Getting to Nantucket

The list of destinations Vigilant has yet to visit got shorter yesterday with our Father’s Day 4-day weekend trip to Nantucket.

All week long the local weather reporters were promising the best weather in years and when we woke up, it looked to be true.

By the time I got on Mattapoisett Boat Yard launch to head out to bring Vigilant in for loading, the wind had already gotten “brisk”.

It was blowing out of the West, which made for a somewhat awkward docking. MBY owner Dave Kaiser helped tied me up and asked “where are you heading today?”

I told him Nantucket and he raised his eyebrows and said “they’re taking 30 knot winds this afternoon !”

I said, “We’re leaving at 9:30 and it’s mostly downwind. It shouldn’t be that bad.”

Multi Boat Weekend

Before I get into the details of our trip over, let me back up a bit.

Nantucket and the Nantucket Boat Basin are probably the number one summer destination for boaters from Maine to New York. Accordingly, it’s far from a bargain destination!

Dockwa lists the rates as $1.90 to $11.50 a foot! As of this morning, every weekend is sold out for the summer. Since getting to Nantucket by boat isn’t that easy, Nantucket Boat Basin offers steep discounts in the spring and the fall. Our 4 day, 3 night stay costs a total of $239!

Our boating friends Jon and Joan Ruel (Pursuit 34) have been coming here for decades and Jon’s the one who tipped me off to this destination gem.

Of course as soon as I learned about it, I told everyone I knew who owned a boat.

Paul and Ellen Iannini (East Bay 39) picked up my tip and they’ll be joining us as boat #3 this afternoon.

Since this is Father’s Day weekend and my daughter Natalie lives in San Diego, I invited my adopted daughter Paula (Mrs. Horne’s baby sister).

Nantucket Sleigh Ride

As I mentioned earlier, the 50 mile trip from Mattapoisett to Nantucket is almost all due East. The West wind was blowing about 15 knots down the harbor as we left the dock, but thanks to the shore providing cover, there were no waves.

As we neared Woods Hole, the waves grew to 2-3 footers, but since we were almost perfectly downwind, all it did was push us along. We were running at 26 mph and we were only burning 22 gallons of diesel per hour – 1.2 mpg.

We flew through an empty Woods Hole without slowing down and despite the 20 knot blow, we were running flat enough for the girls to attempt a jigsaw puzzle!

As I mentioned in my weather post, I like to monitor a number of sites when the weather looks marginal.

The NOAA Radar app gives a really nice view of forecast wind speed and direction 3 days out.

It was showing wind speed under 15 knots til noon and our onboard computer showed us with an 11:48 ETA, so that was good.

The Ruel’s had left at 7:00 AM to beat the wind. Joan had texted Mrs. Horne reporting Nantucket Sound as “calm” when they went through.

At 11:00, it was far from calm, so I decided to check Buoycast and get real-time wind speed from a couple of online buoys.

The first one I checked was Buzzards Bay. This buoy sits just East of Cuttyhunk and generally gives me the worst case wind report.

Sure enough, it was gusting 25 knots about 10 miles to the south. I then checked the Nantucket Buoy – which I could actually see off the port now, and was reporting 11 knots.

About this time we lost our T-Mobile signal and the sight of land.

Watch the Shoals

Nantucket is notorious for shifting shoals in the middle of the ocean.

My autoroute program had plotted a course that went over a spot reported as 8 feet deep.

I adjusted the course to run south of the shoal, but just as we approached the point where we’d be turning south, a 45 foot Sportfisherman passed us with a course heading clearly north of the shoal area.

I remembered Dave Kaiser telling me to “steer clear of the shoals”, so I said to Mrs. Horne “I think I’m going to follow him to Nantucket.”

Of course never without a comment she replied “but how do you know he’s going to Nantucket?”

I answered “He’s either going to Nantucket or Europe!”

As we followed, I picked out a red can and realized the entire region to the south of us had unpredictable shoals so it was a good thing that Sportfisherman came by.

Surfing Into Nantucket

Once we turned around the last can and headed in for the 7 mile run south to Nantucket, we were no longer heading straight downwind, but rather quartering with the wind coming over the starboard stern.

Of course at this point, we were no longer protected by the islands and we were in 4-5 foot waves.

Here’s a brief video I made as we surfed home on our 30,000 pound surfboard…

Weekend Home Sweet Home

We settled into the Nantucket Boat Basin around noon and enjoyed a wonderful afternoon in this ridiculously quaint little village.

I’m sure you’ll see quite a few more reports on this trip, but here are a few parting photos…

Our spot for lunch

Tall Ship at Sunset
Paula and Mrs. Horne at Sunset

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