Debris from heavy winds and rain that swept across the Vineyard yesterday left at least 2,000 Vineyarders without power, roads blocked, dinghies stranded and a schooner destroyed.
The storm caused damage across the Island, with power outages from West Tisbury to Oak Bluffs, where Beach Road was closed from Ocean Park to Harthaven due to a fallen telephone pole.
Edgartown police responded to a number of downed trees in the area, including one that crushed a car in the Espresso Love parking lot. Other downed trees were reported in Atwood Circle, as well as one on the Edgartown-West Tisbury Road to which the highway department responded.
West Tisbury endured scattered power outages across the town, as thrashing branches and debris came perilously close to power lines. Officer James Neville at the West Tisbury Police Department said he thought the power outage had originated near the Lambert’s Cove area.
“We have had scattered outages throughout the Cape and Vineyard,” NSTAR represented Mike Durand said yesterday afternoon. “At this point we have crews out there responding to the outages. The biggest one happened in Oak Bluffs, and when that’s fixed the majority will be fixed.”
The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory at 4:07 which lasted until 11 p.m., that called for 25 to 35 miles per hour wind speed averages and gusts up to 50 miles per hour. The Steamship Authority diverted all Oak Bluffs trips to Vineyard Haven starting yesterday morning, then cancelled several boats after 2:45 p.m. between Woods Hole and the Vineyard. Boats were running on a trip by trip basis last night. Ferries between Nantucket and Hyannis were also suspended.
The severe weather caused the charter sailboat the Valora to crash up against the jetty in Vineyard Haven harbor, splintering it to pieces. Nick Hammond from the Vineyard Haven harbor master’s office said all that was left of the boat was its mast.
“It broke lose in the outer harbor,” Mr. Hammond said of the 36-foot unattended wooden schooner. “It was a beautiful schooner, it’s a real shame.”
Mr. Hammond reported that they were warning boaters to move into the Lagoon Pond, and by late afternoon about 40 boats had done so yesterday. One boat had broken anchor inside the pond, but Mr. Hammond said it had been secured. “It’s been kind of chaotic ... but the bridgetender is working all day today,” he said. “We’re going around helping anybody that needs assistance.”
Edgartown and Menemsha harbors were battling high winds, but had no reports of boating accidents. Oak Bluffs harbor master Todd Alexander said everything was manageable, even after the power loss.
“It’s certainly much faster than they called for,” Mr. Alexander said, estimating winds already at 50 miles per hour around 3 p.m. yesterday. “Thank God it was today and not yesterday, when we had a full harbor. There are a lot of boats caught unaware because most of them don’t bother to check weather because it’s been so nice this summer.”
Mr. Alexander said those boats remaining had been breaking ladders, crashing up against the dock. One boat had broken loose from its mooring, but Mr. Alexander said they were able to rescue the boat before it caused any damage. He was off to secure another boat around 5 p.m.
The Coast Guard sent out a helicopter to search for a possible missing boater off of Cuttyhunk after an overturned dinghy was found, but after searching for two hours with no signs of distress or further debris, the Coast Guard deemed it a false alarm, Lieut. Matt Anderson said. The Coast Guard contacted emergency services on both Cuttyhunk and across the Island, but as no one had filed a missing persons report, the search was called off.
He also reported a sloop in Vineyard Haven harbor had been temporarily disabled due to smoke from the engine compartment. Coast Guard from Woods Hole was launched to escort the boat to the Vineyard Haven Yacht Club, where it was towed to safety.
Lieutenant Anderson said three people fell off a dock in Vineyard Haven as well, although people on the scene said the three were swimming out to their boats to secure their moorings.
“Bad weather makes for a busy day sometimes,” Lieutenant Anderson said. “But we don’t have any evidence of people in distress.”
Bill Roman at the Edgartown Yacht Club cancelled a sailing clinic scheduled for yesterday and today, but otherwise he was expecting a busy evening in the dining room, where in storms past high water levels have been marked on the walls.
“We’re safe and secure. There’s certainly an awful amount of wind,” Mr. Roman said. “We’re making sure boats are tied up properly, looking after things that might blow over or blow away. Otherwise it seems like people kind of like storms and get a little extra thrill of the drama with the high winds and squally conditions.”