Crossing Nantucket Sound

After heading down to Nantucket Sound two Saturdays ago via the Eastern Route, my pal Captain Jack headed over to Madaket, on the West Side of Nantucket yesterday from Yarmouth in fairly rough conditions. The trip took approximately 1 hour 50 minutes.

I wasn’t with him for this leg, but he sent me some interesting real-time details about the conditions during the trip. Recall, the first leg of this trip took us around the outer Cape, which I documented here (4 hour 15 minute trip). Approximate trip route for reference:

Note: Route is approximate. Not for Navigation. See NOAA disclaimer for details.

A trip across Nantucket Sound is not an easy quest in a 25 foot boat, although it may look that way from the top deck of one of the ferries. Along the trip, Jack passed buoy #17, which serves as NOAA station 44020. I have marked this buoy in the map above with the green circle. It is essentially right in the middle of the sound. Conditions at the NOAA stations are visible real time on and at the time the buoy was showing a 15kt NW wind, a dominant wave height of 3.5 feet and a 3.4 second wave interval. This is known as “tight chop”. A small craft warning has been in effect earlier in the morning, but subsided by early afternoon.

NOAA Station 44020:


 With a NW wind and large, tight chop, Captain Jack found himself in a following sea– a condition where mariners need to make sure they don’t bury the bow as they coast over the crest of a wave and into its trough. For these conditions, I find that keeping a moderate speed is more important than trim position.

Madaket Harbor on the West side of Nantucket Island:

Tying up on a crowded Madaket beach:


A typical foggy morning in Madaket Village:

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