Elizabeth Islands Woods Hole to Cuttyhunk

Woods Hole, Massachusetts

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The Elizabeth Islands form a 16-mile archipelago that extends southwest from Woods Hole and effectively divides Vineyard Sound from Buzzards Bay. It is a wonderful place to paddle. However, the “holes” between the islands and the mainland where strong currents rip through can make whitewater paddling skills handy. Between the mainland and Nonamesset and Uncatena Islands, Woods Hole Passage offers some of the most interesting—and challenging— paddling on the Northeast Coast. In the passage, the tidal difference between Vineyard Sound and Buzzards Bay sometimes creates a 6-knot current that pulls huge channel buoys over on their sides in the narrower sections. The water also sweeps over submerged ledges, creating additional speed, whirlpools, and counter currents. The Woods Hole Passage is about 0.5 mile long and 100 yards wide. Because high-water times differ by several hours throughout Buzzards Bay, Vineyard Sound, and Nantucket Sound, the tidal currents can be fairly ferocious but not insurmountable for the self-propelled boater.
Sea Kayaking Along the New England Coast

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Sea Kayaking Along the New England Coast

by Tamsin Venn (Appalachian Mountain Club Books)

The Elizabeth Islands form a 16-mile archipelago that extends southwest from Woods Hole and effectively divides Vineyard Sound from Buzzards Bay. It is a wonderful place to paddle. However, the “holes” between the islands and the mainland where strong currents rip through can make whitewater paddling skills handy. Between the mainland and Nonamesset and Uncatena Islands, Woods Hole Passage offers some of the most interesting—and challenging— paddling on the Northeast Coast. In the passage, the tidal difference between Vineyard Sound and Buzzards Bay sometimes creates a 6-knot current that pulls huge channel buoys over on their sides in the narrower sections.

The water also sweeps over submerged ledges, creating additional speed, whirlpools, and counter currents. The Woods Hole Passage is about 0.5 mile long and 100 yards wide. Because high-water times differ by several hours throughout Buzzards Bay, Vineyard Sound, and Nantucket Sound, the tidal currents can be fairly ferocious but not insurmountable for the self-propelled boater.

©  Tamsin Venn/Appalachian Mountain Club Books. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Sea Kayaking
Nearby City: Woods Hole
Distance: 32
Duration: Day Trip
Season: Best spring through fall
Local Maps: NOAA #13218at 1:80,000; NOAA #13229
Driving Directions: Directions to Elizabeth Islands: Woods Hole to Cuttyhunk

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Apr 2018