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Archive for the ‘Massachusetts’ Category

So, we did check out, and in fact actually left.  We departed Plymouth MA as scheduled, and hit our carefully planned for tides and currents passage through the Cape Cod Canal exactly right.  When we popped out the other end, it was early afternoon, but nonetheless, we opted to wait over a night in Onset Bay rather than fight the now reversed current down Buzzards Bay all afternoon.  We’d been here before on our way north, so rather than head ashore again, we opted to just chill, a relaxing Friday evening.

The following morning, we hauled the anchor up, ready to head out to take advantage of another favorable current… except the Red Queen was once again voicing her displeasure.  Not as awful as before (the flex coupler issue was resolved), but still, there was a shudder.  After a few short minutes of consultation, we decided it best not to proceed.  We dropped the anchor again, and dialed up the nearby marina, ironically another Brewer location.  Of course it’s a Saturday, but we at least got on the radar for their service department. Monday and Tuesday we had weather, like rain on your head in the cockpit/no engine work weather.  Wednesday we had John, the Brewer Onset mechanic, on board in the morning, when of course the engine is now NOT shuddering, but he did find a small diesel leak.  More parts ordered but at least not from England this time, and more waiting.  In the meantime we made a provisioning run one day, spent a couple of hours at the local public library another, and did some laundry.   Friday afternoon our parts arrived and John was back aboard to replace the some O-rings in the injector pump.  Leak resolved, engine sounded OK.

IMG_5840This morning we left Onset Bay shortly after first light and actually managed to escape the state of Massachusetts.  Nothing personal, it’s a lovely state; we just didn’t plan for such an extended visit.  Pedaling about Onset we saw so many fire hydrants with those red/white striped poles off the top, you know, the ones that mark them when they’re buried with snow.  Yeah, those ones.  They make us nervous.  Our Cheshire is not a heavy weather boat, nor are her crew heavy weather sailors.  We definitly don’t relish the idea of wintering aboard in New England.  So we press on.

Maybe we’re paranoid at this point, but we still have a nagging feeling that the Red Queen is not completely satisfied.  The flex coupler and engine mounts were a definite problem; fixed.  The diesel leak was definitely a problem; fixed.  Sometimes she purrs; occasionally not.  Something is just different.  Intermittent problems are challenging.  Stressful.

Whatever we’re dealing with however, is not anywhere near as stressful as preparing for, enduring and recuperating from the devastation of Hurricane Florence as many are doing.  It’s been heartbreaking to read the news out of eastern North Carolina, and now from South Carolina.  Our beloved Oriental got whacked hard again, with water levels exceeding even those of Hurricane Irene in 2011.  We are truly fortunate to have been well away from Florence, but hurricane season is not over, and we have some miles to cover.

As always, thanks for coming along.

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OK, stupid title for a blog post (though a spin on a great tune), but it accurately describes our time in this state.  Our plan was to pause briefly in Gloucester to wait out a day of weather, then keep on moving.  We should know better than to think that our plans matter.

In a text exchange the night before we left Gloucester, a friend asked where we were headed the following day;  I replied “Plymouth-ish”.  The route into Plymouth Harbor is long and well off our track.  Our goal was to spend a night at anchor closer to the Cape Cod Canal so as to be able to time our transit through the canal.  In short, we had no intention of actually stopping in Plymouth.  If we manage to get off the dock tomorrow as is our current plan (there’s that word again!), we will have been here 15 days.  15. Days.

We were maybe 5 miles off of Scituate, MA, motoring in very light winds that were mostly directly behind us.  Shortly after 1pm, Mike called me to the cockpit.  We’d developed a horrible shudder.  Thinking we’d caught something on the drive leg or a rudder (think lobster buoy), we went through our usual routine of clearing them. Except that that didn’t resolve the shudder.  Some quick diagnostics let us know that we were fine in neutral, but with any kind of rpms, the shudder was back… pointing to a likely drive leg or transmission issue.  We shut the engine down and put the sails up in hopes of maintaining some steerage and kept creeping south, albeit slowly (remember the very light winds and mostly behind us). Eventually we called TowBoat US (think AAA for boats).  Shortly after 3:30pm, we were under tow by Captain Matt who could not have been more helpful.  We were on the dock  at Brewster Plymouth Marine by about 5:15pm that evening, Thursday.

