I admit that the 2019 Cruising Season in New England is living on borrowed time. The days are depressingly short, the nights are cold, and we must constantly be on the lookout for what Gordon Lightfoot called “The Gales of November” coming early.

To me that simply means lowering my standard for what’s a good couple of days for cruising.

Last Saturday was bright, sunny, calm, but the forecast high was 58 degrees.

And that made it a perfect October day to take off for an overnight cruise!

The weekend before had felt more like late June than late September when we visited Martha’s Vineyard with Gail and Rudy for a 4 day mini vacation.

You may recall that Mrs. Horne and I walked to Vineyard Haven for Sunday Brunch during that trip and along the way we passed a couple of new restaurants and agreed we had to return soon to try them out.

With this in mind and a Bluebird Day on Saturday, Mrs. Horne and I headed to Vineyard Haven for an October Cruise…

Vineyard Haven is the closest Martha’s Vineyard port to Mattapoisett – about 18 miles. Thanks to calm seas on Buzzards Bay, Vigilant made the trip in about 45 minutes.

When we arrived at The Black Dog Wharf, I discovered that my stern thruster had died for the second time in two weeks. This made Mrs. Horne nervous, but I knew we could handle it.

The wind was coming in from the north and I planned to dock stern to shore on the straight wharf opposite the piling slips. This would keep Vigilant still from chop and protect the aft deck and salon from the cold north wind.

The only tricky part was that the wind was blowing us slightly away from the dock and with no stern thruster, we needed to get a line tied off the port stern cleat as fast as possible.

As we approached the dock, a young man looking like a dock hand appeared and started speaking to Mrs. Horne. They had a plan of their own that didn’t involve my desire for a stern spring line – oh well.

His name was Morgan and he was one of the most competent dock hands we’ve run into yet. He told Mrs. Horne to relax and slowly but steadily got Vigilant secured – including a line to hold the stern close to the dock.

Before he finished tying us up, a woman joined him and it turned out to be Morgan’s mother – Charlene who said she taught him everything.

Charlene and Morgan

Needless to say, Mrs. Horne gave Charlene an earful of praise about her fine son’s skills as a dockhand.

I was especially impressed when Morgan brought a fender board and set it up to protect Vigilant from the raw pilings…

Considering the number of marinas we visit with raw pilings, I think I’ll fabricate a couple of these and have them stowed aboard Vigilant next season.

Lunch in Vineyard Haven

I had made reservations at Beach Road for dinner, but we had no plans for lunch. On our walk the Sunday before, we had gone past a Brazilian Steak House called the Golden Bull and thought we’d check it out the next time we were in Vineyard Haven.

It turns out that they’re an All-You-Can-Eat “Rodizio” style restaurant and lunch on weekends is $34.95. Mrs. Horne and I had no interest in $35 worth of Brazilian Steak, so we passed.

My next choice would have been The Black Dog Tavern, but since we’d had brunch there on Sunday, it seemed like we should go elsewhere.

We settled on The Copper Wok. This is a solid Asian Restaurant serving both Chinese and Japanese cuisine.

Mrs. Horne started with a cup of Hot and Sour to warm her tummy and we split Peking Ravioli and Lo Mein…

It was quite filling although we both felt the Ravioli was a little more doughy than we expected.

Shopping in Vineyard Haven

The plan was to take a long walk after lunch, but I needed new running shoes first. We went to Brickman’s to find some, but they had nothing in my size and price range.

One of the nice things about Vineyard Haven is the shopping. VH features a number of what I call serious stores, unlike the other villages on Martha’s Vineyard that are pretty much all tourist shops.

Brickman’s is one of them. They are what is known as Outfitters. They have a wide range of high end practical clothes – including summer shirts, shorts, and accessories. They also have shoes, some sporting goods, and a toy section. A few years ago I bought a pair of Sperry Sneakers there for $69, which is a great price.

I also like to shop at LeRoux’s which is home and kitchen goods. There’s even a respectable Music Shop.

Of course they have most of the usual tourist shops as well like Vineyard Vines and Soft As A Grape.

If your a fan of Black Dog, your life will not be complete until you visit the Black Dog campus just off The Black Dog Wharf. There are a number of stores offering clothes, merchandise, and kids stuff. There is also a very nice Bakery and of course, The Black Dog Tavern.

Lazy Afternoon

After I struck out on buying running shoes, we lost interest in a long walk. Instead, Mrs. Horne suggested we go back to Vigilant and watch a movie.

I tied my iPhone into the TV with my Apple AV Adapter and we watched The Message Man on Prime Video.

It turned out to be a good choice. It’s the kind of action flick that keeps you awake. It’s also set in a seaside Indonesian village and the hero lives on a boat – which made it a perfect fit for us.

After the movie we sat on the aft deck and took in the setting sun over Vineyard Haven. The Black Dog operates a couple of Tall Ships for day trips and they really strike a nice scene across the harbor.

As I went below to get ready for dinner, I glanced at the screen and noticed it was 72 degrees inside Vigilant even though it had never gotten to 60 outside and I hadn’t turn on the heat.

Of course a closer look showed that the engine room was 78 and it reminded me of a conversation I’d had earlier with my friend Tad.

Tad has 30′ open boat with a soft top. I mentioned that we were going to Vineyard Haven for the night and he said he was trying to talk his wife into going to Cuttyhunk.

I asked him if he had any heat and he said “No, but I will have two big hot diesel engines under the salon that’ll probably stay hot all night.” That’s why Vigilant was still so warm!

As the sun set we bundled up and headed to Beach Road for dinner.

It’s only about 5 minutes away and located on the Southeast side of the island…

I did a full report on Beach Road Sunday morning, but I can tell you that the food, atmosphere, and service were all great.

I can also report that thanks to their 5:00-6:00 PM Daily Buck-A-Shuck, the bar was packed as was half the restaurant,

As much as we love having guests overnight, it is quite nice to enjoy a Date Night with the beautiful Mrs. Horne.

We got back to Vigilant after dark…

By then the air was down to 46 degrees, the engine was down to 75, and the salon was 70. I fired up one of the two salon heat pumps and kept everything toasty all night…

We woke up to an incredibly scenic day on the water…

First ferry of the day arriving…

The wind was suppose to pick up at 11:00, so we ate a couple of complimentary Blueberry Muffins from The Black Dog Bakery and watched the Martha’s Vineyard Row Team head out for a morning workout.

It was a funny ride home. The wind had shifted to the south and it pretty much pushed us all the way to Mattapoisett. I was about halfway across Buzzards Bay when I noticed we were surfing down 3-5 foot chop.

I could see Ned’s Point Lighthouse off in the distance and I knew that meant the mooring would be fully exposed to this 20 knot Southeast blow.

I warned Mrs. Horne that the mooring pick-up would be dicey. Not only was the deck bouncing 5 to 10 feet above sea level, but my ability to maneuver would be severely limited due the failed stern thruster.

I was so proud of Mrs. Horne when she landed the mooring on the first try. The deck was bounding so severely that we skipped our typical hose down and headed straight for the launch.

We’re so fortunate to have great little ports like Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven within a one hour cruise. If you can keep your boat reasonably warm in the winter, do yourself a favor and visit Martha’s Vineyard in October. It’s a great time…