The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 17, 2003


Summer misadventures

Another sailing season has ended for those of us with small boats. Incidentally, my definition of a small boat is, when the launch that brings you out to the boat is larger and longer than your boat, you have a small boat. At 21 feet, we fit neatly into that category. We sail mostly on weekends and always in good weather. This past summer we did very little sailing. The summer of 2002 wasn't a lot better, but our boat managed to have the big adventure that year.

Our boat, Tambourine, is a wooden 21-foot Cape Cod Catboat, weighing a little over three tons. Our mooring is located in Marblehead Harbor, where there are a lot of boats and an average tide of ten feet. The harbor is open to the northeast, and can really take a hit in a big storm.

We always thought that the boat was very securely moored, but we had a big surprise last summer. Our mooring gear consisted of a 200-lb. mushroom anchor, 20 feet of one-and-a-half-inch chain, each link being 9"x5", and 30 feet in half-inch chain to the mooring float and 20 feet of one-inch nylon line to the boat. We changed the top chain and line regularly. That's enough for a 40- or 50- foot boat.

Our crew has been known to go around to the surrounding boats to check and reattach chafing gear when a storm was imminent. We used to say that we thought we were really moored by that big bottom chain because it never seemed to straighten out. The half-inch top chain was regularly checked and changed as needed. Boy, were we cocky!

Early one evening two summers ago, after leaving the boat for the night, we received a call from the Boston Yacht Club saying, "Tambourine is on the seawall!!" Then they told us that the launch went out and pulled us into deeper water and everything seemed all right. There had been quite a squall with a 50-knot gust. It was the gust that did it. Our boat headed straight for the near shore, but stopped just short of hitting anything.

Next morning we were on the first launch and proceeded to motor ourselves back to our original location. We never had been able to move all that weight before, so we tied the boat to a borrowed mooring and had the mooring man come out and take a look. Sure enough, when he pulled up the gear, there was no mushroom on the other end. The shackle had parted and we really were moored by that big chain.

Now we have a 3,000-pound. cement mooring block, 20 feet of new one and a half-inch studded chain, each link weighs five pounds, 30 feet of half- inch-top chain, as well as 15 feet of one-inch nylon line, and we are not quite so cocky. The old big chain is securely around my flower garden.

2003 The Carlisle Mosquito