While we were bobbing around under sail, we caught sight of the Lightship Nantucket, headed somewhere I haven’t been able to determine.  She’s now a museum ship, generally docked in Boston Harbor, one of only a couple of lightships able to move under her own power, so it was kind of a big deal to see her underway.  Find a bit more of her story here.  Our route in under tow would also take us past a couple more lighthouses.  Matt, our TowBoat US guy, would be less likely than Captain Mike to detour for closer photos, but nevertheless, I took photos.

With Cheshire safety tied up to the dock, and marina staff gone for the day, we headed to town to decompress.  On a tip from friends, we stopped into Dirty Water Distillery, followed by dinner at KKatie’s Burger Bar.

The good news was that the following morning we had our new bff/mechanic Colin on board and the problem diagnosed.  Turns out Mike was pretty close.  The Red Queen (our diesel engine) herself was fine, however our flex coupler, the complicated bit that connects the transmission and drive leg, had failed. Mind you, before today, I wasn’t even aware that we had a flex coupler;  diesel mechanics is definitely not my strong suit.  The bad news was that despite this quick diagnosis, we still had to order parts from Sillette in England, who, given the 5 hr time difference, by noon Friday our time were already closed for their 3-day summer bank holiday… translate we couldn’t even order parts until the following Tuesday, at 3am to be precise.

We spent a few days on the dock in a temporarily vacant slip during which Cheshire got some much needed spa time, having not been dockside with access to a hose since our last project stop in North Caroline a couple of months back.  I cleaned/waxed all of the nonskid, always a multi-day project, and the ground tackle (anchor, chain, etc.) got some love.  We did some playing as well though.  Saturday afternoon’s Plymouth Waterfront Festival was not as awesome as advertised, unless of course you’re interested in aluminum siding, tub inserts or really really bad arts & crap.  The afternoon was salvaged though when we found that a local-but-too-far-to-bike-to craft brewery,  Mayflower Brewing, had a pop-up beer garden at one of the local museums.  Come Monday when the slip holder was due back, the marina staff hip towed us out to the mooring field.  End of projects that require a hose and copious fresh water.

I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that Mike set an alarm for 3am Tuesday so he could be on the phone with Silette when they reopened after the holiday.  Parts were ordered.  Then it got hot.  Wicked hot.  We were thankful for breezes in the mooring field, but still found multiple reasons to be ashore for next few days. We did errands early, then hid out in the public library and restaurants until the evening time when it finally cooled a bit.  Dillon’s Local for beers/snack, then buck-a-shuck oysters at Surfside Smokehouse on site at marina were both quite good.  Wednesday we figured out the public bus system and caught a bus to a local mall which was perfectly awful.  I’ve never been a big mall person, but this one was bad.  The nearby Target however, our really goal, did not disappoint.  Ice cream from Peaceful Meadows back in Plymouth was a nice treat as well.

By mid-day Thursday we’d gotten notification that our parts had arrived.  We were thrilled to have them so quickly, only to be deflated again when the yard staff informed us that there was “no way” they’d get to us before the Labor Day/holiday weekend, and suggested we touch base the following Tuesday.  We consoled ourselves with a visit to Second Wind Brewing Co which was quite good, followed by a great meal at Thirty-Nine Court.

Our holiday weekend involved some windy weather, and a few more errands and smaller scale boat projects (including Mike’s replacing our inverter that also started misbehaving shortly before our arrival here).  We caught a concert at the Spire Performing Arts Center followed by beers at British Beer Co, had our best breakfast in Plymouth at Will & Co. and did a bit of touristing by bike.

Plymouth is actively engaged in a bit of sprucing up in anticipation of its 400th anniversary upcoming in 2020.  Consequently some parks, sites, etc. are fenced off while improvements are underway.  We of course saw Plymouth Rock, which was hard to photograph despite multiple visits… weird shadows, and is a bit over-rated imho.  There’s also some question as to whether this rock marks the real location of the Pilgrim’s landing.  Check out this link for the real story behind Plymouth Rock.

P1070808 Forefathers Monument + Mike

Forefathers Monument, Plymouth MA

A bit off the beaten tourist path but more impressive was the Forefathers Monument commemorating the Mayflower Pilgrims.  Completed in 1888/89, it stands at 81′ and is built of solid granite.  Years ago it apparently was much more prominent a feature overlooking Plymouth.  Today it’s surrounded by trees on mostly private property, so much so that despite its size, you don’t see it until you’re nearly on top of it.  For a bit more info and photos of this monument, check out this blog post. Note Mike in the photo for size reference.

Also worth a visit and unfortunately even more off the beaten path is Plymouth’s 9/11 Memorial.  It was started by a local businessman, a personally funded memorial in front of his produce store.  It’s grown to be a much bigger deal, now managed by the city,  featuring a piece of steel from the WTC, and several granite pillars bearing the names of every person who lost their life in the tragedy, reportedly the first 9/11 memorial to do so.  Other granite pieces feature powerful quotes by FDR and DQ, the latter of whom I’m fairly certain was the memorial’s originator, and another by R Giuliani (not pictured).  The light and polished granite made for interesting photographs.

If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships — the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace.  – FDR

Back downtown, tucked into an area called Brewster Gardens is a sculpture I found most captivating, the simply named Immigrant Monument, by artist Barney Zeitz.  I’ve read both that it was a tribute to the original Pilgrims, and alternately, as the inscription on the sculpture appears to indicate, to later immigrants to Plymouth.  Either way, it’s a beautiful piece, commissioned before and installed about a month after 9/11.  Take a look at the link above for a local news piece including some bits about the sculptor who travels from Martha’s Vineyard every couple of years to maintain/polish the piece. 

To the enduring memory of those immigrant settlers of Plymouth who as latter day pilgrims from many cultures and countries over the course of three centuries helped build upon these shores a robust and hospitable community.  At great personal sacrifice, they established new homes in a new world and by their hard work, enriched and transformed this town of their adoption. Precious to a grateful posterity is the remembrance of their lives and labors.  – inscription on Immigrant Monument, Plymouth MA

P1070830 Immigrant Monument, Plymouth MA

Immigrant Monument, Plymouth MA

Obviously there’s a lot more history to Plymouth that I won’t even begin to try and cover here, but the above were some of our highlights.

Tuesday morning, we were out on the mooring ball, enjoying a leisurely morning after a busy weekend,  finishing our coffee, when at 8:30am there came a knock on the hull.  We popped out to find a couple of the marina staff out to collect us for yet another tow into the dock.  Colin was ready to start our repair.  Later that day we encountered another delay when he found that the engine mounts were also trashed, which required another day of waiting for parts.  Wednesday morning we again got towed in a game of musical boats, this time to the fuel dock.  While Colin spent 2+ days on the engine, we finished some last minute chores… laundry, a hardware store run and some final provisioning, including a celebratory dinner out to a nicer-than-our-usual place called the Tasty… yummy Asian-inspired offerings.

IMG_5824 new flex coupler

new flex coupler

Finally, today we moved off the fuel dock, under our own power for the first time in more than two weeks… all the way to the marina’s face dock where we spent this evening  waiting out a nasty blow which thankfully brought some cooler temps.  Tomorrow we’ll be on the move again, keeping a close weather-eye on the storms brewing in the Atlantic.      And that’s as much of a plan as we have for now.  Stay tuned.

 

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We’ve seen these public art displays before in our travels… fiberglass creatures of some variety, sponsored by local businesses, painted by local artists, sometimes/sometimes not involving fundraising for local charities.  The turtles of Vero Beach and the pelicans of Pensacola come to mind from recent years.  Not to be confused with the lobsters of Maine, Plymouth had its own thing going on with these crustaceans.  We’d noticed a couple of them, then inquired at the Visitors Information Center where we were offered a Lobster Crawl map.  Turns out that Plymouth is the second biggest harvester of lobster in the state of Massachusetts behind Gloucester, hence their choice of creature.

The Plymouth Lobster Crawl boasts 29 5′ tall fiberglass lobsters (the blanks were produced in Nebraska, go figure), all sponsored by local businesses and painted by local artists.  When we realized that our brief stop in town would not be so brief, I joked to Mike that I’d just kill a day finding them all.  As it turned out, I didn’t dedicate a day and I only saw about 2/3 of them, but given my love for public art, it was a fun distraction.  Some of the names and themes are quite clever.

I present to you, (some of) the Lobsters of Plymouth.

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Because the weather was forecast to be a bit sketchy and the anchoring options limited, we opted to spring for an inner harbor mooring for the couple of nights we’d be in Gloucester.  Although there are a few spots that allowed for dinghy access, we got our money’s worth out of the launch service that was included in the mooring rental.

Although some cruisers pass through, the harbor serves a lot of locals, including fishermen who keep their boats here.  We met a lobsterman and his teen-aged son on the launch who were also on their way ashore after a day on the water.  I asked how their day fishing was and were treated to a great story, complete with video, of their having caught/released a huge 15# female lobster in one of their traps.  It was released because it was well over the size limit for what can be kept.  Amazingly though she was not “notched”.  (If a lobsterman traps an egg-bearing female lobster, he/she is required to cut a small triangular notch in its tail and return it to the water.  If she’s caught again, the notched tail flags her as a breeder, and she again must be released.  Smart way to protect the population. More here, including a photo of a notched tail for, those who are seriously interested.)  We agreed that this must have been one smart lobster to have eluded capture for so many years, to have grown that big.  The son was excited to share his video and both were impressed that we knew anything about lobstering.   We chatted ashore a bit and got some restaurant recommendations.

Our first stop was the Crow’s Nest bar, made famous by Sebastian Junger’s book and film, “The Perfect Storm”.  The bar is real and is a quintessential local watering hole even to this day.  The walls are lined with photos not only of the folks on which the book/movie were based, but also of the actors who portrayed them. While the film crew apparently frequented the place during filming, the ceiling of the place were deemed too low by the camera crew, so a mock-up was constructed in Hollywood.  We chatted with a few of the locals, one of whom told of her efforts to get on “Wicked Tuna“, a National Geographic reality TV series on the boats that fish out of Gloucester.  Not having a TV aboard, we were unfamiliar with the show, but based on “licensed product” for sale around town, it’s  apparently a pretty big deal.  Stone’s Pub for dinner was quite yummy.

The following day we did some touristing.  Walking along the north shore of Gloucester Harbor, it seemed appropriate that we had a bit of fog.  The Gloucester Fisherman’s Memorial, sometimes referred to as “Man at the Wheel” was impressive and sobering.  Artist Leonard F Craske completed the sculpture in 1925 for Gloucester’s 300th anniversary, and since then additions have been made to include the names of those lost at sea from 1716 – 2001, incl the captain and crew, 6 all told, of the Andrea Gail.

A bit further down and of more recent vintage is the Fishermen’s Wives Memorial, per their website “the memorial honors not only the faith, diligence, and fortitude of the wives of fishermen and mariners everywhere but also honors all women for their unselfish contribution to the well being of their families and their communities”.

At our furthest flung, we arrived at the sizable Stage Fort Park where Tablet Rock has a plaque commemorating the landing of the first settlers in 1623, the 2nd permanent settlement of the early Puritans in the New World, though there is some question as to the truth of this claim.  Causeway Restaurant , recommended by the lobsterman we’d met the previous day, made for a filling lunch, which was followed by a walk back into town and a stretch at the lovely public library.  I managed to squeeze in a long walk to the grocery and back to a launch pick-up, arriving back to the boat just ahead of what looked like a nasty storm that never amounted to much.

