Long Wharf in the historic Boston Harbor was getting a dredging and a face lift, and we were getting a light drenching as we stepped aboard the fastest ferry in the U.S.

The Boston Harbor Cruise ferry flies fast from Bean Town to P-Town (what the locals call Provincetown), plowing 42 miles in only 90 minutes. The Pilgrims would have been jubilant to cross the Atlantic at this speed before anchoring their leaky crate in 1620 at the tip of Cape Cod where P-Town is now located.

The ferry terminal at One Long Wharf is a great family attraction in Boston. Take the kids to the IMAX theater or the New England Aquarium before boarding the BHC ferry to Cape Cod. The 600 passenger and 43 mph catamaran is so smooth I couldn't detect a ripple in my coffee cup when placed on the table at my Book Your Boston Hotel Onlinebooth. The cat is air-conditioned, but it is more fun to catch the salt spray outdoors on the fantail.

There is a full cash bar for drinks and a snack area on the main deck. Catch the 45 minute video on P-town from your comfy, cushioned, airline-type seat. There is even a second deck concierge service onboard that will set up tours, hotel accommodations, and restaurant reservations, in either Bean Town or P-Town. Bring your bike on board; Cape Cod has a notable and extensive bike trail system, with many routes along Cape Cod National Seashore.

BHC also offers whale watching from Boston and Provincetown, historic sightseeing cruises, lighthouse cruises, Boston Harbor Island cruises, and private charters. For more information on Boston Harbor Cruises call 877/SEE-WHALE or 617/227-4321. www.Bostonharborcruises.com

A budding, young Rodin sculptures by the sea in P-Town.

On the other side of Cape Cod Bay, P-town is noted for its art colony atmosphere, the oldest in the United States. The substantial literati and glitterati that live in P-town is most venerable, past and present. Norman Mailer still lives here after 50 years of creative writing. He wrote "The Naked and the Dead", among other tomes, from his beachside home. Eugene O'Neill once scribed plays from P-Town. In fact, the 5th Annual Provincetown Film Fest was in full flower when I arrived at the end of June. For info: www.ptownfilmfest.org or call 508/487-FILM. The alternative news weekly, The Phoenix, located in Boston, Provincetown, and Portland, offers a lot of great info as well: www.thephoenix.com

P-town is known for art galleries, beaches, restaurants, landmarks, and museums. And hold on to your BHC ferry ticket, it allows you free admission (normally $7) to the Whydah Pirate Museum at MacMillan Wharf in P-town, right where you disembark from BHC.

I took the fascinating tour of the Whydah SeaLab and Learning Center, home of the world's only pirate shipwreck treasure ever raised from the ocean floor. Commanded by "Black Sam" Bellamy, the pirate ship Whydah was wrecked on a stormy night off Marconi Beach, Wellfleet in 1717. The flagship Whydah and priceless treasure looted from more than 50 ships were lost in the shifting sands. Of course it was not called Marconi Beach until Marconi set up the first wireless station for transatlantic communications from Cape Cod to Europe. Be thankful for our wireless world today!

In 1984, a team led by explorer Barry Clifford located this fabled wreck. The most imposing ship's bell I have ever seen came from the mast of the Whydah, which dated and authenticated the wreck. Designated as a National Geographic Society special TV event, the on-going archeological mission recovered artifacts from the Whydah, now displayed for the tourist trade.

Some of the treasures are spectacular, others are mundane, but all are exciting. This was a real working pirate ship. See how a falling cannon jammed a teapot into the shoulder bone of a pirate. Other objects of interest include eyeglasses, doubloons, personal items, loot, and an enormous cannon still immersed in protective seawater. The cannon was plugged up by the pirates and the reason piqued the present day explorers' imagination. I remember seeing the live TV event that probed the cannon with microfiber cameras. The scientists found mud, muck, and fabulous . . . ! You can see the reenactment on video at the museum.

Hike or bike or explore on
Cape Cod National Seashore.

Occasionally reports are heard of treasure from the Whydah still washing ashore. And the adventure is not over. Clifford and his team also located in 2000 the wreck site of the Adventure Galley, commanded by another infamous pirate, Captain Kidd, off the island of Madagascar.

You touch history right in P-town. A monumental monument to our earlier settlers is the Pilgrim Monument and Museum. Climb to the top of the tallest granite tower in the United States, atop High Pole Hill.

