Saturday, May 10, 2008

Newport to Cuttyhunk

Cuttyhunk, Deserted on a Saturday night
[Kyle] Rhode Island is a stunning and special place that Maryanne and I loved enough to have easily spent the Summer. The time had come, however, for us to start making our way north to Maine. We had quite a bit of time for the journey this time so we decided that, rather than take the more direct route via the Cape Cod Canal, we would go around Cape Cod and explore some of the islands along the way. We decided that our first stop would be Cuttyhunk Island in Massachusetts. We had heard about Cuttyhunk from practically everyone we talked to and the many guide books we read on the islands. We heard basically two things: Cuttyhunk is not to be missed and Cuttyhunk is pretty crowded with all of the people not missing it. It's right at about the halfway mark between Newport and Martha's Vineyard so we decided we wouldn't miss it either.

The weather was still very rainy and cold when we left Newport which made it really hard to get the motivation to get moving. There was also a small craft advisory posted until afternoon. The night before, it sounded like we were sleeping in a washing machine. Maryanne got our two anchors up and we headed out on our journey, turning downwind out of the Bay. We enjoyed flying along under double reefed everything, snapping pictures as we went. We got into Rhode Island Sound and turned upwind towards Buzzard's Bay and Cuttyhunk Island.

Sailing a boat consists of two very distinct modes: Upwind sailing and downwind sailing. These have about as much in common as motocross racing and hang gliding. Upwind sailing seems to be an activity that is specifically designed to shake both the boat and its crew to pieces. It makes the cold wind colder and the stinging rain stingier. The only time that I think it's any fun is on a light wind day on flat water, then it's a lovely way to get a cool breeze going. Downwind sailing, even in pretty bad conditions, is much more comfortable and loads of fun. In a catamaran, it's also fast, too.

We didn't sail really close to the wind but we were still close enough that we got pounded pretty hard in the short 4-6 foot chop. The wind was 23 knots or so and was gusting just above 30 and it was COLD. We were pretty much just waiting for it to be over the whole time. The only other boat we saw out was a Coast Guard cutter going the other way.

At long last we finally spotted Cuttyhunk on the horizon and gradually watched it grow and creep towards us. We entered the harbor on the tiny island and found that Footprint was the only boat in the harbor - again. The moorings had not even been put out yet and were all just marked with their Winter stakes. The island supposedly has 26 year round residents but we looked and we didn't see any of 'em. The island has lovely houses on three hills surrounding the harbor. From our deck we can see right over the beaches into both Buzzards Bay and the Atlantic with the cliffs of Martha's Vineyard in the distance. This place looks very much like Scottish moor country and Maryanne commented that if they tried, she bet they could make a damn good whisky here.

The sun came out for the evening and we are going to enjoy an unobstructed view of our own private sunset. Cuttyhunk, deserted on a Saturday night, it is hard to believe, but we are enjoying it just so.

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