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Provincetown’s Sailing Moment

From the dugout mishoon canoes of the Wampanoag, to the whaling schooners of the 19th century, to the pleasure yachts and cruisers, the traditional one-design sailboat classes, and the diminutive Optimist dinghies of today, essential elements of Cape Cod’s culture arise from its history of seafaring and sailing. Yet, despite the fact that the Mayflower itself made its first landfall at Provincetown, most of the sailing-related fanfare in this area has centered around Nantucket Sound and the Islands, the south side of the Cape. The Figawi race from Hyannis to Nantucket kicks off the regular summer sailing calendar, and the largest annual regattas take place in Hyannis and Edgartown. The marquee one-design sailboat of the Cape, the Wianno Senior, was designed and built in Osterville, and the fleet races in the prestigious Scudder Cup, hosted exclusively by yacht clubs that race on Nantucket Sound. When Camelot was in full swing, photos of President John F. Kennedy sailing with the First Lady and their children upon Victura helped to cement the more modern concept of day sailing into not only the Cape’s iconography but into the cultural consciousness of the entire country. None of this renown is meant to diminish the sailing communities in other harbors around the Cape, of course; locations on Pleasant Bay, Buzzards Bay, and Cape Cod Bay all have storied traditions. Rather, this context is meant only to suggest that it’s less predictable to discover an incredible sailing opportunity in Provincetown than it would be in Vineyard Haven or Hyannis. After all, in the 21st century anyway, the most famous boating activity in Provincetown is whale watching. While one charter company is unlikely to demagnetize the compass of common perception, one morning or afternoon sailing from the Cape’s northernmost harbor on the 47’ cutter-rigged Moment can erase preconceived notions, and do so in an instant.  

For make no mistake: Moment Sailing Adventures provides fantastic experiences on the water, in a setting that is even more special precisely because it is less common. That Robert Frost poem about roads in a wood? Well, in some respects, one of the most endearing qualities of Moment Sailing Adventures is that Captain Chris Bartick chose to operate out of Provincetown Harbor, and in so doing, he is able to chart courses for his guests that are a bit “less traveled”—which, as Frost put it, “has made all the difference.” To a first time Cape visitor, perhaps the orientation of Provincetown is unworthy of note, but to anyone who has sailed, raced, or gunkholed around the southern and southwestern shores of the Cape, these waters are exotic. The world feels upside down to beat upwind while moving back along the inner “forearm” of the Cape, towards Truro and Wellfleet, and it feels expansive to run back towards Long Point, before the wind, with the entirety of the Bay off the port side, the open Atlantic just beyond this final spit of sand. In a prevailing southwesterly breeze, the waters that Moment typically covers are generally protected, yet they are open enough that the wind is steady. Under such conditions, Cape Cod Bay is relatively calm, especially in contrast to parts of Nantucket Sound, which can whip up into some serious chop. There’s no guarantee, of course, that the wind will cooperate completely or that the seas will remain serene on every charter, but the setting does help increase the probability of a fine day on the water. 

While weather can be fickle, Moment herself is a sailing vessel that is as solid and dependable as they come. Designed by Rod Stephens of the legendary naval architecture and yacht brokerage firm Sparkman & Stephens, Moment is 47 feet long and built for the open ocean. Queen Long Marine of Taiwan constructed the boats, but they called the class the Stevens 47, for Bill Stevens, a charter operator in the Caribbean who purchased a fleet of them. 56 of the boats were built and sold under this class name, then another 82 were sold as Hylas 47s. According to the online encyclopedia, Bluewater Boats, “The Stevens 47 is arguably the most well respected bluewater, three stateroom sailboat produced and is apparently highly prized on the brokerage market. Her soft motion in a seaway, swift 200 nautical mile per day passages, and luxurious accommodations are unrivaled by yachts of a comparable vintage.” Moment has the distinction of being the first Stevens 47 ever built, and it was her mold that Queen Long Marine used for the remaining 137 boats. In her nearly 40 years afloat, she has completed numerous passages, including a circumnavigation of the globe. Although she was first launched in 1981, Moment appears both classical and new, as the result of an extensive refit in 2013 and 2014, and she’s nothing if not stately. Her fiberglass hull is navy blue with a yellow cove stripe that evokes the Blue Angels jets. Her bottom is painted red, and her bootstripe white; overall, the color combination suggests speed and stability, and it complements the American flag flying from her transom. 

Captain Chris Bartick’s family is originally from New England, but he grew up in Virginia; he was working full time as a graphic designer in New York City in 2013 when he decided to “go after the boat dream.” He purchased Moment and spent the next year working on her restoration with a yard in Annapolis, MD. A new engine, updated electrical wiring and systems, and a range of carpentry, including a new toerail, were installed. Bartick recalls, “I went from having a hammer and screwdriver in New York to owning an arsenal of tools. As I worked with the tradesmen, I learned, and now I can complete projects on my own.” Moment’s name alludes to Captain Bartick’s previous sailing experience, on a 22-foot sailboat that he had in New York. As he was sailing, he developed a system for creating a series of paintings by setting up a pendulum below deck that would effectively record, in paint, the movements of his boat under sail. Each tack and gybe, each bounce in a ferry’s wake, each heel from every puff of wind would literally shape the final painting. He called this series “Moment of Sailing,” and he signed each piece along with the latitude and longitude of its exact location at completion. 

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