The sun clears the treetops in Hadley Harbor. Its lovely rays warms my face and makes me squint. Just like the cream in my coffee, it adds something pleasing to my morning. After a hearty breakfast of eggs and bacon, we prepare to get underway. Destination: Quissett Harbor. Even at this early hour, boats are circling like buzzards waiting for someone to vacate a mooring. Fat chance on this gorgeous weekend morning, until I fire up Ginger Lee’s diesels. In this quiet harbor I might as well send up a flare. The closest buzzard, who is on his way out after finding zero empty moorings, comes to a dead stop and completely turns his big sailboat around. “Here ya go pal. Lucky you,” I say to myself as the XO drops the pennant.
We slowly make our way out, following the marked channel between Bull and Nonamesett islands. Still in awe of the beauty that surrounds us, I throttle down to dead slow, much to the chagrin of the big ferry behind me. There’s no room to pass and no place to pull over. He’s crowding me a bit, but I’m doing the posted speed limit. So waddayagonna do? Shoot me? That’s about what it would take to spoil my mood.
When we clear Hadley Rock and enter the Woods Hole cut, the impatient ferry captain immediately passes me on my starboard side. I half expected him to flip me the bird, but he peacefully continues on his way.
Within an hour we have rounded Penzance and approach the Quissett Harbor inlet marked by an easily recognizable promontory called The Knob.
No problem finding an empty mooring; we have our choice of dozens. I head for one to starboard. It’s right off the main fairway and in front of a beautiful mansion. The XO deftly scoops up the pennant with a boat hook, and we’re in like Flynn.
“Just pick up any mooring with a QH on it. ‘Round about dusk, a nice man will dingy by and knock on your hull to collect his 35 dollars.” So sayeth the cruising guide.
It seems to me that this place has the highest concentration of Herreshoff sailboats. Twelve-and-a-halfs are everywhere. I mean the real deal wooden ones made by Nat Herreshoff himself in Bristol Rhode Island, and considered one of the finest small boats of all time. I’ve seen them for sale for $25,000 to $35,000. In 1947 Cape Cod Shipbuilding (of my hometown Wareham Massachusetts) bought the rights, and most importantly, the name “Herreshoff 12-1/2.” You can still buy a brand new one from them, but these days they’re made of fiberglass, a good thing for those who dislike the considerable maintenance that wooden boats require.
Quissett harbor is home to many Herreshoff “S” class boats as well. Only 95 of these gorgeous vessels were built from 1919 to 1941. It’s reported that 70 still sail. There are probably a dozen in this very harbor. I saw one for sale for a bargain $120,000. At that price it’s probably a fixer-upper.
After wearing a groove in my deck chair in Hadley, I’m ready for some exercise, so we plan to ride our bikes into woods hole, just a few miles away. Cycling has added a whole other dimension to our cruising. I can’t imagine boating without it.
We find the dinghy dock and squeeze our way in. My wife has utilized her new smart phone and finds The Shining Sea Bikeway, a bike trial that mostly follows the coastline all the way into bustling Woods Hole.
After an invigorating bike ride, we head back to Ginger Lee, where the XO whips up some healthy snacks to counteract the junk food.
As advertised, ’round about dusk, a nice man comes by to collect his fee. I ask him about his interesting dinghy. Obviously one of a kind, it features an Atomic Four engine, foot controls for shifting and throttle, and a tiller for steering.
It’s always a pleasure to stay at Quissett. It’s gorgeous, inexpensive and there’s always room.