Another Covid-19 Cruise – 4th of July in Provincetown

We spent weeks trying to decide how we would spend the 4th of July holiday. Every option we contemplated was shaken up by Covid-19. Ultimately we ended up heading to Provincetown, a stop we always enjoy.

June 30 – July 6, 2020
Portsmouth, RI – Padanaram, MA – Provincetown, MA – Cuttyhunk, MA
Days 15 – 21 aboard this summer season

We definitely wanted to be off on the boat for 4th of July. Our little home town is delightful, but on the 4th it gets much too crowded for our tastes. COVID-19 made planning difficult. Some facilities still were not open, some towns were very restrictive, dining out was complicated almost everywhere. Our choices were some combination of Block Island, Mystic, Stonington, Montauk, or east to Buzzards Bay and Provincetown. Ultimately, for a variety of reasons, we chose Provincetown, which we always enjoy.

I arrived at the boat yard late in the afternoon on Tuesday June 30 with a car full of food, beverages, clothing, and two dogs. It started to rain as I checked in at the marina gate and told them I did not have COVID symptoms. By the time I parked the car, I was in a torrential tropical downpour. It rained. And it rained. And it rained. The dogs and I sat in the car for almost half an hour until it rained itself out.

I opened my door and my shoes were immediately soaked by the rushing water. The dogs were NOT.IMPRESSED. They don’t like getting wet in the first place, let alone being up to their knees (that would be about three inches) in rushing water. I managed to convince them that it would be better to move quickly rather than stall out in the flood. I semi-dragged them to some soggy grass, then coaxed them to the top of the ramp, where the rushing water was deepest and fastest, and finally onto the dock and aboard their dry boat. They just looked at me with their ears flattened on their heads.

I unloaded our supplies for the trip. Bruce had ordered in an impressive array of red meat from Snake River Farms, and I had a big box of really lovely fresh veggies from our local Little River Farm, which is doing home deliveries during COVID-19. We would not starve.

We enjoyed a pre-cruise cocktail in the pilot house, then decided we would grab a bite to eat at our on-site restaurant, The Gulf Stream Bar and Grill. To our surprise they were closed. We retreated to the boat and had a simple comfort-food supper of hot dogs, beans and salad. We probably ate better there than at the restaurant. I hate to say that, but the GSB&G really isn’t our thing.

Wednesday, July 1 – Portsmouth to Padanaram, MA

Our first planned stop was Padanaram, about 40 miles away on the west shore of Buzzards Bay. This historic coastal town is a busy yachting hub, but the town itself is small and simple – and delightful. It is best known as the home of the Concordia Company, Waldo Howland, and the famous Concordia Yawl.

When we woke up, the morning was beautiful. We had a nice walk with the dogs and ran a few errands, fueled up, then got underway. It was a beautiful day to be on the water — at least where we were. The forecast was full of warnings for thunderstorms, high winds and downpours. We kept our eyes on the weather radar and watched cells pop up around us, but none came near. We were treated to a day-long show of dramatic storm clouds all around, as we enjoyed bright sunshine and moderate breeze.

Impressive storm clouds surround us as we head down the Sakonnet River.

It was a lovely, relaxing run down the Sakonnet river and up into Buzzards Bay. We called the New Bedford Yacht Club as we entered Padanaram Harbor, and their launch came out to show us to our mooring. The Club is very hospitable. It has a beautiful facility, an active racing program, and normally offers a full suite of services to the cruising visitor. Because of COVID, the shoreside facilities were all but shut down, but that was OK with us. We like to be self sufficient.

We launched our dinghy and ran the dogs ashore, moving quickly to try to avoid a large wall of thunderstorms headed our way. We got back to the boat just as a few spits of rain hit us. And then it all went away. No rain. No thunder. No lightning. We needn’t have raced back at all. Sometimes you just get lucky.

Our primary reason for being in Padanaram was to catch up with Dennis and Lily, old friends of Bruce’s who had moved to town a couple of years earlier. They came out in one of the Club launches bearing a nice bottle of wine. We talked and talked and talked until after dark. I don’t think we solved any of the world’s pressing problems — we are all overwhelmed by the divisive politics of social justice, Black Lives Matter, statues being torn down and police being defunded. And COVID-19. The world is a confused and tormented place right now. We didn’t solve any of it during the evening, but we enjoyed our visit with Dennis and Lily.

