Chip Ford's 1974 Catalina 22 Restoration Project
Sail #3282  l  Marblehead, Massachusetts

The never-ending project to fill my hole in the ocean while bailing it out

The 2012 Scituate Shakedown Mini-Cruise
June 21 - 24, 2012

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Marblehead/Scituate course indicated in yellow

Click thumbnails for a larger picture

Chip Ahoy on its mooring


Thursday, June 21, 2012; 7:00 am
Chip Ahoy’s mooring
Marblehead, MA

It’s going to be another hot one today – close to 100° or better like yesterday. Summer Solstice; the sunrise was much sooner than me; at about 5:00 this morning it splashed through the companionway. I rolled over and went back to sleep.  I’ll get sunrise photos later, or not.

When I heard the extended weather forecast a few days ago I knew this was it, Carpe Diem!  My plan immediately took shape: sail to Scituate for a long weekend shakedown cruise.

The forecast is holding so far. The only weather threat is tomorrow, when a cold front moves in bringing with it thunderstorms. I’m betting they’ll be nasty, but by then I’ll be in Scituate under the pup tent.

Unfortunately it took two trips out on the launch late yesterday afternoon to lug out everything I needed for a quickie cruise. (Bringing the laptop along is not usual.) Not only is this the first cruise of the year for Chip Ahoy and me, but it’s the shakedown sail as well – the first time I’ll hoist sail this season. I wonder what I’ll run into when the time comse?

Aboard I began to settle in, stow gear, ready the boat for the morning departure. I love that forward hatch! Without that air flow this cabin would be unbearable in this temperature. It was comfortable last night; in fact I pulled out the sleeping bag at some point. I’ve of course got long pants, sock, and other warm clothes with me but haven’t needed to change yet. Ah, this is summer at its finest!

Today’s NWS forecast is for more of yesterday: Sunny and extremely hot. The wind will be NW (favorable for once on a sail to Scituate) turning west later today. Seas are running about two feet. It ought to be a nice sail down to Scituate.

I’ve got Chip Ahoy ready to go, everything situated for a few days away. I’m on my second cup of coffee. Before it’s done I need to call E-Z Rider launch and mooring service in Scituate, reserve a mooring. If there are none available (unlikely), I’ll try the harbormaster, see if I can get a slip at the town dock. Soon as I do, I’ll stow the Origo stove, fire up the outboard, drop the mooring, and be on my way.

Thursday, June 21, 2012; 6:30 pm
Scituate Harbor mooring

All settled in after today’s trip down to Scituate. It was a beautiful day; sunny all the way and very hot, high-90s. It feels like maybe I got a bit too much sun today, I’m kind of pinkish, which hopefully won’t turn red later. I could feel that powerful sun early; put on my hat and a light shirt – even sprayed myself with 30 SPF sunscreen.

I dropped Chip Ahoy’s mooring at 8:45 am and motored out of the harbor, hoisting sail (for the first time this season) at its mouth. No snags, tangles, crossed lines or anything that needed tweaking – a first, and a good start. The NW breeze was very light until I cleared Marblehead Rock and got out into Massachusetts Bay, so I kept motor-sailing. Out into the Bay I shut down the Honda and raised it, sailing on across the Boston Harbor shipping channel. Visibility was 100% and traffic was nonexistent, another great omen. I was impressed with how well Chip Ahoy was rigged on this, its shakedown cruise: It required no tweaking or adjustments.

Around noon the breeze shifted a bit more from the west but lightened to negligible to none. The seas were literally flat, barely a ripple. I called ahead to E-Z Rider launch and moorings, confirmed that they had a mooring waiting me. (I asked for one in the inner harbor if possible, close to a Wifi signal. They had one for me and would hold it.) Under sail, Chip Ahoy was making about 2 knots (according to the GPS) and at that speed wouldn’t make Scituate until early evening – and I was now baking under the sun (maybe Chip Ahoy does need a Bimini top!) – so I lowered and started the outboard, motor-sailed the rest of the way.

I pulled through the Scituate breakwater and past the lighthouse at about 3:00 pm, radioed ahead (Channel 9) to E-Z Rider, was met at Buoy 8 by the launch and led to my mooring. It took two reaches with the boat hook to grab it. After grabbing it with the boat hook it mysteriously resisted being pulled in. I had to give it up, drift past, then reverse and try again.

On the second pass I hooked it, determined not to let it go, finally grabbed the pennant with gloved hand, and discovered the difficulty – the line was non-existent, wrapped by tons of seaweed and growth. I held on for dear life to the weighty ecosystem until I could drag it out to the bow, quickly got the barely visible loop over the bow cleat, then pulled out my knife and cut off as much heavy growth as I could reach. Chip Ahoy’s foredeck now looks like a fractured aquarium, all sorts of miniature sea life wiggling around, long leafs of thick green ‘lettuce’ and brown scum all over it. But Chip Ahoy is moored in Scituate Harbor.

I stowed all the sailing gear below, ran the 5MileWifi antenna up the mast, then set up the “pup tent” over the boom and cockpit. After gulping down a couple bottles of water I was pretty much settled in, and wiped out.

When I took out the laptop and hooked it up to the 5MileWifi connection – it didn’t work! Dear God, not again! I spent much of my trip down here in Scituate last year wrestling with this same problem. 5MileWifi support is useless I learned then. After I got back to Marblehead, they sent me a new booster/signal amplifier over the winter. I was assured that it was the problem and their replacement was the solution. It worked last fall while I was up in Gloucester; I assumed it would work this season, a few months later, too. Shame on me.

