WD-70 Nantucket

On Monday we left Edgartown and headed west for Nantucket. We had hoped but not expected to get there on this trip, but the weather cooperate nicely and Limerick‘s crew wanted to see this island. No argument from me on that.

Good bye, Edgartown!
At the end of the entrance into Edgartown, at the tip of Chappaquiddick is the Cape Pogue Lighthouse.
Looks like a good day to travel.
24.5 nautical miles, 3 ½  hours
As the Nantucket channel entrance turns into the harbor, Brant Point Lighthouse stands ready to greet us.

Nantucket, 30 miles south of Cape Cod, is a favorite of mine. It is a place where the rich and famous vacation, shop at high-end boutiques, and dine at restaurants that compare to the best in any cosmopolitan city, but Nantucket is also a place where, if you look closely, you can still find the roots of an island community filled with history, art, and science. I find it charming. I’ve written two blogs about visits to Nantucket, the Gray Lady, one in 2016 and one in 2019, our last visit here. This was Don and Cindy’s first time on Nantucket, which made it special for all of us.

We anchored in our “secret” location rather than take a mooring. The sunset that evening was perfect. We’ve seen some of the best sunsets in this harbor.

8:16 pm
8:23 pm
8:25 pm

We are loving this cruising in June, so much quieter than July and August, but the action in the islands has been increasing slightly over the past week. There were plenty of moorings still empty and the docks were not yet filled with those mega yachts.

Only three big ones.
The Lynx was in Edgartown with us and now has followed us to Nantucket. 😉
The American Star, a small cruise ship, was here, too. I think it has been in Nantucket every time we are here.
This old wooden classic spent a couple days here as well, cruising into the harbor and back to the head of the harbor.
While eating dinner in the cockpit we had front row seats to sailing lessons.
The Nantucket pump-out boat, Head Hunter, is still on the job.
SUNKEN SHIP. I wish I knew its story. I have old photos of this little row boat in the exact same place in the inner harbor, same color. It has been refreshed again with a new coat of paint and some repairs, but it looks as though it never moves.
The sweetest boats in Nantucket this week, Limerick and Kindred Spirit.

Tuesday, June 21st, the Summer Solstice and a perfect day to spend the afternoon in Siasconset, named by the Wampanoag Algonquian tribes. Commonly known as “Sconset,” the little town (yes, it has its own post office and zip code) is at the eastern end of the island, about 8 miles from the Nantucket harbor

The area was settled as a fishing village in the 17th century. Many of the houses were haphazardly expanded, giving a unique look to these gray shingled Nantucket cottages. In the 1830’s townspeople summered in Sconset to escape the noise and smells of the whaling industry in the main harbor.

We have briefly stopped in Siasconset on earlier trips but had yet to spend more than an hour out here. We took “The Wave,” Nantucket’s bus system for only $1.50 each (The joys of being a senior citizen. Grab them when you can!)

The flagpole that greets you in Sconset has red and green lights hanging, perhaps as a tribute to the seafaring history.
The sundial on the side of this home is a famous Siasconset landmark. It was 11:56 am when I too the photo. Looks pretty close!
An artist painting in his “studio” all afternoon.

We started our afternoon by walking among these sweet cottages, almost lost in time.

A path between the rows of cottages.
Looking down from the path
This front door was worth extra time to ponder. We decided that the wooden object above the door is a unique doorknocker.
Siasconset has some very unusual chimney caps.
A warm welcome to summer on the front porch of this cottage. 😄
The well for the ‘Sconset Town Pump was dug in 1776 at a cost of 20 pounds, 4 shillings, and 9 pence. It served the village for over a century. A rebuild in 1882 kept it functioning until early in the 19th century. In 1921, it was given to the Nantucket Historical Society for preservation.
Abundant flowers continue to amaze us.

Sconset is small with only two places for food options. We chose Claudette’s, a little sandwich shop.

Our Summer Solstice picnic lunch on Sconset beach.

We sat and enjoyed the view of the Atlantic Ocean and watched a few (very few) brave children playing near the edge of the water. Seals would float by and dive under too quickly to capture a decent photo.

My best opportunity was thwarted by these pink pants.
Another town, another ice cream. We are slowing down and restrained ourselves. Each couple shared a cup. Hmmm, is it really restraint when the cup has two dips? Sure, that counts, right?

