Life's Adventure

Beating The Heat – Island Style

Yet another summer tradition has emerged in our Life’s Adventure – The Buzzards Bay July Island Tour.

Almost on cue, a major heat wave hit New England the week after the 4th of July…

I say on cue, because the same thing happened in 2018 and 2019.

And this past weekend, as we did then, we beat the heat by visiting some of the cool islands surrounding Buzzards Bay.

No Menemsha 2020…

The last two years The Island Tour began with a visit to Menemsha – a quaint fishing village on the south end of Martha’s Vineyard. I particularly love that the beach is just a few steps from the marina.

Sadly, we skipped Menemsha. The only decent restaurant in Menemsha is Home Port and they didn’t open this year because they were unable to import staff due to Covid travel restrictions.

We originally had an alternate plan to assemble the flotilla and do a pot luck dinner on the dock Friday night, but by the time we got around to booking slips, they were full.

Cuttyhunk Saturday

There’s never much happening in this little Massachusetts island town, but if there is, it’ll be on a Saturday night and so that’s when we go.

Saturday was a perfect boating day on Buzzards Bay…

In fact, it was so nice that it felt like we should have been going to Block Island or Nantucket instead on the short 19 mile run to Cuttyhunk.

We arrived around 11:00 AM and the beaches that line the narrow channel were packed with folks who had either walked or came by dinghy…

By 11:30 Saturday morning the heat in Boston was becoming oppressive, but here on Cuttyhunk it was mid seventies with a gentle sea breeze. The Heat was Beat.

Mrs. Horne seems to have finally mastered The Dreaded 4 Piling Back-in Slip and even drew praise from the peanut gallery on the dock – many of whom were already quaffing cold ones.

Lunch on Cuttyhunk

Food service on Cuttyhunk is always sketchy. The only constants are Sopranos Pizza, The Cuttyhunk Cafe, The Ice Cream stand, and takeout from the Garfield’s Shellfish Company. Oh yeah and weekend breakfast at The Fishing Club.

Three years ago there was a guy with a flattop and a fryalator serving junk food near the ice cream stand, but he moved away…

Last year Isla Taco’s opened up, but they had odd hours for a taco stand – 2:00 to 7:00…

Thankfully, they changed their hours this year and they are now open from 11:00 to 4:00. Thus our lunch plan for Saturday was Isla Tacos on the aft deck.

We ordered four – Steak, Chicken, Fish, and Shrimp. Although the lovely lady who took our order said “15 minutes,” it was easily over a half hour – “Island Time” I guess.

Anyway, by the time I got back to Vigilant, we were pretty hungry. Mrs. Horne devoured the Steak Taco and I was half way through the Shrimp when I remembered to take photos…

Isla Fish Taco
Isla Chicken Taco

All four were wonderful. They take great care in assembling each taco – including grilling the tortillas. Be advised that the Shrimp and the Chicken are battered and deep fried, while the Steak and the Fish are sautéed. I liked them both, but the fried proteins were understandably heavier.

The Dock Social!

Cuttyhunk is a funny place. There are no restaurants, bars, and other than the random Trivia Night at the Scuttlebutt, no entertainment.

I have a bunch of older friends who once had big Vikings. They formed a flotilla every weekend and made the 45 minute run to Cuttyhunk from New Bedford. Once there, they’d tie up near one another and socialize on the dock.

After overnighting there a number of times, I now understand. While there are a few “singletons,” most everyone is there with at least one other boat of friends. And the name of the game is Socializing 7X24!

I would also add that most these little dock parties are very welcoming to new friends!

We’d traveled with Doc Ruel and Joan, but due to some mix up, they ended up one dock over – a short 200’ walk…

As we were sitting around, Mrs. Horne mentioned our mutual friend Dave Andrews. Dave lives on Cuttyhunk in the summer and is a lifelong friend of Doc Ruel’s.

She picked up the phone, called him, and discovered he was just entering the harbor after making his commute from Mattapoisett…

Dave joined our little party on the aft deck.

Across the dock from us was a small commercial fishing boat with a young family on board. The boat hailed from Nantucket and the Captain noticed our Nantucket Boat Basin welcome mat and struck up a conversation…

His name was Jonas and besides fishing, he also owns one of my favorite restaurants on Nantucket- Slip 14.

After chatting a while, Jonas went back to his boat, fired up a sautee pan, and started cooking shrimp…

Jonas has a fishing buddy in South Carolina who always brings him 20 pounds of fresh white shrimp whenever he visits. And just like that, Jonas started serving Sautéed White Shrimp to the neighboring boats…

They were delish – we also had 18 Oysters delivered by Cuttyhunk Shellfish…

For dinner we went with Lobsterbakes delivered from the Shellfish Company and dined Al Fresco on Vigilant’s back deck.

After dinner “the social” continued as we met several new friends on neighboring boats…

Kimberly and Ian – The Firefighter
Gary and Nancy – The Birthday Girl
David. Michelle, Stephen, and Janet

At some point someone mentioned DISCO and I instantly put on my Dance Mix and cranked up the volume on Vigilant’s 3000 watt sound system. The party ended before the 10:00 “quiet time” and thus we never encountered Cuttyhunk Marina Security.

Morning Fog

Sunday morning brought the ole pea soup to Cuttyhunk…

Cuttyhunk Fishing Dock
Cuttyhunk Harbormaster Office

Occasionally we’d see a glimpse of the sun and the other side of the little harbor would come into sight, but as soon as it looked to be lifting, the fog would roll back in and we couldn’t even see the mooring field.

No one was leaving and everyone just hung out on the docks drinking coffee and staring into the abyss.

Around 10:00 I said to Mrs. Horne, “Let’s go, I want to eat lunch at Coop deVille.”

She said “me too,” and off we went.

The first 20 minutes was pretty spooky. The visibility was so low that we could only see one side of the skinny channel leaving the harbor. There were a lot of boats anchored and I literally crawled out into Buzzards Bay staring at the radar doing barely 6 knots.

Once I made the turn north toward Quicks Hole, I brought it up to 20 and steered well clear of the CG Markers in 200’ of visibility.

Things started to brighten inside Quick’s and I could see the shoreline off my starboard side.

By the time we got to Tarpaulin Cove things really cleared and once we got to the middle on Vineyard Sound, it was quite nice…

Oak Bluffs Sunday

After clearing the pea soup I took it up to 25 and made it to Oak Bluffs in under an hour. Oh yeah, it was a perfect Bluebird Day on OB…

The extreme heat inland was undoubtedly the cause of the fog, but once again we were beating the heat out on the islands.

We got to Coop deVille around noon and grabbed the last table in the shade. The Coop looked far better than it did in early May. They even had a socially distance bar for folks to sit and drink (while eating of course)…

Petey stopped by and he looked much better. He gotten temporary approval to set up outside tables and pretty much picked up enough seating to offset what he lost from “social distancing” inside…

I asked him about business and I could tell he was smiling under his mask. “Yesterday was great. For the first time I think we might survive this thing.”

Welcome Sea La Vie to the MBB Flotilla

Although my flotilla weekend kind of fell apart, we were scheduled to meet Captain Ben and the Sea La Vie – his new Cruisers 330, in OB. I texted him when I arrived, but didn’t hear back til the end of lunch.

Despite the perfect weather on the Vineyard, Buzzards Bay was still socked in and Captain Ben wasn’t really comfortable taking off. This was his first fog encounter on Sea La Vie and he wasn’t sure his Radar worked.

His wife Becky had a conflict so Ben brought his long time friend Jim from Alabama. I mention this because I suspect they never would have left Brandt Cove if Becky had been on board.

Ben sent me this short video from the middle of Buzzards Bay…

Captain Ben’s visibility was a little better on Buzzards Bay than what we had faced leaving Cuttyhunk, but he never got his radar working so they came over at 10-15 knots.

Around 2:00 I met Ben on Sea La Vie for a cold one, but their deck was in the sun and it was a tad too hot for me so I invited them over to Vigilant for cocktails.

Ben and Jim

One of the tricks I’ve learned for these hot July cruises is to make sure to get a slip where the stern faces east. It keeps the hot setting sun off the aft deck and creates a very comfortable spot.

It turns out that Jim is also a singer/guitarist and once he saw my guitar a little singalong broke out including Margaritaville, Come Monday, The Weight, and Have You Ever Seen The Rain.

I love performing and I’m good doing a straight 90 minute set, but I have to admit that simply doing a handful of singalongs is also quite fun!

OB Adapts…

Other than the strictest mask enforcement anywhere and Fishing Club doing takeout only, Cuttyhunk was close to normal.

I knew that wouldn’t be the case on Oak Bluffs, but I was impressed by the way they’ve adapted to the government’s new rules.

The main drag on OB is Circuit Ave and the village elders have closed it to car traffic and turned it into a lovely urban promenade…

Street Vendors
The Ritz
Fat Ronnies
The Cardboard Box

Oyster Bar 02557

Although all of the restaurants spilling onto the street looked inviting on this balmy evening, we opted for my new favorite restaurant on OB – The OysterBar 02557.

I love the second floor location and the outside veranda, but given the higher temps, I preferred the indoor dining room and it’s eclectic decor…

One of many paintings in the Oyster Bar

As the name of the restaurant indicates, Oysters are their specialty and we stated off with 20…

Jim decided this was the right time to have a traditional New England Lobster Roll…

Mrs. Horne and I shared a wonderful (and perfectly cooked) NY Strip…

They forgot that I had opted for fries over fingerlings and rushed us a side order of the hottest, crispiest fries I’ve ever had…

Sometime on Sunday night Vigilant’s radar bit the dust, but our trip home was fog-free…

As the summer heat hangs around, it very nice that Buzzards Bay boaters have these cool little islands to escape too…

2 replies »

  1. Dave (and Susan),
    What a beautiful write up about your travels to Cuttyhunk! We were on the “Nan-Sea G” diagonally across from you (Nancy & Gary). We very much enjoyed meeting the both of you and we hope you have a fabulous Anniversary 🎉🍾. Good Luck with the new boat! Take care and keep on writing, your stories are so entertaining😊

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