And of course there were lighthouses, from the water on both our way in and again at our departure, the twin Thatcher Island Lights, Eastern Point Light and a bit deeper into the harbor, Ten Pound Island Light.

 

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We left Onset Bay with full fuel tanks and thanks to a day of intermittent rain, full water tanks.  Up and out early, timing the tides for a favorable current through the Cape Cod Canal, we were also in the company of a bit of fog.  We’d best get used to this as we hear it’s quite prevalent during the summer months in Maine.  We managed to not hit any bridges, nor did we collide with any of the sizable vessels that also transit this canal.  Seven miles later we popped out the other end into Cape Cod Bay after a brisk run.  Not only did we make good time in the canal, but we saved a lot of time by not making the trip around the hook of Massachusetts.

Since we were making such good time, we opted to continue on to Boston.  Along the way we caught a few lighthouses.  One was Plymouth Light, although at some distance so not a great photo.  We got a closer look at Minot’s Ledge Light a couple of miles off Cohasett MA; although the water was dead calm at our arrival, I couldn’t help but wonder what climbing the ladder from a boat to gain access to the tower would be like in less favorable conditions.

On our way in to the Boston area, we had some decent views of the infamous Boston Harbor Light.

We passed on visiting the city this time, but enjoyed a lovely evening on the hook in Portuguese Cove off of Peddocks Island.  We had no idea that there were so many little island in Bostons’s outer harbor, thirteen in fact, but only six of them are accessible/open to the public.   The sunset over the city skyline did not disappoint.

P1060604 sunset over Boston

sunset over Boston

The real highlight of our time in Massachusetts though was catching up with cruising friends Tara and Brian, usually of s/v Scout.  For a couple of months though, they’re volunteering as lighthouse keepers on Baker’s Island MA.  Baker’s Island is very private…  and much to the dismay of the local HOA, the Essex National Heritage Commission who currently own Baker’s Island Lighthouse finally won a their court battle a few years back and the lighthouse is now open to the public for tours.  The Assistant Keepers Cottage is also available for rent.  We were thrilled though that Tara and Brian invited us to stay over with them in the Keepers Cottage.  We had a fabulous time with them touring the island, and just generally catching up.  Bonus points for Tara for taking us ashore to Manchester-by-the-Sea for a provisioning run before we took off.

Our timing also had us on island to see some baby seagulls; the Herring Gull chicks were about 3 weeks old, the Great Black-backed chicks a bit older.  Hopefully they survive the neighboring black lab that apparently terrorizes them.

 

Another day of motoring took us past several more lighthouses (named in the captions).  Our last night in Massachusetts waters found us anchored off of Rockport MA.  This morning we crossed into Maine.  I’m still more than a bit surprised that we’ve actually made it.

Wrapping this up at the York Public Library as phone service/wifi in the mooring field is essentially non-existent.  Off to do some exploring…

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Long Island Sound, Block Island Sound, Rhode Island Sound and into Buzzards Bay… we’ve covered some distance this week, but also paused for several days for our very first Gam.  More on this in a bit.  From Port Washington, after a brief pause in Port Jefferson, we headed across Long Island Sound to Connecticut… where we’ve visited by land but never by boat.  From here on out, its new territory for us.

Our first impression was less than positive when we were waked hard by a ginormous sport fisher as we passed through the breakwater entering the Connecticut River.  It rocked us so badly that a Brita pitcher of water (that ordinarily lives quite safely on a silicone mat on the galley counter) got tossed, crashing to the sole (floor).  Our sole is teak and holly laminate insets screwed into the fiberglass mold beneath… with gaps all around the insets (not a great design) where the contents of said pitcher promptly found its way.  While our Cheshire was still rocking I mopped up what I could, but after getting the anchor down a bit later it was time to unscrew the floorboards and do a deeper cleaning.  We don’t do this often so as not to strip out the fiberglass screw holes and in fact had never done these two pieces… the galley and sole in the forward cabin.  Major yuck, but all clean now.  Filed under “it’s not all sunsets and rum drinks”…

Just prior to being waked and a few days later on our way back out, I managed to get some shots of the couple of lighthouses that mark this entrance to the Connecticut River. Looking at the photos later, I was intrigued by the differing perspective, inbound vs outbound.

