A charterer’s guide to New England. What, where, when, how?
In North America it's considered to be the home of yachting and perennially popular with the nation's yachtsmen, but New England is an under-valued cruising ground for the international superyacht set. This entire stretch of interesting coastline has an appealing diversity – rolling hills give way to quaint fishing villages, sandy beaches lead inland via tiny coves and small islands to award-winning golf courses. Restaurants and historical interest abound wherever you cruise in the region. Burgess charter experts bring you their wealth of knowledge on the endless supply of attractions, activities and hospitality along this idyllic coastline.
Where – Considered by many to be the yachting capital of New England, Newport has been attracting yachting enthusiasts since the 19th Century. Today it continues as a bastion of sailing and attracts superyachts from around the world to visit.
What – Superyacht charterers and owners alike come to Newport to visit the lively waterfront, ornate mansions and great restaurants. The town has long been associated with the America’s Cup and figures like John F Kennedy and JD Rockefeller, who spent their summers sailing here. The Newport Mansions were built by wealthy socialites in the mid-1800s and great New York families, the likes of the Vanderbilts and the Astors, competed to build larger and more opulent mansions than their neighbours.
There are plenty of beaches for swimming, the best being Easton’s Beach, which lies just to the east of the town. For some of the best clam chowder in all of New England step ashore to The Clarke Cooke House right at the heart of Newport’s marina. Alternatively, head up Newport’s famous Ocean Drive to the Castle Hill Inn for sundowners and spectacular views over Narragansett Bay.
When – New England experiences four distinct seasons. The summer months are ideal for sailing when temperatures can soar, lasting well into the late summer months. Early Autumn still sees pleasant temperatures of 21-22°C but also a landscape rich in warm tones as the leaves undergo their spectacular change. These months also offer the best whale watching off the Massachusetts coast as the whales migrate. Late spring is also a pleasant time to cruise when the towns are quieter, and temperatures can still reach up to 25°C in the middle of the day.
How – Stroll along the Cliff Walk for fantastic views over the back gardens of The Breakers and other great mansions, or cycle down Bellevue Avenue, pausing at the gateways that provide glimpses of Belcourt Castle and other sprawling homes.
Where – Martha’s Vineyard is best known for its miles of pristine beaches and rolling countryside. From the bustling towns of Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs and Edgartown, to the quaint fishing villages of Menemsha and Chilmark, the Vineyard is a picturesque New England enclave that has seemingly kept the 21st Century largely at bay. Down-island is the place to be if you want to be among the shops, restaurants, beaches and harbours, while up-island is more peaceful.
What – Step ashore to the lively town of Oak Bluffs and wander around the quaint 19th Century gingerbread cottages. In picture-postcard Edgartown the harbour is filled with superyachts during the summer months and fringed with boutiques overflowing with boutiques and art galleries.
When it comes to dining ashore on Martha’s Vineyard seafood is always the dish of the day, with lobster being the most popular dish on the island. The restaurant scene is casual, with farm-to-table fresh produce and just-caught fish inspiring most menus, especially during the summer when the island’s bounty is at its peak. Every Friday during the summer, Grace Church in Vineyard Haven sells fresh lobster rolls that can be enjoyed overlooking the harbour.
When – As with Newport and the rest of the mainland, Martha’s Vineyard experiences four seasons, the summer being the most popular due to the warm temperatures of up to 30°C and when the water is at its best. If you would rather avoid the summer crowds, late spring is also a pleasant time to cruise when the Vineyard towns are quieter and temperatures can reach up to 25°C, or early Autumn when the water is still warm enough for swimming and surfing.
How – A wonderful way to discover Martha’s Vineyard and work off some of those superyacht lunches is by cycling the shaded paths that hug the coastline. More than a fifth of the island has been set aside for conservation and much of it is accessible to cyclists with purpose-built cycle paths set back from the road. Parents with smaller children can also hire tandem bikes so the little ones can come too.
Where – Nantucket is one of the furthermost islands from the coastline, but worth the trip for its cobblestone quaint towns and beautiful sandy beaches. Nicknamed 'the little grey lady' for its uniform grand clapboard mansions fronted with grey shingle, the island has changed very little since the 19th Century when it was the whaling capital of the world.
What – Step ashore to the island’s only town, Nantucket Town, and discover quaint boutiques and restaurants. Swim in the still waters of Nantucket Sound to the north or brave the Atlantic along the south shore.
When – During July and August the island’s population increases four-fold, but most visitors keep themselves to themselves, appearing from their summer homes for an early evening stroll around Nantucket Town.
How – Roam the crescent-shaped island by bicycle (there are plenty of hire shops if you don’t have one on board) or take a four-wheel drive out to Great Point Lighthouse.