Chartering New England - Sail Magazine

Chartering New England

This is the beginning of one of the country’s—no, the world’s—great cruising grounds, stretching from the tip of Long Island Sound all the way up the Maine coast to the Bay of Fundy.  
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
0
Quiet anchorages, nice beaches and quaint coastal towns seem to be around every corner when you’re cruising the New England coast

Quiet anchorages, nice beaches and quaint coastal towns seem to be around every corner when you’re cruising the New England coast

To the uninitiated, chartering a boat in southern New England doesn’t have anywhere near the same romantic appeal as, say, sailing in the Caribbean. But once you’ve bitten the proverbial bullet and booked a boat there anytime between late May and the end of September, you’ll know why the local sailors love these waters so much. This is the beginning of one of the country’s—no, the world’s—great cruising grounds, stretching from the tip of Long Island Sound all the way up the Maine coast to the Bay of Fundy.

Leaving Maine out of the equation this time around, your only problem will be narrowing down the area you want to visit. Since bareboat charter companies are concentrated south of Cape Cod, that decision is kind of made for you. I say “kind of” because the Cape and Islands offer more beautiful anchorages and attractive destinations than could ever be squeezed into a week’s cruise, and though most of Long Island Sound is kind of dull, there are some very pretty harbors there too.
[advertisement]

Take a boat out of Newport, Rhode Island, and once you’ve sailed past Newport’s waterfront mansions and out of Narragansett Bay, you can head for Cuttyhunk and the Elizabeth Islands, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket; if you’ve elected to charter out of Mystic, Connecticut, the welcoming embrace of Block Island’s Great Salt Pond is only a few hours away, and from there it’s a logical hop to the tip of Long Island and the delights of Sag Harbor. From there, a leisurely sail across Long Island sound takes you to the beautiful harbors of Essex and Stonington. Wind up the week with a visit to Newport.

Newport’s Castle Hill Inn is a great place to watch the boats sail in and out of Narragansett Bay

Newport’s Castle Hill Inn is a great place to watch the boats sail in and out of Narragansett Bay

For me, the real heart of southern New England cruising is Buzzards Bay, where the breeze honks up to 15-20 knots on summer afternoons, offering glorious sailing and a great choice of anchorages and harbors to duck into when the sun gets low—New Bedford, Padanaram and Marion on the western shore; Cuttyhunk or one of the other Elizabeths to the east.

Most of this little island chain is owned by the Forbes family, but there’s no restriction on anchoring off them—Hadley’s Harbor, on Nonamesset Island, is especially lovely. Cuttyhunk’s inner harbor gets crowded on summer weekends, but there’s a great anchorage outside. If you’re lucky, the famous Raw Bar boat will raft up alongside, and the crew will shuck as many oysters as you can eat for your evening appetizer.

The time will come when you want to slip through the islands and head for Martha’s Vineyard, which will require you to experience the full force of the tidal current as you slip through Woods Hole, a small gap between the mainland and the Elizabeths. You’ll have little time to check out the famous oceanographic institute as you ride the current that rips through this tricky dogleg at up to 6 knots—it’s a bit of a buttock-clenching experience the first time you do it!

Everyone anchors or picks up a mooring at Vineyard Haven on Martha’s Vineyard, and with good reason—it’s the epicenter of the island’s maritime life. Should you tire of the bustle and you draw south of 6 feet, slip into Lake Tashmoo, but make sure your anchor is well set. It’s easy to embarrass yourself in this shallow anchorage, but once dug in, it’s a great spot to enjoy a gorgeous New England sunset and a quiet night.

From there, be prepared to face yet more choices. Do you cross over to the mainland and visit Hyannis? Head for Nantucket for a dose of history and a chance to mingle with the rich and famous? Or just daysail out of the Vineyard and enjoy some lazy beach days? The waters south of the Cape are warmed by the Gulf Stream, making swimming an altogether more enjoyable experience than in the frigid waters of Maine. (Don’t let the fact that Jaws was filmed on the Vineyard put you off).

All in all, the sometimes challenging currents and the robust sea breezes make chartering in these waters ideal for more experienced sailors who are after a memorable boating experience. Call me biased, but I love sailing in New England.

Photos by Peter Nielsen

Read about more charters in the United States:Chesapeake BaySan FranciscoGrand Traverse BaySan Juan

For highlights, advice and charter company links go to:Five Charter Destinations in the United States

Related

180615-01 Lead

A Dramatic Comeback in the Volvo

After winning three of the last four legs in the Volvo Ocean Race (and coming in second in the fourth), Dutch-flagged Brunel is now tied for first overall with Spanish-flagged Mapfre and Chinese-flagged Dongfeng following the completion of Leg 10 from Cardiff, Wales, to ...read more

MFS-5-2018-Propan-SP02

Tohatsu LPG-powered 5hp Propane Motor

Gassing it UpTired of ethanol-induced fuel issues? Say goodbye to gasoline. Japanese outboard maker Tohatsu has introduced an LPG-powered 5hp kicker that hooks up to a propane tank for hours of stress-free running. Available in short-, long- or ultra-long-shaft versions, the ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comThink Deeply When chartering, I am always maddened to be told that the echo sounder is calibrated “to depth under the keel, plus a bit for safety.” Such operators seem to imagine that the instrument’s sole ...read more

180612-01 Landing lead

Painful Sailing in Volvo Leg 10

It’s looking to be a case of feast or famine for the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean fleet as it continues the epic struggle that has been Leg 10, with it having been all famine thus far. Painful is the only word to describe the light-air start in Cardiff, Wales, on June 10, as the 11-boat ...read more

01-13_07_180304_JRE_03695_4605

Tips From the Boatyard

Within the Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard sits a communal sail loft which provides service and repairs for all seven teams sailing in the 2017-18 edition of the race. The sail loft employs only five sailmakers who look after 56 sails in each stopover. If you’re thinking, “wow, these ...read more

sailCarwBasicsJuly18

Sail Care for Cruisers

Taking care of your canvas doesn’t just save you money, it’s central to good seamanship  Knowing how to take care of your sails and how to repair them while at sea is an important part of overall seamanship. The last thing any sailor needs is to get caught on a lee shore with ...read more

Ship-container-2048

The Danger of a Collision Offshore

This almost happened to me once. I was sailing singlehanded between Bermuda and St. Martin one fall, and one night happened to be on deck looking around at just the right time. The moon was out, the sky was clear and visibility was good. Still, when I thought I saw a large ...read more

New-MHS-Promo

Multihulls on the Horizon

Fountaine Pajot New 42The French cat powerhouse has been on a roll these last few years, cranking out new models that not only replace their older line but take a step forward in design and user-friendliness. The New 42’s “real” name had not been revealed as we went to press, but ...read more