17th Jul 2012
Elizabeth Islands, Martha’s Vineyard & Nantucket
Cuttyhunk, the southern most of the Elizabeth Islands, is famed for having not a lot there. It is one of the few islands you are allowed to land in the chain and is picture postcard perfect. It took about half an hour to stroll around the island, including a nose around the general store and along the wharf business shacks (mostly closed). Later we took the dinghy to one of the sandy beaches and had a bracing swim – the melting arctic flows south to cool the waters around the Cape. One of best things here is the Raw Bar delivering fresh shucked clams and oysters, cooked lobster tail and hot clam chowder direct to your boat. These kids have a short season to top up their college funds and we certainly enjoyed helping them.
At the northern end of the chain is Hadley Harbor – a gunk hole (to use the local parlance) surround by three or four islands. The creek is a great anchorage and we whiled away the afternoon watching ospreys bombing the smooth waters before reaching back into the sky with silvery fish wiggling in their claws. Majestic. I had a chat with a local fishing guy who was sporting a NZ T-shirt. He told us he lives at the “big house” (okay, massive house) and got the t-shirt because he hadn't’t been able to travel to NZ for a friend’s wedding. Nice guy, and doubly so because he gave us a couple of fresh lobsters for our dinner. We have found the easy generosity of most Americans to be their greatest blessing. It’s certainly not their radio etiquette, which frankly is quite appalling if hilarious at times.
From the Elizabeth Islands we headed over to Edgartown at Martha’s Vineyard. This island is where the real money comes to play and you’d guess this by the cars grid-locking the village – Ferraris, Porche Cayennes, enormous SUVs. It’s all quite ridiculous, as are the pretentious over-priced boutiques and private beaches forbidding landing (although any boat with a dog does a twice daily run to make their views known). The houses are just as picturesque as other islands but the over-manicured over-moneyed feel to the place is a bit repugnant. The Black Dog Pub is the one plus, plenty of rowdy (real) locals give it the authenticity that the posh shops do not.
Finally Nantucket - what a treasure island. We’re anchored a million miles away from the town quay and on the first night there was a huge thunder and lightning storm with three cells passing over the boat. Tony gave up watching the storm when the rain starting driving in through the hatchway but not before seeing two forks strike – one hitting the water about half a mile from the boat and the other hitting somewhere in town, prompting two fire trucks into action around 3am. We’d guessed it would be a rough night when we sailed through fog to get here. The next day dawned a beautiful sunny morning so we headed over to town to restock the boat’s freezer and canned goods before heading to Maine. The town is lovely, very sandy and rustic. We like the vibe here and were pleased to have saved our extra time to have two days here. Tony is particularly pleased with the local brewery’s IPA. We also hired some bikes and did a 15 mile circuit out to the eastern beaches. The local conservation society has funded bike trails throughout the island through forests, passing ponds, golf courses, and horticultural centers. We can tell we haven’t done any exercise for a while but two nice warm brioche rolls stuffed with lobster and celery mayo in a café overlooking the beach made up for that.
All in all we’ve really enjoyed the islands since we’ve been here and can thoroughly recommend Block Island and Nantucket. Tomorrow we head back to the mainland to Stage Harbour to meet up with Betsy, Chris and Sally. They’ve rented a house at Pleasant Bay, Chatham, for two weeks so we’ve booked a mooring for five days there.