3 Weeks, 4 Islands, 6 Harbors – Block Island and Menemsha

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.

Toasting to our 23 years with dear friends, MJ and Dean.

After dinner we sat outside near the Dead Eye Dick’s new fire pit area. Very nice!

Always a fun evening together! Thanks for celebrating with us!

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.

That first sight of the clay cliffs at Aquinnah is always a thrill.

The lighthouse on the cliffs – caught the light on!

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.”

The “towns” of Martha’s Vineyard

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.

The two inner moorings, with three boats on each. The Coast Guard Station overlooks the harbor.

Kindred Spirit in her usual spot, anchored off the beach.

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.

Diagram of an anchor swell bridle. It can be quickly released if the weather should change and the wind picks up.

Kindred Spirit with the anchor swell bridle on her starboard side. Al says it works. I think I agree even though I don’t fully understand it.

We took our usual walking tour around Menemsha, enjoying the familiarity of it all.

The Texaco station at the end of the road into the harbor.
The Menemsha Market, farther up the channel just before it opens to the inner Menemsha Pond.

This meandering little creek is always one of my favorite Menemsha spots.

We were delighted to see that the 17-foot sculpture “Swordfish Harpooner” was back at home again after a lengthy recasting in bronze.

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.

Approaching the beach by dinghy.

Looking up at the lighthouse above the slope of gray, beige and red clay.

Gray clay from bottom to top.

Looking eastward

Looking westward

Menemsha and Aquinnah are two of the loveliest spots on Martha’s Vineyard.

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