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
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.
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!"