Unrelenting storms continue to ravage the Cape this summer, with the latest being Tropical Storm Elsa, which blasted us last Friday afternoon, July 9. It was a really bad combination: the storm brought southeast and south winds, which are the worst possible directions for us, with the most powerful wind gusts occurring at high tide. That turned our harbor into a chaotic mess for a few hours, with mayday and distress calls going out from boats that had parted from their moorings. Gusts as high as 61 mph were recorded during the high tide. On Cape Cod, only Hyannis recorded a higher wind gust.
Malcolm Hunter and Nate Caley of TowBoatU.S. and Noah Santos were dispatched into action, with multiple mooring failures and beached boats caused by the wind-driven waves. As I’ve said before, Provincetown is not a harbor of safe refuge unless you are behind the breakwater and wave attenuators. Too much unblocked deep water everywhere else creates sizable waves, which no mooring gear or boat deck gear can reliably withstand.
“At around 12:15 p.m.,” said Noah Santos, “both TowBoatU.S. boats began patrolling the harbor, just as winds started to really pick up, with our harbor’s worst possible wind direction, southeast, bringing large waves. Soon after, as winds topped out close to 60 mph, there was a mayday call from a large ketch sailboat whose mooring had broken free. It hit at least two other moored boats, but then we got it under tow in testing conditions and secured it on a mooring behind the breakwater.”
Santos said they saw another large sailboat about to chafe through its mooring line, but they were able to alert the elderly crew to start the engine and head behind the breakwater.
“We put a towboat captain aboard to assist them with docking at the marina,” he said. “We also dealt with the salvage of three smaller power boats broken from moorings. Things were a little intense for a while there, but we were able to prevent further damage to boats or injury to crew.”
We are fortunate to have these skilled captains onsite when events like this occur. Very few ports have this advantage.
Fishing following the storm was outstanding. The striped bass have been very good since the storm, with limit catches being reported on most charter boats as well as the CeeJay. The fish are stacked up along the edge from Wood End light all the way to the Race Point ranger station.
Drifting live or dead mackerel and herring, as well as trolling umbrella rigs, has been very effective, along with vertical jigging Daddy Macs and Ava jigs. Bluefish continue to play peek-a-boo with us, as they are here for a day and then gone tomorrow, only to return the following day.