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The Perfect Off Season Page 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

The Wind at our Backs

It was now the middle of the week and time to move on. We left Edgartown bound for Block Island and stayed the night in Tarpaulin Cove, a small anchorage on the south shore of Nashoun in the Elizabeth Islands. The only signs of civilization were the lone lighthouse standing watch above us and a single silent fisherman who rowed by that evening to check his lobster pots.

We needed a quiet night’s rest, as the next day featured a 45-mile passage southwest to Block Island. The prevailing winds come from exactly that direction, so the prospect seemed daunting at first. But as luck would have it, 25 knots of warm breeze filled in from the northeast and allowed us to sail an easy reach the entire way. Once again, we were expecting fall and stumbled upon an Indian summer.

Exploring Block Island

Arriving at Block Island, we had no trouble picking up a mooring inside Great Salt Pond, a notoriously crowded spot. Block Island is only 13 miles south of Point Judith, Rhode Island, so some friends ferried in for the weekend. After an evening on The Club, we took the dinghy ashore to New Shoreham, the lone shopping and dining area, and passed the night away dancing at Yellow Kittens.

The next morning marked the last full day of our trip, so we made the most of it. We rented bikes and did a circumnavigation of the island, discovering why it is such a magnet for weddings and weekend getaways. Block Island is more casual than the Vineyard, and the people and architecture reflect that. The quiet roads weave around 50 freshwater ponds and 10 square miles of land, 20 percent of which is a protected reserve. The south end is hilly with dramatic clay cliffs dipping right down to the ocean. The north point is a flat stretch of land that bends up to a pretty lighthouse surrounded by tall grasses and smooth-rock beaches. We ate lunch at Harry’s, overlooking the ferry dock in New Shoreham, where the shrimp pad thai was delectable.

Back to Reality

Much to our chagrin, summer could not last forever. We woke up on Sunday to a downpour and chilly temperatures that prevailed throughout the sail back to Newport. Dressed in full foul-weather gear we unloaded and cleaned up The Club, throwing away what was left of the week’s adventures: blueberry pie baked fresh on Martha’s Vineyard, swordfish purchased on Block Island, a tattered and wet crossword puzzle, not quite complete, from a general store on Cuttyhunk. After a week of sun and exploration, we hadn’t figured out all of the answers to the puzzle, but we did divine a secret or two about autumn in New England, or should I say, Indian summer.

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