Cool Cuttyhunk!

Boston, MA (Tuesday, 9/12)
After a crazy long weekend home, we returned to Boston totally exhausted. We had spent all day Friday and Saturday prepping our house for the hurricane, including buying some food for the house.  We were astonished at how empty the store shelves had been.

We rode out hurricane Irma with a houseguest who didn’t want to be by herself in her condo, and with good reason as there are large trees near her place that could have been destructive in this storm. Fortunately, she suffered no issues and neither did we, except for the expected loss of power.  Our generator did a great job of keep the food in the fridge from spoiling, and keeping computers and cell phones charged.  Unfortunately, it is not good enough to run the AC. However, we left home with the power still off, but with the help of great neighbors they were able to keep our generator going.

We picked up a rental car from the airport in Boston and immediately drove to Costco to pick up items we needed for the journey home.  We got back to the boat and stowed away our purchases and finally got to eat some dinner.  We then confirmed our plans to leave mid-morning and head south; it looked like a perfect day for a long journey.

Marion, MA (Wednesday, 9/13)
Knowing we were not leaving early, we both slept in, catching up on some much needed rest.  After breakfast Mark returned the rental car to the airport and took an Uber cab back to the marina. In the meantime Denise walked to Whole Foods to get some milk and a few perishable items, and then returned them to the boat.

We left Constitution Marina at 10:30 and headed out to Boston Harbor.  Once again we passed the “Mayan Queen” – a private yacht owned by a Mexican Billionaire that was in port when we arrived last week.  It is the 4th largest private yacht in the world and originally we thought it was a yacht for charter. However, it is not. You can learn more about this beauty and her owner here.

“Mayan Queen” in Boston Harbor

We also cruised past Legal Seafood’s Quality Control Center and Fort Independence on Castle Island, as well as the remains of Fort Warren on Georges Island.  It was a very calm day in the harbor and the water was like glass with few pleasure boaters.

Legal Seafood Quality Control Center

Fort Independence on Castle Island

Fort Warren on Georges Island

We left Boston Harbor and headed out into the Massachusetts Bay, passing Boston Light and turning south towards the Cape Cod Canal.  It was a beautiful clear day and you could see for miles.

Boston Light

Gurnet Light – aka “Plymouth Light”

We were enjoying the calm seas and commenting on the infrequent lobster traps, and then we saw it – a small whale!  What a thrill! If only he would have surfaced a second time so we could get a picture.  It was the coolest thing we saw in the water; even the big sea turtle we say 15 minutes later was anti-climactic.

Three hours later we entered the Cape Cod Canal and had to slow our boat down. The entire canal is a “no-wake” zone and the marine patrol was right in front of us.

Sagamore Bridge

However, there was little traffic and even though we were fighting a current the whole way, it didn’t take us long to get to the western end and Buzzard’s Bay.  Although it was a little more choppy and windy on this side of the canal, we didn’t have far to go and soon we were turning right and heading west into Sippican Harbor and the town of Marion.

We had chosen Marion as a spot based on a recommendation from a cruiser we met who keeps his boat there at Burr Brothers Boats.  We had attempted to get into this boatyard/marina, but they were full up. But we were able to get a mooring at the Beverly Yacht Club where the launch driver/dockmaster escorted us to a well-protected one usually occupied by an absentee member.  It worked out well as we were on a mooring for a much bigger boat and we were in the “yacht” area with plenty of swing room.  This made us happy as it was supposed to be quite windy overnight and this offered better protection.

Beverly Yacht Club

Launch driver/dockmaster from Beverly Yacht Club

Unfortunately, Marion doesn’t have much to offer in terms of a town; it is mostly residential and to add to that the yacht club had a private event and the restaurant was closed for the night.  So we ate dinner aboard and got to see some of the beautiful homes that line this quaint harbor.  And the wind blew, but we were safe and comfortable on our mooring.

One thing Marion does have is the Tabor Academy.  This is a co-educational boarding school for students in grades 9-12, and has a large brown roof building that is clearly visible from the mooring field.  Students can learn boating and sailing skills as part of their curriculum and there was one such boat ahead of us as we entered the harbor. You can learn more about this school here.

Tabor Academy

Learning to Sail in Sippican Harbor Inlet – Marion

One other note: our neighbors informed us today that we now had power back at the house and they had turned off our generator and put all things electrical back in order. They are terrific people and we are so grateful for their kindness and assistance in our absence.

Here are some pictures from the houses in this residential neighborhood:

Sunset reflects on northshore home

House on south shore overlooking inlet entrance

Hadley Harbor, MA (Thursday, 9/14)
The morning weather was foggy and somewhat windy so we waited a little while for some of the fog to burn off.  We didn’t want to wait too long however, because the winds were forecasted to pick up and that would make for an uncomfortable cruise back towards Cape Cod.  Finally around 9:00 am we left the mooring in Marion and headed out to Buzzards Bay.

Fog on Buzzards Bay

It was a big foggy and there was a slight chop on the water, but we had been in worse and our journey was a short 13 miles.  Our destination was Hadley Harbor which is in the Elizabeth Islands, located on the western side of Nantucket Sound.  These islands are mostly owned by the Forbes family and you can tell by the houses that are on them that this is the playground for the rich. You can learn more about them here.

House north shore – Woods Hole

Hadley Harbor is located just south of Woods Hole (known as home to the famous Oceanographic Institute), and has an outer harbor and an inner harbor. The inner harbor has 360° protection as it is surrounded by islands on all sides.  The moorings are free courtesy of the Forbes family (no greedy capitalists here), and they are obtained on a first-come, first-serve basis.  We arrived in time to find several open moorings and chose the one giving us the best view and protection.

Houses on Nonamesset Is – harbor entrance

Unfortunately, the place was fogged in almost the whole day.  At one point when there was a break in the weather we watched horses come into the pasture near the house on the hill, but they didn’t stay long.

Home on hill overlooking Hadley Harbor

Other than Bull Island to our north (behind our boat), the other islands are private and you are not allowed to go ashore.  Bull Island itself has walking trails and a picnic area, but is also known as tick-heaven.

Looking back at Bull Island

Since we didn’t want to get infested (and risk Lyme disease), and since it was not great outside, we did not launch the dinghy or venture off the boat.  Instead we did work, read books and worked on the blog post.  Another good thing about this place was the community Wi-Fi which was really good and enabled us to get some things done.  It also gave us a chance to take in nature and the amusement of it all. Who would have thought you could be so entertained watching birds or fish!

We were really glad we came here to enjoy the beauty and peace of this place. However, we had been watching hurricane Jose and its intended path.  While we had considered going to Martha’s Vineyard, we now have changed our plans to go on to Cuttyhunk tomorrow, and then seek a place that would offer protection should the storm head to New England.

Here are some other pictures of the area:

Moorings in harbor

Private dockhouse – inner harbor

Cuttyhunk, MA (Friday, 9/15)
Once again we started out our day into the fog.  We are grateful for the radar and integrated Automatic Identification System (AIS) we have on our boat that enables us to still move under such conditions. It is kind of like pilots flying through clouds using only their instruments.  However, we still have to keep a watchful eye as most boats (unlike planes) don’t have AIS and only show up as small blips on the radar.

Leaving Hadley Harbor

Then entrance to Cuttyhunk is straightforward, but narrow with rock shoals just outside the channel. In clear weather this is not a big deal, but in fog it can be a bit unnerving and stressful. Once inside the breakwater we found a large mooring area and a marina that was mostly empty.  This large area surrounded by the island is known as the Cuttyhunk Pond.

Entering Cuttyhunk Pond

After several attempts to raise the marina on the VHS radio and by phone, we were told by some other boaters to just choose our slip and check in with the dockmaster.  It was clear that the summer season was over as usually this place is full-up, especially on a Friday.

We docked the boat on a t-head as the slips do not have finger piers and it would otherwise be very difficult for us to get on and off the boat onto the fixed docks, especially with the 8’ tidal change.

Once secured, Denise walked up to locate the dockmaster and check in.

Dockmaster’s office

She was unable to find anyone in their small office, but another boater told her to look for a guy with a black shirt that said “Chief of Police” on the back.  Sure enough, George, was in the parking lot working on trying to get a golf cart started.  Denise walked over to him to discuss checking in and he told her to come back in a little while as he had a few things to do back at the house, but would be back down to the office in a “little while”.  Yes, George is the Chief of Police and the Dockmaster!

Dockmaster is Police Chief

He informed her that there were only 15 full-time residents on the island, and some of them left in January and February to escape the brutal winter; he has a house in Florida he goes to.

Seeking to discover the dining options for the evening, Denise walked over to the commercial dock that has several merchants, but was all closed up. One indicated their opening hours, but things here are not so formal.

