Destination Two, Marthas Vineyard

Published on Thursday, 1st January 2015 - 3:16PM01/01/2015

Most folks who charter with us for a week sail out to Martha’s Vineyard. Playground of presidents, film location of “Jaws”, and burial place of John Belushi. This area has fascinating history, has a very interesting mix of lifestyles and interesting people, and wonderful harbors to either relax with tranquility or party with the best of them. You will not be bored.

Martha’s Vineyard is one of a cluster of islands formed when the last glacier halted 10,000 years ago. Lots of rocks around here, and fog, some very strong currents and 20 miles of ocean to get there. You need to know what you are doing. All that said, it is one of the most special cruising grounds in the United States. If you love seafood you will be in heaven!

The gateway to the area is Cuttyhunk Harbor. Getting to Cuttyhunk from Narragansett Bay is straightforward with little current and few ways to get into trouble. From our base it Barrington it is 35 miles, so it is a full day, but not an exhausting one. If you break it up with an overnight near Newport it is an easy hop.

Day One: At the marina getting organized

You arrive at the charter base late afternoon and get checked out. Stay at the slip, get provisioned with the grocery store a few steps away, go the marina swimming pool, look over the charts, and get organized for a morning departure.

Day Two. To Cuttyhunk

Up and at ‘em early and take off. Mornings in Narragansett Bay are usually calm winds, so you motor down the bay, over to the Sakonett River, and down to the ocean. The winds start to pick up around 11:00 which is about when you turn towards the island where Cuttyhunk is located. You have a broad reach up and over the ocean swells and arrive at the island around 3:00 PM. You pick up a mooring (they have about 50 of them inside the harbor and about 20 outside), and they are first come first served. Cuttyhunk is the land that time forgot. One room schoolhouse, cell coverage is weak, seafood market on the main pier with the freshest seafood anywhere, and a delightful village to explore. This was a village before Plymouth colony was founded in 1620. That evening you check the tides and currents, and plan the timing of your departure the next day.

Day Three: Vineyard Haven

You wander out of Cuttyhunk. Most folks want to get to the Vineyard. You must head down a bit of Buzzards Bay to “Quicks Hole” to cross between the islands to get to Vineyard Sound. This Sound has strong currents that will make the difference between a fast, lovely sail, and a pounding wet (long) passage to Vineyard Haven. This town is the commercial center of the island. With the normal Southwest winds it is comfortable harbor. Lots of moorings to rent outside the breakwater. Inside the breakwater the harbormaster (channel 9) may be able to accommodate you with a mooring, or there are slips at the Black Dog Wharf or Vineyard Haven Marina for about $5/foot. This is a tourist town. Lots of restaurants, shopping, grocery store, as well as the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. This is an interesting place to just sit on the boat and watch the ferries, classic boats, and all manner of harbor activities going on. Only an 18” tide here, 4 feet in Newport, and 8 feet in Boston. Go figure.

Day Four: Edgartown

Some folks stay another day in Vineyard Haven. Some venture off to another place. We discourage Oak Bluffs as it is a VERY tight harbor (the only place where we have had boat damage, and it has happened twice!) noisy, and little privacy. It is the party town of the Island. Edgartown is elegant, and the “old money” town of the island. Moorings are available through the harbormaster at a reasonable rate. Dockage is scarce in Edgartown and extremely expensive. Edgartown has nice restaurants, a ‘lay back’ feel to it, and the word ‘genteel’ comes to mind.

Day Five: Menemsha:

Now for something different. How about a sleepy little harbor/village with complete protection, but with a wonderful sandy beach? A place that makes Cuttyhunk look like a big city? Maybe I am exaggerating, but Menemsha is a special place. Menemsha is part of the town of Chilmark, and is the remote end of the island. It is where much of the filming of Jaws took place, and not far from the Gay Head lighthouse. It has a seafood market that will steam you up some lobster and clams and you feast on their picnic table. You can take your dingy to Menemsha pond, or rent bicycles and wander around.

Moorings and slips can only be reserved the day of your arrival. The harbormaster’s office opens at 7:00 AM and can be contacted at (508) 645-2846. Slips are $3.00/foot and moorings are around $40. They only have three moorings inside the harbor and several more outside. Be advised that they raft three boats together at the inside moorings, so you will have company. Outside can be rolly, so all things considered I usually get a slip.

Day Six and Seven: Back to Narragansett Bay

If I am going to spend a day or two in Narragansett Bay, it would be in Bristol or in Potter’s Cove near Bristol. Bristol is not a tourist town; it is an interesting mix of history, great restaurants, interesting architecture, and a wonderful maritime museum. It would be very easy to spend several days here. Read the Bristol piece on my Narragansett Bay Destination page.

Potter’s Cove is across from Bristol on Prudence Island. It is nestled in a nature sanctuary with walking paths and, well; nature! Go swimming here, or clamming on the gravelly beach. I personally spend more time at Potter’s Cove than anywhere on the bay as I love the tranquility and serenity if offers.

Morning of Day 8 Back to base

From Bristol or Potter’s Cove it is about an hour and a half back to Barrington. Arrive by 10:00 and pull right up to the fuel dock. We will meet you and get you squared away...