Wednesday, June 4th
Great Salt Pond, Block Island
Sunday morning found us heading north once again. This time we were headed for our last stop in Chesapeake Bay, the Bohemia River. An adverse current and no wind made for a very long and uninspiring day. For one hour before we arrived at our anchorage the wind piped up enough to raise the sails but it disappeared in the blink of an eye. At anchor we debated tomorrow's plan. The first scenario had us heading through the C&D Canal, down the Delaware Bay to Cape May, New Jersey where we'd wait, perhaps days, for weather to cross to Block Island . Scenario two had more allure for us though. It involved the same first steps but skipping the Cape May part and just heading straight offshore. Two nights at sea was the only drawback to this option.
On our way down Delaware Bay Monday morning we made our last call to Chris Parker for a weather forecast. If we went to Cape May we'd be waiting till at least Friday for another window which would be brief at best. If we continued offshore today we'd be most of the way to Block by the time the current weather window would fall apart. The deterioration involved 25 knots on the stern and some rain. Shango is perfectly happy with those conditions so Monday evening we careened past the beach at Cape May and continued on our way as the sun set over New Jersey.
These would be our 15th &16th overnights of the trip and we were feeling fairly comfortable doing them at this point. That's not to say we enjoyed them. This particular trip is one of the busiest since it involves crossing the New York shipping lanes. All hands, including Milo, were up for the trip.
The pleasant weather held out longer than we expected. Well into Tuesday night and the wee hours of Wednesday morning the wind was pretty light. We were able to sail downwind with the whisker pole from noon on Tuesday till sunset, when the pole was stashed out of harms way for the night. We found we were still able to make enough headway with the main alone through Tuesday night. Wednesday at the crack of dawn with Block Island in view the rain and wind finally arrived. Happily we were on the hook inside Great Salt Pond within two hours. My undying devotion to the tall handsome deck hand who handled the anchor drill during the deluge. All hands retired below into the warmth of the cabin for some much needed sleep.
Sunday, June 8th
Tarpaulin Cove, Naushon Island, Massachusetts
Here we are back in Massachusetts. As scenic vistas in Massachusetts go, Tarpaulin Cove is a standout. It felt almost ok to be back home. This was the second stop on our "Cape & Islands Tour 2008" I include Block Island in this because it seems to fit, despite being in Rhode Island.
After several days of waiting out the lousy weather at Block Island we were finally able to rent a car and take an Island tour. It's a beautiful place which has managed to preserve over 40% of its land in a variety of conservation efforts. It, like the Cape, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket suffer from Summer crowds but it is still possible to find unspoiled areas.
Except for Cuttyhunk, all of the Elizabeth Islands are owned by the Forbes family. Access is tightly controlled but the views are great. There are very few homes on the Islands and most of those are quite understated. In Tarpaulin Cove there is an old farmhouse and a lighthouse. You are allowed to walk the beach but cannot go inland. It's a very beautiful place which is a very popular anchorage in the Summer. It was great to be here just before the season has started.
Monday, June 9th
Falmouth Inner Harbor, Cape Cod, MA.
After a tiny sail from Tarpaulin Cove we found ourselves eight miles north in the warm embrace of Falmouth Inner Harbor. We were guests, once again, of Bill Zammer at the Flying Bridge Restaurant. Six years ago when we stopped on our way home the cat escaped ashore and we drove around for hours in Bill's fancy car shouting "Milo" out the window. His only request this time was for us to keep the cat onboard. We had a great lunch at the restaurant and Bill was able to fill us in on all of his recent exploits which are many. He was heading down to Tortola several days later to spend some time on his sailboat, Merlin and was excited to be getting into the boating mood. Bill, thanks as always for your hospitality!
Wednesday, June 11th
Nantucket Island, MA.
I hadn't been to Nantucket since I visited with my college roommate 25 years ago. I was looking forward to seeing how much, if anything, I remembered. We arrived after a light wind sail. We finally gave up about five miles from the harbor entrance, turning to the engine for assistance. Once inside the harbor we anchored behind a sand spit known as Coatue. It was a beautiful spot a bit like the anchorage behind Long Point in Provincetown. We would discover later that this anchorage would become off limits permanently as of July 1st. I'm glad we were able to experience it before its closure.