That was a wonderful day in Siasconset. Wednesday was just as nice, but different. Destination – the Whaling Museum.

Nantucket’s Whaling Museum
This second-order Fresnel lens was installed in the Sankaty Head Light, built in 1849 on the Siasconset bluff. It was the first United States lighthouse with a Fresnel lens as  part of its original equipment. The light was visible 24 miles away, known by fisherman as “the blazing star.” The lighthouse was electrified in 1933,and in 1950 the lens was given to the Nantucket Historical Association. It has greeted visitors in the Whaling Museum since 2005.

One of the most dramatic displays in the museum is the skeleton of a 46-foot long sperm whale. “The whale died on a Siasconset beach on Nantucket on January 1, 1998 after floundering for two days in the surf off the island’s eastern end. A heartbroken community watched as it beached for the last time on Low Beach.” We watched a fascinating video that told the story of whaling interspersed with the story of this particular whale’s demise and it’s resurrection as educational instrument.

The 28-foot whaleboat is dwarfed by the creature it sets out to hunt. Manned by six men, the boat would be dragged, often for miles, by a harpooned whale until it was fatally pierced. This harrowing and dangerous part of whaling was known as the “Nantucket sleigh ride.”

The Whaling Museum is well laid out with various exhibits related to whaling years and Nantucket, including scrimshaw and lightship baskets.

Scrimshaw was a leisure activity of sailors on whaling ships. They carved household objects such a pie crimpers, corset stays, pipes, canes, and more than I can recall, from the bones of the sperm whale. Many were elaborating etched with designs and motifs. These swifts caught my eye because I use a wooden one at home to wind hanks of yarn into balls for weaving.
Speaking of weaving, I wandered off into the children’s section and discovered this hanging on the wall there. I asked the young college student monitoring the room if it was for weaving. We had a nice discussion about weaving. He was in the process of learning how to weave. I would have tried my hand at this very large wall project if there had been any cloth strips remaining, and if my age did not disqualify me.

The Whaling Museum has a top deck with a gorgeous view of the harbor.

Looking out at Brant Point and the entrance to the harbor.
We can see our boats!! Way out there are two Krogens. Can you find them?
Another happy day

More than scrimshaw, Nantucket is famous for its lightship baskets. On our visit in 2019 I visited the very small Lightship Basket Museum. Since then the Nantucket Historical Association took the basket museum under its wing and now houses it in Hadwen House on Main Street.

Hadwen House
Room after room of baskets, all shapes, all sizes, all styles.

The larger space allows for more displays and a dedicated room to demonstrations. I learned much more about weaving a lightship basket this time. A lightship is a ship that acts as a floating lighthouse, crewed by 6 men for 30 days at a time. Nantucket is surrounded by shoals so the floating lightships provided warning to passing ships.  The men had many hours of “idle” time. Using materials picked up by whalers while sailing in the south pacific they made these baskets that became known as “lightship baskets.” Lightship baskets have four distinctive characteristics- 1) Woven on a mold, 2) Staves are rattan, 3) Weavers of cane, and 4) Solid wood base. The museum holds classes and specifically engages young people int the art so that the craft does not die. I’m thinking that it would be really really cool to spend a week on our boat in Nantucket harbor so that I could take one of these classes.

In need of food, we stopped at the Brotherhood of Thieves for lunch. Intriguing name, isn’t it? The restaurant is named for an event in pre-abolition days. an 1842 pamphlet written on Nantucket by Stephen Foster that Vehemently attacked It all began when a black girl passed the admittance exam in 1839 to the new Nantucket High School but was rejected. Over the next few years the serration issue festered until it resulted in a riot in 1842. Stephen Foster wrote a pamphlet vehemently attacking those who favored slavery, specifically the naming the churches as a complicit. That incited a riot in 1842. The schools were integrated in 1846.

The Brotherhood of Thieves
Lunch at the Brotherhood of Thieves
Window boxes dripping with beautiful floral displays.
Roses and even succulents.
Nantucket’s quirky photo? In 2019 there was a sculpture of an elderly gentleman sitting on this (?) bench, thinking. I have a photo of me sitting beside him.
Nantucket as the Center of the World.
Not quite as spectacular a sunset, but still special.
The Lynx and a departing ferry after sunset.

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