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Day trip to Martha’s Vineyard

Friday, October 15th, 2010

There are two ways to get to Martha’s Vineyard: by air or by sea. Since I’ve neither unlimited income nor a private jet, “by sea” it was.

At this time of year (late September), ferry schedules and options are not as plentiful as during the summer months.  The schedule and location that worked best for us was from the Steamship Authority departing from Woods Hole, which is about a two-hour drive from Provincetown without weather or traffic delays. The trip is not all four-lane highway driving; plenty of time is spent on winding, two-lane country roads. Read: allow extra time when making the trip to Woods Hole and don’t “almost” miss the ferry like we did. We had allowed ourselves enough time to make the 9:30am ferry, but we ran into some construction along the way.  We made it to the port just in time; it was maybe 9:26am, only to find out that we could not park our car in the lot there.  We would have to drive four miles to the Steamship Authority’s remote lot and take the shuttle bus back.  Excuse me, what?  I must have looked at and examined the Steamship Authority website three dozen times before departing for Woods Hole, and nowhere was the parking situation mentioned.  I breathed deeply and was about to resign to the fact that we’d have to wait for the next ferry (departing at 10:45am), when the Steamship Authority employee said to me, “Or you can park in that private lot right across the street.  I don’t know how much he charges….”  I peeled out of the parking lot and into the private lot, where we learned it was $20 to park for the day.  Deal.  We parked, unloaded the car and Lucia, and made a beeline for the ferry ticket window.  Reservations are not necessary for the passenger ferry so we were able to get our tickets on the spot.  The round-trip cost for three adults was $53 (Lucia sailed for free).  There is also a car ferry – now THAT is another story.  Before I learned differently, I figured a car would be necessary on Martha’s Vineyard, even for a day trip, so I began looking into car ferry information.  I started having second thoughts when I saw the price.  It would cost over $300, round trip, during the off season!  That is way too much money to spend for a day trip.  If we were staying on the Vineyard for a longer period of time, say, a week, it might make more sense.  We decided to nix the car idea and just use public transportation once we arrived on the Vineyard.  One more note about the car ferry:  reservations during the off-season are not necessary but are recommended.  During the high season, however, reservations for the car ferry are an absolute must.

The ferry ride itself was rather enjoyable.  It was a Tuesday morning and it was easy to find seats.  The deck, on the other hand, was packed.  It was a gorgeously sunny day so I don’t blame those dozens of passengers for wanting to be outside, enjoying the pleasant temperatures and bright sunshine.  Plus, there’s just something about being on a boat, no matter how big or how small.  It was Lucia’s first boat ride so of course I had to take her up top.  She ooohed and aaaahed, and was so not afraid!

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