Five Stops Along The Way
As we head north to New England from our homeport of Annapolis, we’ll be highlighting some of our favorites places to stop as well as key passages along the way.
Cuttyhunk 41° 25’ 32” N 70° 55’ 44” W
The first of the Elizabethan Islands on our way north, Cuttyhunk is a Native American word for “lands end.” It has a much more remote and primitive feeling than fashionable Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket, which are further east across Vineyard Sound. We follow the marks carefully, staying clear of Pease Ledge, to enter Cuttyhunk Pond, where we pick up a mooring marked “Town of Gosnold.” Shallow draft vessels may find a slip at at the town dock. In calm weather we’ve anchored for a short time in the outer harbor west of Pease Ledge. A walk up the hill from the town dock brings us to a market, a gift shop, town hall and library – all very small and quaint. For dinner, we’ll order lobsters-to-go at the Fish Market on the Town Dock. Next morning, we enjoy breakfast and a beautiful view on the veranda at the Cuttyhunk Fishing Club B&B. Afterwards, we visit the little Museum of the Elizabeth Islands before heading north up Buzzard’s Bay.
Woods Hole 41° 31’ 37” N 70° 40’ 23” W
We’ll stop for lunch in this salty little village where fishermen, yachtsmen, scientists and tourists gather to work and play. Entering the harbor from Buzzards Bay, we pay close attention to the marks and our chart. Because the buoys run from Vineyard Sound through the harbor to Buzzard’s Bay, the red nuns are on our port side. Making matters even more challenging, the current is running more than 5-knots. We’ll drop our hook in the northwest corner of Great Harbor and take our dinghy to the landing on Eel Pond. From here we walk to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Exhibit Center where we learn about the fascinating research vessels used to study our oceans. We also check out the exhibits at Woods Hole Science Aquarium, part of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, before grabbing lunch at Quicks Hole, where the lobster tacos live up to their reputation.
Cape Cod Canal 41° 46’ 11” N 70° 34’ 22” W
Transiting this seven-mile, north-south cut across Cape Cod saves us from having to negotiate tricky Nantucket Shoals and another 40 miles offshore around the Cape – overall a savings of 80 miles on our route to Plymouth. Currents in the canal range from 3.5 to 6 knots, so it’s a good idea to check the tide tables before approaching the entrance. Although there is usually a lot of commercial traffic, staying to the starboard side of the 480-foot wide channel will keep you out of harms way. Anchoring, turning around or sailing in the canal is prohibited, and the entire canal is a no-wake zone with a 10-mph speed limit. Two fixed highway bridges have vertical clearances of 135-feet, and there is one railroad lift bridge that is almost always in the open position.
Marblehead, MA 42° 30’ 05” N 70° 50’ 56” W
Located 17-miles north of Boston Harbor, Marblehead is the quintessential New England seaside community. With its attractive, natural harbor, historic architecture and charming downtown area, it has been a favorite stop for cruising yachtsmen for over a hundred years. Dubbed the Yachting Capital of America, it has been home for a number of famous racing yachts. Anchoring in the crowded harbor is a challenge, so we call the harbormaster on our VHF and are directed to a town mooring. After lunch at The Landing, we visit the Marblehead Museum, where we learn about the town’s role during the Civil War. Luckily it’s Saturday night, so we enjoy Marblehead’s Summer Jazz performance held at the Unitarian-Universalist Church on Mumford Street.
Portsmouth, NH 43° 03’ 29” N 70° 43’ 35” W
On our way north from Marblehead, we’ll first stop at the wind swept Isles of Shoals and pick up a mooring in Gosport Harbor for the afternoon. We land our dinghy on unpopulated Smuttynose Island and take a self-guided walking tour of the historic island, learning about the infamous murders of two young women in 1873. Because the weather forecast is for a late afternoon thunderstorm, we make the quick, 6-mile run back to the mainland and get a slip at Wentworth Marina in Little Harbor, just south of Portsmouth Harbor. This first class facility has it all, and we decide to stay here for a couple of days to take advantage of its resort-like amenities including a pool, tennis courts and use of a courtesy car to visit nearby Portsmouth. Named one of “America’s Prettiest Towns” by Forbes magazine, we enjoy Portsmouth’s sidewalk cafes, art galleries, unique shops and historic museums.