“Jeez! This is wicked slow even for an old turtle like Ginger Lee“. I look down in disbelief at the GPS. “Three miles per hour!”
“Maybe we should get out and push,” the XO deadpans.
“I guess I miscalculated the current,” I admitted. The good news is: it’s a gorgeous morning, absolutely and literally sparkling. Seas are running less than one foot, very nice indeed, and the VHF radio is alive with interesting chatter from all the hard-working, bad-boy Captains leaving New Bedford Harbor. Many of them sounding half asleep as they pilot their fishing vessels toward what many consider the easiest passage through the Elizabeth Islands: Quicks Hole.
In retrospect, after leaving Swifts Neck, I should have set a course through the tumultuous Woods Hole Cut to ride the more favorable current southwest down the Vineyard Sound. But noooooo. I wimped out, cut across Buzzards Bay, went through Quicks Hole, and now we are fighting the current northeast to our destination: Tarpaulin Cove.
“Two point six,” my wife rubs it in a bit, but I know she’s just joshing; we are certainly in no rush. A sailboat, paralleling our course to starboard, drops behind us, unable to gain any speed. There is no wind, and a three MPH current, but hey, so what! The day couldn’t be prettier. So much bright sunshine floods the salon that I need to place a dark towel in front of the helm to ward off the glare reflecting off the shiny, snow-white gelcoat.
“A little more to the left,” the XO instructs and I comply immediately; she has been at the helm for almost four hours now.
She admits this is a time she loves: guiding our boat toward its destination, following a course, a heading, taking pride in the arrow straight line drawn by the chartplotter. I’m glad she told me that, because I can relate. In my field service job, I drive my car many miles every working day. It becomes, dare I say, spiritual.
“There’s the lighthouse!” I gush. Finally, the familiar structure peeks over the top of the mainland it guards. We are here! Tarpaulin cove! I inadvertently rub my legs, remembering the last time we were here and tried to climb the pathway to that old lighthouse. About halfway up, I was so covered with ticks that we ran back to the beach in revulsion. I had at least thirty of the loathsome creatures on my legs. I am shuddering with that revolting memory.
“You okay?” Susan says with a smile. She remembers too, but somehow escaped the tick attack!
“They favored my sweet Italian flesh,” I reasoned.
“Can’t say I blame ’em,” she quips, being way too kind.
“Yeah, I hate ticks.”
Tarpaulin Cove is just a dimple on the Vineyard Sound side of Naushon, the largest of the Elizabeth Islands. I think it’s so cool that it’s privately owned. Its beauty would surely be destroyed by developers. Oh yeah, it would be another high-priced destination like Block Island or Nantucket in no time. With the addition of a few loud bars, pristine Tarpaulin Cove could be the next Oak Bluffs! Fortunately, the owners don’t mind if you use their beach. Watch out for cows! It’s not unusual to see several of the massive beasts wade into the water to cool off on a hot day.
After Bloody Marys, we dinghy ashore to stretch our legs. Everything is as I remember it: pebbly sand dotted with cow-pies, friendly boaters with dogs, and hunting osprey. We are on a magnificent hunk of Massachusetts that not many folks know about. It is one of the most beautiful unspoiled places in our state. Our time here feels special. Like we are on foreign shores, privileged to breathe its air, feel its sunshine. It’s magnificent. I am in awe.