The Vineyard's Real Havens
There's no other way to say it: In August, Martha's Vineyard's most popular spots can be a mad house. Instead of Vineyard Haven, take a tender into the placid Menemsha Pond. Edgartown may be the rage but Oak Bluffs will give a taste of the peace and quiet, which draws so many summer visitors. Above all, get ashore and explore. You could spend a week just cruising around the Vineyard, riding bikes down quiet dirt roads lined by old stone walls, picking out your favorite old colonial home or taking the dinghy to an empty sandy beach off Chappaquiddick.
The Elizabeth Islands
The beauty of the Elizabeth Islands is what isn't there. Probably the longest swath of undeveloped coastline between Boston and New York, the 16 little islands form a chain with several delightful anchorages from Hadley's Harbor to the north to charming Cuttyhunk, an island settlement 14 miles east of New Bedford, Mass. Most of the islands are still privately owned by various members of the Forbes family and remain populated largely by deer and sheep. You can anchor off Naushon's Tarpaulin Cove and swim to the beach. Or just enjoy the utter peace and silence from aboard. But remember, anything above the high tide mark is private property.
Block Island remains the blissfully quiet island sister that mainlanders seem to have forgotten. Visitors only get there by ferry or by boat (there's a tiny airport but few fly in). Anchor in Great Salt Pond and you'll be surrounded by hundreds of yachts. But cruise the coast on a calm summer day and you will find stunning empty beaches and high clay cliffs. Later, bike the islands' dirt roads or have a drink at one of the two grand hotels, the Spring or the Atlantic House, that look out to sea.
Most yachts don't think of cruising south from Newport unless they're headed to Long Island's swank Sag Harbor, a jumping off point for the Hamptons. But just south on the Connecticut/Rhode Island border, the shingled cottages of private Fishers Island, long white beaches of Watch Hill and the historic harbor and tiny village of Stonington are a perfect way to get a snapshot of old New England, at its best. Watch Hill's historic hotel is being rebuilt but in Stonington, history abounds in the narrow streets and galleries.
Good Times With Bad Girl
Don't let the name dissuade you, a week aboard the 186-footer Bad Girl is one of the most pampering experiences you can have. Some of the over the top things Captain Stephen White and his crew have done include taking guests on a chartered helicopter tour of Nantucket and setting up an elegant tented pavilion ashore for a formal dinner and live music, capped by fireworks. On board, there's a top deck "pool" with more than 60 cushions to lounge on and, below, a sauna and a mahogany-paneled interior that can best be described as "Wow!" $252,000 a week.
Ralph Lauren's Yacht Project
With an interior designed by Ralph Lauren and an elevator serving every deck, the 153-foot Argyll is the nautical equivalent of a swank second home in Newport-all that's missing is a polo pony. A 2,400-square foot master stateroom includes lavish his and her bathrooms, a library and even a fireplace. But the four other cabins are nothing to scoff at either. Captain Robert Corcoran has the keys to the town and can arrange anything from dinner at the New York Yacht Club's Harbour Court to a private tour of The Breakers and the crew of 10 loves to throw theme parties aboard-pirate nights are especially popular with families. $125,300 a week.
An Intimate Venture
You don't necessarily need a 100-footer to do New England in style. In fact, a smaller sailing yacht such as the Oyster 62 Venture will be right at home dropping into many of the quiet little anchorages on the Cape that large yachts can't access. Venture can carry four guests in high-gloss teak cabins and has all the creature comforts-TV, air-conditioning and laundry-if not the on deck Jacuzzi the larger yachts might offer. $15,000 a week.
A Knight to Remember
Back in 1983 Black Knight was reserved by the New York Yacht Club to serve as the race committee boat for the America's Cup. With her striking black hull and gleaming topside brightwork, she was an elegant and fitting classic for the duty and pictures of her starting the 12-Meters mark the end of an era. Now you can re-create that age on the 83-foot Goudy & Stevens. Built in 1968, she was completely rebuilt in 2004 with accommodations for six, with a master stateroom that has an en suite bath with tub and two twin cabins that share a bath. $20,000 a week.
Better Than A Week in Aspen
Mom will love the Versace china and the steam shower in the master stateroom; the kids will love the X box and the entertainment station aboard the aptly named Aspen Alternative. And anyone who just can't sit still will love the Jet Skis and Vespas and the onboard gym (which may come in handy after all those four-course meals the chef prepares). Still, just relaxing aboard this elegant, 120-foot Sovereign as she glides past the beaches, cliffs or rocky coasts of New England is perhaps the greatest pleasure, thanks to a soothing interior of stunning white couches and carpets and dark wood paneling. The party is here, so why go anywhere else? $40,000 a week.
A Sailing Titan
Like to sail but don't want to give up an on-deck hot tub? Then treat yourself to a week aboard the 115-foot Titan XIV, one of the largest and finest sailing yachts in New England. Capt. Peter Pexton, a Newport local, knows these waters inside and out, and the yacht carries a full complement of water toys, including two 12-foot Lasers. Pexton can recommend great little bays to kayak or routes to mountain bike. $64,000 a week.