A spectacular evening developed while they were on board. The night became clear, glassy calm and starlit, with a near-full moon just rising in the dark. The dinghy ride to shore was beautiful. One of those special nights you like to savor and remember.

Thursday, July 2 – Padanaram – Marion – Cape Cod Canal – Provincetown

The morning was sparkly and still. We had time to kill, since we didn’t want to be at the Cape Cod Canal until the current began to run fair around 2:00 pm. This gave us oodles of time for a leisurely walk with the dogs around town, which we haven’t done in quite a few years. It was lovely, and there were a number of new resources since our last visit. Most significantly, Farm and Coast Market, a gourmet market on the main street with an on-site butcher, baked goods, and a broad array of specialty foods. What a treat!

A sparkling summer morning on Buzzards Bay.

Bruce went in while I waited outside with the dogs. He returned some time later with a Brown Bag. And a Big Smile. I knew what that meant. House cured bacon, a grass-fed “Bavette” steak, two whoopi pies (the absolute BEST I have ever eaten), a small blueberry pie, a package of biscotti and some house made breakfast sausage. I think I said something earlier about not starving?

On our way back to the dinghy the dogs got treats from the stone dog sculpture in front of a real estate office. Although they were anticipating grass-fed steak or house made bacon, they were quite happy with Milk Bones.

We piled back into the dinghy and headed off to explore the shallows under the bridges. Dennis and Lily live on the little creek on the backside of the harbor. We thought we would check it out. We had a lovely dinghy ride, digging into the mud bottom a couple of times. The creek is beautiful. Dennis and Lily picked a lovely spot.

Once back at the boat, I stowed our new stash and Bruce scrubbed the waterline. Then we got under way. We were still early for the fair current at the canal, so we meandered along and tucked in to Marion to check out the harbor scene.

Marion is very special to my family. My Dad was a summer camp instructor at Tabor Academy when he was young, and took my Mom sailing out of Marion on his Herreshoff E-Boat shortly after they met. My brother sailed on the Tabor Boy. Like Padanaram it is a small town but has a vibrant sailing community, anchored by the Beverly Yacht Club, Barden’s Boat Yard and Burr Brothers Boat Yard. All are welcoming resources to visiting yachties.

Rody enjoyes the scenery as we make our way into Marion Harbor. He is ready for the 4th of July.

We had a lovely putt-putt through the sleepy harbor, which is officially known as Sippican Harbor. Like Padanaram, is full of lovely yachts and surrounded by equally lovely real estate. It’s a great, relaxing place to overnight, but we were just passing through. It was time to head for the Cape Cod Canal, just a few miles to the northeast.

As we left Marion and pulled out into Buzzards Bay, the afternoon southerly sea breeze was cranking into gear and the chop was up. We approached the entrance to the canal about 10 minutes before the current turned, so we had a bit of a ride on the standing waves, kicked up by the brisk sea breeze against the ebb current. We were surfing along at the entrance, but soon everything flattened out, the current changed (this happens fast), and we were scooting along at 10 knots over the bottom.

The trip through the canal was lovely. It is definitely a New England bucket list thing to do. Just pick a fine summer day and enjoy. The only real problem issue is southbound into Buzzards Bay when the current is ebbing south and the afternoon southerly is honking. You don’t want do that that. Trust me.

Here is a happy little time-lapse clip of our flybridge ride through the canal.

Classic Cape Cod Canal passage.

The canal current spit us out into a glassy calm Cape Cod Bay. We had a straight shot to the entrance to Provincetown Harbor. We took it easy, enjoyed a flybridge ride the entire way, and arrived at around 5:30 when the evening light was just taking on a warm end-of-day glow.

July 2 – 5 – Provincetown

We had reserved a slip at Provincetown Marina. This was a pricey splurge, but we have found the moorings in Provincetown to be rolly and not very pleasant. When you have to get the dogs ashore several times a day, including in the evening, it’s a bit messy. So we sprung for it and stayed at the marina.

