The northeaster that blew across the islands Monday left several inches of fresh water. That is one very valuable renewable resource. The storm did cause some inconveniences. There were some spectacular puddles on the roads and the big ferries missed a few trips.

As wild as the storm was, the Chappy ferry was able to continue operating without interruption. At the ferry point the highest recorded wind speed was 49 mph late Monday evening. The high tides came and went without rising more than an inch above the pavement on the Edgartown side. It wasn’t until just two hours after low tide Tuesday morning, after the wind had nearly died, that the water came up into the road. On the Chappy side the water was six inches deep at the base of the ramp and the debris line is more than 50 feet inland from the parking lot bulkhead. On the town side the water reached the bottom course of shingles on the Sculpin Gallery and almost surrounded the ferry house. The base of the ramp in town is six inches lower than the one on Chappy, so for a couple hours there was a foot of saltwater sloshing around in the intersection of Daggett and Dock streets. Fortunately that was before the ferry began running so no one was tempted to drive through that saltwater.

I happened to be checking the ferry cameras just in time to see ferry captain Brad Fligor and Chappy school bus driver Gerry Jeffers display their acrobatic skills by climbing around the end of the fence, across the arm’s length, water-filled gap, and over the ramp railing to get onto the ferry to start their respective duties. Within the hour the harbor water had receded back to its normal level.

Out at Wasque a lot of sand got moved around. This particular northeaster happened to have a lot of easterly in it. The 150-foot-wide barrier beach right in front of the Schifters’ was scoured out right to the base of the bluff for an along-the-shore distance of more than 300 feet. It appears the sand didn’t get moved very far. A lot of it went toward filling in the so-called swan pond, which is now a mere dollop of its former self. Barely half a dozen feet wide and a dozen yards long, it would only qualify as a sand flea pond now. Since the wind and waves blew and washed the sand westward towards Gay Head from whence it came, I figure that a few tide cycles will return the missing sand. I had Mr. Defeo for earth science at MVRHS back in 1966 so I’m pretty sure that I’m right about this.

In the meantime the TTOR folks have closed off the beach route to town to protect adventurous over-sand drivers from having a big and expensive adventure. The sand in this area is notoriously soft and has destroyed at least two vehicles that I know of by bogging them down in quicksand as the rising tide flowed over the floorboards. I heard rumors that there were several more victims but people tend to be shy about telling stories highlighting their gross errors in judgement.

The next community center potluck will be hosted by Margaret Knight and Sydney Morris on Wednesday, Feb. 1st from 6 to 8 p.m. Please bring a dish or dessert of your choice to serve six.

Kevin Keady has worked on Pimpneymouse Farm for a quarter of a century. He has tossed hundreds of tons of hay bales and cut hundreds of cords of firewood during that time. His deep singing voice is well-known in the Island music scene. His group The Cattle Drivers has played many venues including Mytoi Garden. He composed and recorded the song One Way Home specifically for the DVD that accompanies the Chappy Ferry Book. The sessions for that recording brought together dozens of accomplished Vineyard musicians. Many Chappy kids have had the good fortune to ride on the farm float in the Fourth of July parade or to enjoy the Halloween hayrides of years ago with Kevin at the wheel of the John Deere tractor. Soon he will be heading out to western Massachusetts to begin the next phase of his life. He has been busy these last few days making his final dump runs and firewood deliveries. On such a small island as Chappaquiddick each person becomes a part of the fabric of the community. Kevin’s contribution has been to share his observations of life on Chappy through song. I have always admired his thoughtful manner and ready reply to any request I have heard made of him: “Sure.”

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