The summer of big storms continues, with our first named storm rolling into the Provincetown waterfront over the weekend. Henri was initially predicted to hammer Cape Cod, but its sharp turn to the west made Westerly, R.I. the bullseye.
Despite the reprieve, Henri’s damage was already done as far as local businesses were concerned. Private boats were encouraged to haul out and the Marina shut down and would not take in any transient customers. It’s hard to call a harbor a “safe refuge” when no one will take you in, but I suppose it’s not easy deciding policy when it comes to inclement weather.
Whale watching, fishing charters, and sailing excursions all came to a grinding halt, and on a weekend no less, which added to the pain of this Covid- and storm-tossed summer. Our resolve is certainly being tested. With two weeks left in the high season, let’s hope we get good weather and a high number of visitors to finish up with.
In the past, when we’ve gotten late-season storms like Henri, those who hauled their boats out simply didn’t want to go back in. They called it a wrap on the summer, which just further accelerates the end of the waterfront season. Time will tell if that happens this year.
Henri brought us hardly any tropical rains, but there were some peripheral storm-related winds from the east and southeast. Nothing we don’t deal with fairly regularly here on the Outer Cape. Fishing for bluefish prior to the storm was excellent. We have a tremendous number of them here, and at the moment they cover a large swath of water. There are fish all along the back side to Peaked Hill Bar, as well as in the bay from the Race to Wood End and from the Pamet to Billingsgate Shoals.
We also have a lot of sand eels and peanut bunker in the water, which should keep the bluefish around, eating. Striped bass also made an appearance on the Peaked Hill Bar last week, and charter boats were surprised at the size of the fish. Captain Russ of the Lisa Zee boated a 35-inch bass there, and we caught a few as well on the Cee-Jay while jigging for bluefish on the bar. Difficult to say if the bass will remain there, as the storm more than likely will create movements of fish.
A lot of fin whales and even one humpback were feeding off the Race Ranger Station leading up to the storm. We had a huge pod of white-sided dolphins in the harbor last Thursday, probably due to the presence of lots of squid, a preferred food for dolphins.
One big plus from a major storm like this: it turns the water over and removes stagnation in the water column, so it’s a sure cure for the hypoxia — a low oxygen state caused by high nitrogen levels — that was beginning to occur in the south end of the bay.