Authors Posts by Nelson Sigelman

Nelson Sigelman

Nelson Sigelman
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Weigh master Roy Langley slid open the door of the Derby weigh station at 8 am, Sunday morning and rang a handbell, signifying the start of the five-week contest. His grandson Nick Jerome, holding two bluefish, was first in line. —Photo by Lynn Christoffers

I set my alarm for 3:45 am. Technically, it would be morning but conceptually, it would be the middle of the night. Despite my misgivings at the loss of sleep and the zombie state it would induce, I was determined to look for a good striped bass on the first day of the 69th Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby that began at 12:01 am Sunday.

I expect that fatigue and fishless nights over the next five weeks will deplete the reservoir of enthusiasm I had at the start of the Derby. But the Derby is a little like a Christmas present — there is plenty of excitement and anticipation while the present is still wrapped.

My preparations began Saturday afternoon after I returned home from hanging a deer stand, the first of several I expect to put up in the weeks ahead. The need to prepare for archery season, which begins one day after the Derby ends, is one of the many logistical hurdles I and many other Island fishermen face, that and the lesser responsibilities of home and the workplace.

The task had gone quickly, as the tree and I are familiar with each other. The bark still retained the scuff marks from the previous year, and I had little doubt I would shoot a deer from that spot. I approach every outdoor season — fish, deer, duck, goose, scallop — with a sense of optimism, not because I expect to reap a bounty but because I am happy to be here to enjoy it.

My plan for the opening day of the Derby was simple. I would put the small fiberglass dinghy I had bought for my wife Norma years ago, which had been resting comfortably upside down in our yard for years providing shelter for mice, into the back of my Nissan pickup. Tom Robinson and I would row across West Basin and cast eels into Menemsha channel before the sun rose. Low tide was 6:30 am. I figured we would have about one hour of productive fishing before the current went slack. I hoped one of us would hook a big striper and walk into the weigh station that morning.

A normal person might have greeted that plan with some degree of skepticism. But Derby fishermen are not normal. Tom asked what time I planned to pick him up. I said 4:15 am. “OK,” Tom said.

Before the sun went down I took my light, nine-foot surf rod out of the basement and put it on my truck. Coop built the rod, a birthday present from Norma with my name on it, more than 20 years ago. The reel is a classic Penn 704Z. It is more than 30 years old, but still has what it takes to wrestle a bass out of the surf. It felt right to begin the Derby with that outfit.

Norma is a Derby wife. By way of definition, she does not like to fish but she understands the Derby state of mind. She did not flinch at the sight of a bucket of eels and the noise of a running aerator in the basement. “Just don’t wake me up,” she said about my plan.

My alarm is set to WCAI, the local NPR station. I was concerned that at that hour the BBC would be reporting in hushed, knowing tones from some distant corner of the world. I worried an English accent might not have what it takes to jar me awake. But my internal Derby clock was all I needed. By 3:30 am I was up and tiptoeing out of the bedroom.

My clothes were laid out on the couch at the ready. I turned on the coffee pot and went downstairs for the eels. As I walked up the steps I imagined what would happen if I were to drop the bucket. The fishing columnist smiled at the thought of the story I might write. The would-soon-be-dead husband gripped the handle more tightly.

Tom was waiting when I pulled into the driveway. In fact, he’d been waiting some time. “I thought you said quarter of four,” Tom said.

There were half a dozen cars and trucks parked at West Basin when we arrived. A few guys were standing in the predawn darkness talking by the back of a truck. I assumed the other vehicles belonged to fishermen on the Lobsterville jetty. The Derby has begun in earnest, I thought,

The crossing was uneventful. The fishing was equally uneventful.

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Fishermen Jim Cornwell of Edgartown greets a well wisher at the Derby weigh station. —Photo by Lynn Christoffers

I caught one bass about 30 inches long and I hooked another smaller fish in the tail. Tom caught no fish. The sun rose and the wind picked up out of the north. By 7 am, I was rowing us with some difficulty, against the wind, back to the dock.

A north wind often triggers albies to feed off Lobsterville Beach and the jetties. Tom and I had brought rods rigged for albies in the event the fish were hitting.

Derby albie fishing is 96 percent waiting, talking, and casting without any evidence of fish, and 4 percent Red Bull–driven panic when the fish break. In the parking area, Phil Horton and Tim Sherren were comparing notes on the morning. Both fishermen had surrendered to the stiffening wind. Had they seen any albies, I asked. A few breaks here and there, but not enough to keep them battling the wind. The conversation all seemed so familiar, so Derby.

