• Trip Tips for Cape Cod Boating – Chatham Rips and Monomoy

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    Chatham Rips and Monomoy
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    Chatham Rips and Monomoy

    Monomoy Island is one of the parts of Cape Cod that really demonstrates what a dynamic place we live in. Every year, the channels and bars that surround Monomoy change. You really have to feel your way around and figure out what is different from season to season.

    This past winter, a new break opened. At one point years ago, Monomoy actually could be reached by automobile from Morris Island.

    Since the 1950s, a deeper channel has formed, and now the island has been divided by winter storms into south and north Monomoy. Today, it’s a National Betsy Wildlife Refuge and a fantastic place for birders. You’ll see many birds including black-billed skimmers, rose-breasted terns and a wide gull community.

    Boating around Monomoy is filled with serious challenges. To the west and Nantucket, you approach over a series of bars that are scantily marked as you enter Butler’s Hole at Monomoy’s tip.

    You will notice the rips of Handerchief Shoals, Butler Hole and Burser Shoals, which are among the most productive sport fishing grounds along the entire Cape. On the backside of Monomoy, you will encounter a huge Arctic grey seal colony.

    Everywhere around Monomoy, you need to be very aware of potential dangers from crossing rips, especially in smaller boats. Wind often runs against tide here and that can create conditions many times worse than if both were in the same direction.

    Then, there is the Chatham fog. Water temperatures change suddenly and often as you round Monomoy, going to and from the Atlantic Ocean and Nantucket Sound. A drop in temperature creates fog in some conditions and this can happen very rapidly.

    On a great day, this trip exposes you to some of the most virgin areas of Cape Cod. There is virtually no trace of man on the island. It’s a great place to kayak, especially between the south breach and Monomoy as you enter Powder Hole, which is a fresh-water area.

    May 01, 2014