Still procrastinating and still catching up on blog posts…………Better late than never?
By August it was finally time to escape from land and get away. We revived our old summer sailing trips and headed east towards the southern New England islands. For at least 12 of the past 23 summers we would sail among these islands for 3 weeks, escaping from land and jobs. Now we just escape. We tried last year, but the “almost, but never really happened” Hurricane Hermine sent us home early.
True to form, we didn’t make any firm float plan, just turn east and go where we want when we want. It works. We began at Block Island and met Mary Jo and Dean there again to celebrate our 23rd wedding anniversary on August 6th. We had dinner at Dead Eye Dick’s near Salt Pond harbor.
Eager to get to Martha’s Vineyard, we only stayed at Block for three days. We always stop first at Menemsha, a fishing village in the town of Chilmark on the southwestern coast of the Vineyard. We can’t imagine a trip to the vineyard without a stop first at Menemsha.
This part of Martha’s Vineyard owes it’s name to these brightly colored cliffs on the western edge. In the 1600s the white settlers on the island referred to the region as “gaily colored cliffs,” and the settlement near there became known as Gay Head. The primary residents and elected officials of Gay Head have almost always been members of the Wampanoag tribe. To this day, many of the town’s current residents are in some way related to the original holders of the land, the Wampanoag tribe, Centuries later, in 1997, the town of Gay Head voted to change its name to Aquinnah to honor its Native American heritage. The tribesman who started the petition in 1991 said, “I guess it’s simple. An Indian place should have an Indian name.”
Most people take a mooring when they stop by Menemsha, either outside or inside the harbor, but we don’t, at least not yet. We have had reasonably good weather during each visit and anchor outside.
Some people think we are crazy, but we are accustomed to a little rolling and don’t mind. Al employs a special anchoring method formally known as an “anchor swell bridle” when the rolling becomes too much.
We took our usual walking tour around Menemsha, enjoying the familiarity of it all.
Looking for something different to do, we decided to take the dinghy around the southwest tip of the island to Moshup Beach at the base of the clay cliffs. This beach was formerly called “Jungle Beach”, to reflect its reputation as one of the few clothing optional, “nudity friendly”, naturist, or sans vêtements beaches left in the U.S.
The cliffs are stunning when seen that close. The nude sunbathers, not so much. Yes, there really were a few folks, less than a dozen in all, enjoying the freedom of au naturel attire. At least I assumed they were enjoying it. It was all pretty ordinary, sunbathing and reading on a blanket or strolling along the beach.
Menemsha and Aquinnah are two of the loveliest spots on Martha’s Vineyard.