I stopped at the Scottish Bakehouse for a cinnamon bun, arguably the best on the Island and my reward, applying Derby logic, for getting up so early. MIke Stimola of West Tisbury was there. I had not seen Mike all summer and was happy to run into him. He had gone out after midnight and been rewarded, Mike said, with a nice striped bass.  He was on his way to weigh it in. We compared notes. I learned later that his fish weighed 19.59 pounds and earned him a third-place daily pin.

It was all so familiar, so welcome, so Derby.

Jason Graves brought his five-year-old daughter Ava and a 19.80 pound striped bass to the weigh station Sunday morning. —Photo by Lynn Christoffers
Jason Graves brought his five-year-old daughter Ava and a 19.80 pound striped bass to the weigh station Sunday morning. —Photo by Lynn Christoffers

Kids day is Sunday

The Kids Mini-Derby is Sunday, Sept. 21, from 6 am to 8 am at the Oak Bluffs Steamship pier. No casting skill is required, and a simple fishing rod will suffice. Simply bait a weighted hook with a piece of squid or sand eel and drop it to the bottom where, with luck, a hungry scup or sea robin lies in wait.

The mini-derby is strictly for kids old enough to hold and reel a fishing rod, through age 14. It is not for adults. No matter how bad you want your kid to catch a fish, do not fish for your kid. It is against the rules, it violates the spirit of the event, it irritates the people who follow the rules, it teaches your kid all the wrong lessons, and if that is not enough, you risk the embarrassment of being told all of the above by a Derby committee member in front of your kid.

It is also the one and only time fishing is allowed from the pier. The event is free, and open to all kids.

Lost fly rod

The Tisbury police are holding a nine-foot, Lamiglas Infinity fly rod turned in over the weekend. Identify the reel and reclaim the outfit. Tisbury police I spoke with expressed no interest in learning to use a fly rod. Most prefer to catch fish with their bare hands —  once it is battered and fried.

69th Derby Grand Leaders (as of Sept. 16)

Boat bluefish: Estey L. Teller, 13.38

Shore bluefish: Clinton A. Fisher, 13.34

Boat bass: Joseph E. Canha, 28.17

Shore bass: Tom E. Barber, 26.53

Boat bonito: Mike J. Balzarini, 7.58

Shore bonito: Kerry Leonard, 6.63

Boat albacore: Mason Warburton, 13.17

Shore albacore: Colin T. Britt, 9.84

(Daily, weekly, and division results are available atmvderby.com.)

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In this recent aerial photo, an ever-shifting sandbar that has formed off Wasque Point near the breech is visible in the foreground. Fishermen take their chances when when wading out on the bar. Photo by Skip Bettencourt

The 69th Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby begins at 12:01 am Sunday. It seems like it was just last week I was jigging for squid on State Beach in anticipation of this moment. How did it get here so fast?

Summer was fine, but I was quite happy to say goodbye to the traffic, crowds, and daily Obama golf bulletins. In September, we revert to Derby time. No need to set the clocks back or forward. Time is measured by wind and tides and rumors of fish.

The 2014 Derby features a separate contest for kayakers and some rule changes for fly fishermen. All the information is available online at mvderby.com or in the rules brochures. Kids Day is Sunday, Sept. 21. The awards ceremony is Sunday, Oct. 19.

If you are one of those misguided fishermen who does not buy a Derby button because you think you will not catch a Derby-winning fish, I have some advice: Buy a button. Lightning does strike in the Derby. There are numerous stories of people who went fishing without a button and regretted that decision. They tell themselves it doesn’t matter, but deep down, you can tell just by the way they say it, it does.

Fill in the blank

I have started to compose a news story.

“Fill-in-the-blank” drowned today after he stepped off a sandbar while fishing for striped bass off Wasque on the southeast corner of Martha’s Vineyard and was swept away in the treacherous current. The Coast Guard recovered Mr. Fill-in-the-blank following a brief search.

Mr. Fill-in-the-blank, an experienced fisherman, was not wearing a PFD or any other safety equipment when he waded out on an ever-shifting bar that has formed near the cut in Norton Point Beach in search of a Derby-winning fish.

Prior to the start of the well-known fishing tournament, Chris Kennedy, Martha’s Vineyard superintendent for The Trustees of Reservations, asked fishermen to exercise extreme caution when fishing near the cut. Mr. Kennedy said conditions change on a daily basis.

