Hurricane Noel — I guess you can call it a hurricane — recorded gusts of 72 miles an hour at the house when it hit East Chop on Saturday.
It was an interesting time to be here. I learned two lessons.
First, there is a difference between winds of twenty and winds of sixty miles an hour. At sixty, our little house shook, and there were white caps in the toilet. The grandfather clock changed its tune, and chimed according to the rhythm of the storm.
I also learned that the East Chop Yacht Club is a safe harbor. The view from the Our Market parking lot was not pretty. The water was roiling with large waves pounding the bulkhead. At the yacht club, the water was remarkably calmer. The boats moored there weathered the storm with few problems. Across the way at Nancy’s Snack Bar, two small boats swamped.
In driving around the Chop during the height of the storm, Lyn and I noted that the water was breaking over the road at the old Sherman house. Anne Brownell (Little Jaws) reported that the surf came to within four feet of her house. The pier at the Beach Club was pummeled for twelve straight hours.
Sunday morning was beautiful with clear blue skies, and a calm west wind. In walking the Chop the day after, it was gratifying to see that the damage from Noel was minimal. Trees were down, and several houses were without power. A few roofing shingles were in evidence along East Chop Drive intermingled with leaves, pine needles, and trash. Some houses, especially those along the water, sustained water damage from leaking around windows. The rain, fueled by a strong northeast wind, came slamming into the sides of those houses.
The beach club survived the storm remarkably well. The pier is intact with no noticeable damage, and the beach received tons of new sand. There is no longer a need for steps to make the descent from the deck to the beach. The sand has merged with the deck. While there, Lyn and I ran into Billy Shelley inspecting the club. All was well.
There was even some evidence of positive changes from the storm. The grass looked greener the day after from the much-needed rain. Oak Bluffs harbor received a long-overdue cleansing. Members of the community looked after each other, mostly over the phone, with no reports of storm-related injuries or home damage.
With the storm behind us, East Choppers look forward to the celebrations of Thanksgiving and Christmas. In thinking about Christmas, if you are looking for a present and are homesick for the Vineyard, you might contact Charlotte Potter. Charlotte paints East Chop houses. I wouldn’t worry about the shutters your caretaker recently placed on the windows for protection this winter. In fact, if you have them there, they served you well during the storm. But the shutters won’t pose a problem for Charlotte —she is good, and removing them as part of the painting would be no problem.