19 June, 2015
On the 15th, we were pretty psyched to be going to Block Island. Years before, when we were taking (and later teaching) United States Power Squadron boating classes, the charting exercises were centered on this area, so it felt like home to us. As we motored into Great Salt Pond under cloudy, misty skies, we spotted “Mosey On” lying at anchor. We fired our hook down, and heard Colleen on the VHF calling the harbor ferry, arranging a ride for 4 to shore. A few minutes later, the phone rang, and it was Hers Truly, asking us if we wanted to have dinner together that night. The ride in was wet and cold, but we all warmed quickly, thanks to Irish coffee and good conversation at “The Oar” restaurant. The next morning, we had to wait for the fog to clear before loading the bikes in the tender and heading to shore. It was a cool, breezy day, but perfect for bike riding. The nearby town, New Shoreham, touts itself as “the smallest town in the smallest state in the U.S.A.”, and sports some Victorian architecture. We had good sammies and great chowders at the Mohegan Inn, and then headed out to explore the island. Our first stop was at Southeast lighthouse. Built in 1873, and moved 300’ inland from the eroding bluff in 1993, the lighthouses’ exterior and setting couldn’t have been more spectacular. After funds have been raised for the restoration of the interior, it’d be worth a revisit. Our 19 mile ride took us over hill and vale through the rural country and seaside. Of interest were the 343 miles of rock walls, most over 200 years old, spanning fallow fields and overgrown meadows. Back at the ranch, we had an invite to join J&C for sips on their 46’ Nordhavn. (Before we started drinking the Krogen Koolaid, Nordhavn was number 1 on our boat wish list). Their boat was gorgeous, and the company better-I love boaters. Early departure the next morning, we wrapped up by 2030, hoping that we’d see them in Maine this Fall.
The cruise to Martha’s Vineyard was an 8 hour jaunt, with anchor up at 0535. Our initial plan was to grab a ball in Vineyard Haven, in the Northeast corner of M.V. When the Admiral called ahead, she was told that the divers weren’t done placing moorings yet. It didn’t look like there was going to be a good spot to anchor inside the seawall (which we needed, since the wind was out of the exposed Northeast). After consulting Active Captain, our crowd-sourced, boating “Swiss Army Knife”, we figured that we might be able to sneak over the sandbar guarding the entrance to Lake Tashmoo. There appeared to be good depth for anchoring in this little lake (big pond) just a mile and a half walk from Vineyard Haven, with protection in all winds. The Girl had to lift her skirt a bit to get in at mid tide, but once in, the surface was calm in the 13 knot breeze. The shore of this little lake was surrounded by homes, and is designated “No Wake”, with plenty of room to anchor around the numerous private moorings. Our first afternoon took us an 8 mile walk to explore Vineyard Haven and its’ environs. The roads were narrow, the drivers fast, and it didn’t look promising for bike riding the next day. We stopped at “The Black Dog” for a brew, and were informed that we couldn’t get a beer without ordering food (the town was dry until a few years ago). Twist our arms. The vegetarian stuffed peppers, and Tuna sashimi were unremarkable. The next day, we hauled our bikes ashore despite our misgivings about safety. As it turned out, once we got out of town, the designated bike trails were great. First destination was Edgartown, in the Southeast corner of the Island. Named after James II’s son, this quaint little berg is one of the anchors for the Chappaquiddick ferry to the island made (in)famous by a young Edward Kennedy. We stopped at Farmers Brewery (and nursery), where Bad Martha’s beer is brewed, sharing a cash register with a flourishing retail plant nursery. We had a couple flights of their prettydarngood selections and their charcuterie plate to fuel up for the next leg to Oak Bluff, home of the Offshore Ale brewery. That ride took us along the 3.5 mile beach connecting the 2 towns, windblown, undeveloped, and beautiful. We finished our 21 mile loop after passing through Vineyard Haven at the public ramp on Lake Tashmoo. There, a group of kayakers were launching their boats for an evening paddle. On the end of the dock, a local fisherman was loading plastic totes full of live Horseshoe Crabs onto his boat. Intrigued, we asked him what the deal was. He explained that he chunked up the crabs, and used them as bait for his conch traps. “Who knew?” He used to be able to collect crabs along the beach at low tide, but the “Tree Huggers” as he so indelicately put it, had legislated this activity out of practice. Now, the crabs rot on the beaches (in some places taken off by the loaderfull after full moons), he buys his bait from Southeast Asia, harvests his conch and ships it to—You guessed it, Southeast Asia. That was his story-just sayin’. Off to Nantuckett tomorrow.