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Old 20-05-2011, 07:40   #1
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pirate Advice Needed: Cape Cod & Martha's Vineyard

I'd like to start this post by thanking everyone for the extremely helpful advice I have received on a multitude of topics in the past.

Here's what I'm looking for help with this time:

My plan is to take a month-long cruise starting the middle of June that will include Martha's Vineyard and somewhere on the southern coast of Cape Cod as a jumping off point to make the trip to Provincetown, going outside, instead of through the canal (which is what I did last season).

Can anyone offer advice on one or more of the following:

1. Best anchorages or cheapest moorings on Martha's Vineyard and any precautions attached thereto?

2. Best anchorages/moorings on the south coast of Cape Cod, including a nice town to visit?

3. Any specific sailing precautions to take that would not necessarily be evident on charts, weather maps, Eldridge, etc. along the route from Newport - the Vineyard - southern Cape to Provincetown (going outside)?

Thanks as always,
- Dennis
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Old 20-05-2011, 08:14   #2
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Re: Advice Needed: Cape Cod & Martha's Vineyard

From Newport your obvious first stop would be Cuttyhunk island ... some anchoring available but plentiful moorings ... provisions availability very limited & quite pricey ...
From there you next pass through Quick's Hole ( catch the tide ) then a short trip across Vineyard Sound to Menemsha ( this is where Jaws was filmed so I am told ) ... Menemsha is a dry town so no liquor stores but provisions are available as are excellent seafood eateries ...
From Menemsha head up Vineyard Sound & call in at Lake Tashmoo for good shelter & peaceful serenity ...
From Tashmoo your next options are Vineyard Haven or Oak Bluffs ... Oak Bluffs has the first liquor store available & good provisioning but no anchorage, just moorings ( $40 per day in summer 2009 ) ... you could head further down to Edgartown where lots of anchoring opportunities exist with liquor stores & provisions aplenty, but as you are heading for P-Town that might be a little out of your way ...
From Vineyard Haven or Oak Bluffs head across Nantucket Sound making for either Falmouth ( little or no anchorage but abundant moorings & marina wharves ) or to Hyannis ...

That is the extent of my experience of the area except to say that when rounding Monomoy Point & all the way round to P-Town stay well off the shore as there are many sandbanks & shoals ...

Hope you find some of this useful & have a safe & enjoyable cruise
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Old 20-05-2011, 08:32   #3
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Re: Advice Needed: Cape Cod & Martha's Vineyard

Menemsha: You can still see the tracks they used to run the shark onto the stern of Quint's boat. It's on the shore about halfway to the pond. The inlet runs very fast. Wait for slack tide if you're not familiar with it. You can anchor outside if the weather is good or else rent a slip or mooring in the small harbor. Sailboats are rafted together on moorings inside. Expensive, very touristy as is the rest of MV nowadays. Great takeout food at Larsen's fish market.
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Old 20-05-2011, 08:36   #4
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Re: Advice Needed: Cape Cod & Martha's Vineyard

Thank you, svtad and smurph! Exactly the kind of info I was hoping for. I visited Cuttyhunk last season and was assigned to a pole as a mooring. On the pole was a phone number I had to call to arrange for payment for the use of the pole. I called the number and got the voicemail of a pizzeria. They never called me back asking for their mooring fee. Maybe I still owe it.
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Old 20-05-2011, 08:45   #5
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Re: Advice Needed: Cape Cod & Martha's Vineyard

It looks like if I decided to sail from the Vineyard to Nantucket and then to the Cape that Hyannis would be my best bet. Are there decent anchorages in Hyannis, such as in Lewis Bay? The depths on the chart look about right for anchoring.

Is it safe to assume that Nauset Harbor and Chatham Harbor are inaccessible and that there is no way to go inside Monomoy Point?
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Old 20-05-2011, 09:10   #6
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Re: Advice Needed: Cape Cod & Martha's Vineyard

Hi Dennis,

What is your draft? There are some nice spots on the south side of Cape Cod, but some are very draft-dependent.

I agree with SVTadpole about Cuttyhunk. We were there this week and were one of three boats in the harbor. It's packed in the summer so get in early. Hadley's Harbor on the edge of Wood's Hole is a beautiful anchorage at the East end of the Elizabeth Islands. If you transit Wood's Hole, do it at slack tide. I've been going through there for many years and still won't do it without a route up on the chartplotter to track my drift. It's very easy to get pulled onto the rocks while aiming for your mark.

