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Old 20-01-2012, 07:29   #1
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Is Nantucket a Challenge?

I sail a 23' gaff-rigged wooden sailboat. Last year, I sailed her from the Steinhatchee River in NW Florida up to Huntington NY on Long Island Sound... a pretty cool adventure for an old geezer who never sailed outside of Long Island Sound before.

I'd like to plan something different for this summer, but also with a tinge of adventure to it. I've got my eye on Nantucket Island. Now, I know thousands of New England sailors go there every summer, but looking at a chart, it still looks like a bit of a challenge for a 23' boat. At least, I'm hoping it is.

For those of you who have actually been there, would it be a bit of an adventure? The shoals, the fog, the Atlantic?

For you southern New England/LI Sound sailors who haven't been there, does it seem like a bit more than you would dare with the wife and kids? A bit *too* adventurous?

I look forward to reading your comments.

-- John

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Old 20-01-2012, 07:53   #2
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Re: Is Nantucket a Challenge?

The biggest challenge of Nantucket is expensive moorings - not sure what the current rate is but a few years ago they were going for $75/night!! You can anchor up the bay but there is a healthy (reversing) current and a good dinghy ride into town. In terms of actually getting there, there is no reason to sail long distances. You can hug the coast pretty much all the way down Long Island Sound. There are plenty of places to stop overnight along the Long Island and mainland sides of the Sound. Within a few hours of Nantucket, consider Cuttyhunk Island, Hadley Harbor (our favorite overnight), Marthas" Vineyard (Edgartown) and Chatham (Stage Harbor).
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Old 20-01-2012, 07:54   #3
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Re: Is Nantucket a Challenge?

It will be a challenge but it should be well within the capabilities of your boat and apparently her skipper. Be sure to have a radar reflector and a GPS. The navigation is easy if you know where you are.

My guess is that you'll enjoy some of the stops prior to Nantucket the most. I prefer Block Island, Cuttyhunk, Menemsha, and Tarpaulin Cove to Nantucket's frantic shore scene in summer.

If you have the time, could I suggest an even grander adventure? (or maybe next year). Before GPS, AIS, and chartplotters (I had a radio direction finder), I sailed a 23ft Sea Sprite from Cape Cod to the Eastport Maine. Not difficult.

This passage from Roger Duncan's Cruising Guide to the New England Coast suggests why one might want to make the effort:


"To be headed east by Schoodic bell before a summer sou'wester with
Mount Desert fading astern and the lonely spike of Petit Manan light
just visible on the port bow is about as close to perfection as a man
can expect to come on this imperfect earth....


Carl
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Old 20-01-2012, 08:16   #4
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Re: Is Nantucket a Challenge?

John,

It would be a fun family adventure, not a death defying expedition. If you want to avoid the crowds, save some money, and slake your thirst for "adventure," you can avoid most of the crowded mooring fields. In Nantucket you can anchor just past First Point, to the north of the "channel." In Edgartown you can anchor in the outer harbor off the Chappy Beach Club, and in Cuttyhunk you can anchor just outside the harbor entrance.
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Old 20-01-2012, 08:25   #5
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Re: Is Nantucket a Challenge?

John,

Nantucket is always a great trip. Never go through the shoals (Shifting Shoals) your charts will never be accurate in those shoals, just stay in the main channel.
We usually like to leave Edgartown (Martha’s Vinyard) for a nice 25 mile trip to Nantucket.
There are two places to anchor in Nantucket, the rest is packed with $70 a day moorings.

Another nice stop along the way is Lake Tashmoo which is right across from Tarpaulin Cove.
It’s much nicer than Vineyard Haven and just a short walk into town.

Mark
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Old 20-01-2012, 08:39   #6
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Re: Is Nantucket a Challenge?

Nantucket is very doable. Once in the lee of Cuttyhunk, you are protected from ocean swells and have easy access to many good stopovers. The most challenging part of the trip (and still not hard) is the stretch from Block Island into Buzzard's Bay. If there's a large swell across the wind, it can be pretty sloppy. Early in the season, fog is pretty common as well. Use Eldridge to time the tides properly or you can be fighting the currents across RI Sound and the top of Buzzard's Bay.

Nantucket moorings are pricey, but it's still a pretty inexpensive way to hang out on a very beautiful island compared to any prices on land. As I recall, if you reserve your mooring in advance, you have to make a non-refundable payment. Despite the island's popularity, we've been able to get same day moorings without difficulty. You don't mention what you draw, but we have friends who often anchor in the NW corner of the harbor even in high season. It gives you a much shorter dinghy ride than the usual anchoring fields.
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Old 20-01-2012, 08:45   #7
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Re: Is Nantucket a Challenge?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cfarrar View Post
It would be a fun family adventure, not a death defying expedition.
Right, that's a good way to put it... a fun family adventure, with just enough danger to make it interesting.

The waves look bigger from a 23' boat, so I always get a bit more 'adventure' than most
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Old 20-01-2012, 08:52   #8
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Re: Is Nantucket a Challenge?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tartansail View Post
You don't mention what you draw, but we have friends who often anchor in the NW corner of the harbor even in high season. It gives you a much shorter dinghy ride than the usual anchoring fields.
4 foot. By NW corner, do you mean the 8-10 ft section north of the steamboat dock?
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Old 20-01-2012, 10:28   #9
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Re: Is Nantucket a Challenge?

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4 foot. By NW corner, do you mean the 8-10 ft section north of the steamboat dock?
I believe so. We haven't been there at the same time so haven't seen precisely where they're anchoring.
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Old 20-01-2012, 11:54   #10
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Re: Is Nantucket a Challenge?

Thanks for the chart, Cotemar. Don't be surprised if the spot under the left arrow is already occupied. The right arrow is a good suggestion. We've also anchored near the 11' mark NE of 1st Point.

As for the "10' spot to the NW" of the harbor, I bet that refers to the area NW of Brant Point. It's outside the inner harbor, but it's protected by the jetties. You can anchor close to the beach, a short walk to town. We've anchored there overnight, and it's comfortable, though the ferry boat wakes give you a little rock first thing in the morning.
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Old 20-01-2012, 16:34   #11
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Re: Is Nantucket a Challenge?

Well, it sounds like the perfect summer adventure to me. I would love to get to Maine, but not sure I'll have time this summer.

Thanks for all the advice and tips.
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