Commercial dock

Lobster providers non-season hours

During her absence Mark hosed off the boat to remove salt and a few bugs that decided to tag along.

IO at quiet Cuttyhunk Marina

Once this was done we had lunch and then walked up around the docks and the marina. We attempted to check in, but George was still nowhere to be found and discovered that the internet for the island was not usable for the marina this summer.

Cuttyhunk internet and golf cart info

There were more boats coming into the mooring field and there was now some activity on the commercial docks.  We walked over to one of the now open places (“Cuttyhunk Café”) that had people sitting around the tables at the dock.  We met “Duane”, the owner and learned of his options for prepared lobster dinners, but only if there were a sufficient number of people who warranted him opening up his “lobster shack”.

Lobster shack run by Cuttyhunk Cafe

We agreed to check back with him later in the day regarding our intentions for lobster dinners, but left the door open for his other options (rolls, clam chowder, etc.) as well.  We also were able to obtain the password for his Wi-Fi that he claimed we would not be able to pick up in the marina. Obviously he didn’t know we had a booster on our boat.  Once back on the boat, Mark was able to connect us up to the Wi-Fi which allowed us to process email and for him to do a few work-related activities.

Later in the afternoon the fog had lifted so we went out to explore the island and all that it had to offer.  We walked up the hill from the marina towards the market (which was not yet open), passing mostly homes and a few interesting sights.  We got directions to Lookout Park, which required a hike up another big hill, passing the Elizabeth Museum and Historical Society, the town hall, the library, and the elementary school along the way.

Side grotto on main road

Museum of Elizabeth Islands

Town Hall

Elementary School

Road up to Lookout Park

The hike was well worth it as once at the top of the hill we had amazing views of the island, Vineyard Sound, Buzzards Bay, and Cuttyhunk Pond.

Home overlooking south shore of pond

Fog on Vineyard Sound

Pano of Cuttyhunk Pond

Lookout Park was originally built as a watchtower for the U-boats during WWII. Now all that remains is the remnants of the bunker, but a platform was built over it so you can get up to the top and see such outstanding views.  Previously this was a national park site, but has since been transferred to the people of Cuttyhunk who maintain it.

Observation deck at Lookout Park

We walked back down the hill and noticing the Market was now opened, we stopped in to see what it had to offer.  It was very small, but they have a deli with lots of freshly prepared salad and sandwiches to purchase. The woman who was there was a part-time helper, but full-time resident; one of only a few who actually keep the market going year-round.

The Market

Heading back to the marina, we noticed more boats had come into the pond and were on moorings there.  Having decided on our dinner choice, we walked back to see Duane who was sitting with some other residents, one of them was a woman we met near the museum.  We put in our order and were instructed to pick it up at the lobster shack by the marina parking lot.

On our way back to the boat, we noticed George was in the dockmaster office and went in to pay for our one night’s stay.  Mark was able to negotiate the “off-season” rate with him, which added to the enjoyment of our stay.

More boats continued to come into the moorings and the fishing boats began returning to the marina and commercial area.  Looking over the bow of our boat we also watched the ferry come and go taking people to and from the island back to the mainland of Massachusetts.   We spent some time now revising our itinerary and choosing a place to stay while awaiting the passage of Jose who was now going to skirt Nantucket and the eastern part of Cape Cod.  We decided to head for Wickford, RI which was far enough up Narragansett Bay, and Wickford Marina offered protection in a cove with a breakwater.  We made reservations with the marina and also made plans to pick up a rental car with Enterprise so we could attend the last day of the Newport Boat show on Sunday.

Eventually it was time for dinner so we walked up the lobster shack to pick up our order.  Duane was there along with his wife, Lexi, and we talked about their 2 kids (the only ones currently attending the elementary school), whom are old enough to stay by themselves when they work the lobster shack. Duane told us “where are they going to go? We live on an island and everybody knows them”. Unfortunately, their oldest would be heading off the island next year destined for boarding school.

Duane & Lexie

We took our dinner back to the boat and enjoyed delicious lobster, lobster roll, corn on the cob, potatoes and sausages.  We really liked this eclectic island that is full of history and adventure.  We are so glad we came here even if it took two attempts. You can learn more about Cuttyhunk here.

Here are some more pictures of this great place:

Other vendors

Facilities and community bulletin board

Kindness Rocks explained

Kindness Rocks

Kindness Rocks by the Market

North shore homes overlooking pond

Police Car

Corn cart

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