Saturday 7/20/19 -It’s Monday, late morning. We have been motoring under bare poles (no sails are up) for about 90 minutes, en route to Nantucket, having left Martha’s Vineyard after two days of exploration. I’m sitting in one of my favorite spots on passage - the cockpit settee, looking out over the vast ocean within the Nantucket Sound. The boat is on auto-helm, keeping us within a channel between multiple shoals (shallow water) that would love to claim a sailboat like this, dragging a 6-foot keel through the water. Great time to reflect on the weekend we spent on Martha’s Vineyard. Who is Martha, Avery continues asking...Let’s find out.
We dropped the mooring lines around 0700 on Saturday morning. Nora and Ruby, still in pajamas, were excited to get underway. Moments like that, before the boredom or sea sickness begins, affirms that the kids “get” the adventure of sailing I’m trying to impart. Their excitement reinforces my own. As we motored out of the harbor, the girls spied the shoreline with the binoculars, searching for signs of Taylor Swift’s colossal mansion on the water.
We entered the open waters of the Atlantic, leaving the safe confines of Narragansett Bay, greeted to a small swell, blue skies and a light breeze. After unfurling the main sail and retracting it a few times over the next hour, I settled on motoring toward our destination of Menemsha Bight, a harbor on the Western “Up Island” side of Martha’s Vineyard. The wind was too light to power us with any speed.
We spotted land 3 hours into our sail and began reading about our destination of Menemsha. Within a couple miles of making landfall, we decided to head Northeast and continue to Vineyard Haven. Rather than staying one night in both towns, as planned, we thought to power through to our next port and remain for two nights. Secretly, knowing we were without a drop of alcohol on board, sailing into what is still a dry town, I cast my vote for continuing sail.
In pleasing Neptune, and Bacchus (Greek God of drinking and wild behavior), the winds picked up, and we were finally able to raise sails for a sustained period. We picked up speed under sail, killed the motors, and spent the final 2 hours on the water sailing up through Vineyard Channel, and rounding the corner into the bustling harbor of Vineyard Haven.
Avery helped pilot the boat to the famous Black Dog restaurant/store, where a dock provided us with water and ice. The girl running the dock was anything but hospitable, but any sign of life after 7 hours at sea is welcomed. 15-minutes later, we cast off and motored to a cozy place we could drop anchor for the next couple days. Safely on the “hook” (anchor), the kids and I donned our swim suits and jumped in the Great White-infested waters. This, according to my overly cautious bride, who heard from a very reliable source on Facebook that schools of ill-tempered and hungry sharks would eat anything in the water, inches off shore from Martha’s Vineyard, likely in the exact vicinity of our boat. Against the better judgement of being an attentive and obedient husband, I jumped in and beckoned all my tasty little children to join me.
After cooling off, and escaping the jaws of fate, we were rinsed, dressed, and motoring to shore in our first family dinghy ride of the week. The girls giggled with excitement as the small harbor waves jumped over the bow and splashed them with spray. Some of our most memorable moments on these trips happen in the dinghy - I was reminded of this as we dodged boats at anchor, weaving toward shore.
Once again, we escaped the heat of the summer by shopping. The Main Street in Vineyard Haven is full of quaint little storefronts offering sailing wares, Island tchotchke and ice cream. We walked by an old movie theater, noting that Lion King was playing, and promptly visited a local coffee shop. I haven’t mentioned but all 5 girls experienced some uneasiness on the ride to the Vineyard, Tara’s prognosis being caffeine withdrawals. Now medicated, we continued exploring Main Street, and stopped into a music shop, beckoned by the guitars in the window. The obvious mistake of leading our three young children into a shop with instruments was readily apparent, as Ruby found the box of noisemakers, while Nora “strummed” a ukulele and Charley grabbed drumsticks. Turning on our heels, we abruptly left before I found myself purchasing a broken instrument. Mental note: stick to tee shirt shops.
Now hungry and shopped out, we headed toward the harbor and our much-anticipated visit to the famous Black Dog tavern, who’s establishment launched the Black Dog apparel company. The girls played on the beach while dad enjoyed his first beer in two days and the best clam chowder on the East Coast. Together, those distracted me from the inferno in which we sat, who’s lack of air conditioning was noticeable. It was here that we learned from a sweaty middle-aged man refilling water glasses that this was “abnormal” and we had won the lottery on picking the warmest weekend of the century in this area. “Yes, I will take a top off on the water, if you’ll kindly dump it over my head”.
Our evening ended with a short ride back to the boat, cool showers all around, and a moment of reading. It was a great day on the water, a successful voyage to our first island, and despite countless scolding’s and a few tears, we were all in good spirits, exhausted from the day’s activities. Good night Vineyard Haven.
We're the Zimmerman Family!
Home Base | Denver, CO
A family of six that
LOVES to sail !
Follow our crew (Royce, Tara, Avery, Charley, Nora & Ruby)
as we blog our sailing adventures
Set Sail 4.22.23 | Las Palmas - Across the Atlantic - Island of Antigua
Set Sail 9.22.21 | Sweden - Germany -
Set Sail 7.18.19 | Newport, RI -
Martha's Vineyard, MA -
Nantucket, MA -
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