“Several of our rangers were called out a couple of nights ago at Wasque when our night ranger on Norton Point lost sight of several fishermen who had ventured onto the offshore bar more than a hundred feet off of Wasque while fishing the breach,” Mr. Kennedy told The Times last week. “Their lights suddenly went out, and our ranger didn’t know if they turned the lights off voluntarily or had been pulled off the bar. Luckily the fishermen safely made it back to shore without incident, but several of them had no PFDs or inflatable suspenders in case they went into the water. They were happy, they caught several stripers, but I shudder to think at what potential cost.”

Mr. Kennedy urged fishermen to use caution and common sense when venturing onto bars and jetties, especially at night. “Basic safety equipment, when wading at night, should be the first thing you grab out of the truck before heading down the beach,” he said. “Otherwise, help could be a long time in coming.”

Get the picture? I do not want to fill in the blank. Chris said the bar changes daily. What was safe one day may become dangerous the next.

Pre-Derby planning

"King Mackerel & The Blues Are Running: Songs & Stories of the Carolina Coast" echoes themes Islanders will find familiar.
“King Mackerel & The Blues Are Running: Songs & Stories of the Carolina Coast” echoes themes Islanders will find familiar.

Derby veterans know that the five-week fishing contest shares some qualities with a marathon. In a road race, the key is to pace yourself so you will have enough energy in the final miles to finish the contest.

In the Derby, the question of pacing has more to do with the endurance of your spouse — will the contest end before he or she has had it with your fishing schedule to the point that your fishing rods are in danger of being used for kindling?

Besides spooling reels with new line and sharpening hooks, a good pre-Derby fishing strategy should include any activity that will make your spouse think you are a pretty good guy, because believe me, in about three weeks she or he might have some doubts.

I have a suggestion that will whet your appetite for fishing, yet should meet any spouse’s criteria for a fun night out: Go out to dinner and then see the Coastal Cohorts at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse Friday and Saturday night perform “King Mackerel and the Blues are Running: Songs and Stories of the Carolina Coast.

My friend Ed Strong invited the trio to perform because he knows them well, he thinks they are very talented, and he thought their stories and songs, which focus on coastal living and the unique characters it attracts, would find a receptive audience on the Vineyard.

This is not opera. This is fun, entertaining music (sung in English) about events Islanders understand. A YouTube clip of a performance at the University of North Carolina contains the following lyrics: “Summertime is just about gone, all that’s left to think about is the fishin’ comin’ on …” Performances begin at 7:30 pm on Friday and Saturday night. Tickets are $50 for adults; $40 for seniors; $30 for students. Tickets are available online or by visiting the theater at 24 Church St. in Vineyard Haven. For more information, visit mvplayhouse.org.

Lessons from tragedy

From 1998 to 2001, Capt. W. Russell Webster was the commander of Coast Guard Group Woods Hole, now known as Sector Southeastern New England.

During his tour, Captain Webster, now retired, was instrumental in extending the Coast Guard’s emergency radio coverage to a so-called “black hole” behind Nomans Land in anticipation of later upgrades. The temporary fix was to place an antenna on Peaked Hill in Chilmark in 2000.

Captain Webster, a Coast Guard historian, was determined to rectify the lack of radio coverage in part because of what he had learned about the loss of Fairhaven fishermen Hokey Hokanson and his teenage son, Billy, on March 25, 1990.

Billy transmitted a brief, heavily garbled radio distress call. A hoax call immediately followed Billy’s cry for help, and believing that the two were connected, the Coast Guard did not launch rescue units for several days. The Hokansons’ deaths prompted a new anti-hoax law and helped lead to changes in Coast Guard search and rescue procedures.

In a newly published book, “The Sol e Mar Tragedy Off Martha’s Vineyard” (historypress.net), Captain Webster and his co-author and wife, journalist Elizabeth B. Webster, describe the events that unfolded following the loss of the Sol e Mar. This is a short, eye-opening read. To his credit, Captain Webster does not shy away from describing where the Coast Guard went wrong, in this case or several others: Overworked and inexperienced watchstanders, insensitive next-of-kin notification procedures, and a reliance on outdated technology all contributed to mistakes.

The recognition that mistakes were made and a determination to correct them is why the Coast Guard is better prepared than ever to fulfill its mission.