We made a quick trip into town to see if we could make arrangements to rent a car for an Island tour the following day. Happily we discovered Young's Bicycle Shop. For a very reasonable price (way more reasonable than on Block Island) they rented us a BRAND NEW Honda Civic. Boy, it was just as much fun to drive as it was to sightsee! The next day, armed with an Island map we did a lap of Nantucket. We started with the town which is gorgeous. The architecture sends you right back to the days when whaling was the main occupation. I imagine that the smell is somewhat improved over those days. Then we headed east towards Pocomo, Wauwinet (where you can't actually go without the proper creds.), Quidnet (my favorite), 'Sconsett (where Bill Belichek has a place) and back to town. We had lunch at a cool place called Something Natural then headed off in a westerly direction. After stops at Dionis, and Madaket we went for a walk on the beach at the end of Hummock Pond Road. There weren't many people out for a nice day but it is still pre-season. We did encounter several seals swimming out beyond the surf line. They must have been looking for a late lunch. I wondered if they were hoping someone would toss them a tuna sandwich. After a quick stop at Bartlett's Farm we made our way back to Young's Bike Shop with the car intact. A fine day.
After our two days on Nantucket we left with a very favorable impression. Everyone we met was really friendly and helpful. I suppose after a season of tourists their tolerance may get worn down but we can at lest recommend June. We were told that October is also a good time to be on the Island because it's SCALLOP SEASON!
Friday, June 13th
Vineyard Haven, Martha's Vineyard, MA
Martha's Vineyard is less of a mystery. We have sailed here several times over the last few years and Roger used to spend vacations here many years ago. Our first stop was Edgartown Harbor on the east end of the Island. I hadn't sailed to Edgartown since I was a kid and I had very little memory of it. Edgartown is definitely the country club corner of the Island. After being told you can no longer anchor in Katama Bay we picked up a mooring in town. As luck would have it we were directly across from the Summer cottage of the late Ernie Boch, auto sales magnate. The residents must have been thrilled when it was built. It's quite something. It is three stories tall and has innumerable windows and skylights. There is a gambrel roof on a portion of the house, I guess so it would fit in with its neighbors(?). It has several canons on the front lawn and the windvane is lit up at night. Understatement was not Ernie's strong suit. Roger's back was complaining for the first time all year so I left him to relax aboard and I took the dinghy ashore. The amenities for boaters are quite good. Nice dinghy dock, showers, etc. I'm sure that these facilities can become overwhelmed in high season but once again, June was no problem. Town was pretty and busy. It didn't have as much historic charm as Nantucket but it was still appealing.
We called it an early evening and had just started to nod off when we started to hear cheering across the waters of the Harbor. Then hooting and hollering. It didn't seem like the sort of place where things got rowdy on a Thursday night. Then it occurred to us. The Celtics game was on. At about eleven thirty one last hoot went up and we rolled over. This morning we discovered that the game was a doosy. The Celtics came back from a 20+ point deficit to beat L.A. in game four of the NBA Championships.
Early Friday morning we set out for Vineyard Haven, on the west edge of Martha's Vineyard. These were Roger's old stomping grounds and aching back or no, he was going for a walk. We tied up at the Black Dog wharf and set out. Our first stop was Gannon & Benjamin's. This is a boat yard on the Harbor that makes beautiful, rugged wooden boats. The yard is featured in a book called Wooden Boats. It's a very neat place. From there it was off to the Bunch of Grapes bookstore on Main St. Most everything in town looked as Roger remembered it. All was right with the world.
Saturday, June 14th
Today was a long day for us. We've been taking little steps lately so 50 miles seemed like quite a distance. In order to fortify ourselves we headed into the Black Dog tavern for a hearty breakfast. That taken care of we made our way out into Vineyard Sound for our first navigational challenge of the day. Woods Hole. We timed this one reasonably well. We arrived not too long after slack so the current wasn't crazy. Only about three knots. We sped by innumerable buoys, encountering no ferries or big scary commercial traffic. With that out of the way we popped out into Buzzards Bay. There wasn't a lot of wind but we had time before the current was right in the Cape Cod Canal so we set the sails for a leisurely poke up the Bay. Lots of boats were out enjoying the late Spring weekend day, giving the area a festive air. Sadly we made better progress than we had hoped and wound up at the Canal before the current had turned. Not a crisis. It was the very end of the unfavorable tide and it wasn't too long before we had slack water. We didn't get to experience the thrill of heading through with max current but there will be other times.
When we exited the Canal the wind was initially light and on the nose for our trip to Provincetown, but after about a half an hour things perked up. The Captain, whose back was feeling slightly better, tweaked the sails to within an inch of their lives and we were off and running. By the time we were off of P-Town 3+ hours later the breeze was blowing 15 knots on the starboard beam and the Captain was smiling contentedly at the helm.
So here we find ourselves, anchored in Provincetown Harbor just a daysail from home.