Just an Ordinary Summer on Nantucket
Copyright Vladimir Kagan, September 27, 2014
CRUISING THE BEACH
Nantucket is a small town with a huge moat around it! The nearest land is 30 miles to the North – and 3,000 miles to the East…too far for a drawbridge! Being surrounded by water translates into heavenly beaches. Depending how the wind blows, you can always find one that is sheltered or full of waves. Go to the South shore and it is inundated with robust boys and girls – men and women… dedicated to surfing the waves… plus the “camp followers” who just sit and enjoy the sight.
I go to Coatue, a scraggy peninsula made up of five isolated sandy coves inhabited by gulls and the occasional family of sunbathers… it is pristine and only accessible by boat (or a grueling hour-long drive on the beach)….
On the Nantucket Sound side of Coatue, things are a little different. Five miles along a gracious curve of land stands Great Point Light House, warning mariners of the deadly shoal to the north and east…and the greatest fishing grounds of our island… It is also home to hundreds of unwanted harbor seals.
The beach offers great views of sailboats, regattas, ferries, fishing boats and luxury yachts gliding in and out of the harbor. Not long ago, we spotted a behemoth of a yacht serenely swinging on its anchor in the outer bay, too big to enter the inner harbor through the shallow, narrow channel.. This had to be a big one!… It was one that had to be investigated. In Nantucket we are used to millionaire’s boats and 150 feet doesn’t even deserve a turn of the head. This one was a 332-foot long ocean cruising yacht. On a gentle day, we ventured out of the harbor in our little 13’ Whaler to explore this marvel. The boat’s statistics were dazzling: She was originally built by a Taiwanese shipping magnet, who named her “Evergreen”. When Dennis Washington, a Montana billionaire bought her, he gutted the ship and rebuilt it from the hull up in a Vancouver shipyard. Several feet were added to her width, she now has an owner’s master suite of more than five thousand square feet, two guest staterooms, and twin cabins for the grandchildren. The interior belies her sleek modern exterior… Furnished with plush furniture, chandeliers, and over-the-top decorations befitting a grandiose Riviera hotel. For your comfort, she has twenty-five in crew! – Should you want to charter her, look her up on the Internet: Her new name is: Attessa IV
ON THE WATER
That's me racing my indian in fairly challenging seas
Sailing with my friend Ian MacKenzie on his Indian
I still manage to pour myself onto my sailboat… albeit with some difficulty… it’s a ginger-balancing act… On decent days I race with my son Illya, We are no longer among the fleet’s hotshots… but we are never DFL (Dead F---g Last). The weather has not always been cooperative with heavy winds and thunderstorms that have forced us to abort some races. However, It is on these blustery days that I finally find a little time to write this Blog!
A few weeks ago, after returning from our race, ruminating about the day’s tactics and mistakes, sipping dark & stormies on the yacht club’s porch, there appeared a black cloud of acrid smoke over the harbor. My friend Chuck and I took one look and guessed a fire at sea. We jumped into my Whaler to investigate. A 32-foot powerboat was engulfed in flames and the burning Fiberglas was spewing toxic plumes into the air. We were virtually the first spectators on the scene and stayed until the Coast Guard finally extinguished the fire…no one was hurt… just a typical day on the water.
Returning from the fire, we passed my friend, Michael's 150 foot glamorous yacht - the largest boat in the harbor... no one even stopped to admire it... it was only half the size of Attessa IV
BIRDS AND HELICOPTERS
My house is in the flight-path of the Medi-vac helicopter to our local hospital. (We are fortunate that our hospital is affiliated with Boston’s Mass General Hospital, one of the finest facilities of its kind in the world.)
There are often three or more of these flights daily…
As you may remember from a previous Blog how much I admire birds… I also love airplanes. So I thought it would be exciting to watch one of these giant birds landing… Little did I foresee that my granddaughter Olivia would become a “passenger” on one of these flights, several weeks later!
These "birds" fly noisily over my house day and night
Nantucket is the epicenter for Lyme disease, a devastating infection transmitted by the tiny deer tick. Deer ticks are smaller than a pinhead and very difficult to detect on your body. If you live on Nantucket, sooner or later, you will find one imbedded on your skin. Several days later, there usually appears a telltale ring of red around the bite, but there is no guarantee that this ring will ever appear. Obviously for Olivia there was no sign. Olivia was diagnosed with one of its deadliest symptoms. Lyme Carditis, which attacks the heart and causes extreme arrhythmia. When not properly diagnosed, it can be fatal. Fortunately Dr. Timothy Lepore*, one of the country’s leading authorities on Lyme, was supervising the hospital’s emergency room that night and called the shots right. Within forty-five minutes of leaving Nantucket that night, Olivia was hooked up to Mass General’s electronics… Six days later she was back on Island, happy as a clam…(thought she required an Intravenous stint direct to her heart in order to administer daily medication for a month.) Today, she is fully recovered and enjoying her semester abroad in Edinburg Scotland.
*An endearing book was written about Dr. Lepore: ISLAND PRACTICE by Pam Belluck of the New York Times
PARADISE FOUND ON NANTUCKET
The path to the hidden pond in my back-yard garden
My garden is my secret haven. It is a jungle; not your typical flower garden. Though I live in town, my “back yard” is serenely private. Sitting by my pond the Koi fish lazily swim around an island, ducking under water lily pads. They anticipate my arrival by the sound of my footsteps and are most eager to be fed. A willow tree protects them from the ever-prowling eyes of osprey and herons. There is a little waterfall flowing down a hillside, it looks so authentic that many of my guests were surprised that there is a running streams on Nantucket (of course there isn’t)…
My Buddha prayer house, brought back from Thailand many years ago
I am visited by hundreds of twittering birds to keep me entertained… birdbaths and feeders keep them happily in my garden. On rare occasions, they sadly also become a picnic ground for preying hawks… the gruesome telltale of their visit is a cluster of small feathers in the grass. I am saddened by this sight, but nature takes its own, sometimes-cruel course.
Visiting friends from Switzerland, Professor Charles Jefford and his charming wife Susan
The final Instalment with follow soon... Parties on Nantucket - Vladi as Chef d'cuisine - Illya Kagan's annual art show and finally me at work in Nantucket! Believe it or not, I also work there!