Sunday, September 18, 2016

Martha's Vineyard in a Bathtub

I have no idea if this crazy plan is going to work. Everyone I told about it said I was nuts. Probably true, but it still might work.

Martha's Vineyard in a 12' Dinghy- I spend the first half of my vacation working on my tiny boat, getting it ready for open ocean and to sleep in. I install a battery, bilge pump, a charger for my phone (which I use for navigation), a bench seat that also holds my gas tank, tent poles to support the canvas cover, and a sleeping board that I can move into position for sleeping. I'm ready for the seven seas.

I boat out and spend one night camping in a tent on Washburn Island, Waqoiut Bay. That's been on my bucket list for a few years! Then on to Martha.

Nice Secluded Campsite on Washburn Island
The wind is 15-25 when I cross the 6 miles from Waqoiut Bay to the Vineyard. More wind and waves than I wanted for my first crossing with my little boat! At least it's a NE wind for a following sea. I get knocked around but I'm very happy to arrive, kinda dry and still floating. My toy boat made it!

I go into Edgartown and notice that my dinghy looks different from all the other dinghies at the dinghy dock. Mine has the bright red canvas covering the bow, gear strapped all over the sides, the big bench seat, a kiteboard hanging off the back. I stand out like a circus clown among grey suited businessmen. I worry that I might be told to leave because I'm obviously not a tender for a yacht but nobody says nothing. They just stare, (in admiration I assume).


































I love kiting and spending the night in Cape Poge. I anchor near the lee shore and set up the boat for sleep as the setting sun paints the sky deep orange and the almost full moon creeps above the horizon. Beautiful.

Kiting in Cape Poge, Chappaquiddick

Now's the test. Can I really sleep on this tiny thing? I have just enough room to stretch out on my sleeping board. Clearance between my forehead and the canvas is about 2 inches. I drift off to sleep to the sound of ripples lapping at the bow. I feel like I'm sleeping on an air mattress adrift on the ocean. I sleep 8 hours, more sleep than I've had in forever.

































I learn a lot about cruising in a boat. How the dinghy docks work, where to find showers, ice, fuel, and legal anchorages. Many harbors have amenities such as the dinghy docks etc. set up for visiting yachts. I feel like I'm cheating because my dinghy is my yacht but these amenities are great. It makes getting what I need way too easy. I could stay out here until the snow flies.

Getting Underway Early, This is the Moon Setting as the Sun Comes Up


With light wind for a few days, I boat around the island and explore all the bays and harbors along the way, (I cover 80 miles in 2 days according to my phone, 40 miles per 6 gal gas). What I learn- Katama Bay is off limits for legal overnight anchoring. Edgartown is great and has everything I need right there. Oak Bluffs has a vibrant party feel, almost a Caribbean vibe. The west side of the island is fairly secluded and rocky with striking cliffs that I want to climb, rocky areas where I want to snorkel. Menemsha has a fishing village feel with a beautiful hidden cove that I find to anchor in. The south side of the island is fairly secluded but not varied, except for the stunning cliffs at Gay Head. No harbors or shelters on this entire side, not a place I would choose to break down please.



Menemsha Night
The Menemsha cove is my high point of the trip. Glassy water encircled by marsh and stubby trees. 3 deer watch me enter the cove before bounding away. I eat my dinner anchored in the middle of this secluded pool as the golden full moon rises. Fish are jumping all around the boat. I stretch out in my dry sleeping bag surrounded by whispering water. The night is perfect.

On the last day Josh boats out with a friend to meet me and to do some kiting and fishing. I've had trouble off and on with my 25 HP motor during the trip. Now it finally dies. Unbelievable timing! This is the opposite of Murphy's law. If anything can go wrong it will at the best possible time. Josh goes to work and determines that my motor is not getting a spark. Done. He has my old 8 HP on board as his back up motor. We swap motors, (not easy but Josh doesn't hesitate), and I'm saved from a near death experience.

I boat back to the mainland at night because the wind is almost still. I use the full moon for light and my phone for navigation. Lights on the mainland, shining off the black water, act as a beacon. It's stunning!



I'm sad to go home to a backlog of work emails, phone messages, estimates, invoices, scheduling headaches, and all the trivial ups and downs of running a small business, although I'm glad to be back with Barbara.


This trip was a bucket list trip that I didn't even know was on my list. Until very recently it hadn't occurred to me that it might be possible to live and sleep on a 12' dinghy for a few days, not to mention crossing over to Martha's Vinyard and back. It took a little creativity but that was part of the appeal. Out on the water I had a feeling of complete freedom, joy, and adventure, with many moments of tranquility and bliss. I think I was using a part of my brain that's dormant in 90% of my life. Now I'm using all of my brain to think about my next trip.

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