Wednesday 7/24/19 -“Dad, I drew you in a wedding dress and mommy is in a burning inferno!”
Well, I guess it’s a blessing we’re on our last day at sea, if this is how the kid’s really feel.
They’re all smiles, though, as they have settled into a friendly, yet somewhat quiet demeanor, coloring peacefully on the cabin roof, as the waters of Buzzards Bay and Vineyard sound peacefully converge against the hull of our boat. We’re on our final sail of the trip, having pulled out of Oak Bluffs harbor on Martha’s Vineyard nearly 4 hours ago. We had raised our sails as we rounded the point separating our night’s stay from our earlier home of Vineyard Haven.
Since then, we have been peacefully sailing downwind at 5-6 knots since 9am.
Yesterday, I had noted our departure under grey skies from Nantucket. As we inched closer to Martha’s Vineyard on the GPS, the winds settled into a lighter and steady breeze, and the sun appeared.
As we slowly motored through the narrow entrance to Oak Bluff harbor, I hailed the marina on the VHF, inquiring about a mooring ball for the night and a place to top off our water and ice supplies. “Pick up any ball you see to starboard after entering, Capn’. Water is located at the fuel dock, over”, came the reply in a thick Boston accent.
Capn’… I like that. I wonder how my family or team would respond to me requesting a new nickname.
After a very brief instruction to my crew, consisting of Avery at the stern with a dockline in hand, and Tara at the bow with a line of her own, I began a maneuver to pull our 50 foot vessel up to a 60 foot dock. While doing this, I found that the wind was hard set on pushing us away. The shenanigans, that any passerby must have enjoyed, began with Tara’s leap of faith from the hull across five-feet of water onto the deck, 3 feet below. Laughing, bow line in hand, she rose to her feet and made way to a cleat to secure our bow.
Avery, however, confused by my lack of instruction made her way (more gracefully) to the dock and watched as the stern of the boat drifted away from her. “Wrap the line on the cleat!” I yelled repeatedly, met only by a blank and confused stare. “Bail, let go” I yelled and reversed out, leaving the only two capable crew staring helplessly as I pulled away from the dock, running to retrieve the two lines sinking in the water before our propeller did. I came about a second time, trying to now instruct the crew from my position behind the helm. Two attempts later, we had the boat secure to the dock without a scratch, other than the chip off my teenager’s ego, and yet another strike against my “delivery” from my bride.
Compared to my predecessors two-hundred years ago, I expect I was much gentler than the whaler who sent Benjamin crying to his bunk.
After topping off our water, we weaved through the tight quarters of the harbor to a mooring ball. Here again, we miscommunicated and though securely attached the mooring’s line to our bow cleat, almost t-boned the boat ahead of us with the momentum of our ship. “REVERSE” shouted the captain about to watch his fishing vessel get struck by our projectile, sinking his beloved boat adorned by his “Keep America Great Again in 2020 - Trump” flag. Welcome to Oak Bluffs, the distant and likely incommunicado cousin of Nantucket.
On shore, we took in the atmosphere of colorful characters, drinking at outdoor bars blasting music, overlooking the harbor shore, decorated with tall fishing vessels for charter and wave runners for rent. What I would expect from Coney Island, juxtaposed by the New York Yacht Club, was how I experienced our new harbor, relative to the very proper nature of Nantucket. Had I just arrived with friends, I’m sure I would have stopped at the first bar, ordered a round, and stayed until they kicked us out. With my family of five girls in tow, I was less amused.
The quick plan was for Avery and Tara to hop an Uber over to the pool in Vineyard Haven for a quick swimming workout, while I took the three youngsters around town. Five minutes later, with ice cream in hand, and faces adorned with smiles as well as chocolate syrup, we took a quick loop around the block. After seeing some additional sights, we decided it was best to get out of the area and find something new.
There was a Jeep rental place near us that caught our eyes. Following some haggling to get the price down as I would only have the vehicle for a few short hours, the girls and I crawled into a 4-door Wrangler and took off for new adventure.
Pulling up to the surprised look on Tara’s face was great, but listening to my young girls squealing out of excitement of the roofless vehicle, was worth the price alone.
The crew piled into what was an even more confined space than our boat, Perfect Summer. With everybody snuggled into the Wrangler, we proceeded to do our own little tour of the island. We drove around a point where large houses overlooked Vineyard Sound, with the sun setting peacefully to the West, and the locals enjoying games of tennis in the cooling evening. There was a golf course, reached by an “off road” dirt path, and a lighthouse.
Soon, the girls were crying about the wind, cold and boredom they were experiencing, thus ending my fantasy of owning a Jeep, convertible, or at least inviting my ungrateful children aboard.
Perhaps a motorcycle would be best suited for the open air and the solitary that I desired.
We drove over to Edgartown, our biking destination from a few days prior, and strolled into a cute little restaurant named Lucky Hanks. Unlucky for them, as our family of six walked through the door and took a table on their enclosed porch. After a week of eating out, I was ready for a simple meat and vegetable meal on our own back porch. That said, the kids mac and cheese was freshly made, accompanied by an array of fruit, and my fish was perfectly done, washed down by a cold glass of locally brewed beer. After a brownie Sunday, I was again ready for a shower, and quiet night of reading in bed.
We returned the Jeep and took a stroll down the crowded streets of Oak Bluff. We discovered a cute little store named Slip 77. The owner, likely a similar age as Tara and I, had moved to the island and opened the store 8 years ago, naming it after the attempt by Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard to secede from Massachusetts to form their own state in 1977. Though unsuccessful, the story warranted the purchase of one of her wares, a hat mapping both islands and a chart of Oak Bluffs on the bill’s underside. The perfect souvenir.
“Can we go now? I’m bored of shopping…” I thought to myself, smiling outwardly...
Before leaving, our friend let us know that the “must do” before returning to our boat was a visit to the “flying horses”, the oldest carousel in the US, just down the street. She informed us that the band, OAR sings a song about stealing the brass ring from the ride. Having no idea what she was referring to, but up for the experience, we visited the archaic reminder of Coney Island, paid $21, and hopped aboard the rickety little horses. Midway through the ride, they swung an arm out that dispensed little metal rings as you rode by. Before ending the ride, they loaded the machine with a couple brass rings, which if you were fortunate enough to get, would grant you a free ride. To my “luck” I snagged the brass ring, and offered the free ride to Ruby. I stayed on the ride to accompany my squealing child, only to have her win the next brass ring. Three rides later, I was ready to dinghy back to the boat, where I could ink the lyrics to my own song, as a reminder never to visit this place again. Did I mention the arcade that had the one public bathroom, both entertaining my children for fifteen minutes?
I’ll never get back. Please don’t ask.
So, having written all that, with pauses to read, scold, and enjoy the sail, we are finally pulling into Newport Harbor. We are fairly confident we spotted Taylor Swift’s Newport mansion several minutes ago, comparing a shaky viewing from the binoculars to a picture off the internet.
The vacation is coming to a close, and as I reflected on this earlier today, I asked Tara as she sipped her coffee “Would you return on this trip again, or choose the British Virgin Islands?” “I don’t know, the BVI’s are more conducive to sailing. This vacation would have been different if we stayed on shore, and didn’t have to pack for the day when we leave the boat.” I remarked on how I’d like to come back, sans kids, and try it again. If not for the kids’ boredom, fighting, and complete disregard for the tranquility of the water, our long sails from the trip would have been more enjoyable, the ports less stressful, and the desire to stay up later, enjoying a cocktail and perhaps a game on the boat would have materialized. Just another reminder that we are on a family “trip”, not a vacation.
For those of you still asking whether we plan to move onto a sailboat for an extended period of time, the answer is no. Hell no. I’m looking forward to school starting, handing off the constant need for entertainment of my offspring to the paid professionals.
Even still, I loved our week. Time will certainly heal the shallow wounds caused by the constant threatening, followed by quickly rewarding the girls’ erratic behavior. At home, I now realize, I’ve struck a good balance between spending time with the girls and completely ignoring them. When forced, as we were this week, to spend countless and unending hours in a confined space with them, I either tuned them out completely or lost my patience quickly. I have greater appreciation for my bride, and any stay at home spouse out there who endures the inescapable torment of ill behaved children daily.
But again, this was a fun week.
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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