Our slip was directly in front of a photo display on the side of the building at the end of the wharf celebrating the Portuguese women of Provincetown. Titled “They Also Faced the Sea”, the installation “was designed to keep the spirit and the presence of Portuguese culture alive.”

The images “are meant to represent all of the women of Provincetown who over the years have been the backbone of this vital fishing village. They came from a long line of hard-working people, immigrating mostly from the Azores and mainland Portugal. Their families fished the waters off Cape Cod for over 200 years, built a major fish packing and distribution industry and made an important contribution to the history and culture of Provincetown.” Thus: the large and sturdy wharf we were alongside.

They are powerful photographs, and kept us company throughout our stay.

“They also faced the sea,” an art installation celebrating the Portuguese contributions to the culture and history of Provincetown.

Bruce set about scrubbing all the salt off the boat, and I grabbed the dogs to go have a look around. Would there be masks? Would there be tourists? Who knew?

There were lots of tourists and lots of masks. Not as many tourists, mind you, as a regular 4th of July holiday, but Commercial Street was buzzy. Almost everyone had a mask on. We heard that the local officials are very worried about summer crowds and controlling the spread of the virus. I believe they have good reason to be concerned. There were places that were crowded, but we found it easy to pick and choose where we wanted to be, and we could stay distanced as much as we wished.

Back at the boat, Bruce was making friends with our new neighbors, a nice group from the Quincy Marina outside of Boston. There were a lot of vacant slips: clearly, it was not going to be a capacity crowd for the weekend.

From our slip we were able to watch the Boston Fast Ferry come and go. The Dolphin Whale Watch fleet was not running at all.

We had a quiet evening on board: a lovely flybridge cocktail, then Bruce grilled his “Bavette” steak from Farm and Coast in Padanaram and I made a salad. Oh, and we had a whoopi pie. Like I said before: Best Ever.

So. Provincetown Marina. The marina itself is not anything too exciting. It sits around an historic fishing pier that now also serves as a parking lot. Your view from your boat is often looking beneath the pier at old pilings. We were lucky with our slip, which was out of the wind and wake wash, and had an unobstructed view across the breakwater over which we got to watch the full moon rise.

The docks are new, substantial, and very nice. The staff was good. Facilities are limited. We didn’t use the heads or laundry so I can’t comment on them. There is a small fenced seating area on the concrete pier with gas fire pits and TVs where folks congregate. They do allow you to use your BBQ on board, which is great. The location is excellent, as the base of the pier is right in the main downtown area of Commercial Street. Everything at your doorstep.

Our visit was very low-key. The weather was warm and COVID caused us to more or less keep to ourselves and avoid congestion. The boat was our refuge.

We indulged in all-American breakfasts onboard, enjoying the house cured bacon and house made sausage from Farm and Coast Market, along with Little River Farm free range eggs and some sourdough we had saved in the freezer from Born and Bread Mercantile and Bakery in Nantucket. We ate out twice, but otherwise we grilled on board for dinner. Lunch we generally avoid, so that we can indulge at other times.

“Please, Dad, can I have some bacon?” Mattie is anxious to share Bruce’s 4th of July All-American Breakfast.

We walked all over Provincetown. Commercial Street is the heart and hub of it all. People watching is a never-ending theater. The shops are everything you could possibly imagine, and eateries are crammed into every block, alley and and crevice. The options are endless.

All this is problematic in the current world of COVID-19. There were not as many people on the street as normal summer weekends would have, but it was still, at times, congested. Mornings were good until around 10:00. Everything seemed to shut down after 8:00 or 9:00 pm. Can you imagine that? What a change! While most businesses were open, some had signs saying “Stay safe. See you in 2021.”

Commercial Street was a little bit more subdued than usual. Most folks adhered to the mask policy.

The area at the west end tends to be our favorite for walking around. It is less commercial than other parts of town. The cottages crammed side-by-side are charming, and the constant come-and-go of walkers, cyclists, unicyclists, skate boarders, dog-walkers and the occasional car make for fun exploring.

