New England offers a plethora of ways to explore its waters, lakes and mountains during the summer. No matter where you travel, you will find plenty to enjoy as you cruise, fly or travel via rail through the region.
One of the best ways to explore the southern New England coast and islands is with Hy-Line Cruises. Operating out of Hyannis, Mass., Hy-Line has a fleet of boats offering voyages to the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, exploring Vineyard Sound and the Cape Cod Canal, and deep-sea fishing.
The company was founded in 1962 by brothers Richard and Robert Scudder, both graduates of Massachusetts Maritime Academy, along with Raymond Taylor, founder of an oil company along with the brothers’ father. The Scudder brothers owned and operated a nearby gas station and took turns captaining the boat they purchased while the other ran the gas station. The marine sightseeing business started with Hyannis Harbor Tours, where a main attraction was cruising to Hyannisport to view the Kennedy compound. In 1966, the business expanded to include deep-sea fishing with full- and half-day excursions.
In 1970, they contracted for a boat to be built in order to serve Martha’s Vineyard. One year later, daily trips to the island began.
From Hyannis, Hy-Line’s fast ferries make the crossing to Nantucket in only one hour. And with nine trips a day, each way you have lots of time to explore the island before making the return trip. A highlight of the trip over is passing the iconic Brant Point Lighthouse, completed in 1759, as you cruise into the harbor. Once on the island, you can walk the historical cobblestone streets of Nantucket village or take one of several tours to the outer parts of the island. As the island is mostly flat, it offers wonderful biking opportunities as well.
Martha’s Vineyard also is a quick one-hour crossing from Hyannis. This larger island, about twice the size of Nantucket, has six towns spread over approximately 100 square miles and has a variety of terrain from flatter, sandy areas to farmlands, woods and hills. You need a little more time to explore here but can still see a lot on a daylong visit.
Both islands’ ferries offer outdoor, as well as indoor, seating with plenty of windows to enjoy the spectacular views of the coastline, the islands, passing pleasure boats and perhaps a seal or two. In addition, they have snack bars serving freshly made salads, appetizer plates, sandwiches, snacks and soft drinks. There is a fully stocked bar featuring spirits, wine and locally crafted beers.
Another offering are the Cape Cod Canal cruises. The 17.4-mile, unlocked canal connects Cape Cod Bay with Buzzards Bay and is used extensively by both commercial and pleasure boats. It separates Cape Cod from the mainland and provides boaters on a north/south route a time and distance savings from sailing around the Cape through potentially dangerous currents and shoals.
Cruise offerings vary from a three-hour cruises through the canal from Onset to Sandwich and returning, to shorter rides going two-thirds or halfway down the canal and back. These trips feature live commentary on the history and points of interest along the scenic canal.
Also offered are sunset cocktail cruises, evening musical cruises, and Sunday afternoon family cruises.
Joan Wallen can be reached at email@example.com.