August 11, 2004.
Westerly, RI to Nantucket ... and back.
The plan for Day 2 was also deceptively simple. Initially, we left Westerly for Nantucket for sightseeing and lunch. After seeing the great profile of ACK on Flyguides, I couldn't wait to check the place out for myself.
I filed IFR to ACK because of reported low visibility. It was a good decision on my part because even though visibility cleared up by the time we landed, there was some dense could cover at 5000 feet and I was on the gauges for a good 45 minutes of our one hour flight.
The trip also afforded me another first: flying a Standard Terminal Arrival Route. I had learned about and studied STARs during instrument training, but had never actually flown one. I was thus momentarily at a loss when the controller confirmed that I was RNAV equipped and then inquired if I could fly the DEEPO 1 arrival.
I fumbled through the NACO plates (darn it, why don't they put the STARs with the airport approach plates?), found the DEEPO 1 plate, and realized it was just two additional waypoints beyond DEEPO, to which I had already been cleared. No problem, I tell the controller, and he instructs me to execute the DEEPO 1 arrival. Around now, I figure it's time for Dad's first lesson in Cockpit Resource Management, so I show him how to input a waypoint. A little more finger punching on the 430 and we're all set for DEEPO 1.
Soon thereafter, we're vectored for approach and are number two behind an arriving Lear. We land in a mildly-gusty crosswind that requires a bit of deft handling on my part during the flare, and taxi to park. It's a little intimidating to be parked next to more biz jets than I can count on both hands - and feet!
A quick taxi ride and we're in downtown Nantucket. It's even better than I expected from what I'd read on the Flyguides website. We see scenes that are right off of the most picturesque of postcards. Lunch is at Provisions, a nice little sandwich shop recommended to us by our cabbie. Frankly, I thought the place was a bit pricey, asking $7 for a BLT sandwich, but I guess that makes sense considering that Nantucket's an island and almost everything has to be brought there by ship!
I'm chagrined to find that I can't find a flight planning room in the FBO at ACK. Clearly they cater to the fractional jet crowd, as there's not much there for the little GA guys. Hey, no problem, I head out to the plane, grab the laptop and cellular modem card, and set up my own little weather briefing room at a table in the pilot lounge.
Hmmm. I don't like a single thing I see on my computer screen. Level 5 boomers are strung out all across New York, Maine, and almost everywhere else in between. SIGMETS are calling for major thunderstorms with possible hail of 1.5 inches in diameter. After fifteen minutes of probing and checking, I conclude that the only safe course of action is to head back to Westerly, wait it out, and try again tomorrow.
We depart ACK VFR and head direct for Westerly. Forward visibility is reported at about 6 miles, but I'd wager that it wasn't quite that high. We can clearly see the ocean below us, but there's not much of a visible horizon. I choose to fly it on the gauges and get VFR flight following. We only get one instance of reported traffic during the 50 minute flight, but we never see him (though he reports seeing us). I'm reminded of how exceptionally dangerous this same flight would be at night in lower visibility, and thoughts of JFK Jr.'s accident are on my mind until my Dad reports that he can see land again.
I enter on a high left base, chop the throttle, and land without incident. We leave the camping gear in the plane, and keep our fingers crossed for better weather tomorrow.
Additional pictures for your viewing pleasure: