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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, we are planning our first cruise with our new boat, a Beneteau 40. I sailed a 26, 32 and the lastly, a 36 Pearson which I sold 10 years ago. I am hoping my sailing skills come back. I need some help planning out a suitable itinerary for 10 day trip Memorial day weekend. Our boat has radar, GPS, autopilot and in mast furling. There will be three of us including our 22 year old son who is very electronic savvy. We have no dinghy, though. We draw 5' 3".

We want to sail out of Noank on Sat 5/23 for Block Island (stay Sat and Sun nite)
Monday 5/25 leave for Newport
Tuesday 5/26 leave Newport for Cutty Hunk, MA (or some other port?)
Wednesday leave Cutty Hunk for Martha's Vineyard (stay Wed and Thursday nites in MV)
Friday leave MV for Cutty Hunk (or some other port?)
Saturday leave Cutty Hunk for Point Judith (or some other port?)
Sunday leave for Noank

It appears that most of the distances are 20-25 miles. The longest I guess maybe be Cutty Hunk to Point Judith, 35 miiles?

With our son on board, we prefer to be on a slip, he's not the lay around and relax type. We don't need to stop in Cutty Hunk but it looks like a good midway point to Martha's Vineyard. Any other suggestions?

As the boat is new to us, docks that aren't too hard to get into is a priority. We do have a bow thruster but no experience with it.

Does the itinerary seem reasonable for 10 days, any suggestions for slips/marina's that offer nice docks and amenities and any passage recommendations would be appreciated. Other than the race in LI sound are there any other current related considerations around Newport?

thanks
 

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First of all – Congratulations to your new B40. You will like her. We kind of love ours.. Memorial day; you probably want to do some slip reservations in advance in at least in BI, Cutty and Martha’s Vineyard. We have typically anchored or taken moorings but I understand that you don’t want to do that. Otherwise Quisset is nice (but it's strictly mooring). Westport has slips but plan the entrance, the current can be interesting. Westport obviously has a really nice beach but there isn’t that much more there.

I can’t help thinking that it is an ambitious first cruise. First time we were out on our boat when she was new we were pretty much out for 2h. After that I felt that I wanted to go in and check a good number of things. That said, your schedule will probably be weather dependant but should be fine. Drop the anchor for lunch in Tarpaulin Cove on the way to Martha’s…
Have fun and best of luck with the new boat.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
thanks, I already have requested the reservation for BI, wasn't sure if I was being too ambitious for a first cruise either, so have not made the slip reservation for NewPort or MV yet. Our son leaves the following week after our cruise for a new job out west, so we are trying to fit in a trip that suits him. I'd prefer to spend the first three nights in BI and then head over to Newport. But he doesn't want to spend that much time there. Any idea how far to Cutty Hunk from BI or is there some other better mid way point to MV?
We have a shake out sail on May 8 and I guess if we have problems we'll just have to modify our plans. My main concern is any tricky navigation or just trying to go to far in a day. I am hoping for 4-5 hours of sailing per day, max.
 

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thanks, I already have requested the reservation for BI, wasn't sure if I was being too ambitious for a first cruise either, so have not made the slip reservation for NewPort or MV yet. Our son leaves the following week after our cruise for a new job out west, so we are trying to fit in a trip that suits him. I'd prefer to spend the first three nights in BI and then head over to Newport. But he doesn't want to spend that much time there. Any idea how far to Cutty Hunk from BI or is there some other better mid way point to MV?
We have a shake out sail on May 8 and I guess if we have problems we'll just have to modify our plans. My main concern is any tricky navigation or just trying to go to far in a day. I am hoping for 4-5 hours of sailing per day, max.
Furst, be sure to plan your departures to have a following current,otherwise a 2 hour trip becomes a six hour trip, especially so for Vinyard Sound.

Not likely to find a slip in Cuttyhunk, stop there only for lunch and a favorable tide. Add a stay in Woods Hole instead, seek a slip from Welcome to Woods Hole Marine and visit the NO Institute.

MV to me means Vineyard Haven, they have a good public water taxi, so you can live off a mooring much better tan a slip IMHO, if you plan your trip so you arrive early, you should be able to pick one up behind the breakwater, hail the HM on 9. If you really want a slip try Coatswise Wharf MARTHA'S VINEYARD BOATING, or go to Oak Bluffs Oak Bluffs Marina - About Oak Bluffs instead (ugh).
 

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Nika -

great news on the new boat! some time ago when I had time, I started a blog and posted all about Block Island, MV and Newport. See the link below for more info on that.

I would narrow down your ports as it seems like you may short-change yourself a bit. CuttyHunk is nice but its a very small Island with not much to do there - very beautiful and a great place to spend the night but you might be pressed for time. I did BI to MV <Vineyard Haven> in 10 hours. Its difficult to get through Vineyard Sound if the tide / current is against you so you may loose some time - and it was against me.

I would do BI to MV to Newport and then home. Sounds like your boat should make it through Vineyard Sound under power with little effort which is important. My Catalina is a bit underpowered and that was a challange for me.

I am not sure what type of Island activity your looking for but each place offers everything from a quiete anchorages to busy nightlife. Do some research on MV so you stay in the right harbor that offers what you want. Good luck!

Also - from where you are in CT, you should considor a cruise over to Greenport, LI. very nice facility they built there recently and you can walk to some great restaurants and shops. I am suggesting this as a seperate trip altogether from your planned trip above.

Your Worldwide Cruising Guide
 

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New England Cruise

Congrats on the new boat. Sounds like fun. I don't think your itinerary is too ambitious, assuming the weather and the boat cooperate. But that said, it also depends on how much you are willing to be at sea, and how much you are willing to motor if the wind does not cooperate. For instance, the trip from BI to Cuttyhunk is about 25 miles, plus or minus. If you could sail the rumline at 5 knots, then that's a 5-hour trip, obviously. But, if the wind is light, or out of the east so that you must beat into it, you will be much slower, and that same trip could take you 7 or 8 hours (not to mention if you have a foul current). Same trip, you are willing to put the pedal down and motor or motor sail if the wind is not right, you probably can maintain 6+ knots and get there in 4 hours or so. So how far you get in many ways is up to you. When we cruise this area we try to be flexible, and either recognize we'll need to motor some of the time, or we alter our itinerary, either to stay put an extra day until the wind is right, or sail somewhere to a different place than planned.

In terms of the places you identify, they all are favorites of mine. But you made a comment that makes me wonder about something. What does your son like to do? If he likes the beach, that would mean going one way. If he likes nightlife, that would mean another, and so forth. With that, I'll give you my views on the places you identified.

Block Island. It sort of has it all. There is a great beach, with fun surf. There is a cool downtown area with restaurants and such. And there are a number of fun bars for nightlife. In terms of where to stay, I would urge you to consider staying on a mooring and use the water taxi. The moorings are so much more pleasant than the docks, but that's just a personal opinion. If you go dockside, I would strongly recommend Block Island Boat Basin over Champlain's. Champlain's is a fun place to be, but sometimes not a fun place to dock. If you get an inside slip so that you are by yourself, then it's fine (though the docks are not floating). But, and it's a huge but, there are several spots there where they raft boats, so you either need to climb over other boats, or you have strangers walking all over yours. Usually it's a little of both. Now, Memorial Day Weekend is one of the two or three most crowded weekends on that island. It is going to be a zoo no matter where you go (unless the economy hits even harder than expected, but even then, I suspect that the main weekends still will be crowded, and the intervening ones might be hit harder). If you are going to be at BI for that weekend, I strongly urge you to get a reservation at the Boat Basin, or possibly Payne's Dock, and do it soon. I would be surprised to learn that there are openings. And the moorings are first-come-first-serve, and getting there Saturday for Memorial Day Weekend likely will mean you don't get a mooring.

Cuttyhunk. A very pretty place with very little to do if you are not enamored with walking the beach and reading a good book. From what you've written, it might not be a highlight for your son. As you say, however, it is a great stopping point between Martha's Vineyard and BI/Newport.

Martha's Vineyard. Either of Vinyard Haven or Edgartown are great. Plenty of things to do and places to stay. I prefer Edgartown, but that's just my preference. I think the opportunities to go dockside are better at Edgartown too, but I'm not 100% certain. Note that dockside anywhere on MV will not be cheap.

Newport. Another "has it all" spot. Moorings, docks, anchorage, restaurants, bars, shopping. If you guys can't have fun in Newport, then you just can't have fun. :) Joking aside, I don't know too many sailors that don't like Newport. Even if you think it's too "built up," there are many places to go and get away from it all.

Point Judith. They don't call it the Harbor of Refuge for nothing. Not a hot spot, but a place to stop on the way to somewhere else (no offense to all you Point Judith yachties).

If you could get a spot in BI, I probably would go from Noank to BI, to Vineyard Haven (long day), to Cuttyhunk (by that point one day on the boat with some quiet might not be so bad), to Newport, to Noank. If you can't get a reservation in BI and intent on leaving on the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend, then I would consider flipping BI and Newport (that is, go from Noank to Newport, to the Vineyard, to Cuttyhunk, to BI, to Noank). Mind your currents (get Eldridge), on travel days leave in the morning when the wind is light so you get your sea legs in relative calm each day you move, and go have a blast!
 

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I just saw Dan Goldberg’s (the one with the nice signature) excellent reply.. I could have sworn that BI / Cutty was more like 35 and a bit NM but maybe I’m wrong and it just felt like it. Anyhow, the comment about Eldridge is important. You will not see any tricky navigation in these waters. But the currents can be nasty in some places. Plan your trips according to your Eldridge.. Especially if you end up going through Wood’s hole, into Westport or any other tight location.
 

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......Martha's Vineyard. Either of Vinyard Haven or Edgartown are great. Plenty of things to do and places to stay. I prefer Edgartown, but that's just my preference. I think the opportunities to go dockside are better at Edgartown too, but I'm not 100% certain. ...
I agree Edgartown is well worth the visit, personally I'd do it by bus from VH as Edgardtown has crowds worthy of Nantucket.

The only slips in Egardtown at the docks behing the shoreside private homes, mostly historic whaling captain houses, slips usually occupied by the owner's vessels and/or Whalers...Of course the public water taxi is quite good.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
thanks for all the great comments. I have called ahead to Paynes, we spent 30 days in BI on a powerboat last year and they are ready for us for the Memorial Day weekend. It does not sound like Cutty Hunk would be a fit for our son. Woods Hole would be more his kind of place but it does not offer a good midway point. He's not the type to lay on the beach, more the bodyboard surfing type or computer nerd. We like the live bands and night life of BI, we'll see how he does there. He was working last summer and missed BI entirely. I see some suggestions were to go from BI to MV but 10 hours is more time than I want to spend in one day sailing or motorsailing. Does it make sense to stop in South Dartmouth as a midway point to MV from BI? It looks to have a nice village and good restaurants. Any other ideas on a route on the way back from MV. If Point Judith does not offer much I'd rather go to another port. Anything in Narraganset MA, like a town to walk around and get a good dinner? We could probably do the Narraganset to Noank trip in 6-8 hours with the tide?
 

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We have a cottage near Newport (Portsmouth) and are pretty familiar with the island.

Unless something really strange happens weather-wise, that time will be too cold for really beaching (for your son, etc.), but there should be plenty to do in the downtown area.

A lot is within walking distance of where you will be docked (the harbor) - you can also buy inexpensive trolley tickets which can be used all day to tour the entire area (get off and on when you want) - this way you can see the Mansions, and the general sights.

You can also easily walk the entire town - or bike if you are so inclined. There are even places to rent motor scooters.

If you want REAL Italian food, try Puerinis on memorial or Mama Luisas on Thames.

The other parts of the island are really nice - the beaches and the farmlands, etc...BUT, you cannot easily get to them unless you have a car.

We don't plan that far ahead, but if I am down at our cottage I would be glad to give you the one hour tour of some special places by car. If you have interest or other newport area questions, PM me and I'll give you contact info.

Also note that some very good cruising can be had just going up and down Narrangansett bay. You could go up the west passage and then through Mt. Hope Bay and then down the Sakkonet (the eastern inlet to the bay)...there are places up there to dock for the night also - even up as high as Fall River if you want to see the Battleships (see: Battleship Row)....

Aquidneck island has some magical places, but most people never see them because they are in and out quickly (probably true of a lot of places).

Your son might like the Irish pubs, etc. on the wharfs, harbors, etc...although they are not really as alive on Mem. Day as later in the season.
 

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I have a good idea, IMHO.

