Tarpaulin Cove – Elizabeth Islands

In the 1980’s we frequently cruised on Aquarius with Mrs. Horne and my parents Clyde and Hilda. Back then, Tarpaulin Cove was both a frequent gunkhole and a cruising destination.

recall waking up there once to a pea soup fog after overnighting on anchor with Peter and Mary Lee. Our next stop was Vineyard Haven and while Vineyard Sound south of Woods Hole isn’t very crowded, this was 1982 and all we had was a chart and a compass. Moreover, earlier in the week, a ferry had run over a sailboat and killed everyone onboard. Needless to say Mrs. Horne and Mary Lee were bit on edge.

Back in the day, the proper way to pick yourself through pea soup was to station a crew member (Peter) on the bow with an air horn and have him sound a blast every minute while listening for other blasts. Oh the joy!

Of course, like all tales of the sea, we got to Vineyard Haven without getting run down by the Uncatena and the whole affair made the Miller Lites taste all the sweeter.

But I digress, I’m here to tell you about the most beautiful gunkhole off of Buzzards Bay. To me, the east side of the Elizabeth Islands feel like Cliffs of Dover; nothing like most of the south coast.

Getting there can be exhilarating if you opt the make the run through the narrow Robinson’s Hole. If you’re in a big yacht or simply want to avoid unnecessary excitement, you can also take the more generous Quick’s Hole to get from Buzzards Bay to Vineyard Sound.

As coves go, Tarpaulin Cove isn’t particularly enclosed. In fact, if it weren’t for all the boats anchored there, you might just drive by an miss it!

Yachts and a classic farmhouse views…

Once you clear the little point to south on Naushon Island, head back around to find your anchorage. There’s a lot of boats coming and going, so get as close to shore are you’re comfortable doing and check the wind to avoid drifting.

Once at anchor, you’ll be feasting in some of the most tranquil seaside scenery in Massachusetts. If you have a dingy, the  Forbes Family (who owns the Island) does allow visitors to land on the beach, but venturing inland is strictly verboten!

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