Arriving in Newport on a mid-July weekend is cause for sensory overload – a harbor full of yachts of every description. We were immersed in a sea of tourists, unique shops on cobblestone streets, and restaurants that seemed to be full from dawn to dusk. This is Newport, the incredibly quaint and charming hub of sailing on the east coast.
We took our dinghy one night to capture the sunset across Newport Harbor then sit out from the majestic New York Yacht Club (a long story why the New York Yacht Club is in Newport) for the traditional firing of the cannon at preciously sunset. Ah, nautical traditions! As we wove our way across the harbor we couldn’t help but stop to take pictures of yachts that are almost too beautiful to be real.
Next day as we departed Newport Harbor we sailed along the stretch of Newport Mansions – estates owned by the likes of the Vanderbilt’s and other billionaires of their day. These didn’t even look like homes but rather sprawling luxury hotels sitting high off the coast.
We then sailed east for three hours to the western most tip of Martha’s Vineyard where we were welcomed by the colorful cliffs of Gay Head. The crossing was made interesting by the constant dodging of lobster pots – they’re everywhere! It was sort of like skiing a slalom course. Just past the cliffs on the north side of the Vineyard is the small quaint fishing port of Menemsha where we anchored for the night. A short walk covered the town and allowed us to visit a couple gift shops and watch the fishing boats come in with their daily catch.
We awoke the next morning enveloped in dense fog but after a while we were able to get underway only to encounter another fog bank. We were in the popular boating area of Cuttyhunk and all the boats fog horns and bells were doing their things as well as an incredible amount of traffic on the VHF radio – boats broadcasting their intentions. After an hour or so the fog lifted and we were on our way north 10 miles to South Dartmouth, Massachusetts, another classic New England port. We can now check off another experience – sailing through fog banks.
From South Dartmouth it’s a short sail to New Bedford, once the whaling hub of the American whaling industry. Now, the fleet of whaling boats have been replaced by fishing boats – lots of fishing boats, We spent a few hours touring the whaling museum, a must see in New Bedford, and wandered the cobblestone streets – a step back in time.
From New Bedford we crossed over Buzzards Bay to the Elizabeth Islands and enjoyed a nice lunch stop at a deserted beach on Naushon Island which is privately held by the Forbes Family. After a little beach combing we headed back across Buzzards Bay for our next stop up the Massachusetts’s coast to Sippican Harbor, the route to the tranquil town of Marion. History has it that as many as 87 sea captains lived in Marion. Some of the captains became very wealthy and built beautiful homes that remain today. The town is filled with ancient trees shading cottage-lined streets lining the harbor – yet another step back in time.
Next it’s on to Hyannis on Cape Cod, then over to Vineyard Haven and Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard, where friends will join us for the 25 mile southeast journey to the relatively remote island of Nantucket after which we’ll weave our way back to Newport.