The First Real Boat

Cape Dory 24T

I had dreamed about a live-aboard explorer boat my entire life. Channel 38 in Boston (public TV) would play Jacques Cousteau documentaries over and over again when I was a kid, and I was mesmerized and energized by them. He was an appealing blend of intellectualism and adventurism, and the passion to explore became a dream. My first “exploration” boat was Viola, a Cape Dory 24 ft trawler. She had a little diesel engine and could go forever on a tank of fuel.

Cape Dory 24 Trawler

I purchased her in 2007 from someone in the Falmouth area. After launching her I headed South towards RI to bring her home. It was a multi-day trip in a little put-put trawler doing 7 1/2 knots, and I was not sure where I would anchor for the night since I had departed in the afternoon. While transiting Wood’s Hole Passage towards Buzzard’s Bay I saw a small ferry headed into Hadley Harbor. Being curious I followed it.

heading in to Inner Harbor

What I found was the coolest little harbor you can imagine. From Bull Rock next to Uncatena Island you weave your way towards Inner Harbor through a quaint and picturesque little passage with a few moorings here and there.

anchoring – Inner Harbor – off Hadley Harbor

Drawing only 2 1/2 ft I was able to get my little trawler right up into Inner Harbor and weigh anchor. No other boats within 100 yards. I was exhausted after a long drive to Falmouth from RI, the survey, the purchase, the launch, and then the transit south. And a new boat is unfamiliar. But I was snug and didn’t need to worry about wind, swing, or drag since it was like a pond in there. I slept easy.

hadley harbor
Inner Harbor – off Hadley Harbor (MA) – best kept secret for shallow draft smaller vessels

In the morning I woke to see deer feeding near the waters edge, fish jumping, and horses grazing on a hill. Most everything ashore on Naushon Island was private property (like Forbes family private). But you could not have dreamed up a better script for my first night on my first real boat. No slip fees, tourists or Aquapalooza – thank you very much!

Cuttyhunk 2008

I bought an 11 ft Zodiac as well to round out my fleet, and towed it around as my dinghy. It was a perfect setup for exploring Narragansett Bay and Block Island Sound.