1) Get used to your boat on smaller, more managable sails. And let your family build/rebuild their sea legs at the same time. Go places with a nice restaurant so you wife relearns to love sailing. Focus on the good time, not necessarily the distance.

2) Join 16 other boats (and us!) for Daniel Goldberg's BI to Nantucket rally on Sunday, July 12th. That's right Daniel's been holding out on you. He organizes a rally that we are really looking forward to joining this year. The trip is BI -- Cuttyhunk -- Edgartown (2 nights) -- Nantucket (2 nights). After that everyone is going on their own. We'll be looking for other boats to rally back to BI/Montauk with, maybe direct across the open ocean, if weather is favorable.
 

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As others have mentioned your original plan seemed a bit much. Sailing out of NGBay I've been going to all the places you mentioned alternating them every few years for the last 12 or so during our 2 separate weeks of vacation every summer. My only real "advise" to you would be - Fuel Up !! Before my Nauticat I had a couple Catalinas that were decent sailers but of all those years I only actually got to stricly "sail" a couple times to those various destinations. The winds in this area are just not steady or predictable enough to plan a multi-hop "sailing" vacation in a limited time frame. I always ended up Motor Sailing so...... I bought a Motor Sailor. There were other reasons also, but I do my "sailing" weekends on the bay, for vacation destinations it's Motor Sailing 90 + percent of the time ;)
 

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As others have mentioned your original plan seemed a bit much. Sailing out of NGBay I've been going to all the places you mentioned alternating them every few years for the last 12 or so during our 2 separate weeks of vacation every summer. My only real "advise" to you would be - Fuel Up !! Before my Nauticat I had a couple Catalinas that were decent sailers but of all those years I only actually got to stricly "sail" a couple times to those various destinations. The winds in this area are just not steady or predictable enough to plan a multi-hop "sailing" vacation in a limited time frame. I always ended up Motor Sailing so...... I bought a Motor Sailor. There were other reasons also, but I do my "sailing" weekends on the bay, for vacation destinations it's Motor Sailing 90 + percent of the time ;)
Good point about the fuel.
Also, places like Cuttyhunk have very limited fuel dock hours.
Even in peak summer, it is only open something like 10AM -3PM.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I feel like I am planning a world cruise. Between tides, reservations (without knowing the weather) and learning about the various destinations my head is swimming. I think we will bypass Martha's Vineyard, this trip. I was trying to jam it all in while our son was around. It will be too much I think, too.

After all the great advice I am more inclined to spend the first three nights on Block where we can head out for day sails or do the beach, then head out to Newport for two nights, then Woods Hole for two nights and then head back, if the weather is good we go all the way to Noank if not stop, in Pt Judith.

I just ordered a card reader for our Raymarine chip and the CD planner so I can get exact miles on our laptop to plan the trip. Our boat isn't fully commissioned yet so we can't use the GPS. A good point about the water was made -- it will be cold Memorial Day weekend so land activity and Woods Hole seems to offer a lot for our science interested son.

We have a 52 gallon tank, any idea on how many hours/miles that will give us? I remember from my Pearson that most cruises were done motor sailing, the wind was never going in the right direction. I'll need to consider fueling up locations.

I think we will join the group for the sail to BI Nantucket on July 12th. Let me know the details of that. We joined the West Cover Yacht Club, I am hoping we can use the reciprocal privileges at some locations this summer too.
 

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As much as i enjoy woods Hole, I have to say that if the choice is one or the other, I would much rather spend two days in Vineyard Haven than in Woods Hole, especially if you have never been to MV. You could see the whole Island by bus in those two days...

The distance is the same. Be sure to try to schedule a liesurely lunch stop for Hadley harbor.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks, good to know. How far is the trip from Newport to MV, our boat cruises I am told at about 7 knots.
 

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I'd second the fool on the comparison of MV to WH. If you can maintain the 7kts or at least 6+ you should have no problem Newport to Vineyard Haven in a fairly long day.
 

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Second stopping in Hadley Harbor. :)
As much as i enjoy woods Hole, I have to say that if the choice is one or the other, I would much rather spend two days in Vineyard Haven than in Woods Hole, especially if you have never been to MV. You could see the whole Island by bus in those two days...

The distance is the same. Be sure to try to schedule a liesurely lunch stop for Hadley harbor.
 
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