EDGARTOWN HARBORMASTER P. 0. BOX 739 EDGARTOWN, MA 02539 508-627-4746 FAX 508-627-6123
NOTICE - April, 2007
NORTON POINT BREACH
The beach at Norton Point was breached on April 5th, 2007. The new "Cut" is deep and is getting wider everyday. Plans are being made so that when the summer season arrives the Town will be in a good position to respond to distress calls from this area.
The current has trebled going from one knot at Memorial Wharf to three. The tide ebbs and floods via the "Cut" making tide tables inaccurate. Local fishermen have not been able to make a~ new table, as the current is dependent on surf and wind conditions in the Atlantic.
The "On time" ferry service has been greatly affected and the average trip now takes up to three times as long to complete. The ferries have to run up tide to secure a favorable position to make a safe approach to the slips- The ferries will need all yachtsmen entering and leaving the harbor to understand the space needed to for their maneuvers. I urge everyone to plan with the greatest care when in the crossing area.
Private moorings: Report all swing room problems to the Harbormaster. So far this spring we have found that sailing vessels have been "horsing" up on their buoys and some have had their pennants caught between rudders and keels. Power vessels have been swinging differently than the deep draft vessels so I anticipate sonic problems conic summer.
Wishing all of you a SAFE summer boating experience. Remember safety starts with a good float plan. -
Your Harbormaster Extraordinaire Charlie Blair
Rain or Shine the Chappy Ferry is ON TIME
From the Vineyard Gazette editions of January, 1977:
It is 11:20 on a Sunday night and while most other men his age are already sound asleep, he must make ready for the last leg of his workday. He is John Willoughby, and at 64 years of age he is pushing retirement. In the meantime he continues to captain the Chappaquiddick ferry. The thermometer reads 19 degrees but there is no wind, which means that for a change he will be warm at his task. When the wind is blowing 30 knots through the sub-freezing salt air the rawness will dig at him. But tonight it will be a piece of cake.
He sets aside the letter he is writing and switches off the radio. There is an overlay of routine to his actions as though he has done thusly for a lifetime. He has the timeworn mannerisms of a man who is going on watch, who is about to assume the bridge.
John Willoughby is short of stature by contemporary standards, but he is compactly built. He is trim and ramrod straight with the unmistakable bearing of a seafaring man, and in his deep voice there is the innate tone of command. No one would think of John Willoughby as anything but a ship's officer and more presently a captain, which for many of his merchant marine years he was. A master mariner, he has sailed the three big oceans transporting cargo as freighter skipper and tanker officer.
Edgartown sleeps tundra-style on the rutted, hardened snow cover which persists and persists into the new year. A police car cruises seemingly on automatic pilot, criss-crossing the town, easing down the lumpy streets past one large white house after another. With no wind to stir the salt air, Edgartown could be a Vermont village. It is overtly New England and doggedly at peace. Even the cruising police car seems out of place in a town so insistent on order and quiet.
John's own car moves slowly until he reaches the small shed by the ferry slip where he parks. He can see that he has at least one vehicle to transport and recalls that so far this winter he has not yet had a night without a customer. There are many people who live on Chappaquiddick year-round. It is a fact that needs repeating. It doesn't seem normal nor right, but that is the way it has been for some time now.
In the old days wintering on Chappaquiddick was almost like being in exile. Except for a handful, it just wasn't done. But now it is. Times keep changing, and for John Willoughby there is a certain comfort in hearkening back to the unchanging ways of the sea. It may be violent and, at the least, temperamental, but the sea can be relied upon if you know it. To John, if the ways of people are sometimes confounding, the ways of the sea are complementary to his nature. Knowing this, he does not choose to live far from salt water. He senses a profound unease whenever he attempts a journey inland. Now at his age he has learned not to attempt such journeys again.
The ice flows are from four to six inches deep, ugly, frosted, gnarled slabs coasting in the channel. Up harbor into Katama Bay the ice is solid, as it is down toward Lighthouse Point. But here in front of the ferry slip there is open water and open water continues to the slip on the other side. This fact is unexplainable. There seems to be no reason why the harbor has chosen to freeze everywhere but where the ferry must cross. It is a small mystery that John Willoughby can live with.
One car and driver board the On Time II and then a young couple with a black dog of mixed breed hurry on. John casts off and in no time the On Time has kissed against the other slip and is ready to offload. John had to dodge a few large flows but the tide was slack and the air still, so the trip was without effort. But as he is about to cast free for his last trip of a long day, the young woman who had the dog now says that she cannot find it. She thinks her pet must have scurried off on the Edgartown side, a black object unnoticed in the dark. They return to Edgartown and find the dog and once more head to Chappaquiddick. Almost losing a dog is part of the human condition, and this very human event triggers John's sense of humor, and he smiles.
It has been a goodly number of years since John Willoughby has sailed the Indian Ocean, and soon it will be 32 years since he unloaded his freighter before Omaha Beach during the invasion of Normandy. It has been more than three decades since the time he had to take his liberty ship out of convoy - slow to keep up because of too much grass on her bottom - and follow the stragglers' route to Halifax, a captain of one lone ship in a wide ocean, a slow, steaming target for the awesome and ubiquitous U-boat.
A single-hander, alone again, he takes one last look at the On Time II. He has done a straightforward, professional job. But he does not think this. He does not need to. He is just a seafaring man running out his string, doing what men like him do, as long as they stick close to salt water. And John Willoughby has no intention of going anywhere else.
Seen by some to be one of New England's most elegant communities, Edgartown was Martha's Vineyard's first colonial settlement and has been the county seat since 1642. The stately Greek Revival houses built by the whaling captains have been carefully maintained and make the town a seaport village preserved from the early 19th century.
Main Street views include the harbor and waterfront and although the tall square-riggers that sailed all the world's oceans have passed from the scene, the heritage of these vessels and their captains remains. For the past hundred years, Edgartown has been one of the world's great yachting centers. The town is also known for its architecture with many buildings that pre-date the whaling era and still serve as family homes. Among the oldest buildings are the Vincent House, built in 1672, the Thomas Cooke House, now a museum, and the offices of the Vineyard Gazette. The venerable Old Whaling Church is now a performing arts center. Public beaches offer surf bathing and bluefish and bass fishing. On Felix Neck, about three miles outside the center of town, 200 acres owned by the Massachusetts Audubon Society provide marked trails and a program of wildlife management and conservation education. Special activities for all age groups are offered throughout the year.