For years, New Englanders have kicked off the long-awaited beginning of summer on Memorial Day weekend with a giant boat race from Hyannis to Nantucket. Sailors spend Friday night in Hyannis after blowing it out all night at Baxters bar on the harbor and typically awaken to the starting gun as up to thousand sail boats embark on a 13-mile race to Nantucket (which has raised 2.2 million for local charities) in sometimes treacherous and foul weather. So although it sound cool to race, you may decide like most people to just rent a house with a gaggle of pals and stick with your strength of partying all day and all night on shore with fellow land lubbers. This doesn’t mean you can’t welcome delirious sea-sick racers at the harbor when they pull in and join them in unbridled fun at the Mt. Gay tent if you can secure a coveted Figawi bracelet. Once you are in the tent, it’s open bar, but pace yourself as Figawi is a total endurance test, the Iron Man of drinking. And you will no doubt be instantly jealous that you do not have a bright red Mt. Gay Rum Figawi hat so be prepared to show your brazen side as friends will dare you to steal one from an endless line up of good looking preppy sailors/ettes.
Don’t’ worry if you get the Heisman on a bracelet as The bars and restaurants are open and rocking at full force so be sure to stop by the Gazebo for the ultimate mud slide, make fun of people leaving on the Hyline ferry from the posh deck at Cru, dance on the bar at the Boarding House and b-line it over to the Chicken Box to catch the last set of live music before heading to after hours.
It might be one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do, but peel yourself out of bed Sunday morning and crawl over to the Figawi joke-telling tent for open mike morning. Refrain from booting from the collective waft of booze laden revelers and listen to some of the most fowl limericks, jokes and stories you have ever heard. Definitely a kid-free zone especially for the notorious rendition of “The S&M Man.”
The beaches are usually too cold but throw on a fleece jump in a friend’s jeep and bushwack it out to Nobadeer, Cisco, Lady’s Beach or even Great Point if you are feeling brave. The water is only in the 50’s so be prepared for major shrinkage if you are crazy enough to jump in. Be sure to get over to Cisco Brewery for post beach day brews and maybe a game of bags. Consult the people on Nantucket Blackbook for the latest most up to date information on what's going on in ACK.
For you shopaholics, Main street offers a bounty of goodies, but none greater than the preppy sanctuary of Murray's Toggery who have corned the market on Nantucket Reds and Whale Pants. You will be ravenous after blowing your wad so walk down to Provisions (behind the Gazebo) for a world famous Turkey Terrific. If you have the coin and inclination, be sure to make reservations at Slip 14, the Pearl and the Boarding House in that order for nights of great food, people watching and debauchery.
Origin of name: Unconfirmed, but most widely believed explanation is that sailors get so hammered on the way over that they often miss the island especially when there’s fog so they keep asking each other, “Where the fug-aw-wi? The other prevailing theory is that the original tribe of Indians inhabiting the island were the Figawis.
How to get there: From NYC take Jetblue direct flight, White Plains direct flight, from Boston drive to Hyannis and take Cape Air, Hyline or Steamboat fast ferry or if bringing car take slow ferry but book months in advance, or take Cape Air direct from Logan. Make an friend and cohort of a taxi driver for the weekend by tipping well and getting a cell phone for prompt pickup.