Beatrix Haven Houghton took her first breath of air at 8:13 p.m. on Sept. 14. Very considerate of her to not keep her parents up all night. She weighed 7 pounds 3 ounces and measured 19.75 inches long. Her mom Jocelyn Filley and dad Graham Houghton welcome her into a large extended family of many aunts, uncles and cousins. Haven is an ancestral name.

Imagine all of the great nicknames you can get out of Beatrix. She is a member of the fifth generation to call Chappaquiddick theirs. Her great-great-grandfather gave East Beach to the Trustees of Reservations many years ago. Beatrix has already been on several strolls along the shore. She and her parents spent the first few days of her life on Chappy just to make sure that she gets off to a good start and to take a break from the hub-bub back home in West Tisbury.

Remember that the next Chappy potluck supper is Wednesday, Oct. 7. Appetizers and gossip begin at 6 p.m. with the supper bell ringing at 6:30 p.m. Bring whatever you like to serve six. I probably shouldn’t say this out loud, but even if you forgot all about the potluck and on your way home saw the community center all lit up next Wednesday evening, you should come in anyway. There is usually plenty of food and it’s as much about getting together as it is about getting a square meal. You can stay late helping to tidy up or sign up to host a future potluck and you will be completely forgiven for crashing the party empty-handed.

The repair of the Chappy-side ferry slip bulkheads is progressing nicely. The first week was dedicated to removing the 21-ton concrete plug that was poured into place several decades ago to stop the sand from sifting through the seams and joints of the wooden bulkhead and undermining the pavement. The concrete plug was way too heavy to be removed whole so it had to be broken up into manageable chunks.

Fortunately Erik Gilley and George Fisher possess the initiative, enthusiasm and skills to tackle such a job. They drilled dozens of holes two feet into the concrete and then filled the holes in sequence with an expanding agent called “Dexpan.” Google it to see some fascinating YouTube videos.

As the Dexpan agent reacts with water it expands to quadruple its original size, cracking the concrete as well as breaking reinforcing metal. A couple of times we thought that it hadn’t worked only to come down the next morning to see a nice big crack in the concrete. The concrete plug was broken into five pieces and returned to Goodale’s for recycling.

Next came removing old wooden bulkhead planks and replacing them with new PVC sheet piling. The guys quickly figured out how to coax the new sheet piling sections into the sand. Considering the flexibility of the materials and the inconsistency of the soils, the new bulkhead is quite plumb and straight. The PVC sheet piling is more durable than wood or steel. It has very cleverly designed seams which allow for leak proof corners and junctions to avoid the problems encountered with traditional materials. The work has gone on in all kinds of weather and in spite of being flooded by the tide twice a day. No interruption of vehicle service is expected during this phase of repair, but sometime in the Spring the ramp will have to be lifted out of the way to allow installation of new bulkheads in the void beneath the ramp. We will have plenty of time before that to warn you and to determine how much time is needed to do the work. We’ll keep you posted.

Last Friday, Sally’s puppies checked into the veterinary hospital to get spayed. The vet told us that we would have to keep them calm and quiet for a week so that their stitches wouldn’t get pulled out before they healed up. Knowing that, on the whole, neither we nor the puppies would be capable of successfully accomplishing such a task, we prevailed upon the vet to keep them for the week. With the puppies preoccupied elsewhere we saw our chance to get off-Island for a while. We headed first to Providence where we heard two concerts at symphony hall, watched the lunar eclipse from the capitol steps, experienced the city's “WaterFire” celebration and ate lots of ice cream. Then we drove up to Burlington, Vt. on the shore of Lake Champlain.

As we traveled north, the autumn colors became more numerous and the rain showers more frequent. A change of scenery always helps to readjust my frame of mind. I still watch the Chappy ferry webcams pretty constantly and can’t resist looking at the weather radar frequently. At home I always have a ferry radio in one pocket and a fire department pager in another.

It’s nice to have a break from being on call every minute of the day. I am so appreciative that there are people who are very able and willing to fill the gap that I leave.

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