The museum has several special exhibit galleries. The MacMillan Room (remember the pier of the same name where the BHC ferry docked?) is the scene of objects brought back from the Arctic by Provincetown hometown hero and explorer, Donald MacMillan. See rare Arctic artifacts, clothing, and expedition equipment from the man that explored the polar region with Commodore Perry. There is also a trophy exhibit area and a view of an authentic Whaling Captain's Quarter from a real P-Town whaling ship.

Pilgrim Monument is the
USA's tallest granite tower.

The Pilgrim Monument exhibit is where you learn about the history and construction of the imposing tower. President Theodore Roosevelt sailed his private yacht, appropriately named the "Mayflower", to P-town and laid the tower cornerstone on August 20, 1907; President William H. Taft led the dedication ceremony on August 5, 1910.

The monument was built from 1907-1910 to commemorate the first landing of the Mayflower Pilgrims in Provincetown on November 21, 1620. The tower is 252 feet, 7.5 inches or 77 meters tall and rises 350 feet above sea level; climbing the 116 steps and 60 ramps takes about ten minutes. The granite came from Stonington, Maine, brought down by coaster schooners, and each stone is the thickness of the wall. Read about Maine Schooners in a future Jetsetters Magazine feature.

The tower design is patterned after the Torre del Mangia in Siena, Italy. During the climb you will see many interior stones donated by cities and towns and organizations from around the U.S. Look for your city in the engravings. The monument is Cape Cod's oldest non-profit and cultural institution.

The tower museum also features an American theater exhibit, an old postcard exhibit, and an entire room dedicated to understanding of AIDS (P-Town has a considerable and activist gay community).

In the Pilgrim Wing, learn about the Mayflower Pilgrims in a 45-minute video. They only stayed in the P-town area five weeks before moving down the Cape Cod "hook" to establish Plymouth, where they found potable water. They were blown off course, from their original Let's Book P--Town Hotelsdestination - the Virginia colony.

From the top of the tower you can see Highland Lighthouse, Pilgrim Lake, the Atlantic Ocean, MacMillan Wharf, Town Hall, Heritage Museum, the National Seashore, Race Point Lighthouse, Cape Cod Bay, Woods End, Civil War Forts, Coast Guard Pier, First Landing place of the pilgrims, and the Unitarian/Univeralist Meeting houses that look like church spires. The point of Cape Cod juts out into Massachusetts Bay across from Boston, 42 miles away. For more information call 508/487-1310 www.pilgrim-monument.org.

I took a cab from the MacMillan Wharf (near the P-Town Chamber of Commerce) to the Ocean Edge Resort in Brewster, home of schooner sea captain mansions; the cab ride ended costing me over $80, with the tip. Cape Cod distances are deceiving. On the return trip the bellman drove me to the small down of Orleans, five miles away, to catch the bus back to P-Town; the bus tab ran $6. The Plymouth and Brockton bus line serves Provincetown, Truro, Wellfleet, Eastham, Orleans, Harwich, Hyannis, Barnstable, Sagamore, Plymouth, Rockland, Boston, and Logan airport. . The route was established in 1888 as an electric trolley line. The 48-passenger buses are punctual and clean and can also be chartered for private functions. For more information: www.p-b.com or www.logandirect.com, or in Boston: 617/773-9401. On the Cape call them at 508/746-0411.

What was I doing on Cape Cod? Sailing the Cape Cod Elbow, but of course!

The luxurious Autumn Voyager is a fast, contemporary 42-foot sloop owned by USCG-rated Captains Bob and Judy Powell, owners of Chatham Sailing Voyages. They have been sailing since youngsters and now have over 100 years of sailing experience between them. Judy picked me up at the hotel in Brewster on the Cape Cod Bay side for a scenic drive across the Cape to Chatham on Nantucket Sound. From Stage Harbor we were tendered out to the sloop for superb blue water cruising.

Judy and Bob Powell offer seasonal sailing excursions out of Chatham.

When I called Judy from the West Coast she was exuberant when discussing sailing. She was out that day, even though the area had not seen sunshine in months. Bob is a former chemical engineer, with a twinkle in his eye and an impish smile, and a kind of mad scientist look to him that suggests he would rather be out on the water than any place else in the world.

