Our writer recalls his favorite moments from 18 Figawi races across Nantucket Sound
“WE ARE GONNA HIT THAT BOAT!” The man yelling those words over the wind, out in the middle of Nantucket Sound, was my first Figawi captain. Read more…
In building a schooner, an island boatbuilder rediscovers his past.
There is a hand-hewn knowledge of the shipbuilding that has been intrinsic to a particular way of life in New England. For Ted Box, a renowned environmental artist, waterman, and master boatbuilder who has called Vineyard Haven home for more than 30 years, that way of life once proved at odds with who he wanted to be. But after abandoning his craft for years, he recently decided to turn his focus back to the water by building Seeker, a Gulf Coast scow schooner whose construction has attracted a community’s worth of attention. Read more…
Despite their capricious behavior on the line—and on the grill if you don’t cook fast enough—bluefish remain one of the most fun species to catch.
Here’s the thing about bluefish: they’re not quite blue. Their coloring is really more sea green to a silver belly fade. Here’s the other thing about bluefish: they’re mean. They have sharp teeth. They’re aggressive, and they bite everything in sight. They’ll destroy your tackle and, if you’re not careful, your fingers. So why are they among the most popular gamefish in New England? Read more…
A surging seal population take up residence off Truro
The line of hulking creatures along the J-shaped sandbar just off High Head Beach in Truro is at first deceiving: Their round, shiny bodies are reminiscent of large, dark rocks, giving the peninsula the look of Maine’s rugged coast rather than Cape Cod’s sandy shore. But when the wind dies down, the rocks can be heard moaning. Those rocks, it turns out, are gray seals.
“It’s just fascinating to sit and listen,” says Sue Moynihan, chief of interpretation and cultural resources management for the Cape Cod National Seashore. “There are all these vocalizations they are making, and we really don’t know what they mean.” When visitors step closer to the shore, the seals swimming by themselves stop their acrobatics to stare. Their heads are the size of a horse’s, their eyes black.
This is at least the fifth year that seals have congregated off Truro. Jeremy Point off Wellfleet, Chatham Harbor, South Monomoy Island, and Muskeget Island off Nantucket are also home to gray seal haul-outs, but for humans, the Truro gathering spot is probably the least remote, making it a popular place to observe seals in their element. Read more…
A Nantucket lightship is narrowly saved from destruction and reborn as a luxury charter vessel.
It was not your typical eBay purchase. Back in 2000, Bill and Kristen Golden had been following a local news story about a Nantucket lightship that was to be sold on the popular auction website. “She was owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and was being operated as a museum,” explains Bill. “The Commonwealth couldn’t upkeep her anymore and decided to scrap her. There was public outcry, so instead they decided to sell her on eBay and, unfortunately, mostly scrappers were bidding. “We came in and outbid them.” Read more…
Riding The Cape's Paddleboard Wave
Bob Babock stood up on a stand-up paddleboard because sometimes it was tough to stand up anywhere else.
In late 2003, Babcock was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor. The subsequent treatment literally left him out of balance. “I was having a hard time even walking sometimes, or driving a car,” says the Carver resident, now 54. “Normal things became very difficult for a while.” Years of doctor-prescribed exercises produced little improvement. Then one autumn day in 2007, Babcock’s older brother, a former windsurfer, arrived with a gift: a stand-up paddleboard. Babcock was a “typical suburban dad,” he says. He had never surfed, but he had a lifelong love of the ocean. And the ocean seemed a better place for rehabilitation than a doctor’s office. Read more…
A true fish story that hooked a rookie. . . and helped raise funds for a good cause.
What is it about fishing that seems to inspire famous sayings, many of which have become part of our language? Why does fishing turn rational men (and women!) into obsessed individuals who will sit motionless for hours waiting for that perfect catch?
Where can we find the Cape and Islands at their essence? Step outside, inhale deeply, and look around. It’s right in front of us.
