Newport, Rhode Island hosts the largest group of private yachts available for charter in New England the summer season. Newport is a perfect spot to begin a private crewed charter, for out of Newport, on a one week cruise, you can easily visit all of the islands in southern New England, including Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket. While both of these are lovely, resplendent in quaint New England ambiance and architecture, complete with cobblestone roads, there are other islands to visit close by, such as Block Island, Cuttyhunk and the Elizabeth Islands. Try a one week charter out of Newport, Rhode Island to explore the islands of southern New England.
Newport, Rhode Island is one of the largest deep water harbors on the east coast of the United States, with a large amount of available dockage, making this a natural summer New England home for visiting yachts. As the heat builds on land, escape to sea with the cooling thermal winds.
When cruising out of Newport, a perfect first stop is Block Island. Unlike the other islands in the area that are part of Massachusetts, Block Island is part of Rhode Island, and a mere 22 nautical miles away.
One unique aspect of Block Island is the large interior bay or the Salt Pond, as it is referred to locally. This is the perfect anchorage for visiting yachts with well protected waters. In the Salt Pond, there is plenty of space to anchor and several marinas, if docking is your preference. Block Island has few year around residents, but the population swells in the summer with visitors. Downtown, where the ferries dock, is a bustling few blocks, anchored by several large summer hotels that used to cater to the turn of the century summer visitors. Drop by and you will still find rocking chairs on the long front porches of these old hotels, a great place to sit and take in the ocean views. There are several blocks of stores and little shops to visit. Rent a bicycle and ride around the rest of the island, which is still fairly uninhabited, and covered with wild roses.
Not far from Block Island is Cuttyhunk. This island is much smaller than Block Island and is one of the smallest of this group. There is a central interior harbor, with a small dock. Take care on the size of the yacht that enters this harbor, as there may not be room to turn around. A very small settled area exists on the one road running away from the main dock. Explore the area, or have a picnic on one of the beaches. There are mooring balls available, depending the size of your yacht, just outside of the main harbor.
Nearby are the Elizabeth Islands. While privately owned there are several anchorages, including Tarpaulin Cove, a good spot to anchor for lunch, depending on which direction the wind might be blowing. As the islands are privately owned, one can anchor in the anchorage, but visiting ashore is not encouraged.
Just east of Cuttyhunk is Martha’s Vineyard. This island has several harbors and anchorages, however probably the most well known is the harbor for the town of Edgartown. Accessing the harbor of Edgartown requires cruising in through a cut, with a rather swift current. Once inside, the anchorage offers many mooring balls, but only up to a certain size yacht. If the yacht is on the larger end, anchoring outside of the harbor is a better bet. Edgartown surrounds the harbor and is a lovely New England town full of clapboard and shingle sided houses, with rose covered trellises, secret gardens and cobblestone streets. Edgartown is well know in certain circles for upper level shops and restaurants and is a hideaway for any number of well known people worldwide.
Only 22 nautical miles from Edgartown is the island of Nantucket. There is only one main town on Nantucket, which surrounds the one harbor. Enter into this harbor by a well marked channel leading right into the anchorage. Here is and area of overnight anchoring, serviced by the local water taxi service, however there are also a number of docks available, although as this island is a very popular summer destination; dockage reservations should be made in advance. Around this harbor are the typical New England shingle and clapboard houses, many built in the last few centuries, when Nantucket was a thriving whaling port. Look to the roof tops for the many Widow’s Walks where seafaring Captain’s wives looked for the return of their sailor from sea. Cobblestone roads still lead out of the harbor, but the streets and quaint buildings in the center of town are now home to a wide variety of upscale shops catering to the many visitors. There are various beaches around the edges of the island and plenty of wide open spaces to ride bicycles or explore. This is another island, well known for restaurants, and you should stop by the Club Car, a bar and restaurant along the edge of the harbor, which is an unmistakable downtown fixture. This restaurant is housed in one of the train cars used at the turn of the century in Nantucket to travel from one side of the island to the other. When the train service was discontinued, the coach car, sitting at the train terminal, where is it still sitting now, was turned into a restaurant.
Nantucket is 68 nautical miles from Newport. Begin to cruise back in the direction of Newport, but stop for the night in Hadley’s Harbor on the north end of the Elizabeth Islands. A lovely quiet harbor, tucked away from it all, Hadley’s Harbor is a great place for a final quiet night on anchor. Next stop is back in Newport, about 35 nautical miles. If time was not spent in Newport before the charter, time should definitely be spent in Newport at the end of the charter.
This charter itinerary is a comfortable cruise, by power or sailing yacht, with numerous islands within a reasonable proximity of one another. There are plenty of anchorages, and all awaits just a short cruise away from Newport.