The Websters will be signing copies of their book from 11 am to 4 pm Saturday at the Secret Garden on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs.

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The SSA is diverting ferries from the Oak Bluffs terminal to Vineyard Haven due to weather.

9:30 am, Wednesday

For a third straight day, the Steamship Authority is diverting ferry service from Oak Bluffs to Vineyard Haven due to strong east winds. Service to Oak Bluffs could resume later in the day depending on sea conditions. For more information call 508-548-3788 or 508-693-0367. Current Conditions may be viewed at steamshipauthority.com/traveling_today/status.

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Mill Pond is placid on a summer day. Photo by Michael Cummo.

A glimpse of Mill Pond in West Tisbury as I drove up-Island caused me to think about the effort by a determined group of residents to restore the historic waterway to a free-flowing stream. Their progress has been slow, but not nearly as difficult as that of the herring that continue to struggle to return to their natal waters each spring up and down our coast.

The offspring of those that survived the journey have by now begun their return to the sea. It is a natural cycle that man has interrupted along our coast to the detriment of a variety of species that include striped bass.

Fisheries management cannot succeed on the large scale if we do not think about the small scale, and do what we can to protect waterways — from the smallest brook to the largest river — from degradation.

Herring and white perch spawn in the lower reaches of Mill Brook, and native book trout cling to life in the upper reaches of the stream that begins in Chilmark, passes through several artificial impoundments in West Tisbury, such as Mill Pond, and streams into Tisbury Great Pond. There is also evidence that American eels still manage to use the stream.

Last May, with assistance from the state Division of Marine Fisheries and a group of volunteers, West Tisbury erected a fish ladder at the dam. How successful it is in allowing fish to navigate this obstacle remains to be determined. However, fish ladders are not a solution. They are a compromise intended to mitigate the harmful effects of a dam.

For example, in the northwest where dams help provide valuable hydroelectric power, fish ladders are used to help maintain passageways for salmon — not so successfully judging by the continued decline in salmon numbers. As a result, there is a concerted effort by conservation groups to remove as many dams as possible. Removal of the Elwha Dam in Olympic National Park, billed as the largest dam removal project in the world, has led to the return of salmon for the first time in a century in that river.

The U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Service acknowledges the detrimental effects of dams, which “can block or impede migration and have created deep pools of water that in some cases have inundated important spawning habitat or blocked access to it. Dams also change the character of rivers, creating slow-moving, warm water pools that are ideal for predators of salmon.”

The Mill Pond, which warmed to more than 80 degrees this summer, is a case in point. We have no salmon, but we certainly have brook trout. That they survive is a testament to their resilience.

At one time in our nation’s history, progress was measured by how much we could extract from the environment. We erected dams on rivers and streams to pull power from the water with little thought about the consequences, which seemed minor compared to the benefits. In the last century that equation and our understanding of it began to change.

Today, the removal of unused dams attracts positive attention. In June, state and local officials celebrated the successful removal of the 84-foot long Bartlett Pond dam on Wekepeke Brook, a tributary of the North Nashua River, restoring upstream fish passage to approximately 18 miles of high-quality coldwater habitat. “With the dam’s removal, there has been an immediate return of native brook trout to the restored stretch of the river,” state Fish and Game Commissioner Mary Griffin said.

“Removing dams helps restore healthy rivers to provide clean water, reduce risks, enhance recreation opportunities, and preserve wildlife habitat,” said Wayne Klockner, State Director of the Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts, which has an office on Martha’s Vineyard and is in a position to comment on at least one Mill Brook impoundment.

Earlier last spring, the state’s office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) designated eight new river and wetland restoration projects across the state as Priority Projects, which qualified them for grants and contracted technical services funded by the Division of Ecological Restoration (DER). The goal in almost every case included restoring habitat connectivity and flow to benefit fish species.

“River and wetland restoration projects improve habitat for many species of fish, such as brook trout, blueback herring, alewives, and rainbow smelt, that support recreational and commercial fisheries,” Ms. Griffin said of the designations.

The list included a partnership with the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation to restore connectivity to the headwaters of Mill Brook by removing an earthen dam on the Roth Woodlands Property in Chilmark. It is the type of small-scale project that could prove meaningful in the future.

“We wish to be the best possible stewards of the section of Mill Brook that we own,” Sheriff’s Meadow executive director Adam Moore said. “In the case of Roth Woodlands, the Mill Brook flows beneath Old Farm Road through two culverts which are too small and too high. These culverts impede fish passage and create an artificial pond in which the temperatures are too high for fish to survive. We hope to restore the stream channel by putting in a proper culvert, and we believe that this will benefit native brook trout and the brook lamprey. We are very grateful to the Commonwealth for its financial and technical assistance.”

This map shows the various dams and impoundments that impede the flow of Mill Brook.
This map shows the various dams and impoundments that impede the flow of Mill Brook.

The September/October issue of American Angler magazine included an article by Morgan Lyle about the mounting effort to oppose a $5.19 billion hydroelectric project proposed by the government of Alaska. “An Alaskan proposal to dam the mighty Susitna River bucks the dam-demolishing trend in full swing from Maine to South America,” Mr. Lyle wrote.

The article described dam removal efforts in Maine and noted that the “freed Kennebec River now has the largest runs of alewives and blueback herring on the East Coast.”

Amy Kober of American Rivers, a nonprofit advocacy group, is quoted in the article. “When you take a dam down and let a river flow freely, the signs of life come back quickly, from insects to fish to osprey,” she said. “More than 1,100 dams have been removed in our country. On the Kennebec and Penobscot, on rivers across the country, the web of life is being repaired. And that’s good for anglers, it’s good for communities, it’s good for all of us who benefit from clean water and healthy rivers.”

I have to think it would also be good for West Tisbury.

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The discovery of this Hobie Cat near Tashmoo Friday night spurred an extensive search. Photo courtesy Coast Guard.

Updated 1 pm, Monday, Sept. 1

The search, Saturday morning, by air and sea for the owner of a catamaran found washed up on the beach late Friday near Lake Tashmoo on Vineyard Sound ended when the owner called the Coast Guard and explained that he was safe.

By the time the search came to an end at about noon on Saturday, boat crews from Station Woods Hole and Station Menemsha, the Coast Guard Cutters Ridley and Hammerhead and an HC-144a Ocean Sentry search aircraft from Air Station Cape Cod, as well as Coast Guard Auxiliary Aircraft aircrews, had taken part in a search for possible people in the water.

“A case like this illustrates why it’s extremely important for folks to document their vessels and make them easily identifiable,” Richard Elliott, the command duty officer at Sector Southeastern New England, said.

The search began when the caretaker for the Sawyer-Nichols property west of the Tashmoo opening found the sailboat just on the beach and called Tisbury police. The man was concerned because the sail was up, the rudder was down, and it did not appear as there had been any effort to pull the boat up on the beach, Sergeant Chris Habekost told The Times.

“There was no sign of anyone around and he was concerned that someone might be in the water,” Sergeant Habekost said.

Initially, watchstanders at Sector Southeastern New England received a call at about 10 pm, Friday from the Dukes County Communications Center that the unmarked 13-foot Hobie Cat Wave model was washed ashore with the sail up and the rudder down, Coast Guard officials said in a press release. It was reported to the Coast Guard that the Hobie Cat had “lines hanging and dirty footprints on the deck.”

In response, the Coast Guard initiated a search of the surrounding waters.

Tisbury assistant harbor master Jim Pringle said the Hobie Cat appeared as though someone had been out sailing and got knocked off the boat, causing it to just just sail up on the beach. The boat is normally anchored just off a beach house not far away, he later learned.

It was not until the owner, Peter Gray, of New York, a seasonal visitor staying in his family’s cottage not far from where the boat was found, called police to report his Hobie Cat was missing, that the mystery of the washed-up boat was solved.

Mr. Pringle said the Coast Guard invested a lot of resources in the search for “nothing.” He said the harbor department is constantly urging people to identify their small boats, including sailboats and dinghies, so owners can be speedily located in just this type of event.

Reached by phone for comment, Mr. Gray provided the following statement.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to sincerely apologize and express my humble gratitude to my neighbor David, Tisbury Police, the Tisbury Harbor Master, and, most importantly, the U.S. Coast Guard, Sector Southeastern New England, for their swift and comprehensive response to what might have been a far more tragic storyline. We are so lucky to live in this country where we enjoy such exceptional maritime safeguards. I’d like to try to draw some good from this incident by reiterating Officer Richard Elliott’s simple, critical message: clearly label all of your small craft with your name and cell phone. That small step on my part would have prevented this minor oversight from escalating into what it became.”

vessel-identification-sticker.JPGThe Vineyard chapter of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary provides free “If Found” labels, according to Chris Scott, Flotilla Commander, 11-2, D1NR. “We encourage owners of all small craft such as Hobies, sunfish, canoes, kayaks, dinghies, paddleboards, etc. to use them,” he said.