Judy suggested that I sail the following day, but I insisted this was the only day I had available. The weather cooperated with the first full day of blue sky in months - not a cloud in the sky. We were the only boat out on the Sound, and the next day the weather closed back up with gray skies. Sometimes you just get lucky.

Bob was spread-eagle on the fantail catching some welcoming rays; Judy was below whipping up hors d' oeuvres. I gleefully steered the boat around Nantucket Sound toward the pristine and lengthy Monomoy Island, the end of our outbound journey. "There are deer on the island, and fresh water," states Bob. "You can camp out here. We often anchor here and go swimming." Monomoy is a National Wildlife Sanctuary, the only one in New England.

The helm was an ease to use, very responsive, and the Autumn Voyager tacked beautifully under full and automated sails. The wind was strong and we zipped along with roller feeding Genoa jib adding extra wind muscle, but the boat also has a spinnaker. Want to race?

We sailed past numerous fishing weir traps that are actually an ancient but efficient way to catch fish. Parallel nets are stretched for hundreds of yards along the shallow shoals. When fish hit the nets they naturally seek deeper water, so they are directed to the net "ball" at the end of the feeder nets and get confused in the spirals at the end of the weir, which bottoms out at about 60 feet. Fishermen come by every day or so to check their catch.

Although Chatham is not a ritzy town, many of the summer million dollar Queen Anne style "cottages" stretch the length of the shore along our cruise. Chatham has a hometown feel to it, but during the summer the population swells from to 6,500 to 30,000, many of who are New York financiers and Hollywood glitterati. During the summer Chatham offers free classical music every Friday in Kate Gould Park.

Chatham's historic lighthouse is now a private residence.

Chatham is not a crabbing capital, that reputation is further south in the Chesapeake area, nor is it a lobster haven, that title goes to Maine. The area is known for its deep sea commercial fishing. Chamber of Commerce President, Tom Patten, was on board, and later served as a superb tour guide, with a stop at the Chatham Fish Pier to watch the unloading of the catch-of-the-day. Chatham is located on the Cape Cod Elbow, jutting out into the Atlantic, with the resource rich fishing Outer Banks not far away.

Judy and Bob offer half-day or full-day sailing charters, or special excursions and sunset sails, and even live-aboard sailing vacations. They have sailed guests from children to those in their late 80s. This is a great introduction to bareboat yachting. There is a main salon below deck. The large cushioned cockpit has a bimini and large dodger and full cockpit enclosure when desired. The spacious interior includes A/C, heat, full galley with refrigerator, freezer, microwave, coffee maker, gas stove, and oven, three showers with lots of hot water, two beds (and a pull-out sofa), stereo system, TV/VCR, and 8 KW generator. Full electronics includeBook Your Charming Chatham Cottage GPS, chart plotter, radar, autopilot, wind/speed/depth, and VHF radio, life raft, EPIRB, and all required safety equipment.

You can opt for the seven hour full day or a three hour sunset sail. The full day excursions include Saquatucket Harbor for lunch, or anchoring off Monomoy Island. The live-aboard voyages take you to Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, or other Cape Cod anchorages where you spend the night in a slip or at a mooring or at anchor. Judy and Bob customize their voyages to your desires; I want to customize my next voyage with them to Barbados, but only if Bob let's me command the helm. They are fun couple, they love the life at sea, and you will be jealous of the Autumn Voyager as well.

Contact Bob and Judy at 508/221-1815 or email: b-jpowell@juno.com

Jetsetters Magazine's Boston correspondent will bring back even more travel destination features on Chatham and beautiful Cape Cod in the future.

Other info: Chatham Chamber of Commerce www.chathaminfo.com Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival 800/229-5739. - By Kriss Hammond, Editor, Jetsetters Magazine.
Audio Editions Books on Cassette & CD:: Cape Cod - 6 cassettes, Unabridged (Nonfiction) Audio Editions Books on Cassette & CD:: Cape Cod - 6 cassettes, Unabridged (Nonfiction)

Author: Henry David Thoreau / Reader: Patrick Cullen In this compelling classic, the pensive philosopher leaves Walden and treks to Cape Cod, where he comes to understand the complex relationship between the sea and the shore by sleeping in lighthouses, fishing huts, and isolated farms. If you want to know the sea, he discovers, study it from the shore.

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