An hour's boat ride from New Bedford makes a great one day excursion
By Walter & Patricia Brooks
We had a day set aside to escape the heat of last week, and after checking the weather reports for anywhere within an hour's drive, we discovered that the southernmost of the Elizabeth Islands was predicted to be in the mid-70s while the rest of New England sweltered.
Cuttyhunk is truly a world apart, not a bit like Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard.
It has no restaurants for lunch, amusements or inns, but luckily it has Bart's Cart at one of the two wharfs in town, and a drop-dead, beautiful south-facing beach where no one needs a beach sticker or permission to bask.
My wife had a great lobster roll for $13 and onion rings for $4 al fresco at Bart's Cart, while I had the largest helping I ever had of fish & chips for only $8.
The island hasn't changed much from the scene above in Albert Beirstadt's 1858 oil painting entitled: "Gosnold at Cuttyhunk, 1602", where the adventurers set up a camp but gave it up when they were unable to find sufficient food for the winter.
He would have had the same problem in 2010.
How to get there
The best way to get to Cuttyhunk is aboard the good ship Cuttyhunk at the Cuttyhunk Ferry Company on the State Pier in New Bedford.
The bright, new ferry is about the size of Gosnold's ship, and it is owned and captained by Jono Billings who looks like he was hired for the task from Central Castings in Hollywood.
A book by Tony Howitz relates the experience Bart Gosnold had in 1602. He wrote that the Indians who met them on Cuttyhunk were "exceeding courteous, gentle of disposition and well conditioned," and made a very favorable impression, especially the women. "This is the rare story of gentle first contact between Europeans and Native Americans," Mr. Horwitz continued.
In the summertime Cuttyhunk has a population of about 200, but in the off season that number dwindles to 20 or 30 - fewer, than the crew on Gosnold's ship the bark Concord.
We don't know how the local Indians bade farewell to Gosnold, but today the island's youth climb high on the pier and jump into the harbor as the ferry leaves each afternoon.