The Perfect Off Season - Sail Magazine

The Perfect Off Season

On the first day of our charter we sailed to Cuttyhunk, Massachusetts, a charming island at the tip of the Elizabeth Islands between Vineyard Sound and Buzzard’s Bay. We dinghied ashore and bought fresh cod from a fisherman whose wife had lived on Cuttyhunk her entire life. We moseyed on to a general store, where Jaci, one of our crew, bought the Sunday Times and cut out the crossword
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
0
vineyard.int.2

On the first day of our charter we sailed to Cuttyhunk, Massachusetts, a charming island at the tip of the Elizabeth Islands between Vineyard Sound and Buzzard’s Bay. We dinghied ashore and bought fresh cod from a fisherman whose wife had lived on Cuttyhunk her entire life. We moseyed on to a general store, where Jaci, one of our crew, bought the Sunday Times and cut out the crossword puzzle.

The four of us on the trip, Matt, Tyler, Jaci and I, met through college sailing. Matt and Ty and I were teammates at Northwestern and Jaci sailed for Notre Dame, but we’d endured enough Midwest regattas, waiting for the wind to blow or the ice to melt, to graduate with close bonds. Now trying our luck at the real world—the gals in Boston and the guys in Chicago—we were eager to reunite doing what brought us together in the first place: sailing.

Jaci’s little puzzle was our companion for the rest of the trip. It sat on the mahogany dining table of the Jeanneau 54DS we’d chartered from Bareboat Sailing Charters out of Newport, Rhode Island. Between quiet marinas, spectacular sails and idyllic towns, we’d gather around and scratch our heads, willing more answers to come. Slowly, they did. As the little white boxes filled up, so too did the memory cards on our cameras as we discovered the delights of sailing through an Indian summer in New England.

Welcome to the Club

vineyard.int.7

“I’m warning you,” said Brian Blank of Bareboat Sailing Charters as he introduced us to the boat, “once you spend a week on this gal, sailing will never be the same again.” The first time we saw Club Carp was at Fort Adams State Park, where she was docked at the most convenient spot possible—adjacent to a parking lot and minutes from the open sea. Club Carp, or “The Club” as she came to be affectionately known, was a classy broad. Belowdecks, she sported white leather coaches, a well-equipped and spacious galley, a comfortable nav station and three full heads (plus a fourth shower). The aft stateroom had enough storage and sleeping space to make you forget you left home.

Underway, she sailed with a grace that shone in heavy winds, but at 55 feet long and 16 feet wide, she was a little intimidating. Over time, the bow thrusters and powered winches helped us settle in and we found her a joy to sail. At times, she even made us swoon.

vineyard.int.sm

As soon as we cast off from Newport and sailed east toward Cuttyhunk, Matt at the helm, The Club locked into a sturdy September breeze. That first afternoon on Cuttyhunk was warm and sunny and allowed us to explore the small community thoroughly, not that it took very long. Cuttyhunk is one big hill with one winding road, one school, one church and a year-round population of around two dozen souls. As we walked up the hill, we passed by weathered-shingled houses with white trim, each one built in the fashion of a sleepy fishing town. Up and over the hill we discovered a striking view of the sun setting on Gosnold Monument, which we watched from some abandoned World War II bunkers, now overgrown with tall grass. Back at The Club in Cuttyhunk Pond, we dug into the local cod, each bite fresh and satisfying.

The next morning we sailed through Quicks Hole for Menemsha, a fishing village at the southwestern end of Martha’s Vineyard. Temperatures were in the high 70s, so Matt rigged up a halyard swing and we leapt off the bow pulpit and swam ashore for some beach volleyball, finding it hard to believe it was actually September. Menemsha is a quintessential fishing village, where lobster pots and buoys are perfectly acceptable landscaping pieces. The shops and restaurants are quaint, and in the evenings a modest crowd gathers on the beach to applaud the beautiful sunsets.

The Joys of the Off Season

Martha’s Vineyard, Block Island and the islands in between are well-loved New England attractions, but visiting these tourist havens in high season can be a double-edged sword: the weather, cuisine and sight-seeing are prime, but so are the crowds. When Blank arranged our charter for the last week of September, he couldn’t have chosen a better time, as we got the best of both worlds. Most shops and restaurants were still open (though many were closing within the week) and not a day went by without a thorough sun-soaking. It felt like summer had never ended.

Indeed, save for the lack of other tourists, it hadn’t. From Menemsha we had a beautiful sail around the northern shore of the Vineyard to Oak Bluffs, with The Club cutting through the waves under a cloudless sky. Over the next three days we enjoyed a grand exploration of Martha’s Vineyard, an island that was born to be vacationed on. Here the shopping, restaurants, bars and beaches are second only to the spectacular sailing.

To see everything this nautical community has to offer, it’s best to rent a car. We took one out of Edgartown where Doris Clark, a Vineyard native and president of marthas-vineyard.com, came along to give us a tour. En route to Gay Head lighthouse, an iconic landmark, we stopped at the Orange Peel Bakery, where two native Wampanoag cousins baked us fresh oatmeal cookies from a stone oven. We purchased them on the honor system—picking what we wanted and putting what we owed in a bucket while the two cousins stayed busy with their ovens out back. Every Wednesday, the bakery hosts a pizza party where visitors and locals provide a potluck of toppings and the bakers provides the delicious crust, all of which is enjoyed while swapping stories around the fire.

vineyard.int.6

In Oak Bluffs, we discovered a mesmerizing place: Martha's Vineyard Campmeeting Association, a collection of multi-colored cottages with intricate trim and well-manicured lawns packed tightly around a massive tabernacle. The community was created in the 1830s when families began staking out the same camping spots year after year for their annual Methodist revival meeting. Eventually they began building the cottages, which they painted outrageous colors and passed down to their children. Clark explained that almost every house in the campground has been in a family for generations, and that even the most modest ones now sell for around $1 million.

That night, we had a fantastic dinner at Coop de Ville in Oak Bluffs, where we enjoyed delicious lobsters while seated at a picnic table in the sand. The open-air dining room had a beach bar feel, but with five-star cuisine, and the service was great. After dinner, we stumbled upon a saxophone player in the streets and Tyler convinced us to join in the impromptu dance party that had gathered around him.

We topped off our Martha’s Vineyard experience with a day at South Beach, a bike ride around the island and a fantastic encounter with the Edgartown harbormaster, who has one of the friendliest faces on the Vineyard.

Related

Stearns Photo

Racing the Solo Mac for a Cause

There are plenty of reasons to do a Chicago-Mac race, and Rich Stearns, who has done literally dozen of ‘em should know. This year, though, he’s doing the Solo-Mac for an especially important reason: to help those with prostate cancer.“Two years ago, I was diagnosed with prostate ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comRafting dangerOne unseen danger when sailing yachts lie alongside one another for a convivial night is that if they happen roll to a wash or begin to move in an unexpected sea, the spreaders can clash ...read more

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

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