As of early in the morning on April 2, Chappaquiddick was no longer an island completely separated from Martha’s Vineyard.

Nearly eight years after a northeaster cut a breach in the three-mile barrier beach that often connects Edgartown with the smaller island, the Norton Point breach had closed.

Breach now closed, a cove has formed. — Bill Brine

“It’s pinched off,” Chris Kennedy, The Trustees of Reservations superintendent for Martha’s Vineyard, told the Gazette Thursday morning. “Basically we no longer have flowing water going from the Edgartown harbor into the ocean.”

Mr. Kennedy, a Chappaquiddick resident, said that the breach has closed quickly over the last four or five days. On Wednesday, someone standing in the breach was in ankle-deep water. By Thursday morning, the spit of sand connected with Chappaquiddick just around the corner from Wasque Point, at the very southern part of East Beach.

Mr. Kennedy said Rick Dwyer, the chief ranger for the Trustees, walked from Norton Point to Wasque and back again Thursday morning. “And he said, my feet are dry,” Mr. Kennedy reported.

“Now the question is, will it stay closed,” Mr. Kennedy said. “The wind could change and perhaps it would open it up again. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a number of openings and closings over the next week or two.”

Wasque pictured early Thursday morning, with barrier beach meeting the shore. — Peter Wells

But, he added, “finally the breach’s cycle is ending.”

The breach in the barrier beach that separates Katama Bay from the ocean is a cyclical occurrence; the breach has opened and closed repeatedly over centuries. The most recent breach was caused by a Patriot’s Day storm in April 2007 that cut a 300-foot wide swath of running water through the beach.

The breach has a number of impacts in the area. The most recent opening has caused severe erosion at Wasque, and in 2013 a house at Wasque Point was moved back from the eroding bluff. The opening offers a shortcut for fishermen from the bay to the ocean, and affects the quality of fishing.

As the barrier beach stabilizes, Mr. Kennedy said, the beach will begin to grow at Wasque. The closure has created a little cove for now, he said. After the last breach a small body of water called Swan Pond was created west of Wasque point. This closure could recreate a similar pond, he said, or the area could fill in completely with sand.

The breach has closed at the southern end of East Beach. — Peter Wells

Chappy Ferry co-owner Peter Wells said there was buzz at a Wednesday night community center potluck that a Chappy resident had walked across the beach Wednesday and kept his feet basically dry by walking on rocks at points.

Mr. Wells went to check out the scene for himself Thursday morning, and found the breach closed. Mr. Wells was more confident that the breach would last. “I think it’s a very strong closure,” he said. “It’s a very strong part of the beach . . . I think that’s it.”

For Mr. Wells, the breach poses a new development: it will eventually allow travel on land between Chappaquiddick and Martha’s Vineyard. Since the breach opened, the Chappy ferry is the sole route on and off the island.

Both Mr. Wells and Mr. Kennedy said vehicle travel is not yet advisable on the barrier beach.

Sun rises on a transformed Chappy landscape. — Peter Wells

“The challenge is going to be, people are going to be tempted to drive now,” Mr. Kennedy said. “The problem is, that sand is a few hours old . . . it is really not safe,” he said. As soon as it is safe to do so, he said, vehicles will be allowed to drive from Chappaquiddick to Norton Point by going over the Dike Bridge and down Leland Beach to Wasque and then across the barrier beach.

“I’m on pins and needles to decide when to go back to the old method of tickets on the ferry because now we do have two ways off and on Chappaquiddick,” Mr. Wells said. Since the breach was formed, the ferry has collected round-trip fares solely on the Edgartown side, since there is only one way off and on the island.

Mr. Wells said he may start selling one-way tickets this weekend. "Start up slow and get people used to it before it really matters,” he said. “Get some practice.”

“Over the last four or five days we got the feeling that something was happening,” Mr. Kennedy said. “We’ve had some really strong southwest winds and it’s just pushed a massive amount of sand around the corner of Wasque . . . we’ll stand by and see what happens here.”

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