The east end of Commercial Street is a little more artsy and gallery-focused, with more restaurants. Although we weren’t really planning on eating out because of COVID issues, we wandered by The Mews, where we enjoyed a meal years ago, and checked the possibility of a reservation. Yes, 5:15 was available, we grabbed it. We ended up having a lovely meal there (well, two lovely meals, to be honest about it).

The Mews staff was very COVID-attentive. Guests were kept well separated. There were never very many people in the room. Service was excellent. The view was nice. Drinks and food were quite good — not perfect, but quite good. We enjoyed our two evenings there, and we felt very safe and well cared for in the context of COVID threats.

Most dining establishments in Provincetown were trying to do business on whatever level they could manage. Many were simply too congested for us. Even those that only offered online ordering and curbside pickup had lines of people waiting outside, often clustered. I don’t think they were doing anything wrong relative to social distancing, but enforcing distancing in some of the busier parts of town was just impossible. We will simply save those spots (lining up for ice cream or pizza, or going to The Squealing Pig, for instance) for another time.

There were no fireworks or celebrations on July 4th, which is normally a big deal in Provincetown. Because our dogs are not enthusiastic about fireworks we weren’t sad about this, but a lot of visitors were disappointed. We would have had a perfect view from our flybridge, looking directly out over the breakwater at the launch barge.

It was all a bit bittersweet. So many people are struggling. Everyone is trying to get through it all in their own way.

We enjoyed our visit, but after three nights, as planned, we were ready to move on. As usual, we had no firm plans. The morning we were scheduled to leave, Sunday the 5th, we sat with our coffee trying to decide if we should stay or go, and if go, where to? We contemplated running through to Block Island to visit with friends there, but in the end, nudged by an imperfect weather forecast, we elected to make a hop through the Canal to Cuttyhunk, then home the next day.

The weathers we passed Long Point Lighthouse was gray and chilly, but it wasn’t stopping holiday visitors from enjoying time at the beach.

We had an easy ride across Cape Cod Bay and entered the Canal at max fair current, which is always a joy. It gave us between three and four knots of extra speed. The only problem with this scenario is arriving at the exit into Buzzards Bay with a southerly blowing. The current-against-wind routinely kicks up a steep, square wave pattern that can be brain-numbing at best, and hazardously rough at worst. For us aboard Esmeralde it turned out to be wet and bumpy for a couple of miles, but nothing dramatic. Try it in a small sailboat, as we have numerous times, and it is a much different adventure.

As we scooted off to the west into flat water, Bruce got a text from a fellow American Tug 395 owner. He had spotted us on AIS, and we were on converging courses. We altered our course to rendezvous just off the entrance to Marion Harbor, and had a nice little “gam” for a few minutes. It’s always fun to see a sister ship under way.

The American Tug 395 Awakening pulls alongside for a Gam on Buzzards Bay.
Sunday, July 5 – Cuttyhunk

We pushed down the throttle and headed for Cuttyhunk to spend yet another night – this would be the fourth time this year. The harbor was about half full — a lot less crowded than a normal July holiday weekend. Things are generally quiet these days on southern New England cruising grounds, which is actually quite nice for cruising. Finding slips, moorings and anchorage space is much easier with fewer boats out and about.

We had a quiet dinner on board and the normal walk-about the island with the pups. No trip up the hill this time. Too lazy!

Monday, July 6 – Home to New England Boatworks

Before leaving in the morning we had a quick hello with two members of our Facebook group “Trawler Life”. Roland and Nancy aboard the Krogen Manatee Slow Dance and Tom and Liela aboard Cree.

Cree and Slow Dance hanging on moorings in Cuttyhunk Pond.
Roland took this picture of Esmeralde and Cree as we did a fly-by before we left for home. Almost identical hull color!

We had an uneventful trip home to New England Boatworks. It was a nice little 4th of July cruise. We hope to have plenty more as the summer of COVID 2020 rolls on.

Covid Cruise – Testing the Waters in Early Spring 2020

In this totally weird world, we decided we needed to get back out and “test the waters”. What is cruising life like during the COVID pandemic?