Inbound, with Saybrook Breakwater Light in the foreground…

P1060477 Saybrook Breakwater and Lynde Point Lights CT

inbound, Saybrook Breakwater and Lynde Point Lights CT

… and outbound with Lynde Point Light on the right.

P1060488 Saybrook Breakwater and Lynde Point Lights CT

outbound, Saybrook Breakwater and Lynde Point Lights CT

I have to remind myself sometimes when photographing these caisson style lights (Saybrook Breakwater Light is one) that in years past, lighthouse keepers and their families actually lived in these structures.  This one is at least within sight of land; many are not.  A bit of research led me to a New York Post article from last year detailing plans for this one to be converted to a clubhouse for its current owner’s grandchildren.  Lynde Point Light on the other hand, belongs to the Coast Guard and is not open to the public.

Not far from these lights, we tucked into North Cove near Old Saybrook CT where we picked up a mooring ball (provided by the town, overseen by the nearby yacht club and free for 72 hours).  After cleaning up our mess (see above), we went ashore and had a lovely walk about town complete with a pause at Penny Lane Pub to celebrate our 7 year anniversary of moving aboard our Cheshire.  The following morning we ferried bikes ashore and enjoyed a nice pedal around the area, and visits to the local hardware store, a grocery and Denali, a nice outdoor store with locations around CT and RI.

From Old Saybrook, it was only a short run up the Connecticut River to Essex for the SSCA Gam.  What is a gam you might ask? From Merriam-Webster…

But what is a gam? You might wear out your index-finger running up and down the columns of dictionaries, and never find the word. So says the narrator, who calls himself Ishmael, of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. These days you will indeed find “gam” entered in dictionaries; Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines the noun “gam” as “a visit or friendly conversation at sea or ashore especially between whalers.” (It can also mean “a school of whales.”) Melville’s narrator explains that when whaling ships met far out at sea, they would hail one another and the crews would exchange visits and news. English speakers have been using the word gam to refer to these and similar social exchanges since the mid-19th century.

I thought the reference to whaling was appropriate as we’re on our way to Maine.  In any event, this gathering was one of a number of annual events put on by the Seven Seas Cruising Association, in addition to a scattering of weekly/monthly breakfasts/lunches that some local groups host.  We caught a few of the lunches while in Marathon a few years back, and joined a breakfast in Punta Gorda last winter.  The Essex Gam though was our first.

This gam was a fun combination of informal potluck gatherings, a dinner with a keynote speaker (Paul Farrell, author of “Tugboats Illustrated”), and two days of talks on everything from cruising destinations (the Great Loop, the Northwest Passage and the Windward Islands),  to weather (finally got to meet the infamous Chris Parker in person), to boat bling and maintenance (canvas work, sails, rigging, etc.).  We skipped out on a session on how to choose and maintain an inflatable dinghy… irrelevant for us with our indestructible Portland Pudgy.  Instead we met cruising friends Dawn & Paul of s/v Bubu3 who were in the area by car for an awesome Sunday brunch at the infamous Griswold Inn, said to be the oldest continuously operating tavern in the USA.

IMG_5437 brunch at the Griswold Inn, Essex CT

brunch at the Griswold Inn

There was supposed to have been a US Coast Guard Search and Rescue Helicopter demo, but it got weathered out due to a low cloud ceiling; apparently they’re pickier about weather for training exercises than for actual rescues.  We did get to poke around a smaller CG vessel though, which was a bit different (more high tech and more armed…)  than when Mike was doing small boat stations on the south shore of Long Island many moons ago.  The weekend wrapped up with an after hours potluck at the nicely done Connecticut River Museum.