Getting outdoors in the summer is what we wait all year for. In the spring, we fork over paychecks for a Thule rack and fix the dings on the gear in our basement. We cut back on carbs and hit the gym to get the looks and the stamina to enjoy the warmest months. We book the cottage and give thanks for so few snow days piled on to our kids’ school calendar. We count ourselves among the lucky because we found a mooring. Read more…
Shorts and flips flops aren’t the usual attire of the president of a company, but that’s what Justin Labdon, president of Cape Cod Beach Chair Company, has chosen over the suit and tie wardrobe of the workaday world. Labdon left the high-tech world over a decade ago to return to the Cape and establish himself as a businessman that you could only find in a coastal community. Now, when he isn’t building beach chairs, he’s kicking back, fully reclined, on any of the Cape’s beaches in the comfortable, low-slung models reflective of his professionally casual lifestyle. Read more…
My first visit to Cape Cod was in 1955 when I was eight years old. For two weeks in August, my family rented an older three-story “cottage” in the village of Old Craigville within walking distance of Craigville Beach in Centerville. The house was right across the street from tiny Lake Elizabeth, with a small dock where my brother Mike and I would go fishing. Of course, we were not allowed to go on the dock without my parents’ permission. My younger brother John went without permission and I reported this to my mother. John was angry with me and told me I didn’t have to do that. I told him that just because I had a lot of freckles he didn’t have to call me “a speckled hen.”
Old Craigville was magical. On the village green, there were organized volleyball games in the evening. There was also a penny candy store, a tiny post office, and a gracious old multistory inn. My grandmother and great aunts stayed at the inn part of the time we were there, and they would take us kids out to breakfast at the inn. All of this was only a short walk from Craigville Beach where we spent most days. A wonderful, tree-canopied walking path ran between the cottage connecting the village green to a huge bluff overlooking the beach. At night, this walkway was lit by the glowing lamps of bordering cottages, alive with laughter and music.
As the family grew, we spent more time on the Cape and the older children, of whom I am one, got summer jobs at Craigville Beach. We were lifeguards, short-order cooks, waitresses, and parking lot attendants. Evenings were busy with ping-pong in the game room, touch football on the beach, and visits to the 1856 Country Story in Centerville and Four Seas Ice Cream parlor. I learned to sail, won some races, and started a business teaching sailing and renting out small sailboats. In 1964, I was being paid five dollars an hour to go sailing. Maybe I should have stuck with that.
During my college years, I learned how to chart a course and handle a sloop large enough for cruising. A few friends and I chartered a boat out of Mattapoisett and sailed to Nantucket, Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven, Menemsha, and Cuttyhunk. I knew then that eventually I would have to have my own boat and that the Cape and Islands would always be a very important part of my life. Of course, the first cruise was not without incident. The only crew member that could not swim fell overboard when we were moving at a pretty good clip coming out of Vineyard Haven Harbor. Fortunately, he was wearing a life jacket, and we did get him back aboard.
Right after college, I bought a Hobie Cat Catamaran sailboat. It was only 14 feet long and had a trampoline for a deck, connecting two pontoons. Heavens to Murgatroyd was that thing fast! We would trailer to Town Cove in Orleans and sail out of the channel to the ocean facing Nauset Beach. We would sail in close to the beach, and then with the southwest wind at our backs, we would turn out and head into the oncoming waves. The best part was when the entire boat would fly off of a wave and completely leave the surface of the water. We wore wetsuits because it was a wet ride, and thankfully by that time the same crew member had learned to swim.
In 1976, I became a year-round Cape Codder and in 1979 founded Cape Cod Life magazine in hopes of sharing my love of the Cape and Islands with many readers. During the 80s, I met my wife, Judy, with whom I have been most fortunate to share my love of the Cape and Islands ever since. We were married on our beloved island of Cuttyhunk in June 1990. Our boys Josh and Max were born in ’94 and ’97, and we built a new home in ’99. The boys have grown up on the water and I just love to see them both handling boats so well. They sail, they motor boat, and they navigate, in and out of the fog. And, they can both swim.
“The memories we collect and give Brighten our lives as long as we live.”
Brian Shortsleeve, President and Publisher