Written by Roger Kamholz, Photography courtesy of Cruz
“You can go to places over the years by land, but when you get there by water it’s an entirely different experience.” I’m on the phone with a Meridian 441 Sedan owner who goes by the nickname Cruz. He needs little introduction to his fellow members of the Meridian Yacht Owners online forum, where Cruz acts as a moderator and is a frequent contributor. (Sensitive to his privacy, Cruz asked that Meridian Lines kindly not publish his or his boat’s name.) “You have a completely different perspective on everything,” he continues, “a better perspective, in my opinion. It’s amazing how you can rediscover something because you approach it from the water.”
Cruz is recounting his latest 441 adventure, which found him and his crew traversing Long Island Sound and a meaty stretch of open Atlantic waters last summer en route from the boat’s home port on the North Shore of Long Island to Nantucket, 30 miles off the southern coast of Cape Cod. The island’s name, deriving from a native Wampanoag language, means “the faraway land”; for Cruz, the name is apt—the journey to Nantucket was the longest he has completed by boat in the Northeast.
Cruz has been boating most of his life. He currently lives and works in New York City, but divides his time between there and a weekend home near the Hudson River in upstate New York. The first boat he owned was a 21-foot deck boat, docked along the Hudson. Over the years that fol-lowed, Cruz’s boat grew in size on pace with his on-water ambitions. “I did the usual path,” he says. A 26-footer came next, followed by a 37-foot express cruiser. Cruz and his partner enjoyed visiting the ports along the Hudson, but a bigger world with more possibilities beckoned. “You go left or you go right when you get out into the river,” he explains. “The destinations are limited. We found ourselves taking the boat down to the Sound at least once a season.” The next logical step was into a proper floating home. “One of the things that moved us into the Meridian was, we felt we wanted a boat that didn’t need to be tied to a house,” Cruz adds. “The simple thing of having a washer/dryer onboard gave us autonomy.” They bought the 441 at Yacht Expo in 2010 and now dock their Meridian at a marina on the western end of Long Island Sound.
A couple of friends from their former marina joined Cruz and his partner on the voyage to Nantucket. The crew spent 15 days afield, six of which included cruising between ports of call. First up, a leisurely stroll out to Montauk: 89 nautical miles, completed in less than four hours. “Seas were flat, the boat performed flawlessly, the tunes were great and it was every-thing you want from a day on the water,” Cruz posted on the Meridian Yacht Owners forum in a lengthy recap. While at port in Montauk, they revisited a favorite dining spot called Navy Beach. “It is a perfectly balanced mix of casual beachfront dining with excellent food, drink and hospitality,” Cruz wrote. “And we had a dinner experience that ranks among my top 10 of all time for many reasons, not the least of which was the show the setting sun put on for what seemed like an hour.”
The cruise from Montauk to Nantucket was a more trying journey, but one that Cruz values having experienced. The crew encountered dense, seemingly unrelenting fog. “We’re sounding our horn with regularity and calling out our position and heading on the radio, because when it got to be pea soup-like, you just want every bit of situational awareness,” a crew member noted in the log. They pressed on cautiously and eventually reached a clearing. “Every experience like that strengthens you,” Cruz tells me. “The margarita tastes that much better when you arrive at the dock.” Indeed, tying up his boat in the Nantucket marina—six hours and 97 nautical miles later—was a pinch-me moment for Cruz. “Being someone who grew up in the Northeast in particular, it’s always stunning to me—and I think a lot of boaters relate to this—when you’re doing something for the first time that you’ve dreamed about for a long time… I still get goosebumps every time I pull into New York harbor, even though I grew up in the area! Any time you have a land-mark experience like that, I think it’s a huge deal that we can all relate to.”
Negotiating through the fog may have been tense, but Cruz’s confidence never wavered—and not just because of the trust he puts in the 441. “I am at the helm 98 percent of the time, but my partner and I are a true cruising team,” he says. “While the Zeus system always helps to make me the pro at docking the boat, he is the master at prepping for our arrivals; he’s perfect at tie-ups, then always proceeds to blend the ideal arrival libation.” His partner is also the ship’s chef: “His ability to prepare gourmet fare in the 441’s versatile galley or by using the bridge grill is incredible.”
Their stay on Nantucket Island was a dream. “Our streak of excellent meals continued in ACK”—a nickname for the island—“and, without hesitation, I can recommend 12 East, 56 Union and Toppers at The Wauwinet,” Cruz wrote. “We actually ate a few meals onboard, as well, after finding an excellent local seafood market.” The service at the Nantucket Boat Basin marina was equally savory.
The trek home included a blissful stop at Martha’s Vineyard, an “absolutely spectacular” spell moored off Block Island and a “perfect” lobster lunch in Branford, Connecticut. “With the wind and current to our back and smooth seas,”
Cruz wrote, the crew completed the journey. Summing up the trip, he concluded: “Total Adventure: 15 Days… Perfect Days: 15.”