3 Weeks, 4 Islands, 6 Harbors – Edgartown to Cuttyhunk

It was time to leave Edgartown and move along, but before leaving we wanted to fill up the water tanks. Edgartown has the best water system anywhere – a separate floating dock away from the hustle and bustle of a gas dock or town dock.The Captain (Al) decided this would be a perfect opportunity to give the Admiral (me) some practice bringing the boat to a dock. I do bring her into our own slip but had never come up along side a dock before. Three practice attempts under my belt now. 🙂

The floating water dock.

Nailed it! Right along the side.

Time to depart from Edgartown and move on to Cuttyhunk.

The beach club on Chappaquiddick that faces the outer harbor.

In the outer harbor just north of Chappaquiddick is a larger bay that is exposed to the north. WOW, it is also where the mega yachts anchor. We don’t remember ever seeing this many big yachts here in years past. Of course we detoured and took a cruise around them. After all, don’t those folks buy a fancy yacht so that people will look at them???

A little nosing around on the internet uncovered some info about the boats.

Gallant Lady

  • Gallant Lady, built for Jim Moran in 2007, who passed away only  a few weeks after he took possession, at the age 88.
    • 12-15 kts speed
    • measures 168 ft
    • accommodates 10, crew 11
    • as of 2014 it was valued at $42,500,000

Silver Shalis

  • Silver Shalis (previously Lady Laura) built in 2010
    • Owned by Larry Silverstein, property developer and involved in the building of the World Trade Center.
    • The boat is named Silver because of Silverstein and Shalis after their daughters, Shari and Lisa.
    • measures 180 ft
    • 12-20 kts speed

Huntress

  • Huntress, built in 1997 and refurbished in 2013
    • measures 180 ft
    • 12-15 kts speed
    • 10 guests in 5 rooms, 13 crew members
    • charters for $250,000/week plus expenses

Vibrant Curiosity

  • Vibrant Curiosity, built in 2009, for German screw magnate Reinhold Wurth, a $100 million super-yacht
    • measures 280 ft
    • 18-20 kts speed
    • accommodates up to 16 guests overnight in 8 cabins
    • carries up to 26 crew onboard

Yup. That’s a helicopter on top.

By my calculations, the ratio of feet to guests on these yachts is 17-18 feet per guest (for playing and enjoying). The ratio of feet to crew is 10-15 feet per crew member (to clean and maintain.) On our 38-foot “yacht” with just the two of us, we have more feet to enjoy and more feet per crew member to maintain (18 feet per guest/crew). Since we serve as both crew and guest, it may be an unfair comparison, but unfair to whom?? I am pretty sure that we enjoy our boat as much as they do, and probably more often.

In the midst of these power mega yachts, there was two lovely and large sailing yachts.

We detoured into Tashmoo again for a trawler consultation with Colin. He wanted to pick our more experienced (3 whole years more) brains about possible modifications and cruising needs.

Our route from Edgartown to Cuttyhunk by way of Tashmoo.

It was another calm day in the Lake. Since we would only be stopping by for the afternoon, we rafted the boats together.

Tortuga and Kindred Spirit

Aft views of the boats

Other side of Kindred Spirit and Tortuga

Al and Colin are deep in a discussion of various potential projects, up and down.

On our way out of Tashmoo — Low tide!

After taking the passage between Pasque and Nashawena Islands, we have a view of the homes on Nashawena, and there are very few.

Nashawena

Nashawena

We anchored in Cuttyhunk before sunset. Nice skies.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

3 Weeks, 4 Islands, 6 Harbors – Katama Bay

Another sunny day activity in Edgartown is to dinghy from the harbor, through Katama Bay to Norton Point Beach. Katama Bay is quite large. We remember the days when you could anchor in the bay, but not anymore. Norton Point Beach is a barrier beach that extends almost two and a half miles between the south shore of the Vineyard near Katama and the south shore of Chappaquiddick at Wasque), dividing Katama Bay from the Atlantic.

