Nantucket Sound Cruise!

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By Rich

The four of us are just back from a fantastic 10-day circumnavigation around Nantucket Sound. Rather than making our dear readers suffer through a slideshow of everything we thought looked pretty, I thought it would be more fun to publish one article summarizing our experience, then write brief blog entries for each port visited for those who are interested in particular destinations. Here was our itinerary:

  • Friday, July 3rd: Jamestown to Cuttyhunk
  • Saturday, July 4th: Cuttyhunk to Woods Hole
  • Sunday: Woods Hole to Hyannis
  • Monday: Hyannis to Chathum
  • Tuesday: Chathum to Nantucket
  • Wednesday: stay in Nantucket
  • Thursday: Nantucket to Edgartown
  • Friday: Edgartown to Vineyard Haven
  • Saturday: Vineyard Haven back to Jamestown for a Newport evening out
  • Sunday: Pack and clean up, then take a motor boat ride with a friend to Dutch Harbor for lunch. Three of the crew flies home in the late afternoon while Rich remains behind to tie up loose ends

Here are some high level notes and reflections about the trip:

  • The crew voted unanimously that this cruise bettered our January 2014 week-long charter in the BVIs. Given how delightful that trip was, the vote was extremely high praise for New England cruising! We loved the diversity of experience in the various destinations, which was far greater than the BVIs offered.
  • Our 4’8″ draft with the centerboard up proved to be a huge advantage. We would have had significant difficulties reaching Eel Pond in Woods Hole or getting a mooring at Hyannis Yacht Club with deeper draft. At other locations, such as the tricky approaches to Chathum our shallow draft was a great comfort.
  • We were able to reach each destination for a late lunch by timing the currents favorably. We sailed whenever we could make more than 5 knots or so and despite light winds the entire week (most often 5-10 knots true, with a peak in the mid teens) we got in plenty of sailing. As the winds faded later in the week we did more motoring.
  • We never anchored. I remember anchoring every night when cruising these waters as a child in the 1980s but on this trip we found that mooring fields seemed to dominate the destinations we visited. Prices ranged from $40 to $70 with $50 being the most common charge. We felt the increased security and reduced hassle were well worth the outlay. At least one Jamestown local who works in the industry said the change had come about as boaters’ skills at anchoring declined and the incidence of problems had increased over the years. The harbor masters took advantage of an opportunity to generate incremental revenue while solving a real customer problem.
  • We made mooring reservations a day or two in advance and only needed to divert from one intended destination (Menemsha on Martha’s Vinyard) due to a lack of availability and then only because it is a highly unusual anchorage with only two moorings. The ease in finding moorings during peak season was a surprise after hearing from multiple sources that we’d need mooring reservations weeks in advance.
  • At almost every destination we found either poor or non-existent shower facilities. Because 3 out of 4 of our crew liked to go for runs ashore in the morning, we used the showers aboard Le Saberage frequently. We averaged about 60 gallons of water use every two days. With 2 60 gallon tanks aboard, we typically filled water every other day to be sure we kept a full tank or so in reserve.
  • With her new batteries and frequent motoring between destinations, we had plenty of power in reserve. Keeping cell phones and iPads charged proved a challenge, however, and often required use of the power-hungry inverter. Despite the strong battery bank Rich cringed at the lack of efficiency. The balance of the crew rolled their eyes and plugged in, especially once they learned how to turn on the inverter and the AC outlets themselves.
  • The need to create hot water was the only reason we needed to idle the engine on the mooring during the cruise. We tended to run the motor while we showered to keep the hot water flowing and to generate the sump and fresh water pumps’ electrical draws real-time rather than depleting the battery bank.
  • Between travel (including a 5-hour steam back to Jamestown from Vineyard Haven due to flat calm winds) and the aforementioned in-port engine idling for hot water, we put 25 hours on the engine during the cruise.
  • While the darker wood tones of New England boats like this Sabre have fallen out of fashion in favor of lighter wood tones on newer production boats, for my own part I totally ‘get’ what the designers were after with these aesthetics while we cruised New England. All but one or two nights were pretty cool on the water, and the warm wood tones provided a very inviting space to hide out down below before bedtime. These aesthetics might feel a little out of place during a Caribbean cruise, but to my eye they are a bullseye cruising the northern climates.

Stay tuned. Up next:  a brief and media-rich briefing on each destination.

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