The labels are available at West Marine and the harbormaster’s office.

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Will Wagner of Cambridge holds a 13.5 pound bluefish that he pulled out of the rocks while casting for bass near President Obama’s vacation house last week. Photo by Phil Cronin. — Photo by Phil Cronin

Fishermen like to complain when they are not catching fish. They complain about the fishing, the weather, the lack of bait, other fishermen, their spouses, their boss and global warming or global cooling.

Fishermen also practice the art of rationalization and they are nothing if not philosophical about their sport — in a bumper sticker sort of way: “A bad day of fishin’ beats a good day of working,” is a popular bit of fishing wisdom you will find affixed to rusting trucks and flashy SUVs.

Well, I’m here to tell you that it is not alway true. An Australian fisherman named Tran Van Lanh had a bad day of fishing and I bet he wishes he had stayed at work. You see, Tran got eaten by a croc. Honest.

On Martha’s Vineyard we don’t have to worry about crocs, or snakes or head hunters. We have it pretty good. Our biggest risk is hooking ourselves in front of our friends. A bad day of fishin’ on the Vineyard is no fish. Not so in Australia.

According to the Outdoor Hub news service, which provides me with a steady stream of news stories that make me happy to be on Lobsterville beach, the 57-year-old fishermen was killed last Monday after he was ambushed by a crocodile in Australia’s Adelaide River.

The partially albino croc, according to the Australian news service SBS, had a white head and was well known along the river as “Michael Jackson.” Guess the Australians didn’t get the memo, or maybe it is too far away for Al Sharpton to cause a fuss.

SBS reported, “The man was taken when he got into the water to unsnag his fishing line.”

Not a good idea to try and unsnag a line in a croc-infested river.

“Police and rangers scouring the crocodile-infested river by boat on Monday night shot and killed a 4.5 meter crocodile (that’s almost 15 feet) and the man’s body was recovered later that night.

“The Adelaide River is well known for its Jumping Croc tours, where boats travel the river and crocodiles jump for meat attached to hooks.

“Michael Jackson was one in a million, and unfortunately being an albino would have been picked on by all the others, it’s a big pecking order,” said Rob Marchand, owner of Wallaroo Tours, which runs Jumping Croc cruises across the river from where the man was taken, the news service reported.

I do not think Mr. Marchand is an objective expert. One-in-a-million? So the next 999,999,999 fishermen who jump in the river to unsnag lures should get out just fine?

Mr. Marchand said that the crocodile had been in that part of the river for several years, “and that the crocodiles had been fighting a lot recently, jockeying for position and preparing to breed.”

He added, “They [crocs] know how to do three major things: eat, reproduce and aggression … if you’re not going to look after yourself, you’ll find yourself being eaten.”

By the way, he rejected the suggestion that the Jumping Croc tours were encouraging predatory behaviour on the Adelaide River.

“I’m sure crocs knew how to eat people a long time before we come along,” he said.

So next time you’re complaining about a bad day fishin’, think of poor Tran and say a little prayer.

Striper hearings set

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), a 15-member body responsible for managing fish species and implementing management plans along the East Coast, is beginning the process of revising the regulations that govern striped bass. In government speak, the ASMFC will take comment on Addendum IV to the Striped Bass Management Plan. “The Draft Addendum proposes new fishing mortality (F) reference points, as recommended by the 2013 benchmark stock assessment, and associated management measures to reduce F to a level at or below the proposed target within one or three years. It responds to results of the 2013 Atlantic striped bass benchmark assessment indicating F in 2012 was above the proposed F target, and female spawning stock biomass (SSB) has been steadily declining below the target since 2006.”

Of course, F is pretty much what recreational fishermen on Martha’s Vineyard have been saying for years as they’ve watched the quality of the bass fishing decline.

The Draft Addendum includes a suite of management options to reduce recreational and commercial harvest along the coast and in the Chesapeake Bay. Specific options to be considered include bag, size, slot and trophy size limits for the recreational fishery and quota reductions for the commercial fishery.

The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) will hold a series of hearings on behalf of the ASMFC the first week in September but does not plan to make state specific recommendations and hold hearings on them until later this year. One thing is certain: new rules will be in place when the bass return to Massachusetts next spring.

