Anchoring in Nantucket
This is long, but here’s my experience. My wife and I have sailed to Nantucket every year for the past 15 years or so, so I’ll tell you my thoughts. We have always anchored, often for a week at a time. I’m tired of it but my wife loves the place. I refuse to pay $55 a night for a mooring, hence the anchoring experience.
Nantucket is not particularly friendly to those who anchor. The anchorage is at the far northern end of the harbor, and is outside the very large mooring field. It is not the “general anchorage” described on the charts. It seems that every year they shove us further away. One year they were expecting the NY Yacht Club while we were there, and they dumped a bunch of new moorings on top of us while we were ashore. We were subsequently forced to pick up and move even further out.
Having said all that, there is plenty of room to anchor. It is just a long, and often wet, dinghy ride to the town dock. The holding is sand and has been good for us, but there is some grass, so make sure your anchor is set well.
A couple of things to be aware of – The head of the harbor holds a lot of water, and as it flushes in and out with the tide, there is a very strong current effect in the anchorage. And it goes in different directions as it fills and empties. If there’s little wind, boats in the anchorage will be all over the place, sometimes with adjacent boats facing in opposite directions. Our boat (a Sabre 30) loved to sail on its keel, and we often found ourselves with the anchor rode wrapped around the keel and the boat broadside to the current. In those situations the rode was as tight as a violin string, with a tremendous load on the anchor. I learned to drop a sentinel down the rode with a 15 lb. weight in an attempt to keep the rode as vertical as possible next to the boat. More chain would help, but I only had 25ft. of 5/16.
Should you choose to take the launch into town, be aware that it’s $4.00 per head each way to and from the anchorage. One rainy day we decided to take the launch in for dinner, and it was a $16.00 bill for the ride.
I do not hesitate to anchor in Nantucket, and neither should you. Have a great time.