June 8 – 15, 2020
Portsmouth, RI – Cuttyhunk, MA – Nantucket, MA
Days 6 – 13 on board (since we returned from our winter ICW trip on April 5)
Preview: COVID Shuts us down – Quarantine and Release

Just to catch up a little bit… (I plan to fill in the website later with our COVID trip home from Forida, but for now, here’s what spring at home has delivered)

We arrived home to our slip in Portsmouth, RI on April 5 after a marathon sprint from Florida up the coast to try to stay ahead of the rapidly developing COVID shutdowns and restrictions. It was a very strange end to a very strange trip. After living aboard for more than six months, we unloaded the boat within two hours of arriving in our slip and drove home, just 8 miles away. By state mandate, we had to quarantine for 14 days.

We were glad to be home. On the boat, we were safe but we were also without any “protection” from mandates and restrictions that varied state-by-state and day-by-day. We never knew when we might have to shelter in place, or not find a place to shelter. Or find fuel. Once home, all that uncertainty went away. We decompressed and tried to find some new rhythm.

In a strange twist of common sense, it was my 87-year old mother who shopped for us at the local grocery store while we were quarantined. We stayed home, and thankfully didn’t get sick. And she didn’t get sick. We found ourselves in a very strange suspended state, like the rest of the world, but the reality is that we were very lucky and we knew it.

We didn’t have kids to home school. We didn’t have jobs that we lost. We didn’t have a business that was shut down. We were healthy. We had a house we could nest in, and we were in a rural, relatively low density area where we could still safely get outside for fresh air. We were grateful.

Quarantine wore thin after a couple of weeks. There was still nothing we could do outside our house except walk the dogs — and, of course, go to the boat. The latter was challenging at times as rules changed, definitions got tweaked, and the marina (Safe Harbor New England Boatworks) tried to implement a multitude of hoops we all had to jump through. But we were able to get to the boat.

Bruce took on a variety of projects which eventually mushroomed into a new shaft, a refinished propeller, new shaft coupler and new stuffing box. All this was a result of his tenacious effort to chase down and eliminate vibration that he did not believe we should have. It involved a diver, a haul, and three trips to AccuTech Marine Propeller in New Hampshire.

We sea-trialed all his work shortly after Memorial Day weekend. Huzzah! The vibrations that had plagued us had “magically” melted away. The boat was noticeable more smooth and measurably more quiet.

It took another month of hanging around, grounded by COVID, before we felt comfortable actually going off on the boat. There were a lot of factors. Many coastal towns were actively preventing visiting boats from stopping over by prohibiting marinas from taking transients for slips or moorings. Some towns were actively preventing anyone arriving by boat from setting foot ashore if they were not a resident of the town. It was so weird.

By early June, we detected some relaxation. We researched where we might stop, and what we could do. Cuttyhunk was “open”. Nantucket was “open”. There were possibilities in Buzzards Bay, on the Vineyard, and possibly Block Island. OK, we can work with that.

Monday, June 8 – Portsmouth, RI to Cuttyhunk, MA

Other than three sea trials during the month of May, this was our first trip on the boat since arriving home in April. It felt so good — so liberating — to be aboard again, stocked with food and adult beverages, and heading off to explore. The weather was drop-dead gorgeous for a boat ride: crystal clear, dry, cool, and a light northerly breeze. We breathed in deeply. Huge relief from the suffocating tension of the last few months.

We headed up the bay, under the Mount Hope and Sakonnet River Bridges, and down the Sakonnet River, bound for Cuttyhunk. It was glorious. The boat ran beautifully and the elimination of annoying vibration was huge. There were a few other boats out on the water, but it was very quiet.

I played with my new GoPro MAX 360 camera, a toy that was a result of being cooped up for two months when we all became victims of easy on-line shopping. Such a cool camera. It will take some time to figure out how to best use it’s power, but it’s really fun.

This run to Cuttyhunk is a milk run for us. We have done it so many times, on so many different boats. It’s different every time, but often beautiful. It’s an especially nice sail when the conditions are right. Today was one of those days. Lovely under power, but, with the building southerly, it would have been spectacular under sail. Either way: a wonderful ride.

As we entered the skinny channel into “the pond”, as it is called, I opened up AquaMaps just to see if there were any ACOE surveys, as the channel shifts and silts regularly. Yes, there are surveys, which was great. In all my years of visiting The Hunk I have always managed that channel by feel. Having the survey was great. And yes, it helped, when the Cuttyhunk ferry passed us headed out through the tight passage.

Entering Cuttyhunk Pond, video from my new GoPro Max 360.

We had planned on anchoring in the small anchorage area inside, but there were already half a dozen boats anchored there, while the moorings were virtually empty. We decided we didn’t need the “crowd” so we picked up a morning. A number of the boats were familiar to us. The $45 fee was collected by a couple of ladies around supper time. They had purple hair!

We took the pups ashore and wandered around the island. It was very quiet. Cuttyhunk is always a trip back in time for me, as I came here throughout my childhood. It was different back then, but at times, especially off-season, images of fifty years ago flood my brain. I really do like the place.

We enjoyed a lovely evening, a nice simple supper on board, and a walk up to the top of the hill with the pups after dinner. It was a spectacular evening. I played some more with the GoPro. Fun!

The GoPro Max view from the top of the hill on Cuttyhunk. It’s a special spot.
June 9, Tuesday, Cuttyhunk – Nantucket

After a quiet night aboard, we woke up to a gray day, which surprised us. We expected sun. We took the pups ashore. Not a soul around. So quiet. We were back at the boat and off the mooring before 8:00 am, headed for Nantucket.

We had originally planned to stop somewhere on the Vineyard, but for whatever reason, we decided to go straight on through to Nantucket. We had a lovely, perfect ride. It was so glassy calm to start that our wake was giving returns on our radar.

You can see our wake on the radar. That’s how glassy calm it was.

Quicks Hole and Vineyard Sound were flat and fast. The current up the Sound turned with us after a few miles. We enjoyed a beautiful ride, and were swept quickly past West Chop and out into Nantucket Sound. A few ferries were running back and forth and there were numerous small center consoles out fishing, but it was pretty darn quiet considering the beautiful conditions.

We were entering Nantucket by noon. It was mostly gray, as it often is. That’s why she’s called “The Gray Lady.” And the harbor was empty. I mean EMPTY. We had our slip assignment at the Nantucket Boat Basin. The staff was at lunch, so we stuck our nose in and tied ourselves up. There were a few others there, but it was so very quiet. I did another little GoPro video of our arrival. I will test your patience with these clips until we all get sick of them!

Entering Nantucket Harbor, rounding the iconic Brant Point Lighthouse, marveling at how empty the place was, and tying up at the Nantucket Boat Basin.

We were quite happy to be in Nantucket. While this year is, of course, quite different, in normal years we love the island in early June before the mobs arrive. Life is more pleasant, temperatures are cool, there is little traffic, shops are not jammed, shop keepers are friendly, and it is easy to find a table at restaurants. And on top of that, rates at the Boat Basin are just a fraction of what they are in high season.

We were curious about what would be different this year in the midst of COVID-19. When we arrived, we were aware of most everyone wearing a mask. Sometimes over their face, sometimes not so much, but whenever in close proximity, pretty much everyone covered up.

The day after we arrived was the first day that Massachusetts was allowing outside dining. Otherwise, it was only takeout. Not many restaurants were prepared to open for outside dining. There were staffing reasons, some had no space to serve outside, and maximum capacity issues that led many (most?) restaurants to not open at all.

We had a lovely walk around town with the pups. Many storefronts were empty or closed. Just a few were opened, and most that were opened had restrictions for entry and sharply reduced hours. Some were open only for online ordering and curbside pickup. Definitely not the normal Nantucket commercial buzz.

We stopped in to see our good friend Kari at Kari England, just a few steps from our slip on Old South Wharf. We had gotten to know Kari on our first spring cruise to Nantucket a few years ago. Visiting with her — and shopping with her!! — is a highlight of our trip. We let down our social distancing fence to have a bit of fun with our masks.

