Saturday, September 15, 2012

Martha's Vineyard

I will confess that until relatively recently I knew very liitle about Martha's Vineyard. In the past it conjured up visions for me of a flower power playground. Well, at least I got the playground bit right. Actually it is an island off Cape Cod, with some 15,000 inhabitants, which swells to over 100,000 in the summer season. We were very lucky that we were invited by close friends to join them for a week in a family cottage over in Edgartown, just outside the peak season but while the weather was excellent. It is all about the timing.

Our trip from Nantucket was also well timed, just before the winds kicked up. Coming into Oak Bluffs Harbor I let two of the regular fast ferries show me they way; they are doing 15 knots or so. Then we had a Med-mooring-style slip but with a starboard walkway. Just another one of those "firsts" that you have to deal with on the spot. Soon after we arrived I saw another Nordhavn 55 "Journey" coming in to join us in the harbor; another one of those "small world" moments - the owner crewed with us through the Panama Canal earlier in the year. I also managed some more boat maintenance; changed the oil and all the filters. Johnny is ready to run another few hundred miles before the next change.

The Vineyard really is a charming island; idyllic village atmosphere and similar-Cornish ambience. Oak Bluffs has the gingerbread houses; Menemsha the lobster rolls by the fish boats; Edgartown the casual elegance; Vineyard Haven the relaxed village atmosphere; Gay Head the views - we explored the whole island as much as we could. We had a wonderful time with our friends; exploring in their rental car - a bright shade of pink, almost worth a discount for that!

For older readers, where were you in July 1969? Wilson was in Downing Street; Nixon in the White House; television was still black and white; the Boeing 747 hadn't even had its inaugural flight yet; Neil Armstrong was on his way to the Moon. I was looking ahead to the Isle of Wight Festival where Bob Dylan would play among many others. But even at 17 I had a keen interest in world affairs so I remember all the details of an incident on 18 July 1969. A young lady, Mary Jo Kopechne, was found dead in a car that had been driven off a bridge by one Senator Kennedy. This took place on a small island, Chappaquiddick, reached in minutes by a ferry from Edgartown; I just had to go and see where it happened. A mere mention of the name Chappaquiddick immediately calls up the details in everyone's mind as if it were yesterday. This was a tragic motor accident after a party and perhaps should have remained so but for one thing: the World did not believe the Senator's story. There were so many implausibilities and inconsistencies. The time line was wrong. The claimed numerous dives down to the car by people. The swim back to Edgartown after the ferry closed. The purses. His behaviour prior to telling the police. The silence from the other 10 people at the party. The closing of the ranks by officialdom and the cover up. Maybe one day this event will get some closure but for the time being it is as live as ever; one of those mysteries that lives on and on; no wonder I found it as interesting in 1969 as I do now.

I have been watching the weather carefully for next week in order to put together our cruising plan. We had ideas of visiting Block Island for a day and then heading South. But there is a blow coming in on Tuesday; wind up to 35 knots and seas to 10 feet. So we will accelerate our exit from the islands and head South tomorrow. We will be off at dawn for a run of over 250 miles; out in the Atlantic and heading for Cape May, the entrance to the Delaware. It is time to say Goodbye to our friends and our wonderful chilled week here in the playground.

No comments:

Post a Comment