The "Live-Anywhere" Boat - The Trip South, 2009, Part I, Chebeague to Nantucket
Updated December 4, 2009
By now we were supposed to be in Bermuda, but the weather gods thought otherwise, so we spent a few days in Nantucket, which was unintended but quite enjoyable.

A few days before we were due to set off, we moved the boat around the point of Chebeague to an anchorage off the Stone Wharf that was convenient for loading and that also meant we could dinghy in and out from a float instead of fighting with a rocky beach in the prevailing easterly conditions.

Stone Wharf Moorings in Fog

I lost count of the number of truckloads we had, but between boat parts in "kit" form, books, CDs, and all the appurtenances of life (including clothes for both cold and warm weather), there was quite a lot of stuff.

A problem familiar to anyone who has ever brought a ship out of a dockyard is that initially everything is put aboard every which way, usually in a hurry and with little thought to where it will eventually be stowed. Sometimes it seems overwhelming, but eventually everything gets stowed in lockers and bins and the boat settles down into her proper sailing order.

The day before we left, we moved back to Barbara's own mooring to escape the northwest winds off the back of a low, and we lay in a comfortable lee while where we had been anchored was covered with whitecaps.

Will It Ever All Get Stowed?

The Scene in Fall From Barbara's Mooring
The next day, Sunday the 29th of November, with moderating northwest winds forecast, we hoisted the dinghy, slipped the mooring for the last time, and headed south.

We passed the end of Chebeague and took our departure from the whistle buoy off Cape Elizabeth that marks the southwestern end of Casco Bay. At first we had the wind and sea behind us, which was very pleasant, but the wind eventually swung around to the southwest and we were quartering into it, but still with an easy motion.

Deer Point - The South-west End of Chebeague

We made pretty good time through the first day and night, athough the wind was rising (we saw some 40-knot gusts) and the sea was heavy enough that we wanted to hang on as we movced around the boat. On Monday afternoon we made contact with Herb Hilgenberg on the SSB and learned that our hope of beating a storm to Bermuda was definitively not going to work. If we continued, we would be caught in storm-force winds and heavy seas north of Bermuda and would have no alternative to heaving to and toughing it out.

At that moment we were about where the old Nantucket Lightship used to be, where the traffic patterns for New York and Boston interesect, and after a few minutes with the chart we decided to run back for Nantucket Harbor and wait for a better shot. It is disheartening to double back on one's track, but in this case it seemed wiser.

The Whistle Buoy off Cape Elizabeth

We ran north through the night, up the Boston traffic lane and then west through the Great Round Shoal Channel into Nantucket Sound in increasing north-easterly winds. As day was breaking we made the turn south for the 7-mile run to the entrance jetties of the harbor.

Once through the jetties the harbor was calm and the day grew bright. The Harbormaster hailed us on the radio and offered us a berth on the Town Pier, just astern of the dragger Ruthie B., and by 9:00 Tuesday morning we were secured alongside and we set out to visit Nantucket, thinking to ourselves that people pay good money to come here, so let's see what it's all about.

The Nantucket Skyline From the Harbor

Street Scene

Nantucket is a target-rich environment for a photographer, which is to be expected, I guess, of a place that has to a certain extent made a museum of itself.

Ths older and maybe simpler houses are covered with cedar shingles that have faded to a soft gray, while the fancier Greek-revival houses up on the hill behind the harbor often have white clapboards, sometimes only on the side facing the street.

A Pretty Typical House

The centerpiece of the harbor is the Nantucket Boat Basin, a marina behind wave-break palisades that incorporates three old wharves with stores, rental cottages, and artists' studios just behind many of the boat berths. The style is so rigorously maintained that it is very hard to tell old buildings from new.

We enjoyed walking around the town and getting to know it a little. Local inquiry led us to a NAPA store that produced a new air filter for our heating system, and that expedition in turn led us to the supermarket almost next door, where we bought more fresh vegetables.

So the days passed while the storm made its way off to Labrador, and we began to think that a Sunday departure would give us a window of good weather. In the meantime, however, another low was slated to give us heavy northeast winds,and our berth was very exposed in that quarter. On the advice of the Harbormaster, we moved into the protected Boat Basin, now all but deserted, for our last two days. We tried to raise the Basin office on the radio and the telephone, but with no success, so we simply drove in and made fast in what looked to us like a secure berth, figuring that the authorities could find us if they wanted to.

Nice Ironwork on a Garage

Nantucket is pretty, and is no doubt a great place for a vacation, but we found it a little too neat and polished. We wondered where the real people live, not the drivers of the SUVs that fill these little streets and maneuver very awkwardly through them. On the whole, we are glad to have seen it, but will be glad to get underway again.
Orange Street - Nantucket

A Manicured Entrance Patio

A Fairly Typical Alley

In season, the town must be pretty jammed. We are getting a glimpse of the crowds from the ferry because this is the weekend of a local festivity called the "Christmas Stroll." While we do not quite know what this is all about, we do see that it attracts people to make a special trip from the mainland. They come pouring off the catramaran fast ferries, collect their luggage from covered carts wheeled out by the ferry crew, and hurry toward their guest houses. The returning ferries are filled with people carrying shopping bags.
Studios on the Harbor - Closed For the Season

We arrived just as the bay-scallop season opened, and the harbor is filled with scallopers' outboards who take off each morning to drag the shallow waters in the harbor and in the sound around Nantucket. They usually seem to tow about eight drags, each around 20 inches wide, and seem to do pretty well, judging by the number of crates we see being trundled up the docks.
A Small Part of the Bay Scallop Fleet

Barbara At the Town Pier

The View North From Our Berth - The Palisades of the Boat Basin

Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI
Part VII