Things to Do in Martha's Vineyard

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Chappaquiddick – The “Other” Island

BY VSH | 30 July 2009

Cape-PogeI have developed a routine. Not so shocking for those of you who know me. Each afternoon or early evening, I’ll pack up my daughter into the backpack and we will walk to the harbor. We will feed the swan, should he appear and watch the boats.

“Boats! Boats, boats, boats!” she chirps in my ear as we approach the water. Anyone with a toddler knows the lure of different vehicles.

I used to think “Chappy Ferry…most boring job on the Island! 500 feet, one minute to cross, BAH!

With my little girl looking on so eagerly, I have started to watch more closely and I have to say that it is trickier than I thought.

Storms in the spring of 2007 ripped a hole in the beach that connects Chappaquiddick to the Vineyard. Rumor has it that ‘Chappaquiddick’ means ‘sometimes an island’. Storms in March 2008 ripped a second breach as well and the constant current through the harbor has caused further erosion.

The Breach has changed the ways the tide flows, caused rip tides, and eddies (which are apparently great, tricky swirly bits.) (You probably couldn’t tell until now, but I am not a boater…)

My new opinion just from watching them with a toddler: Phew! Wouldn’t want to be Captain Wells! They load fast, cars and people, take off and have to turn 90 degrees and slide across the current. If they don’t the current pushes them off course a few hundred feet.

It was busy enough coming and going off Chappaquiddick on Friday that they started running TWO boats. That was fun to watch. Two boats, crossing each other in the current. A Watery Dance of Death. (Except that these people know what they are doing and no one was at risk in any way.)

There are no shops or restaurants on Chappy so what do we send the Colonial Inn guests over there to do? The Trustees of Reservations have a great series of guided and self-guided tours. Kayak or canoe trips, four-wheel drive over sand trips to the last lonely little lighthouse at Cape Poge are available with reservations.

The Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge, the Mytoi Japanese Gardens and the Wasque Reservationare all worth the trip over.

Yes, there is a bridge. No, it’s not the same one. There’s nothing to “see” there. Just enjoy the trip and nature’s beauty!

Image courtesy of The Trustees of Reservations


November 14, 2009 10:37 am

I thought you might like to know that the name Chappaquiddick comes from the Wampanoag word “cheppiaquidne” which means “Separate or other island”