Now is your chance to get a last look at the Katama opening. Park at the Wasque fishermen’s lot to get a bird’s-eye view right down at the gradually and assuredly diminishing channel. I think that it is now appropriate to start calling it the “closing” rather than the “opening.” Though actual dry land connection may be weeks or even months away, you will have to admit upon seeing it that it can’t last much longer. The channel is only a hundred feet across and the tip of Norton Point is only several hundred feet from the north-south currents of Muskeget Channel.

One of the past closures saw Norton Point reach up around the corner of Wasque to reattach on the shore of East Beach. This time though, the southeast-most corner of Wasque is a shoulder high headland protected by a rock-strewn shallow spit. I don’t see how Norton Point can progress beyond that promontory without getting caught. The TTOR staff is probably working at figuring out exactly where the vehicle access to the beach will be. Drive out to take a look before it’s all over. The soon-to-be abandoned channel will become one whopper of a swan pond.

I know of one very early morning commuter who will be happy to once again be able to drive to work instead of row. He was almost the last person to cross as the breach occurred in the wee dark hours that April morning eight years ago. He might have been the first casualty of the breach if his daughter hadn’t been with him by chance that morning and reined him in as the sand washed away just yards ahead of them.

At first he rowed a small skiff over to town in the freezing pitch dark but then graduated to larger, dryer motorized craft. One day we were discussing the temperature of Edgartown harbor water in the winter. We agreed that salt water at 29 degrees might just as well be molten lava and that the main criteria for selecting a life jacket is not solely buoyancy, but rather its bright color as a courtesy to the search party. But to his credit, he has managed to avoid disaster. I’m glad that the end of his boating career is safely within sight.

After the breach became firmly established, the Chappy ferry switched to round-trip tickets since 99.99 per cent of riders departed from Chappaquiddick by the same route that they arrived. This simplified the fare and ticket collecting. Everyone paid round trip on their way to Chappy and all returned with the assumption that they were paid up.

Often a car full of tourists would express concern that they had no proof of payment to present upon return. I liked to reassure them that I couldn’t possibly forget such a unique group. Sure enough, upon their return they would be tickled that I didn’t doubt their sincerity in reassuring me that they had paid round trip.

Once the land bridge becomes drivable again we will resume collecting each way as in the past. Eventually we will begin issuing one-way tickets again. But at the immediate outset while folks use up your round-trip tickets you will be given a return pass to hand back to us to get back to town. I know this may be a hassle at first, and that some folks who never would go by the beach may feel that it doesn’t really apply to them. Nonetheless, with an alternative route to Chappy, we need to make sure that folks pay for ferry service only when they actually use it. During the next month the Chappy ferry maintenance crew will be replacing the retaining bulkheads around the Chappy ramp. At the moment we have no plan to disrupt service. This is an interesting project, utilizing vinyl and fiberglass sheet piling in place of steel or wood, both of which have limited life spans.

We had some wild temperature swings over the past weeks. A few 10-degree days froze up the freshwater ponds, but only long enough for a half day of skating at a time. Even the saltwater ponds had a covering of ice. I watched acres of thick slush flush out to sea through the Katama opening one bitter morning. Within 24 hours the thermometer read 45 in the shade and the dirt roads and driveways exchanged their firm veneer of ice for a frosting of gooey mud. Take heart because the first day of spring is a mere 60 days away.

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