Menemsha Pond and Tashmoo are nice spots to hang on the hook on the Vineyard, but the channels in are prone to shoaling. Get current information before going in. Good holding in both. There is access to Vineyard Haven from Tashmoo.

Your best jumping off point for the trip around the Cape is Nantucket. I haven't been in a few years, but there is an anchorage and moorings. The moorings are pricey, but can give you a better night's sleep given the currents in the harbor and other boats. The channel South of Monomoy and East from Nantucket is prone to rapid shoaling so get current knowledge before heading out. Try to make the run up the outer Cape in good weather and stay well off shore. It's very doable, but the shoals move during the course of a year so don't rely heavily on the exactness of your charts.
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Old 20-05-2011, 10:21   #7
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Re: Advice Needed: Cape Cod & Martha's Vineyard

As you may have seen it is possible for about four boats to anchor in the very northern end of Cuttyhunk harbor. The problem is that the depth goes from 10 feet to 8" in half a boat length.

Do not try to pass through the channel between Cuttyhunk and Nashawena Island. Go up Buzzards Bay to Quicks Hole.

A nice alternative to Martha's Vineyard is Tarpaulin Cove on the southeast side of Naushon. Beautiful, great holding and you are likely to be alone on a weekday night in June. Obviously not a place to be in easterlies winds but calm in normal conditions.

My next stop is typically Vineyard Haven. It's easy to anchor in the uncrowed outer harbor and there's launch service (for a not too bad fee) into the town. Peaceful except in a northerly blow. There are free buses to the other parts of Marthas Vineyard.

From there, Nantucket is an easy day. You can anchor or get a mooring in Nantucket. It's really worth several days. Museums, art galleries, expensive food and cheap food. Some great bars. In June the crowds should be reasonable. It can be crazy ashore but you leave all that behind as you dinghy back out to your boat. The harbor is large and can be uncomfortable - but not dangerous.

You may also have a real problem with fog in June. It can be can't-see-your-own-bow thick. Make sure you have a good radar reflector (or two). Going around the outer side of the Cape is not a trivial trip. While it's much easier today with chartplotters, it's a long way with no refuge. Pick your weather carefully.

Carl

The following is long. It comes from The Cruising Guide to the New England Coast by Roger Duncan (and others). While the Guide is not the best source of marina information, every boat cruising New England should carry a copy. An old copy is fine as the currents, rocks, and history haven't changed. You may already have one. This pre-GPS sea story from Nantucket should get you in the mood for your cruise ....


Published in a Sailors Magazine of November 1848. Titled A Cruise Along Shore in the Seventeenth Century

I shall never forget the homeward passage. It was late in November, and we judged ourselves seven leagues southeast of Nantucket. The old man was below, on his beam ends, with a cruel rheumatism, when the wind hauled to the east. The mate, whose name was Salter, had no thought of running under such circumstances so unfavorable, and went below.

“Captain Phillips”, said he, “the wind has canted to the eastward, but it is awful foggy so thick that you can't see across the deck.”

“Sound! “ said the old man, “and pass the lead below.”

They did so, and after a glance at it, he turned to the mate, and said, “Shake out all the reefs, keep her northwest two hours, then sound again, and let me see the lead.”

“Yes sir”, said the mate, and he passed up the companionway, not particularly pleased with the prospect.

In two hours, soundings were again had, and the lead passed to the skipper. "Five fathoms, with sand, and a cracking breeze” said Salter.

“Don't you mean seven fathoms, Mr. Salter?” asked the old man scraping the sand with the nail of his right forefinger.

“There might have been about seven sir, said the mate, I allowed pretty largely for the drift: but it is best to be on the safe side.”

“Right, Mr. Salter. Right. I am glad to find you so particular. We are close in with the land, and can't be too careful. You may keep northwest, half west; I don't expect you can see much, but if you don't hear anything in the course of fifteen minutes, let me know it. An open ear for breakers, Mr. Slater! We must be cautious, very cautious, sir. “

The mate, although a fellow of considerable grit, was somewhat staggered at the last orders. He, however, nodded a respectful assent, and made is way to the forward part of the vessel.

The wind had freshioned, and the Little Mary (as the schooner was called) was doing her prettiest. Salter leaned over the larboard bow, and was pondering upon the folly of running before a gale of wind through a fog, to make the land, with no other guide than a few particles of gray sand, in which he had no more confidence than he would have in a piece of drift seaweed.

Eight or nine minutes only had passed, when the roar of breakers struck the ear of the mate, "Luff, luff, and shake her!" cried he.

The schooner was brought to the wind in an instant. The foam from the receding waves was visible under her lee but in a moment the dark line of Seconset head, in the southwest, told the mate that everything was right.

"We are clear of the scrape, so far, growled Salter, I don't think a handful of sand is a thing to run by in a time like this. I'll know if there is any difference between the bottom here, and the last we had. Sam, heave the lead, while I keep her steady."

The lead came up, and the mate declared not only the bottom but all the sand within forty miles of this spot is alike. Sam, pass me some of that sand which the cook brought on board to clean his things while we were lying in Seconset. There, said he, comparing the two, there is no difference, even in this, except what the water makes, and he proceed to prove his position by putting fresh tallow on the lead, and covering it with the sand which had been brought from the uplands of Seconset.

"Sam" said Salter, "you may wet the lead. I'll try it on the old man." The lead was washing in the sea for a moment, and the mate took it below, chuckling at the thought of snaring the old veteran.

"Captain Phillips," said he, with counterfeit anxiety, "the fifteen minutes are gong and it blows spitefully in flaws , and spits thick."

"Mr. Salter,"returned the old man, raising himself in his berth to take the lead, "northwest, half west, should have brought you within ear-shot of the breakers some minutes ago. I am afraid you have not kept her straight."

He raised the lead, and the first glance at the sounds seemed to shake his very soul--- but the flush on his high pale forehead passed away in an instant. Ordering the skylight to be removed, he placed the lead in a better position, and riveted his clear blue eye upon it for a full minute, when he turned to the mate, with utmost coolness, and said, “ Mr. Salter, I am glad to say that there has been no fault in your steering; the schooner has run North west half west, as straight as a gun-barrel; at the same time I am very sorry to tell you that Nantucket is sunk, and that we are just over the Seconset ridge!"
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Old 20-05-2011, 10:39   #8
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Re: Advice Needed: Cape Cod & Martha's Vineyard

Thank you, Tartansail. My draft is 5 feet (nominally).

Carl F, many thanks to you too...for the info and the great yarn!
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Old 20-05-2011, 13:09   #9
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Re: Advice Needed: Cape Cod & Martha's Vineyard

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Originally Posted by CarlF View Post
...A nice alternative to Martha's Vineyard is Tarpaulin Cove on the southeast side of Naushon. Beautiful, great holding and you are likely to be alone on a weekday night in June. Obviously not a place to be in easterlies winds but calm in normal conditions.
Tarpaulin cove has a small public beach on the southwest side, in case you brought some beach chairs or want to have a picnic.

The cove used to be used by pirates, I've heard.

Regards,
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Old 20-05-2011, 14:59   #10
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Re: Advice Needed: Cape Cod & Martha's Vineyard

Thanks, Brad. I just checked it out on the charts, and it looks quite nice (except for the easterlies problem, as pointed out by Carl). I'll have my dog with me, and I'm always looking for a place to let him run and swim. The beach could be ideal.
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Old 20-05-2011, 16:00   #11
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Re: Advice Needed: Cape Cod & Martha's Vineyard

I'll just echo those that recommend Cuttyhunk, Tarpaulin Cove, and Lake Tashmoo for nice anchorages. I have always anchored in the north end of Cuttyhunk Pond--often 20, 30 boats, and more anchor up there. Woods Hole is interesting, but it is hard to find an anchoring spot that isn't really deep. Interesting museums to tour ashore and a nice little working town with the Oceanographic Institute. Hadley Harbor across the way is beautiful and sheltered, but is usually also very crowded. It is fun to go through Woods Hole with all that current, but it can be a bit too exciting in the fog. There's also Lagoon Pond in Vineyard Haven, but you have to go through the opening bridge. You can also anchor just north of the Chappaquidick beach in Edgartown if the wind is likely to stay in the south. It's kind of fun to row ashore and take the little ferry over to town. But, why go outside around the Cape to get to P-Town? Just for the ocean run? Pretty dull sailing, if you ask me, compared to an interesting trip up Buzzards Bay with plenty of places to anchor for the night and explore. Plus it is a lot shorter to take the Canal. On the way to P-Town you can head off to the east and anchor near Wellfleet for a change of pace. We often anchor across from P-Town near the beach on Long Point where it is a bit quieter at night and less crowded.
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Old 21-05-2011, 04:00   #12
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Re: Advice Needed: Cape Cod & Martha's Vineyard

Hi Kettlewell. Thanks for all. Yes, going outside would be just for the ocean run. I did the canal run twice last year, and you're right about it being more interesting. I'll probably take the canal on the way back. Last year, I, too, anchored at Long Point. A great place to swim for me and the dog. Here's a photo (the dog was just a pup last year):
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Old 21-05-2011, 04:55   #13
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Re: Advice Needed: Cape Cod & Martha's Vineyard

Yes indeed. The whole area is subject to thick fog ANY time during the summer. Plan on staying put quite often. The currents are strong throughout as well and can raise hell with dead reckoning. Coming over from Block, you can find yourself being dragged up on Sow and Pigs before you know it! Any of the cuts between the Islands are dangerous. Quicks Hole is the only one that should be attempted on the west end. Robinson's and Canapitsit -forget it. Woods is wide and well marked but don't run it against the current with a 6 knot sailboat. Hadley Harbor is a great spot. Anchor in the outside anchorage unless the weather is really bad, coming in off Buzzard's, because the inside is littered with unknown/unused moorings. This is the case now in many previously uncluttered and desirable spots to freely drop the hook: obviously unused moorings (that no one in their right mind would trust) blocking anchorages with no boats on them! Potter's Cove, a great place to hole up in a storm up from Newport is the same- about 100 unoccupied moorings on every square inch of bottom. I don't get it but it is not fair to cruisers looking for a spot to anchor. Grrrrrr. Fisher's is the same thing although the moorings there belong to the town trying to extort your money.
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Old 21-05-2011, 05:22   #14
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Re: Advice Needed: Cape Cod & Martha's Vineyard

Dennis -- I'll be circling the Cape in early- mid-July, in company with a couple of friends, each single-handing his own boat. We'll probably go counterclockwise, starting from P-town. So maybe we'll see you out there. In any case, have a great trip. Such beautiful cruising waters. I really can't wait!
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Old 21-05-2011, 07:56   #15
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Re: Advice Needed: Cape Cod & Martha's Vineyard

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Originally Posted by smurphny View Post
Yes indeed. The whole area is subject to thick fog ANY time during the summer. Plan on staying put quite often. The currents are strong throughout as well and can raise hell with dead reckoning. Coming over from Block, you can find yourself being dragged up on Sow and Pigs before you know it! Any of the cuts between the Islands are dangerous. Quicks Hole is the only one that should be attempted on the west end. Robinson's and Canapitsit -forget it. Woods is wide and well marked but don't run it against the current with a 6 knot sailboat. Hadley Harbor is a great spot. Anchor in the outside anchorage unless the weather is really bad, coming in off Buzzard's, because the inside is littered with unknown/unused moorings. This is the case now in many previously uncluttered and desirable spots to freely drop the hook: obviously unused moorings (that no one in their right mind would trust) blocking anchorages with no boats on them! Potter's Cove, a great place to hole up in a storm up from Newport is the same- about 100 unoccupied moorings on every square inch of bottom. I don't get it but it is not fair to cruisers looking for a spot to anchor. Grrrrrr. Fisher's is the same thing although the moorings there belong to the town trying to extort your money.
A quick comment on the moorings in Hadley's Harbor. The islands are owned by the Forbes family. I have a tenuous connection so sometimes stay on the island at the house at the entrance to Hadley's. The moorings in the inner harbor are owned by the family trust, but they are explicitly available for public use if no one is on them. I don't know their ratings, but the inner harbor is one of the most protected spots in southern New England. I wouldn't hesitate to put my boat on them in non-storm conditions.
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