Here is a cautionary tale that is particularly appropriate for this time of year. Every year in mid-September a person or a couple or a family whom the ferry crew has never seen before appears on the ferry and happily announces that they will be living on Chappy this winter. They have found a fabulous rental on Chappy for a lot less than the ones available in town. It even has a water view. They are delighted at their good fortune. They share with us their deep-down desire that they have always wanted to live on Chappy. In mid-October, however, they are quite surprised to learn that the ferry doesn’t run after 11:15 p.m. in the winter. No worries, they can come home from parties any time of night by driving by the beach.

In mid-November, they are taken aback when Caleb’s Pond overflows into the road and the ferry isn’t running because of a 60 mile-per-hour northeast breeze. No worries, they can get to work by driving by the beach. But no, the same water that is flooding Dock Street is also washing over the beach. The kids get a day off from school. The parents get a day off from work.

In mid-December, they remark to the ferry captain as they purchase their eighth book of car tickets in 16 weeks that they are spending more money on the ferry than they had anticipated. It’s about equal to the amount that they saved by not renting in town.

In mid-January, they are curious, when on a beautiful unseasonably warm sunny day, there are a dozen cars down at the point with their drivers standing at the water’s edge chatting. The ice covering the harbor is very picturesque. The saltwater ice from Cape Pogue Bay has come loose and the wind has blown it tightly into the harbor piling one flow on top of another. The bystanders explain that the ferry can’t operate in such thick ice. It damages the hull and breaks the propeller blades.

Maybe when the tide changes in eight hours the current will open up a slot for the ferry to run in. “Can I go by the beach?”, they ask. “Sure, but the two inches of snow that fell last night will make driving on sand all but impossible. Be careful!”

As inviting as living on Chappy may seem when you sign a lease on a summer day, winter on Chappy is a whole other story. Be careful.

The following is an excerpt of an email from Chappaquiddicker Jim Boyer who managed the Chappaquiddick-Island-Association-sponsored test of providing taxi service on Chappy: “We sponsored MVTaxi from 5 to 11 p.m. on August 4, and 5 to 10 p.m. on August 11. However, it did not produce much activity. I think we adequately got the word out to people, thanks in large part to Peter Wells for including an announcement in his Vineyard Gazette column as well as on his whiteboard at the ferry. The conclusion seems to be that Chappy folks are resourceful in figuring out how to deal with the ferry and do not need a taxi even at reasonable rates.”

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