Aerial view of Martha’s Vineyard. Katama Bay in the southeast corner (lower right). The very thin strip at the base is Norton Point Beach, extending eastward from South Beach.

In April of 2007, a powerful storm on Patriots’ Day caused a break near the center of Norton Point Beach separating Chappaquiddick from the Vineyard. Al was fascinated by this breach and spent hours studying it over the next few years. After that 2007 storm, the break, measuring nearly a quarter-mile across at its widest, migrated to the east towards Chappaquiddick. The break at Norton Beach affected all of Katama Bay as well as the inner harbor. We vividly recalled what the mooring field was like during those years when peak current ran at three knots right through the harbor, including the mooring field.

2011 aerial photo of the breach. This looks like what we remember from our visits in 2008 -2010 before the opening moved farther east.

It took 8 years for the breach to close. On April 2, 2015, the breach, which had moved eastward to Wasque, completely closed, reattaching Chappaquiddick to the Vineyard. The photo timeline below can be better viewed online at the Harvard Forest Martha’s Vineyard Collection on the Digital Commonwealth’s site.  It’s another reminder of how powerful Mother Nature can be. The breach has happened before and will happen again, supposedly once each generation.

Now, ten years after the 2007 opening, there are many articles, photographs, and videos about Norton Point. If interested, Tom Dunlop’s article MV Magazine, A Special Report: Norton Point Breach (May, 2011) is pretty good.

After a long search through old photos on our ancient desktop PC, I found one of our favorite pictures from the summer of 2008. We had dinghied out to Norton Point Beach and discovered a tiny little “island” in the middle of the breach, just inside the Katama Bay side.  It was stable and firm enough to set up our umbrella and beach chairs. We felt like we were stranded, delightfully so, on our own island paradise for the afternoon. The next day we wanted to repeat the adventure and went back out. Much to our dismay, “our” little island had disappeared! Never to be seen again. The tide bringeth and the tide taketh away.

Our very own private deserted island in the middle of the Norton Point Breach, 2008. Al stood in the breach, looking north, to take the photo. Our dinghy is anchored just beyond us on the other side.

This 2017 trip was the first time we have visited Katama since the Norton Point Beach reconnected to Chappaquiddick. We packed the dinghy for a little beach time and set out on the long dinghy ride.

Ready for some beach time. It’s short walk from the bay side over to the ocean side.

The more western side of the beach, also known as South Beach, is reached by road or transit bus. Martha’s Vineyard sells “over sand vehicle permits” for people to drive on the beach. The vehicle must be a four-wheel drive and the tire pressure is lowered to less than 15 psi on all tires. I realize that this makes “remote” beaches more accessible to the masses, but ………….. I’m not fond of this practice. At all.

I checked the cost to get a permit. Wow. I’m glad they charge that much.

Seasonal rate:

Over Sand Vehicle permits

  • $200 for Cape Poge/Wasque
  • $90 Norton Point Beach – Island Vehicle
  • $140 Norton Point Beach – Off-Island Vehicle
  • $270 Combination Permit – Island Vehicle
  • $320 Combination Permit – Off-Island Vehicle
  • Day Passes: $30 Resident Day Pass or $60 Non-resident Day Pass

Our distant view of the over sand vehicles through a zoom lens. Too many people and too many cars!

The beaches on the ocean side out here are steep and usually not safe for swimming due to riptides and strong currents.

Looking out at the Atlantic Ocean. A more natural view.

We can watch ocean waves for hours.

Back to our dinghy, anchored on the bay side.

On our return trip to the boat, we detoured over to the oyster farming. One positive impact from that breach in 2007-2015 was better oyster farming due to the swift current through Katama Bay which brought fresh ocean water in and out.

