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Old 27-07-2020, 11:38   #1
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Buzzards Bay vs Cape Cod Bay sailing

So I have kept my boat in New Bedford, MA, about halfway up Buzzards Bay, for the last 6 years and lately the sea conditions are getting to me. I mean rough water more often than not. I've only been over to Cape Cod Bay once. So I'm wondering if others who may have more regularly sailed both areas have an opinion about which is the kindest seas. Am I just looking for the proverbial greener pastures or might I find a little less turbulence in waters along Massachusetts eastern shore? Thanks for your observations.
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Old 27-07-2020, 11:54   #2
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Re: Buzzards Bay vs Cape Cod Bay sailing

Prevailing Westerlies tend to blow straight up Buzzards bay. I would think being on the lee side of Cape Cod would make things a bit calmer, to a degree. I think once your on the North side of Cape Cod Bay you have enough fetch to deal with basically the same issue.
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Old 27-07-2020, 19:15   #3
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Re: Buzzards Bay vs Cape Cod Bay sailing

I was hoping to get some reporting of people who have actually sailed both areas. I think Shrew's theory is correct, bu what have sailors experienced.
Thanks.
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Old 27-07-2020, 19:31   #4
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Re: Buzzards Bay vs Cape Cod Bay sailing

You are probably thinking of Nantucket Sound, south of Cape Cod and north of the islands. We keep our 42 sailboat in Marion. Yes Buzzards Bay can really kick up. Awesome for some. Not so much for others. We just came back from the Vineyard. It was 16-20knts SW. Great broad reach for us. We were glad we werenít trying to get to Cutty or Newport. The winds often seem a slightly less in Nantucket Sound. There is a lot more current though. We choose our times to go based on it. Also south side of Cape Cod doesnít have a lot of harbors if you draw 5 or more. Also you have to contend with Cape traffic.

We have been thinking of trying out South Dartmouth. We miss being so far from Narragansett Bay. We kept our boat there for 5 years before moving her to Marion. We have really enjoyed being close to the Vineyard and PTown.

Where are you thinking?

Happy to discuss more.

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Old 27-07-2020, 19:31   #5
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Re: Buzzards Bay vs Cape Cod Bay sailing

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Originally Posted by billdre View Post
I was hoping to get some reporting of people who have actually sailed both areas. I think Shrew's theory is correct, bu what have sailors experienced.
Thanks.
I routinely sail both areas. Buzzards Bay is awesome! So long as youíre going from Cuttyhunk to Mass Maritime. Otherwise it stinks. You get beaten up heading southwest.

Cape cod bay is nice and flat, but also kind of a bit less windy.

Any hope for vineyard sound? Or go the other way to Narragansett Bay?

Land traffic might be too much. I get that.
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Old 27-07-2020, 20:00   #6
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Re: Buzzards Bay vs Cape Cod Bay sailing

Hi. I sailed for decades out of Slocum River and Barnstable. On Buzzards Bay: the boat ...Wood fore and aft fishing boat similar to No Mans Land boat. Stone ballast, two rigs summer and winter. One lung motor, cuddly with little cod stove, no radio, no gps, no depth finder. Compass, lead line. Lost two friends at sea here. They donít call it Buzzards Bay for nothing.
Ice cold summer waves. Frozen fingers cod fishing. Always wind and more wind.
One of the most beautiful places to sail in the world. Perfectly terrifying. Stunning. Better in fall and winter.
Cape Cod Bay: Perfect white sand, warm swimming, quiet as an owl sailing. Mean, green head flies. Smooth night run to Provincetown. Wicked in winter. Wicked.
Westport River ? Why not...Mount Hope Bay. Jamestown. Both worth it a try.
Maybe a bit more of an offshore boat for Buzzards and a really big catboat for the Bay. Big cat boats are just so nice for Cape Cod Bay. Buzzards needs a real offshore boat. Not necessarily big, just strong.
Sometime the boats got to fit the voyage even if itís one overnight or a day sail.
Look back at old drawings and models of what fishermen used in these very different areas. I sailed for years with no motor. They did. It teaches you a lot about the ďno ideal everywhere ďboat. Buzzards Bay is a hoot. Youíll be back.
Happy trails to you.
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Old 27-07-2020, 23:32   #7
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Re: Buzzards Bay vs Cape Cod Bay sailing

I have sailed all the mentioned areas in all seasons. Cape cod bay is calmer than Buzzards Bay except in a northeaster or after a strong cold front passes through. Nantucket sound is calmer than Buzzards Bay but windier than Cape cod bay. Maybe windier than Buzzards bay in the summer if you are within a mile or two of the cape. Buzzards bay always seems to kick up a short period chop that is often ruthless. I prefer sailing in Nantucket sound in the summer. The seas are more pleasant and the water is 15+ degrees warmer than other areas. (Not counting woods hole areas that have huge tidal ranges and currents) Best.
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Old 28-07-2020, 08:21   #8
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Re: Buzzards Bay vs Cape Cod Bay sailing

Sorry on my response suggesting that you were referring to Nantucket Sound, I was on my phone and misread it. Still an area to consider other than Cape traffic.



I think part of whether you will like Cape Cod Bay depends if you spend most of your time going out and back for day sails, or prefer sailing to a destination. Out of Marion we do go up to Cape Cod Bay for Plymouth, P-Town, Wellfleet, or an extended trip to Boston and Maine. There is a lot within those, though things are pretty limited after that. But you still have the option of coming back through the canal as long as you time the SW blow and currents. If the SW is over 12kts, wait in Onset for the current to change. It is doable but not much fun with some big short waves that stack up.


If you sailed out of Plymouth, Duxbury, or Situate, the prevailing SW keeps the seas relatively quiet as opposed to BB where they build up, with the winds accentuated by the sea breeze.



We haven't ventured into Barnstable Harbor as it didn't seem like it offered a lot especially for a 6' draft. We'll probably try poking in sometime for a short stop to check it out.


Hopefully this is more useful.


Harry
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Old 28-07-2020, 08:33   #9
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Re: Buzzards Bay vs Cape Cod Bay sailing

Quote:
Originally Posted by billdre View Post
I was hoping to get some reporting of people who have actually sailed both areas. I think Shrew's theory is correct, bu what have sailors experienced.
Thanks.
I've been through both areas extensively. It really depends on the day. I've had glass days and had my fillings loosened on both sides. With wind comes waves. If you want to sail in brisk wind and avoid chop, sail on the leeward side of the shore. Location isn't going to guarantee wind direction but the prevailing westerlies tend to blow South-West through the summer months.

In the end, you get the answers that you paid for.
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Old 28-07-2020, 09:21   #10
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Re: Buzzards Bay vs Cape Cod Bay sailing

If you sail Buzzards Bay often your reefing skills will be challenged! I would imagine when the afternoon breeze fills in most boats will shorten sail. Hope you have a dodger
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Old 28-07-2020, 11:02   #11
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Re: Buzzards Bay vs Cape Cod Bay sailing

I live on Sconticut Neck in Fairhaven which sticks out into buzzards Bay and sail on Buzzards Bay, Vineyard Sound and Cape Cod Bay.
Your in a great spot with lots of great destinations to get to; Cuttyhunk, Menemsha, Padanaram, Tarpaulin Cove, Hadleys Harbor, Marion, Tashmoo (if your shallow enough), Marion, Bassets Island etc.

It just takes planning. Mornings are always calmer in the summer. When the afternoons warm up convection air causes the SW wind to pick up. Anytime you have wind against the tide the chop will be much steeper. So if it's blowing SouthWest the ideal situation is to be out there with a flood tide. When it turns to ebb it will really stand up. Likewise when the wind is east or NE, it will be much calmer on an ebb. Same goes for Vineyard sound.

If your planing a transit of the Cape Cod canal, eastbound be sure to be at the west end of Hog Island channel shortly after the start of the flood tide. For going west bound be at the Sandwich basin shortly after the start of the Ebb.

If your going West back to New Bedford on the ebb and the wind is SW it will be rough at the west end of Hog island channel. Best to do that in early morning. If you do get caught there when the wind is up and against the tide, reach up for the Marion shore to get out of the brunt of the tide and it will be much better.

A copy of the Eldridge tide and current book for the current year is a great help for passage planning in Southern New England.

Best of luck
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Old 28-07-2020, 11:10   #12
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Re: Buzzards Bay vs Cape Cod Bay sailing

Iíve sailed both those waters my whole life and can attest that Cape Cod Bay is definitely kinder. The square ways of Buzzards Bay are a rarity in Cape Cod Bay. The trade off is the breezes tend to be lighter, but maybe thatís to your liking.
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Old 28-07-2020, 20:56   #13
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Re: Buzzards Bay vs Cape Cod Bay sailing

We've sailed out of Waquoit Bay, East Falmouth for ages. Easy weekend overnights or day sails to Marthas Vineyard, Elizabeth Islands, etc. Nantucket very accessible. No worries about getting through the canal or Woods Hole.
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