Following our several day pause, we were anxious to get moving again.  There’s certainly much more to explore along these coasts of Connecticut and Rhode Island, and we hope to be back at some point, but for this season we’re on a mission to Maine.  We had a lively sail to Point Judith RI, a harbor of refuge along this coast.  Along the way though, we skirted New York waters again on the north shore of Fishers Island and got a shot of Latimer Reef Light, another of the so-called Coffee Pot or Spark Plug” style lights.

P1060500 Latimer Reef Light NY

Latimer Reef Light NY

Point Judith has an interesting history.  In the early 1900’s the state dredged the breachway and the Army Corps of Engineers built a 3-mile long stone breakwater on the outside.  Those who are interested will find a bit of history here.  The Google Maps screenshot below captures it well.  We were a small boat amongst much larger commercial traffic and ferries upon our entry, but found a nice anchorage on the pond.  Point Judith Light is an active Coast Guard Station, so there’s no access by land, but I did get some photos on our way out the following morning.

From Point Judith RI we made our way east and northeast into Buzzards Bay headed for an overnight in Hadley Harbor in the Elizabeth Island chain of Massachusetts, where we shared an anchorage with a most interesting vessel, the SSV Tabor Boy.   A ninety-two foot, gaff-rigged, two-masted schooner, it belongs to Tabor Academy, a boarding school in the area.  Beautiful boat, but they presented more than a little bit of a challenge as they sailed in repeating triangles around the entrance to the harbor as we approached.

P1060534 SSV Tabor Boy

SVV Tabor Boy

The following day we made a short run up to Onset Bay, along the way passing a most unusual Art Deco looking lighthouse, the Cleveland Ledge Light.  It was the last commissioned lighthouse in New England and the only one built in the so-called Art Moderne architectural style.  As of 2012 it’s now privately owned with plans for renovation as a vacation cottage, though it doesn’t appear as if much renovation is underway.  On the other hand, the nearby and more traditional Wings Neck Light is privately owned and apparently available for weekly rentals.

We arrived in Onset Bay, once again meeting up with cruising friends Bob and Sandra who we’d seen just a week ago in Port Washington.  Last night they treated us to an evening of dinner and games aboard s/v Carpe Diem.  Today we wait out some weather and plot our adventures to come.  As always, thanks for coming along and stay tuned.

 

 

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The Captain’s summary:

Thursday we motored to a mooring in Cuttyhunk.  Wind was on the port bow the whole way; we maybe could have sailed if we’d tacked to Rhode Island and back.  There was a sleek J-100 with tiller stealing and Kevlar sails paralleling us most of the way, having no trouble making 5.5 knots into 20-25° of apparent wind.
Interesting place, Cuttyhunk.  The island is quiet, scenic, mostly private, and dry; a couple of inns, beaches, a ‘yacht club’ for the dinghy racing set, a tiny grocery, a tiny gift shop, the one BYOB outdoor pizza restaurant, and the raw bar / lobster shack / ice cream / hot dog vendors at the dock.  The harbor is party central, though, at least on the Saturday we were there – about 70 very closely-spaced moorings with folks swimming, fishing, drinking, buying from the Raw Bar boat, grilling, visiting boat-to-boat, and seemingly never venturing ashore, all while boats up to 50′ squeeze through looking for an open mooring.

And my more verbose version…

Long before we arrived in Cuttyhunk, we’d been warned of its reputation as a popular spot for boaters during the summer months.  Consequently we’d planned our arrival for a Thursday, hoping to snag a mooring ball ahead of the week-end crowds.  Still, the tightly packed mooring field was a bit startling.  Over the course of the days that followed, we learned that one only had to dinghy ashore and walk a short distance to be clear of the hordes.  Honestly, I think that some come/party/go and never set foot on dry land.  Perhaps they’re frequent visitors and they’ve been there/done that.  We found the island to be a delightful place to explore.

