Off to the Islands – Menemsha, Martha’s Vineyard

From Block Island, the next island stop was Menemsha harbor in Chilmark on the western tip of Martha’s Vineyard, perhaps our favorite place on the Vineyard.

It is always an exciting moment when the Aquinnah Lighthouse comes into view.

It is always an exciting moment when the Aquinnah Lighthouse comes into view.

Menemsha is a quiet, working fishing village with front row seats to beautiful sunsets. We have always anchored outside the little harbor, off the beach. It can be rather rocky-rolly out there, but it is free. 😉  We have that Rocna anchor and Al knows how to set and arrange the anchor lines to minimize the worst of the washing machine effect.

Anchored just off the beach. Close enough for me to swim back after beach combing. Once.

Anchored just off the beach. Close enough for me to swim back after beach combing. Once.

Menemsha entrance - quite a dinghy ride into the harbor if the current is strong.

Menemsha entrance – quite a dinghy ride into the harbor if the current is strong.

It may have been a Thursday in late August, but children were still enjoying the warm weather between the rocks and the docks.

It may have been a Thursday in late August, but children were still enjoying the warm weather and water between the rocks and the docks.

As we walked around the familiar little harbor, we immediately noticed that one of our favorite landmarks was missing, the statue of “The Swordfish Harpooner,” which had stood over the dunes for years.

The Swordfish Harpooner

The Swordfish Harpooner – an old photo I took back in 2010 or 2012. I would have liked to have another opportunity to photograph it.

The 17- foot sculpture was commissioned for Chilmark’s tricentennial in 1994, to honor the fishing industry. We met the sculptor, Jay Lagerman, on the MV bus during our last visit in 2012. We corresponded by email afterwards and he sent us a DVD of the making of the Harpooner. A little research solved the mystery of the missing statue. The Harpooner was dismantled in December of 2015, removed in pieces and sent to ART Research Enterprises, a foundry in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Jay Lagemann will oversee the process of recasting the statue and creating a new bronze version.

We have always loved that chandlery sign; it's been there for years. And that's my new big mug from Beetlebung. Just right for my morning coffee at home.

We have always loved that chandlery sign; it’s been there for years. And that’s my new big mug from Beetlebung. Just right for my morning coffee at home.

We picked up a sunset dinner at Larsen’s Seafood. Order inside and eat on the overturned crates outside. Or take it to the beach.

Dinner at Larsen's Seafood

Dinner at Larsen’s Seafood

People flock to Menemsha to watch the sun set from the beach.

A crowded beach of sunset gazers. We watch the sun set from Kindred Spirit.

A crowded beach of sunset gazers. We watch the sun set from Kindred Spirit.

Beachcombing on Menemsha is a must-do for us. We always find wonderful naturally polished pieces of “wampum”. The pieces are small but that is how I prefer them, filling glass bottles and containers to their top with our collections over the years. I found a site, Indian Country, that gives a nice explanation of wampum. Wampum is actually white or purple beads and discs worn by Native Americans on belts, headpieces, jewelry and other adornments. The white beads were made the whelk, a sea snail with a spiral shape, and purple beads were made from the quahog, a clam with purple and white coloring. Quahogs are found in the waters from Cape Cod south to New York, so it is primarily northeastern. Long ago, but only for a relatively short time, in the 1600s, the “wampum” was used as a trading commodity with the colonists since there was no printed money at that time.  The term “wampum” is still used as slang for money, as is the word “clams.” Strangely enough, wampum is often defined as Indian money in the Northeast, even though Native Americans did not really use money at all.

I only pick up the purple colored pieces that have been polished by tumbling around in the sea near the sandy shore until they are smooth and shining. According to Indian Country, the white beads represented light and brightness and happy things, while the purple beads represented more solemn things such as grieving, war, and death. Hmmm, I have been collecting the purple pieces for years and only just learned that. Oh well. I still like the purple ones better.

Wampum collection

Wampum collection

Menemsha has seaglass, too, but that is harder to find, especially these days, and usually very small.

A really thick, nicely worn piece of clear glass. A piece that thick is usually older glass. The smaller pale blue piece looks like it was melted in a fire.

A really thick, nicely worn piece of clear glass. A piece that thick is usually older glass. The smaller pale blue piece looks like it was melted in a fire.

While I combed the beach, Al found his own buried treasure, a very small sailboat, deeply covered by sand at the water’s edge. It had been there since October, or so another beach combing local told him. With a few hand tools, he carefully removed some of the hardware. Could be useful with his new nameless obsession.

A partially submerged small sailboat on the beach, abandoned there since October.

A partially submerged small sailboat on the beach, abandoned there since October.

As it happens, we were in Menemsha during the same week that a friend was staying in Chilmark. What a treat to have lunch with Maureen!

My dear friend, Maureen. How nice it was to spend time with her on Martha's vineyard. :-)

My dear friend, Maureen. How nice it was to spend time with her on Martha’s vineyard. 🙂

We intended to stay another day in Menemsha but the rolling became a bit much. Late that afternoon, we pulled up anchor and moved north around the western side of Martha’s Vineyard to tuck into Lake Tashmoo. We can always stop here agin on our way home.

2 thoughts on “Off to the Islands – Menemsha, Martha’s Vineyard

    • Yes, you do!! And we would love to be your guide next time you are here in the north. Our trip this summer was just a tease – we didn’t get to many of our favorite places. Next summer!! Coming along??

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