How NOT to wear your mask during COVID-19. We both survived…

It turned out to be a perfect time for a classic Flybridge Evening. Bruce and I enjoyed the quiet scenery and contemplated the challenges of the COVID world, then wandered over to Straight Wharf to get a pizza at Oath Pizza. It was a very nice start to our visit to Nantucket.

Another great Flybridge Evening aboard ESMERALDE, looking out over the Nantucket Boat Basin and Straights Wharf.
June 10 – 13, Nantucket

We enjoyed a relatively lazy stay in Nantucket. Mostly, our days were a mix of long walks around town, out to Brant Point and Jetties Beach, poking in the few stores that were open, and projects on the boat. The island was very quiet. We enjoyed uncrowded streets and walked all over town and beyond, wandering along streets and in neighborhoods we had never visited before, enjoying the architecture and historic character that lurks in every building, on every street. We took the dogs everywhere: they loved to sniff and explore.

The main drag at 8:00 pm on a June evening. Not many people have ever seen it this quiet. COVID is having an impact.

Bruce did some cleaning and waxing, which the boat needed after her quarantine at NEB. He also installed new trim tabs on the dinghy which turned out to make a big, big difference in performance.

We chatted with our boat neighbors, many of whom we have seen in Nantucket before. We spent a delightful socially distanced cocktail hour with Susan and Greg aboard their Kadey Krogen 52 Privateer, enjoying lots of the cold, damp, windy fog that Nantucket is so good at serving up. And in the small world department, our slip neighbors at NEB, Sharon and Paul and their Jeanneau Velasco 42 Gleam appeared in the slip next to us late one night! They also invited us over for a socially distanced cocktail, which was good fun.

On Thursday, one of our favorite restaurants opened up for outdoor dining. While we normally like to sit at the bar, our only option this time was to sit outside on the dock, which we happily agreed to. Cru has the best lobster roll I have ever had. And the best Blue Crab cocktail. And excellent oysters. And a great burger. The weather was foggy, typically Nantucket. Perfect, really. We enjoyed ourselves immensely. In fact, we enjoyed ourselves so immensely that we went twice. Don’t tell anyone.

We decided to extend our stay an extra day or two beyond our original plan, and used the wettest, foggiest day of our visit to rent a Jeep and explore the island. We covered pretty much everything from tip-to-toe, enjoying the contrasting countryside, oogling ocean views, exploring countless neighborhoods, riding by extraordinary real estate, popping in to the Sconset Market, and appreciating the dramatic spread between ramshackle gray fishing shacks and lifestyles of the rich-and-famous (some of whom might be in those small shacks, because you never know).

The best part of the day was wandering around on the sandy trails along the rugged, windblown, foggy south shore of the island. It could have been 200 years ago (except for the Jeep).

We rented a Jeep to explore the island on a very foggy, drizzly day.

During our stay I managed to spend some quality time with Kari at Kari England. She’s really so much fun, and has beautiful, beautiful clothing. I highly recommend a visit. Make sure to stop by Slip 14 for a bite to eat first. Or just grab one of their cocktails. You won’t regret it. Also on Old South Wharf near Kari is the Peter England shop (started by Kari’s parents, and now run by Kari and her brother), and of course Bar Yoshi, with great sushi and, as I saw but have not indulged, fresh hot made-to-order donuts in the morning. How could you go wrong?

June 14, Sunday, Nantucket – Cuttyhunk

After five days in Nantucket, it was time to head out. My one last requirement before leaving was to stop in to Lemon Press to grab a bite for breakfast-lunch-dinner. I follow their Instagram feed and am constantly salivating over the fresh, local, creative food they put together. So on our last morning, while taking the dogs for a nice walk, we called in an order to Lemon Press, COVID-19 style, to pick curbside up on our way back to the boat. We arrived just as they opened, grabbed our goodies, and headed to the Boat Basin to cast off.

It was a gray, damp, breezy morning. We knew we would have a bumpy wet ride across Nantucket Sound, and it was. Much easier, though, than it would have been on our little Able Whistler 32, 20 years ago. Somehow it is always gray, cool, and blowing out of the north when we leave Nantucket. Fifteen to 20 knots and choppy. No problem for Esmeralde. We ran fast to keep things steady.