Like last year, I attempted to contact 5MileWifi by phone – with the very same results. Left messages, so far no response. Oh well, time to go ashore for dinner.

Friday, June 22, 2012; 7:30 am
Scituate Harbor mooring

Yep, Summer Solstice and dawn’s sun filling the companionway hatch at 5:00 am, waking me. I managed to roll over for another half hour, but then it was time to wake up and look around. It’s going to be another hot one – it’s about 80° in the cabin right now, with the forward hatch wide open. There’s not a whole lot of breeze.

I’m on my second cup of tea bag coffee, didn’t even want to think about firing up the laptop and again confronting 5MileWifi frustration. I tried connecting again. Nada.

Last night I took the launch into the town harbormaster’s dock, walked over to Mill Wharf Restaurant, ordered my traditional steak dinner. It was excellent, best NY sirloin I’ve had in some time.

Back aboard I played around some more with the 5MileWifi system only to further frustrate myself, left another message with its tech support. After my years of experience trying to reach them I recognize this time will probably turn out just as futile. I wonder why they provide a teaser "support" phone number at which a message always promises a return phone call that never happens? A phony ploy, an appearance that they provide support for their product?

I read for a while then woke up after midnight with the oil lamp still on. After stowing my glasses on the shelf, blowing out the lamp and turning off the reading light, I rolled over and was back to sleep immediately.

It’s supposed to be another real hot and humid day, but with a cold front moving in late this afternoon bringing with it thunderstorms and downpours. We’re shooting for an official heat wave here in New England, over 90° for three days running. With the forward hatch open there’s air circulation, if not a whole lot at the moment.

Friday, June 22, 2012; 6:30 pm
Scituate Harbor mooring

Oh yeah, a thunderstorm is approaching. Just 8 km south, NOAA reports, a severe storm cell is over Plymouth and environs and I can see the lightning flashes. Showers have begun and more is approaching.

I climbed out to the bow and checked the mooring line and cleat an hour ago, tied a small line around the thick rope eye on the mooring pennant to prevent it from slipping off the forward deck cleat; jacked up the anchor above its roller and onto the pulpit to prevent any chafing of the mooring line, though I think it’d take a pole ax to sever it. (Getting caught on Chip Ahoy’s mooring pennant a few years ago caused the anchor to do some damage to the hull.) I lowered the swing keel to keep Chip Ahoy from swinging as much on its mooring.

The wind is picking up, gusting, and the rainfall is increasing.

Friday, June 22, 2012; 8:45 pm
Scituate Harbor mooring

The rain continues to fall heavily but in bursts. Thunder and lightening surrounded Scituate for a while but the most severe weather passed to the south and out to sea moving eastward. Hunkered down in the cabin I’m comfortable, even with the forward hatch closed and dogged tight when the showers arrived. The temperature has dropped, though not as much as I’d expected it would. At dusk the no-see-ums arrived – first of them I’ve ever encountered here. I think it was the calm-before-the-storm when the air stopped moving and they could move in for the kill. They endured for only perhaps an hour and were gone.

I spent far too many hours today wrestling with the 5MileWifi problem – but that’s my obsessiveness, or insanity. Why do I think I can make it work when I couldn’t last season? I tried everything I could think of, including going online when I got one of the intermittent Wifi signals from the laptop’s built-in WLAN card, searching for and downloading other drivers that the “found new hardware wizard” couldn’t find. I even again downloaded 5MileWifi’s software to no avail, again. All the other software I downloaded wouldn’t work with its “802.11 nWLAN” hardware – I have found nothing that will work with it, make the 5MilieWifi system function.

I’ve called and left a number of message with their “tech support” – I can’t honestly say I can understand his name, but it sounded like “Anide.” I finally called, selected the “Sales” option at their phone number (301-838-4380), got "Meship Jamal" (phonetically spelled) and knew I was in trouble. I am dealing with the same two “people” that I had to deal with last year to no avail.

“Meship” was of no more assistance than last time. “The system is old, no longer under warranty, no it’s not supposed to work any more, you’re on your own.”

I bought the 5MileWifi system in January of 2009, hooked it up for the first time during the summer of 2009. It is only three years old, doesn’t work. The booster was replaced last fall.  But 5MileWifi can’t or won’t assist?

Too late, I was told. Its 6-month warranty has expired; I should have tested it last winter, in the snow and ice, before the warranty ran out?

In late fall of last year, after going through this same problem, they sent me a new power booster, told me that was the problem, then a few months later told me if I didn’t send back the failed unit I would be charged. Luckily I still had it, shipped it back to them.

“Meship” informed me that we were wasting his time and mine, so I disconnected.

I tried calling “Anide” (who “Meship” informed me is actually “Ali”) again, left yet another message when I heard his recorded promise, that he was “away from his desk” and to leave my number and he’d return my call soon.  (I’ve been waiting for over a year for that call from last year’s problem. “Ali” doesn’t exist, I’m now confident.)


Sunset over Salem Harbor
June 20, 2012

Passing Marblehead Light and Harbor
June 21, 2012

A fishing vessel roaring into Salem Sound
June 21, 2012

On Massachusetts Bay the conditions
were fine
June 21, 2012

The sail down to Scituate was under a perfectly clear sky.
June 21, 2012

Chip Ahoy on its mooring in Scituate Harbor.
June 21, 2012

Chip Ahoy under its 'pup tent'.
June 21, 2012

Chip Ahoy on its mooring in Scituate Harbor.
June 22, 2012

Chip Ahoy on its mooring in Scituate Harbor.
June 22, 2012

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Starting to enjoy Sailing Season 2012!