March certainly came in like a lion. Big winds pushing big tides have been gnawing away at the shores of both islands. The half dozen low areas of Norton Point were freely washing over from all eight of the high tides during the four-day nor’easter that arrived on the first day of the month. Rumors were floating around that there was a freely flowing breech. Not so, says TTOR superintendent Chris Kennedy. Not yet anyway.

Chappy ferry service was interrupted by the high tides on three of those days. The forecast for the storm was pretty much right on the money as far as precipitation and wind speed. The tidal waters however didn’t come up to the extreme levels that were expected. Even so, they were high enough to flood the roadway at Caleb’s Pond, the lower half of the ferry point parking lot, a quarter of Daggett street and all of Dock street. None of these tides were as high as those of the January storm. I was motivated from that experience to immediately get myself a pair of knee high waterproof boots and a pair of hip waders.

The first high tide of the March storm turned out to be the highest of the bunch. That is unusual. The water in the ferry house was just over half a foot deep. The On Time 2 rose to the top of walls of the Edgartown slip and had to be moved to the face of Memorial wharf where the pilings are tall enough to keep the ferryboat safe even in the highest of tides.

According to the predictions, the next tides should have been even higher. In anticipation of those tides, I put the generators and other ferry gear up on a half sheet of plywood on top of two courses of concrete blocks. I actually looked forward to the next inundation. To my great disappointment, the next saltwater flood didn’t even reach the ferry house floor. The high tides following that one were sufficiently high to stop the ferry but just barely came indoors.

The surface of the asphalt on the Edgartown side is six inches lower than that on the Chappy side. The water on the Edgartown side will be eight inches deep before the ferry bumper rises above the walls of the Chappy slip and we have to cease operation. As the water rises to that level, vehicle drivers can decide if they want to drive through that water getting off and on the ferry. Some folks wouldn’t dream of driving their vehicles through saltwater of any depth. Others don’t seem to mind and high tail it right through. To those that would rather not but feel they have no choice I give the following advice: drive very, very, very slowly. Go so slowly that no water is splashed up onto the underside of your vehicle. Then find deep puddles to drive through to wash the salt off. Just be sure that the puddle is composed of fresh water rather than saltwater. For instance, the puddles adjacent to the Chappy beach club will be fresh water while the puddle at the Caleb’s pond flooding area will be salty.

Splashing through a freshwater puddle isn’t the same as immersing your brakes and frame in saltwater. Therefore, you need to find a puddle at least as deep as the saltwater that you exposed your vehicle to. Then, drive through it slowly to let the fresh water flow in to all of the places under your vehicle where the saltwater went. Then turn around and drive through it again fast enough to splash water up into the wheel wells. That’s my bright idea anyway.

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