The Buzzards Bay, Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard area lends itself to many types of cruising. A sailor or motorboater can take a boat to one of the many harbors and use it as a floating hotel while enjoying the beach or the town. On the other hand, the cruise can be more about the journey than the destination, which was our philosophy as we sailed most of each day and spent one night in each harbor.
We boarded the Beneteau 423 Summer Magic in Newport, Rhode Island on Friday afternoon and departed the next morning at 0745 for Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard. With a 10-15 knot breeze out of the North, we had to do a minimal amount of motoring to reach Quick's Hole by 1317 and pick up the two knot current that carried us northeast through Vineyard Sound.
We arrived at Oak Bluffs Harbor by 1630. In most resort areas, arriving that late on a Saturday afternoon on the first sunny weekend of the summer could be a problem, but with manadatory rafting Oak Bluffs always manages to squeeze in everyone who arrives. According to the Harbormaster, moorings are first-come/first-serve but they rarely turn people aways, except for weekends like July 4th. You can also call 508-693-4355 at 0800 and ask to be put on a waiting list for dock space, but we appreciated the relative quiet of a mooring when all the revelers poured out of the bars at 0100. As it was, we rafted up with two very nice couples on similar size boats who were taking the Spring and Summer to sail from South Carolina to Maine.
Dinner was at a new seafod restaurant, Little Pete's, which offers a matrix of fresh seafood and types of preparation. They are a little disorganized - the hostess said there would be a 45 minute wait but does not maintain a list of people waiting for tables. We walked up the street to Jimmy Seas but after finding the wait there was 2 hours(!) we opted to explore the Oak Bluffs Campground and its gingerbread cottages, returning to Little Pete's at the appointed hour. List or not, they did remember us and soon we were seated and enjoying a delicious dinner.
On the way to dinner, we had run into Tony Braunagel who, among his many talents, is the drummer for Jim Belushi & The Sacred Hearts (remember The Blues Brothers?) who were playing that night at The Outerland by the MV Airport. He put us on the guest list and we enjoyed the show. Probably the best description is from Belushi's own web site:
The first thing you need to know about Jim Belushi is that he’s a performer. Not an actor, not a comedian, not a singer, but a performer. Which is pretty much all those things put together and multiplied by two or five or something. The second thing you need to know- and this is in some ways more important than the first thing- is that he has absolutely no shame. None. Zip. Zero.
The next morning at 1025 we departed for Nantucket. The winds in Nantucket Sound are usually consistent and strong, and indeed made for good sailing. We called the Nantucket Boat Basin which, while only accepting advance reservations for stays of 2 days or more, will confirm same-day space on the morning of one's intended arrival. We tied up there at 1815. While the place is not cheap, the service is excellent. They even came over with power tools and moved the dock's boarding ladder so it lined up with our boarding gate.
Monday morning a small craft advisory was in effect, which meant good sailing, so we headed for Chatham on Cape Cod. The winds were out of the Southwest at 15-20 knots, so we made good time on a broad reach, arriving by 1700. On our way there we called the harbormaster and reserved a mooring at the bargain price of $25. Chatham actually has two harbors. We stayed at Stage Harbor as all the guidebooks and charts warn that Chatham harbor requires up-to-date local knowledge. When we got ashore asked Susan, the friendly Assistant Harbormaster about this. She showed us one of those on-demand charts, then warned that it was three years old and did not reflect the current location of the channel or the buoys. She showed us an arial photo and said that the local fisherman were sometimes running aground even at high tide. That said, Stage Harbor is a peaceful place to spend the night.
Tuesday morning at 1020 we left for Cuttyhunk arriving at 1700. Moorings there are first-come/first-serve and all taken but there is plenty of good anchoring at the east end of the inner harbor. We purchased some lobsters from the Fish Market on the pier (show up by 1700 if you want them cooked for you) and called the Raw Bar boat on VHF ch 72 to get some freshly shucked oysters ($2/each).
Wednesday at 0930 we left Cuttyhunk for Block Island. Since the moorings are usually taken early in the day, we called Champlin's Marina for a reservation. It was a good thing that they did, as the boats were rafted three and four deep when we got there at 1800. Fortunately we were on the outside next to some nice people on their trawler from Fairfield, Connecticut. Dinner was at Dead Eye Dick's.
Thursday morning we left Block Island for Jamestown, Rhode Island, across the bay from Newport. We picked up a mooring at Conanicut Marine. The facilities were first rate, and the town charming, but the anchorage is not all that sheltered from the waves.
Friday morning we sailed up the river, around Gould Island, and back to Newport. Total diesel fuel consumed for the week: 10 gallons.
Photos are here.
Little Pete's Seafood Grill
Oak Bluffs, MA 02557
32 Kennebec Avenue
Oak Bluffs, MA 02557
Dead Eye Dick's
133 Beach Ave.
218 Ocean Ave
above Payne's Dock
Block Island, RI 02807