DMF is not planning to hold an ASMFC hearing on the Vineyard but will hold a hearing on Nantucket on Sept. 2. That makes no sense to me. Nantucket has a small commercial fishery, a much smaller number of recreational fishermen and is in the middle of the ocean.

Other hearing sites include: Massachusetts Maritime Academy (Sept. 2); Gloucester (Sept 3); and Braintree (Sept. 4).

Now is the time to comment. Yapping in the tackle shop means nothing. Public comment will be accepted until 5 pm, September 30, and should be forwarded to Mike Waine, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, 1050 N. Highland St, Suite A-N, Arlington, VA 22201; 703-842-0741 (FAX) or at mwaine@asmfc.org  (Subject line: Draft Addendum IV). For more information, contact Mike Waine, at mwaine@asmfc.org or 703-842-0740.

Derby approaches

The 69th Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby (mvderby.com) is only weeks away. The Derby begins on Sept. 14 and ends October 18. More later.

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A victorious Civil War general, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the first Civil Rights Act.

President Ulysses S. Grant (seated, right) with his wife standing behind him. At left is General Babcock, his wife and niece; in center, Babcock's sister-in-law. The Bishop Haven Cottage on Clinton Ave. looks much the way it did when Grant visited, 140 years ago this summer. — Courtesy MV Museum

Martha’s Vineyard’s history is a rich narrative of people and events. In a regular series, The Times has invited the Martha’s Vineyard Museum to draw on its unique cache of contemporary photos and first-person accounts to describe interesting but often unfamiliar moments in Island history called to mind sometimes, but not always, by current dates or events. This latest installment draws from an article “When Grant Took the Island” by Arthur Railton in the Dukes County Intelligencer (vol. 29, no. 1, August 1987).

Four generations (and friends) at the Bishop Haven House, Clinton Ave., Oak Bluffs: Aven Porrini (standing, front); Aven's great grandmother, Barb Horlocker (seated, green shirt) and her friend Sue Keyser (pink shirt); standing back: neighbor Justin Rogers; Jackie Kaser (homeowner); her daughter Karley Kaser (Aven's mother); neighbor Paige O'Flaherty. The Kaser family has owned the Bishop Haven Cottage since 1954, when Karley Kaser's grandparents bought it for $3,000 and proceeded to pay the loan off in $20 monthly installments. Karley has been coming to the cottage every summer since she was born. Ms. O'Flaherty and Mr. Rogers are engaged and plan to be married on the porch of her parents' cottage — just across Clinton Ave. — on August 21.
Four generations (and friends) at the Bishop Haven House, Clinton Ave., Oak Bluffs: Aven Porrini (standing, front); Aven’s great grandmother, Barb Horlocker (seated, green shirt) and her friend Sue Keyser (pink shirt); standing back: neighbor Justin Rogers; Jackie Kaser (homeowner); her daughter Karley Kaser (Aven’s mother); neighbor Paige O’Flaherty. The Kaser family has owned the Bishop Haven Cottage since 1954, when Karley Kaser’s grandparents bought it for $3,000 and proceeded to pay the loan off in $20 monthly installments. Karley has been coming to the cottage every summer since she was born. Ms. O’Flaherty and Mr. Rogers are engaged and plan to be married on the porch of her parents’ cottage — just across Clinton Ave. — on August 21.

Well before the highly publicized visits to Martha’s Vineyard of President Barack Obama, and before him, President Bill Clinton, 140 years ago another visiting president created a wave of excitement that generated headlines across the country and put Oak Bluffs, then a little-known resort community, on the map.

Ulysses S. Grant rose from poverty and obscurity to become the commanding general of Union forces during the Civil War and secure the victories President Abraham Lincoln so desperately needed to keep the Union and his presidency intact. On March 4, 1869, Republican Grant was elected as the 18th president of the United States.

President Grant was adamant that recently freed slaves enjoy the same rights as all Americans. He used federal troops to protect “freedmen” from the Klu Klux Klan and supported the Fifteenth Amendment, which stipulated that no state shall deprive any citizen of the right to vote because of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” And on March 1, 1875, he signed the Civil Rights Act, described by historian H. W. Brands (“The Man Who Saved the Union, Ulysses Grant in War and Peace,” Doubleday, 2012) as “the most ambitious affirmation of racial equality in American history until then, a distinction it would retain until the 1960s.”