LS_20160804_172444Cuttyhunk is the farthest flung of the Elizabeth Islands, a chain of 16 (most of which are uninhabited, 14 of which are owned by the Forbes family) that stretch southwestward from Cape Cod, sandwiched by Buzzards Bay to the north and Vineyard Sound to the south.  It’s less than a square mile of land mass, much of it protected from development, and we walked every bit of it… except of course for the areas well marked as “private”, of which there were more than a few.  Some were more creative than others in posting regarding their privacy.  (Moments after taking this photo, we were swarmed by mosquitos, more effective than any sign at keeping potential trespassers away I think!  We retreated quickly.)

There are only a few year-round residents and almost no cars.  Most get around on foot, via golf carts, or in the far reaches of the island, 4x4s.  There is one small church shared by a number of denominations, a one room school house that has one teacher and less than a handful of students.  Medical services are available via a rotation of physicians who come from the mainland with their families, accommodations provided in exchange for services rendered.  It’s a charming place.  We started our exploration at the Cuttyhunk Museum of the Elizabeth Islands, a place of limited open hours but extremely enthusiastic volunteer docents.

From the museum, it was only a short hike up to Lookout Hill, a whopping 154 ft above sea level, the highest point on the island.  Fortunately it was a clear day and the views were amazing.  Apparently this was not lost on our Coast Guard, who during WWII built six defensive bunkers used to watch the surrounding waters in search of Nazi U-boats. Most of the surrounding fence has been dismantled,   but one still has a feel for the scale.

 

LS_20160804_152234 Soprano's

Soprano’s, Cuttyhunk

There aren’t a lot of dining options on the island either, but pizza sounded good, so we decided to check out Soprano’s.  After a quick dinghy run back to Cheshire to grab some wine (Cuttyhunk is dry, but byob is encouraged), we arrived just ahead of the crowd… like I said, not much for options.  The description in an online review as picnic tables in someone’s driveways accurate, but we loved it, as do many of the locals it seems. (Note: the photo at right was taken earlier in the day before they’d opened, hence the lack of customers.)

The following day we’d get a bit more far flung, but not before breakfast.  The Captain does love his breakfast.  First stop: the Cuttyhunk Fishing Club, circa 1860’s.  Originally built as an elite fishing club for a group of wealthy New York businessmen, it now operates as a bed and breakfast, but offers breakfast to non-guests as well.  Breakfast was good, the views even better.

Fortified, we hiked to Westend Pond, complete with views across the inlet to the Bartholomew Gosnold Monument and oil house ruins from the former lighthouse.  Gosnold arrived from England in 1602 with plans to establish a colony and harvest sassafras, though neither lasted very long.  One story goes that without sufficient provisions to last the winter, the settlers decided to return to England. An alternate explanation is that they feared the native Indians who had become hostile, possibly because the settlers had allegedly stolen one of their canoes.  Either way, they didn’t stick around for long.  Side note: Gosnold is also said to have named Martha’s Vineyard for his deceased daughter.  The monument was erected in 1902 for the 300-year anniversary.

Cuttyhunk Light also has quite a story (details in the link).  A succession of lights served the island from 1823, the most recent having sustained terminal damage in the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944;  it was dismantled a few years later, replaced by a skeleton tower which has also since been dismantled.  All that remains now are the ruins of the old oil house.

We also watched a boat bravely approach what looked to us like a shallow and quick-moving inlet into Westend Pond. Turns out that the boat was the Raw Bar boat that delivers to the mooring field, and Westend Pond is in part a shellfish farm.  Go figure.

The afternoon found us back on the east end of the island, exploring the beaches that reach out on the south side of Cuttyhunk Harbor; it turned out to be a great birding spot.  I’m still trying to id some of these feathered friends; id help welcomed.

We opted for dinner aboard Cheshire that night, but with help from the folks at the Fish Dock who supplied the clams for our boil and a steamed lobster.  Yum.

LS_20160805_183614

feast

For a bit more on this gem of an island, check out this New York Times article from a few years back.

Although we’d hoped to hold our visit to Cuttyhunk to a couple of nights (pricy at $45/night mooring fee), we stayed an extra night waiting out some weather before continuing on west for a bit more time in the Long Island vicinity before the summer’s out.

 

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