Norton Point was the place to be on Chappaquiddick this past Sunday. It was a beautiful peaceful day after the wild windy storm on Saturday and when Sidney and I walked out to check on the breach, we saw about 15 other Chappaquiddickers out there, plus a bunch of dogs.
The water was roaring through the opening, which was quite wide. The waves had washed, or were still washing, all the way across the dunes into Katama in several places and out at the tip, it looked as if they were busy making an island out of the sandy hook at the end.
Fran and Bob Clay’s scarecrow, Bo — a fisherman trying to extend the Derby season — was still standing, a bit bedraggled, in the field near the firehouse.
When we met the Clays out walking on our way to Wasque, Fran said Bo was coming down soon in favor of a more seasonal display.
The Saturday storm took down limbs and trees here and there. Rob Kagan said he had seven trees down at his place. If it had been a week or so later, the oaks would have lost all their leaves, but after the storm it still looked like autumn.
Pine needles and other leaves made drifts like snow along the roads and in town, on Main street, they were so deep they looked as if they should be plowed.
According to Peter Wells, the Chappy firefighters were all out on branch and limb patrol during the storm and after, keeping the roads open in case of emergencies. I was impressed to see that the highway department was here on Sunday morning with a crew cutting and chipping along the main road.
A fully-equipped ambulance was sent over to the fire house from town on Friday night, as well as an inflatable rescue boat on a trailer ready to go into any body of water.
There was only one instance of a power outage when a tree fell on a line in front of the fire house.
The Chappy ferry didn’t run all day after about midmorning Saturday. Dennis Goldin, who went down to the point to check on his dinghy, said the current was running through like river rapids.
Before the ferry stopped, Peter was down at the Chappy side slip and helped take out some planks floating in the slip. He was clearing the seaweed from under the ramp until he realized it was not a winnable battle.
The ferry stopped running soon after because the propellers were clogging with seaweed and the wind was blowing so hard it made it difficult to navigate into the slip. Walter Streeter dove in to clean off the propellers before service started again on Sunday.
At the first community center dessert and film evening last Friday, besides a feature film, we got to see the short documentary, Aquabiking, starring Peter Wells who was there and gave us a little background on the sport. He told us that it was Sally’s brother Randy Snipes who invented aquabiking.
He and Peter tried it first on the Chappy Landing dock but when they realized they needed a ramp, they decided it would be easier to use the ferry ramp than to build one there.
In the film, a younger Peter, with bushy red beard and hair, tells us that all you need to aquabike is an old bike, a plastic bleach bottle attached by a rope, a red sweatshirt with Martha’s Vineyard painted on it and a ramp — in this case, the ferry ramp. The ramp belonged to the town at the time, but Peter and other aquabikers borrowed it for short periods while the ferry was docked in town.
Woody Filley’s brother, Jonathan, filmed from the open door of his VW bus alongside Peter as he zoomed down the road toward the ramp. Another shot showed people lining the slip to watch as Peter flew up into the air and successfully crashed down at the outer end of the slip.
At the end of the film, Randy was giving Peter a hand out of the water onto the ramp. This was one of Jonathan’s first films, but he has gone on to produce full-length features in New York city.
Aquabiking came to an abrupt end when Peter heard that the selectmen were going to write a letter asking him to stop using the ramps.
Peter and Randy decided it would be better to stop before the letter was written, just in case they got a chance to take it up another time.
But Peter says his fooling around days are over — or maybe his wife Sally says that.
Ruth Welch, Edo Potter’s sister, is here for three weeks on her annual visit to Chappy from Switzerland where she lives. She is staying at Webquish cottage.
She comes at this time of year because, as she says, the weather is bad now in Geneva but it’s often still nice here. Also visiting at Pimpneymouse Farm is Hope Slater from Landrum, S.C. Hope, Edo and Ruth are all sisters.