A Cold and Damp Leg to Martha’s Vineyard

A Cold and Damp Leg to Martha’s Vineyard

We left Atlantic City mid-day in a gentle southwest wind.  The forecast called for the wind to shift NNW in the evening so we headed north of the rhumb line in the afternoon planning to close reach as the wind shifted as this would be more productive than attempting to beat into 20 knot northerly winds.  The strategy worked well, almost too well as we weren’t slowed as much as expected so our initial approach through the shoals around Martha’s Vineyard were in the dark.  Yes that makes 3 for 3 in the dark, although it was daylight by the time we reached the harbour.

The first night was cold with the northerly winds, but at least it was dry.  I think Magnus is suffering a bit as he doesn’t have part of his winter coat that he normally would this time of year, but he still wanted to be in the cockpit.  At about 5am I put a blanket over him while he was sleeping, but he woke up,  looked at me and then got up and laid down on the blanket instead.

The second day saw the winds drop off as had been forecast and they shifted to the south.  Altera will make acceptable progress in 6 knots apparent wind on a deep reach if there aren’t residual seas, so we coasted along at 4 or 5 knots when we could and motor sailed when our speeds dipped down into the 3 knot range.  The second night brought the rain and with the winds on the stern there was no place to hide to stay dry  (going upwind we have the luxury of tuck ourselves under the dodger to stay dry when it rains while the autopilot steers).  We put the drop board in place to keep the rain out and Magnus along with what little heat we had left inside to make it comfortable for the off watch to get some sleep as we worked through our 3 on 3 off rotation.  Over night I saw the Block Island lighthouse in the distance and then Chrissy took over for her shift.  When I came back up for my next watch at 3am the lights marking the channel to the north of Martha’s Vineyard were starting to show.   By 5am we were in the channel with tide at full speed against us so we made slow progress under power as the winds had completely dropped off.  I underestimated how much time we would lose from the current so I didn’t wake Chrissy figuring I had less than an hour to go.  With the skies clearing it looked like it would be a nice day and I would soon get a glimpse of sun.  A little over 2 hours later I dropped the anchor in the harbour to wait for the marinas to open so we could refuel and come into the slip we had reserved.  Had to fill the time somehow and evidently Magnus agreed.


I have to admit one of the features I like about our boat is that the settees are straight and make for a good place to sleep on passage, or in this case just after arrival.  They are quite spacious too when you flip the seat back up.

The fuel dock had just opened that morning so we may have been the first customers of the season.  I think that is a sign we’ve gone too far north too soon.

After tying up at the dock I figured it would be a good time to figure out why our diesel furnace fan had quit during the initial test run that I had attempted in North Carolina.  Turns out the rotating plastic blower had been rubbing against a plastic housing that covers part of the motor.  That explains the noises that we’ve had since last fall.  The motor itself spun freely ruling out the bearings as the problem so I hoped that it had just shut down from overload due to the friction.  I cleaned up the burrs with a file and carefully put the fan back on the furnace.  It took 3 tries to get it to sit right which no doubt is why the newer models have a completely different design, but it worked flawlessly this morning.  Fingers crossed it stays that way.  Now i’m wondering why I didn’t look at it sooner as it would be been nice to have heat in Atlantic City too.

Anyway, Tisbury the town we are in is a lovely cottage and bed ‘n’ breakfast style town.  Traffic is busy at times so I can’t imagine what it would be like in the middle of summer, but it is a nice place to visit and wander around the town.

DSC_0769 DSC_0771 DSC_0774

Sold out of flowers for the day and according the sign ‘Gone Fishin’


Some very nice homes or cottages.  Not really sure which is which.  The dock hand said the population increases about 5 fold in the summer, so many must be cottages.


Some modest ones too, but based on the real estate listings we saw while in town the prices don’t appear to be that modest.

DSC_0780 DSC_0781  DSC_0783 DSC_0785 DSC_0786

They have a mooring field too, but we’ve been sticking to the docks as we have our dinghy stowed below while we make the quick trip north.


An old Jaguar pulling off the ferry.

DSC_0790 DSC_0794 DSC_0798

One of the ferries is double ended.  Watching them come in at night is interesting as they use a big search light to make the final approach.  I suspect they are looking to ensure no unlit dinghies are in their path with possibly intoxicated occupants returning to their boats from the Tavern:


We had the place to ourselves the first night.  The dock hand said in the summer that it is full and several rafts of boats will form to fit everyone in.  I think we came at a good time!


After two nights we decided to stay for another night as we were still a bit tired and enjoying the pace of life here.  Besides, the winds are forecast to be SW through Friday which will be great for a downwind sail so the departure timing was flexible.  To fill our last day in Martha’s Vineyard we took the bus to Edgartown which was similar to Tisbury, except their Mad Martha’s Ice Cream location was open so we had a delicious treat.


The next stop on the bus was Oak Bluffs.  It had a different feel and we would stay here if we returned, mostly to have a different experience.  They have a nice harbour and several waterfront restaurants to sample, but we suspect the partying goes later here so the nights rest might not be as peaceful.

DSC_0831 DSC_0828 DSC_0827DSC_0823DSC_0837DSC_0843

Despite all the walking someone still had energy to burn.


This article has 1 comment

  1. Tuesday night May 26th. Just been on Spot and see your are on course toward Shag Harbour, Grandad said watch out for the icebergs ! ! Will check your location again tomorrow morning. Fair winds and safe journey. Nan.