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Ahoy from Provincetown, MA!
If you live in New England, you probably know our current location as "Ptown", which is at the tip of Cape Cod. It's a very eclectic location that's also steeped in lots of history. But, before we delve into all of that, let's talk about out trip here.
We left the Cottage Park Yacht Club in Winthrop, MA just after 7 AM on Monday. Sue's been in a rush to get the boat back to RI, but I wanted to cross the Stellwagen Bank to do some whale watching. The weather was fine for the trip to Ptown, so we headed that direction. The waves generated by hurricane Kyle had relaxed into long period swells that rolled the boat, but weren't unpleasant. The winds were very light and on the nose, so they neither helped nor hinder us, but it sure would have been nice to have the sails up to stabilize the boat. The trip to Ptown was about 44 miles and I spent most of it watching for lobster traps and whales. I saw lots of lobster traps and was getting very worried about seeing any whales. However, just before we got to Ptown, the whales appeared.
The Stellwagen Bank is the summer feeding grounds of the Northern Right Whale and we weren't disappointed. We found a disperse pod of whales who were feeding. As we approached they were broaching, with their entire bodies out of the water. Unfortunately as we got closer, their behavior changed and they stopped the full body broaching. However, we treated to lots of surfacing right around the boat and got sprayed with whale breath several times. After about an hour of floating around with the whales, we headed into Ptown.
We tried to anchor outside of the mooring field as described in various publications, but the anchor wouldn't hold securely. After reviewing the charts later, I saw that the bottom was marked as "hard sand", which pretty much matched what we saw. As a fallback we picked up a mooring ball from Provincetown Marina. The mooring balls, which they described as being "behind the breakwall." I'm not sure what their definition of "behind" is, but it sure doesn't match mine. If their's is "ESE" winds, then they're correct, but it sure doesn't include anything from SE to W, which is what we had, which meant lots of chop and wakes from the ferries.
Ptown was the original landing location for the Pilgrims and has long been a refuge for people of alternate culture seeking a home far away from standard norms. It's become the home to a large gay and lesbian population in addition to a large and thriving artist colony. In many ways their attempt to get away from cultural norms has backfired, as this counter-culture draws tourists in great numbers. Ptown is now a major tourist destination with ferries arriving from Boston and Plymouth on a regular basis. The central downtown is crowded with typical tourist-trap shops and eateries. As you move away from the ferry docks, the shops turn to higher end galleries and restaurants and eventually you end up in beautiful neighborhoods. If you walk far enough, you'll end up on the coastline with salt marshes and sweeping sand dunes. It really is a wonderful place.
We spent 2 nights here because the forecast had a cold front coming through with lots of rain. Fortunately all of the rain was N of us and we ended up with a mostly sunny day. Yahoo! Tomorrow we're headed through the Cape Cod canal to an anchorage on the other side. Where we end up will depend upon the weather and how well we're doing.
-- Geoff & Sue
For the cruiser: After labor day mooring balls are $35/night without launch service. Before Labor Day, it's $45/day. Dockage is $2.50/ft with a 40' minimum. Showers are $1 for 3 min and the bathrooms need a lot of work.
Be sure to get outside of the downtown and explore the neighborhoods. The hike to the top of the Pilgrim Monument provides a great view of the area. Note that most galleries are closed from Monday through Thursday (especially off-season).