After attending to our to-dos, Ms Rocna left her sand/mud home and by 10:45 (hey I log these details, I don’t remember them) we embarked on another motoring trip; 37nm to Cuttyhunk Island, the southernmost island in the Elizabeth Island chain. Bartholomew Gosnold was the first European to “discover” the Elizabeths in 1602. In 1863 the islands were incorporated as the Town of Gosnold, still the smallest township in Massachusetts. Gosnold is also credited with naming Martha’s Vineyard; good thing he didn’t want to name it after himself.
Our Spectra watermaker awakened from his long slumber and performed flawlessly given he’d been pickled for two months; poor guy.
Surprised to see plenty of available moorings at 4:15, but that’s why we arrived on Thursday because that time on a Friday might not yield the same result. Room to anchor gives you options but the holding is crappy so not a smart move unless the winds are low. Twenty moorings sit outside the inner harbor but that toocan berolly with boats zooming by and with north winds. We nabbed an outside ball on the NE side. The giraffe-neck style is easy for most boats but with our screecher pole and two anchors I had a fun time putting a line through; Captain Russ was spot-on though and kept us in place while I did my job.
Cuttyhunk oysters are a must even at a price I will not tell you. Freshly harvested right here and delivered by the Raw Bar boat, along with chowder and clams on the 1/2 shell. You need to get Stuffies at the store on the dock.
We dinghied to the outer harbor and did a double take when we looked across to Nashawena Island which is privately owned by the Forbes Family. Nashawena is 3 miles long, covers about 1,800 acres, is the second largest of the Elizabeth Islands and lies between Cuttyhunk and Pasque Islands. The island has an official permanent population of 2 persons as of the 2000 census.
These caretakers of the island live in the white farmhouse, known just as “the farmhouse on Nashawena”. This farmhouse is a popular subject for photographers and artists. See?
In years past, Nashawena was used for sheep farming, but many were killed when coyotes invaded the island, apparently swimming from Woods Hole as deer had done. The branch of the family that owns Nashawena now works with scientists to raise cattle in an effort to manage the vegetation.
These cattle are Scottish Highland cattle which are obviously used to a rugged nature in their native Scottish Highlands, so this weather is no big deal for them. They both graze, browse and eat plants many other cattle avoid. And they obviously love the beach!
The upside to in-season cruising is that shops, museums and eateries are open even during the week. We planned to take advantage of that and visit two places we hadn’t gotten to in all our previous 6+ visits to this slice of heaven.
A walk up the main road left no doubt summer was in full swing; the food carts and shack beckoned with breakfast and lunch delights, business was brisk on the fisherman’s dock, the Corner Store (with the best t-shirts most anywhere) tempted us with sale bins and the Cuttyhunk Historical Society was open! The exhibit told primarily of the history of the two fishing clubs as well as life on the island through the years. One display was a letter describing the rescue of a ship’s crew that wrecked on the reef in bad weather. The heroics and selflessness of those courageous lifesaving folks is humbling. They used a breeches buoy, which we’d seen demonstrated at Mystic Seaport some years ago, and on the third (and final) attempt, the line reached the ship. Five hours later all were safely ashore, although nearly frozen, this being winter naturally.
Surprisingly excellent meals can be found on Cuttyhunk- in season. Sopranos not only baked a great pie, but the menu was a fun read.
Saturday morning found us walking up to the Fishing Club B&B for breakfast. A Bed and Breakfast seems the perfect second-life use for the Fishing Club and the public is welcomed for breakfast which was excellent. My International Omelet of linguicia, mushrooms, tomato, black olives and a smidgen of cheese kept me full way past lunchtime.