Oyster farming in Katama Bay

It was another pleasant day out here, but nothing could ever compare to our 2008 visit to Norton Point Beach and our private island.   😉

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

3 Weeks, 4 Islands, 6 Harbors – Grand Illumination Night, Oak Bluffs

I am really excited about this blog post.  I had heard about Oak Bluffs’ Grand Illumination Night, but in all of our summer trips to the Vineyard we were never here during that week in August. Imagine my excitement when we found ourselves on the island at the right time!

A sneak preview of the paper lanterns………………

Oak Bluffs is closer to Vineyard Haven than to Edgartown, but with the Vineyard Transit Authority bus system, it was a short ride away from us while we were moored in a Edgartown

Another map of MV. The red arrow shows Edgartown to Oak Bluffs.

Whenever we have stayed in the Oak Bluffs harbor, we take the time to wander around Trinity Park,  a 34-acre neighborhood of charming tiny gingerbread cottages and a designated historic landmark, nestled in the heart of Oak Bluffs. My first impression, about ten years ago, was that I had traveled in a time machine and dropped into another era.

Without a map or good directions, it can be tricky to find Trinity Park. This grove of gingerbread houses is hidden behind the main streets and under the boughs of trees. But the top of the Tabernacle is visible in the center.

It all began with the Methodist Church when the first religious “campmeeting” (yes, that is actually one word) was held in the summer of 1835. Families camped out in tents in the oak grove near the ocean breezes and immersed themselves in prayers and religious services lasting from a week to ten days. As time passed, these summer retreats became social as well as religious as people enjoyed the seaside setting of the island, a heart, soul, mind and body interaction. By 1859, small wooden cottages replaced the tents and folks stayed for longer periods. These tiny houses were Gothic Revivial style with Victorian gingerbread accents, painted in rainbow colors. By 1880 there were 500 cottages and today 318 remain.

In 1879 the Tabernacle was constructed and is one of the few remaining examples of wrought iron structures created in the late 19th Century. It stands as the centerpiece of Trinity Park with the cottages assembled in a circle around it. Although the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association (MVCMA) was first established by Methodists, it has become increasingly interdenominational and serves as a religious and cultural center.

A more detailed history of this special campground can be found on the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association (MVCMA) site.

The evening’s program

Grand Illumination Night is a very special annual event. The first Illumination Night in 1869 was called Governor’s Day in honor of the Governor of Massachusetts who was visiting from the mainland.

How lucky we were to be able to participate in the 148th Illumination Night festivities.

Hundreds (maybe thousands) of people surrounded the Tabernacle on chairs and blankets and filled the seats inside.  The evening began with a community sing and ended with music from the Vineyard Haven Band. The music was good old fashioned tunes and many patriotic ones.

The Tabernacle in Trinity Park, Oak Bluffs

Dozens of colored glass windows decorate the base of the cupola above the seating.

Mr. Cleasby, the music director, asked the audience to sing ‘We Shall Overcome” and reflect on the terrible tragedy of Charlottesville which had occurred the week before. Voices rose together in unison and sang out loud and clear. The final song, “God Bless America” brought a sense of poignancy as I wonder what will happen to our great country in these trying days. I think I do not need to say any more than that. There were tears in my eyes as I sang.

Singing God Bless America. (Click on the photo for video and audio)

The Vineyard Haven Band

And now for the best part – the photos. Words can’t describe these cottages. It has to be seen and experienced. The first photos are in the daylight before the musical program.

The illumination of Grand Illumination Night comes from the painted paper lanterns and strings of lights decorating the cottages throughout Trinity Park. As dusk falls, the lanterns are lit and the entire grove glows with lights and colors.

At 9:00 pm the the street lights went out and the cottages sparkled with their lanterns and strings of lights. Residents sat on their porches and people strolled past, oohing and ahhhing in delight. I tried to photograph the cottages after the illumination, but alas, that is not so easy. Hopefully, these pictures will give some indication of the evening’s beauty.

Oh my. Simply one of the best evenings ever. It was magical, and I don’t use that word often.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave