large ship's crew. In not time they were hooting and hollering and tooting the horn as a result.
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Old 29-03-2017, 06:13   #14
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Re: Block Island to Maine

one thing about the sides of the canal, there are rocks there in some places. If you have a crowd sourced charter plotter like navionics, then use it if you are going to hug the shore. It will show you when you are approaching a rock.
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Old 29-03-2017, 11:43   #15
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Re: Block Island to Maine

Most people recommend the CC canal, and it is a fine way to go. But don't discount the outside route entirely. I've gone Martha's Vineyard -> Nantucket -> Pollock Rip Channel -> up the outside to Provincetown. You can choose to stop off in M.V. / Nantucket as much or little as your schedule allows.

I mention this because the view of the huge bluffs on the back shore of the Cape is pretty amazing. You can sail just a few hundred yards off the beach. The people on the beach look like ants below the bluffs. I was followed by (or really ran in parallel with) a couple of whales out there. Plus, along the Monomoy shore you stand a chance of seeing the lively seal & shark show. . . . Magnificent place, and less crowded than the Canal route.

Then from P-town, a straight overnighter to Maine is the way to go.
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