Nantucket and Chatham
20 July 2011
For those reading this you may after a few moments wonder if this guy has gone off the deep end and become a card carrying member of the Sierra Club or some other nature hugging group.
I've written about the strange clicking sounds we hear through our hull. I first speculated that the clicking sounds were porpoises, but now I'm convinced that the romanticism of porpoises cruising around our boat is at last just my mind running amok. The clicking remains a mystery. We've heard it in the Chesapeake, at Block Island, at Cutty Hunk and in the harbor at Nantucket. No porpoises here, darn.
I've asked but no one seems to know. Last night we were visiting neighbors in the anchorage and I asked them if they had heard the sounds. At first they reacted as though I was a little goofy, but then... yes.. the same clicking heard on another boat. It's not just me and Alice. They heard it and were just as perplexed; ah well, maybe we'll hear it here tonight in Chatham, maybe not.
To continue with this obsession for nature, yesterday Alice and I walked the beaches of First Point in Nantucket Harbor. Here we observed yet another bit of Mother Nature's wonderment. You all know about Seagulls, or eegulls as Jake and Dylan call them. They are these very large white, gray and black birds that are both very noisy and untidy. It was low tide, the water was about a foot deep and the gulls were floating about twenty feet from the shore. Without any noticeable provocation, a bird would jump up into the air and then dunk head first into the water. I've never observed seagulls going beneath the surface. Then up it would pop with a scallop shell in its beak. The birds with scallops lifted up over the beach to about thirty feet and then dropped the shells, flying in a spiraling downward landing within inches of the shell. Then the most amazing thing would happen. The bird would stand next to the scallop shell watching it very carefully. The birds would move patiently around their shells examining it so very carefully until... the scallop opened and bamm, it was over. The bird attacked with its beak and the scallop was history. We watched this feeding technique for an hour and walked the beach now littered with opened but empty scallop shells. A learned behavior to gain access to the delectable scallop.
We also observed adolescent seagulls being trained by their parents; another experience I've missed in the years I've been sailing and watching these beautiful birds. I've since learned that the baby gulls grow incredibly fast such that within 30 days they are a large as their parents. They weren't flying and as we watched and approached, mommy gull gathered her kids and came after us. I was impressed to see that this bird that I thought was a loner, a bird that spent time searching for food at sea; calling out and constantly looking for food, was in fact a good parent as well.
All in all I'd say it was an eventful morning, again part of our learning.
We really got to know Nantucket. We rented a moped and visited all the beaches, light houses, bays, and learned about land erosion. Some of those million dollar houses along the southeast side and in Sconset are in big trouble. Some are already gone. We talked to a contractor who has relocated several homes and has picked up the pieces as others that have fallen into the sea. The island is constantly changing, the sea removes sand from one area and deposits somewhere else. The island shrinks on one side and grows on another. Over at Madekat the road ends in a drop-off with big chunks of asphalt lying on the beach. Further east an entire parking lot is gone.
Nantucket is tied to the sea in so many ways. A spit of sand 30 miles off Cape Cod, the whaling captial of the world during the 1800's. An island Quakers called home and their influence is visible all over the island. From structures built strong yet plain, their peace loving and principles of racial equality helped a small community of African American prosper and ultimately be accepted into the island's public schools, Nantucket was and still remains a microcosm of America, the spirit of entrepreneurship reigns, the perseverance if its people to make do and then excel, to become a world recognized leader and today Nantucket is still a spit of sand and yet it touches so many people leaving them with a feeling of having arrived. We so enjoyed out visit and having spent afternoons walking the streets, absorbing the history, talking with islanders, learning about what it means to be an islander. Buying a piece of property here now is far beyond our means but living there would be a dream come true. Thank you Nantucket.