My Buzzards Bay

Post by - Published on 03/27/24 4:00 AM

Meet Captain Dave Horne, whose life has been entwined with the waters of Buzzards Bay since childhood. Through his story below he shares his life of adventure and profound connection to Buzzards Bay - one that spans over six decades. From the construction of a family beach house in 1963, to navigating the challenges and joys of boating, Dave's narrative is a testament to the undeniable allure of the ocean. So, step aboard as he shares his experience, capturing the essence of a life shaped by the waves and winds of Buzzards Bay.

My Buzzards Bay
By Captain Dave Horne

My father was obsessed with the sea. He was born in Nova Scotia as the descendant of generations of sea captains and shipbuilders. He worked his way through college. I was born in a housing project in Cambridge, Massachusetts. My family was very poor, but my father aspired to achieve The American Dream, but his version included life on the ocean.

By the time I was six, he'd saved enough money to rent a cottage for a week on the water. On the way home from Cape Cod, we stopped in Mattapoisett to visit friends renting a cottage on Buzzards Bay. We all fell in love with Buzzards Bay.

That was over sixty years ago, and yet I recall that day like it was yesterday.


The Allure of Buzzards Bay

In 1954, my father bought land in Acton, Massachusetts, and worked in neighboring Concord. When he realized he could drive to Buzzards Bay without crossing the Cape Cod bridges, he started shopping for land there.

He built our beach house in 1963 and commuted throughout the summer so my family could live on the water.

While my father loved the relatively easy commute, I loved the water temperature. Unlike the chilly waters on Cape Cod, Buzzards Bay is fed from the southern Gulf Stream and is regularly 15 to 20 degrees warmer than the other side of the canal.

My first boat had a water temperature gauge, and I remember leaving the dock in Mattapoisett with the water showing 78° and entering Cape Cod Bay 45 minutes later, showing 54°!


Boating on Buzzards Bay

Although we ended up on Buzzards Bay out of convenience and to be near tropical waters, we quickly learned that it's an incredible place for boating. 

I grew up on my fathers's power boats, operating his outboard dory at nine and a fifteen foot 85 HP Thunderbird at thirteenth. As a kid, I thought the afternoon chop on Buzzards Bay was great fun. We loved jumping waves in the Thunderbird, trying to get the prop out of the water.

In the 1970s, my father graduated from his Sunfish to a 25’ C&C sailboat - Banana Split.

Having sailed throughout New England, I can unequivocally say it's truly the best sailing venue around. The afternoon southwest breeze on Buzzards Bay is notorious for burying the rub rail and surfing downwind under the spinnaker. The steady blow also enables civilized cruising under a single sail - main or jib.

Since the wind blows out of the southwest 90% of the time, our afternoon cruises were limited to a once-around Cleveland Ledge or lunch at the Chartroom. In 1982, my father moved up to a Pearson 35, and thus began our life of cruising. We frequented Oak Bluffs and spent a week on Nantucket. 

Our First Boat

In 2000, my wife and I bought the first boat of our own. As they say, “Act in haste, repent in leisure.” This was definitely the case with our 26’ Boston Whaler Outrage.

I worked in Silicon Valley and decided to visit the Boat Show at Jack London Square. As a kid in New England, I always dreamt of owning a Whaler. Up on the hard in Oakland, it looked huge. And since I crushed waves in the 15’ Thunderbird and sailed all over Buzzards Bay in a 25’ sailboat, this massive center console would be all I needed for the Bay.

Sadly, I was dead wrong. I discovered the error in my ways on the second day out as we went to lunch in Oak Bluffs with friends from California. Typically, the ride over was serene. We enjoyed a lovely lunch and a little shopping and headed home around 3:00. We were just clearing East Chop when all hell broke loose.

We hit the first six-foot wave, and the kids sitting in the bow seats flew into the air and crashed onto the deck. Quickly, everyone found a battle station. I picked my way to Woods Hole, doing 12 MPH through a short period of six to eight-foot chop. We had green water crashing over the tee-top, all three bridge pumps screaming, and the women were praying out loud.

From that day forward, I had nothing but respect for power boating in and around Buzzards Bay.


Dock and Dine on Buzzards Bay

Most of our trips in the Whaler were to The Chartroom, the old Aqua Grill in Sandwich, or the well-protected trip to Mattakeese in Barnstable. On rare days, we did venture back to Oak Bluffs, but I was always worried about the East Chop monster waves.

In 2008, we bought a Hydrasports 33 Center Console - Mean Kitty, which was a deep-vee offshore fishing boat. It was much more secure and opened up additional Dock and Dine venues like Westport, Falmouth, Padnaram, and Woods Hole.

In 2015, we bought our first cruiser - Tenacity, a Back Cove 37 Downeaster. I clearly remember our first Dock and Dine adventure,  riding home from the Chartroom in a blustery Buzzards Bay afternoon - complete with Small Craft Warnings and nobody spilling their beer!

The weight, hull design, and enclosed salon meant we could venture beyond Buzzards Bay in virtually anything less than Gale Winds. In our center consoles, I recall thinking I had a great season if we got ten Dock and Dines. With Tenacity, I lost count. And our season was extended from May through October.

We also started overnight cruising. Initially, it was just my wife and I, but soon, our close friends joined us, sleeping on the convertible dinette in the salon.

By July 2016, I had signed a contract with Back Cove to build us a 41 - Vigilant. It offered two cabins, and each had its own head. This would enable us to cruise for days, even weeks, with another couple. And we did!

My Buzzards Bay- The Blog

From the days of Mean Kitty and cruising Buzzards Bay for Dock and Dine venues, I had been posting tips and trip reports on social media. These were very popular posts, with many commenting and asking me for additional information.

I realized that my experience with boating and Buzzards Bay wasn't something one could easily find through an internet search. That's when I decided to open as a permanent repository of things I've learned and experiences I enjoy.

Early on, I decided this would be a clean, NO AD website and app that someone could easily read and search. I started with Dock and Dine on Buzzards Bay because there was a glaring lack of information online. I quickly added gunkholes, marinas, and reviews of seaside restaurants. I also started doing reports on our cruising adventures, along with tips and fun things to do in each port we visited.

These reports have turned into the most appreciated section of the website. I've had dozens of people tell me My Buzzards Bay has changed their boating lives. The more I dug into it, the more I discovered that many people buy boats without really thinking through what they're going to do. Boat Shows, and magazines all portray boating as living out a Jimmy Buffett song and then discover it's not that simple.

The trip reports on My Buzzards Bay serve as cruise plans for other boaters, providing them a template (or at least a starting point) for planning a boating adventure.

Over the last seven years, we've served over 125,000 visitors with fresh ideas for cruising.

Please visit the site, and if you travel to New England, keep an eye out for our current boat - Amazing Grace. If you see us on a dock, feel free to introduce yourselves. 

Making new friends is one of the best benefits of cruising!

- Captain Dave Horne


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