Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Cuttyhunk Island

The diminutive island of Cuttyhunk is a favorite destination for many sailors passing through Buzzards Bay. It is the outermost island in the Archipelago of the Elizabeth Islands. For many cruisers this island is utilized as a one night stop over on the way to destinations further east such as Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. On a recent cruise to Cuttyhunk with some fellow members of Edgewood Yacht Club, Joe and I thought it would be fun to spend a few days on the isle and discovered that given time and opportunity this quaint enclave can easily become a destination worthy of more than a "one night stand."

Cuttyhunk is a "dry" island in that no alcohol can be purchased or sold. To ensure that everyone keeps smiling, a sailor must be well stocked prior to planning a stay for any length of time. There is a small fish market on the docks with the freshest catch of the day including line caught swordfish. There's also a small market with fresh veggies up the hill from the dinghy dock. The small Cuttyhunk museum displays images and artifacts about life on Cuttyhunk during the winter months. It seems that everything on Cuttyhunk is small and with a physical land mass of .9 square mile and an approximate year round population of 52 hardy souls larger businesses would be unsustainable.

There is one aspect of the island that isn't small and that is Lookout Hill. The view from the crest on a clear summer day can be spectacular with views of Martha's Vineyard's clay cliffs at Aquinnah, Block Island to the south and the mainland to the north. Each summer annual pilgrimages to the summit are made with the arrival of transient cruising yachtsmen. Oftentimes when this feat has been accomplished most cruisers feel ready to move on to their next destination.

During our recent visit we decided to take things a little slower, to smell the honeysuckle that permeates the air often unsuspectingly wafting by on a warm summer breeze. It was our time to embrace the quirkiness of island traditions. One notable tradition begins with the signal of the ferry's whistle for departure. Dozens of island adolescents perch on the ferry dock's pilings plunging into the ferry's wake as she heads out into the narrow channel. Occasionally, the island bagpiper ceremoniously greets passengers with an array of traditional tunes as they arrive on the next incoming ferry.

In all reality the only missing detail needed to enjoy the charms of this island are a comfortable beach chair, an umbrella, some good friends and maybe a cooler with your favorite "beverage."
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Location:Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts