It's becoming a bit of a tradition to end each paddling season with a big, aggressive paddle. Last year's season-closer was a transit across Cape Cod Bay from Plymouth to Provincetown. This time we went for broke and crossed to Nantucket. 34 miles, some choppy water, and two calloused hands later I can say I saved $17 in ferry fare the hard way. Take that, steamship authority!
Stage 1: Travel down the Monomoy peninsula/island. Lots of sand bars and shallows, nice tail wind. Arthur has some skeg problems, so we land a few times and jump into the shallow water to effect repairs. At one point, we have a long walk on the sand bar to get back to paddleable depth. Brief stop at the end of the peninsula to get ready for the big open water crossing. Feeling good, feeling strong.
Stage 2: Open ocean traverse from Monomoy to Nantucket's Coskata wildlife refuge. Land is over the horizon, so we're navigating by compass. Handkerchief shoal kicks up some big waves below us, big enough that we start reviewing our emergency whistle signals. After a few false positives, we find a navigational marker and know our true position, learning that the wind and strong current have been moving us significantly off-target. We are east of our intended path and must angle a bit more into the wind to reach land. As we approach the island, we cut hard into the wind in hopes of finding a portage that leads to the protected bay. It's the wrong place, but we're just happy to be out of our boats and having a bit of lunch. The hardest and most dangerous part of the trip is now over.
Stage 3: paddle from the east point of Nantucket to the main harbor. Helpful east wind, but my shoulders are tired and it's slow going. As we approach the breakwater, I see my ferry lumbering in from Hyannis. I know that it's going to be a high speed burn to reach it, so I find a reserve of strength to give chase. Making landfall, I experience my shortest ever Nantucket visit with 5 minutes to spare before the ferry steams off. youraverageninj stays on the island overnight to appreciate her accomplishment in style.
- 4 Lighthouses: Stage Harbor, Monomoy Point, Great Point, Nantucket Harbor
- Wildlife sightings: 7 seals on monomoy point. Unidentified mammal, likely a baby humpback. (side swimming, pectoral fin in the air, white belly, gnarled pectoral). Unidentified mammal, likely a dolphin. (heard, not seen behind us. distinctive wet exhalation of a blowhole. very close)
- Injury report: second-degree lip sunburn. It hurts to smile, laugh, or sneeze.
- Total distance: 34 miles. Our original plan called for 28, but our series of navigational errors extended the trip significantly. Might be time for a new GPS.
This was a much bigger deal than the Provincetown trip. Though P-town had a longer open-water section (19 mi vs 12), this one had much more serious sea and weather conditions. Total trip distance was longer, too. I'll call this another "bragging rights" trip.