By the time we rounded West Chop and worked down Vineyard Sound, the sun came out and the ride turned really lovely. Back through Quicks Hole, and Buzzards Bay was its classic feisty self. We made the last stretch into Cuttyhunk without fuss, and picked up a mooring for the night.

It was still quiet in Cuttyhunk: ten boats on moorings, and two anchored. One of the moored boats was a little Morris, Katy, out of Pemaquid, Maine, that we had passed on the ICW in Florida as we made our way north. A lovely little boat. Small world.

This is a photo I took of Katy near Cocoa Beach, FL. We passed her on our way north on March 10, and recognized her again in Cuttyhunk. Small world.

Cuttyhunk was quiet by any measure other than Covid. Bruce launched the dinghy and gave the new trim tabs a test drive. What a difference! The dinghy now launches itself onto a plane, makes less wake, and holds a plan at a much lower speed. Great addition.

It was chilly and breezy, but still good for a Flybridge evening. We had a simple supper on board: grilled steak for Bruce, and the yummy salad from Lemon Press for me.

Cuttyhunk was gray and chilly in the north wind. The marina was empty, but there were about 10 boats on moorings and another two anchored. We are happy with it this way.
June 15, Monday, Cuttyhunk, MA – Portsmouth, RI

We had talked about going on to Block Island for a few days, but in the end, we decided to skip BI and head home. It was gray, cool and windy, the northerly was brisk. It would have been a rolly ride to the Block, and the forecast for the following few days wasn’t great. We headed home.

The family heads ashore for the morning business. Gray, cool, blustery. And everyone needing a COVID-19 haircut.

We had a bumpy ride across the entrance to Buzzards Bay, but once into the Sakonnet River the skies began to clear. The breeze was still feisty, but the river was flat and we made good time with a fair current. We were back in our slip before 1:00 pm. It was a fun trip. Simple and satisfying, good just to be back out on the boat and doing stuff.

We are home for a bit, managing our way through the ongoing COVID-19 mandates, and keeping our hopes high. What comes for the rest of the summer remains uncertain, but one way or another, the boat will be a good way to escape from time to time.

More Wet Weather. More Gales.

This fall trip south is truly a gale-ridden ride. They keep coming at us. Wild wind, wet conditions. Trying to keep moving and making certain to have safe harbor when we need it.

November 14 – 20, 2019
Myrtle Beach – Georgetown, Isle of Palms, SC
Days 32 – 36
Bald Head, NC to Myrtle Beach, SC

After three fun (but very wet and wild) days in Bald Head Island, we wanted to make tracks. The weather was not exactly cooperating, but it wasn’t stopping us either. When we got up it was 35 degrees. It would be a wet couple of days, but worse weather was on the horizon so off we went.

Continue reading More Wet Weather. More Gales.

Plans Get Scrambled in NC

As we cruise, Bruce and I don’t always agree on what is a “good” destination or a “not so good” destination. This last stretch of North Carolina, to Swansboro, Surf City, Wrightsville Beach, Southport and Bald Head Island had some of each. And logistics scrambled our plans.

November 9 – 13, 2019
Swansboro – Surf City – Bald Head Island, NC
Days 28 – 31

We don’t typically “plan” very much when we cruise. We have general intentions, but plans? No. On this last stretch of the North Carolina ICW, our lack of plans tripped us up a bit. We had to punt, and make some last-minute switches.

Continue reading Plans Get Scrambled in NC

Relaxed Pace in Coastal North Carolina

We love the charm and pace in the small North Carolina coastal towns, so we matched the pace with liesurely and lovely cruising through some of our favorites.
November 5 – 8, 2019
Belhaven to Oriental to Beaufort, NC
Days 23 – 26

Our last morning in Belhaven was damp and drizzly. We walked the pups around the now-familiar residential neighborhoods. It is very quiet and peaceful, with just the occasional fellow-dog-walker out doing their thing and waving hello.

Continue reading Relaxed Pace in Coastal North Carolina

All things fun (and tasty) in the life of the Beards