One year before he signed that landmark bill, President Grant visited Martha’s Vineyard where he enjoyed a fireworks display, Illumination Night and the adoration of thousands.

“It was nothing compared to the way he took Richmond, but when President Ulysses S. Grant visited Martha’s Vineyard for three days in 1874, he did, indeed, take it over,” Arthur Railton wrote in the his account of the president’s visit for the Dukes County Intelligencer. “Crowds numbering as many as 30,000 at times put on a stunning public display of affection for a President who, in the middle of his second term, was on the brink of a series of shocking scandals …

“The trip, which seems to have been planned in secret, probably had political motivation. Grant was being urged by some supporters to ignore the no-third-term tradition and run again in 1876. He seemed tempted to do so and his wife, Julia Dent, was eager that he run, as were some of his Cabinet.”

The New York Herald, in an editorial, suggested that President Grant might be trying to win over the Methodists, who “were congregating in Wesleyan Grove on Martha’s Vineyard for their annual camp meeting that August in 1874 and the President’s pastor, Rev. Dr. O. H. Tiffany of the Metropolitan Methodist Church in Washington, was there. It was he, the newspapers wrote, who had invited his famous parishioner to join him.”

A quiet bow

Although Mr. Grant did not have the luxury of speedy travel in a helicopter, he did get around, visiting Wellfleet, Hyannis, Nantucket, and Naushon over the course of his visit.

President Grant and his party traveled on a special three-car train placed at the disposal of the President by the Old Colony Railroad, which serviced Cape Cod. They also traveled on the steamer River Queen, an Island ferry since 1871.

“The River Queen docked at the Highland Wharf, which had been built in 1871 by the Methodists so they would not have to disembark at the Oak Bluffs Wharf and pass through the temptations offered in that ‘unholy’ summer resort. A horse-drawn trolley ran from the Highland Wharf directly into the Campground, delivering the faithful unsullied.

“Awaiting the President was a gaily decorated trolley car drawn by six gleaming black horses. The Vineyard Gazette described the arrival: ‘Immediately on arriving, the party entered one of the Vineyard Grove cars, drawn by six horses and appropriately decorated for the occasion, and, followed by a numerous concourse of carriages and pedestrians, proceeded to Clinton Avenue. On reaching that point, so great was the press, notwithstanding the five or six thousand who were congregated in and about the grandstand, that there was some difficulty in extracting the party from the cars; but they finally succeeded in effecting an escape into Bishop Haven’s cottage, where they might recruit a little before appearing to the people. . . . an immense bouquet composed wholly of the most elegant rosebuds and green attracting much attention. (Aug. 28, 1874).’”

Four generations (and friends) at the Bishop Haven House, Clinton Ave., Oak Bluffs: Aven Porrini (standing, front); Aven's great grandmother, Barb Horlocker (seated, green shirt) and her friend Sue Keyser (pink shirt); standing back: neighbor Justin Rogers; Jackie Kaser (homeowner); her daughter Karley Kaser (Aven's mother); neighbor Paige O'Flaherty. The Kaser family has owned the Bishop Haven Cottage since 1954, when Karley Kaser's grandparents bought it for $3,000 and proceeded to pay the loan off in $20 monthly installments. Karley has been coming to the cottage every summer since she was born. Ms. O'Flaherty and Mr. Rogers are engaged and plan to be married on the porch of her parents' cottage — just across Clinton Ave. — on August 21.
Four generations (and friends) at the Bishop Haven House, Clinton Ave., Oak Bluffs: Aven Porrini (standing, front); Aven’s great grandmother, Barb Horlocker (seated, green shirt) and her friend Sue Keyser (pink shirt); standing back: neighbor Justin Rogers; Jackie Kaser (homeowner); her daughter Karley Kaser (Aven’s mother); neighbor Paige O’Flaherty. The Kaser family has owned the Bishop Haven Cottage since 1954, when Karley Kaser’s grandparents bought it for $3,000 and proceeded to pay the loan off in $20 monthly installments. Karley has been coming to the cottage every summer since she was born. Ms. O’Flaherty and Mr. Rogers are engaged and plan to be married on the porch of her parents’ cottage — just across Clinton Ave. — on August 21.

“The Grants were given a half hour’s respite before being escorted on foot the one hundred yards or so to the Tabernacle, then a huge canvas tent, where thousands had assembled for the occasion. The regular afternoon services had been sparsely attended as most of the faithful had witnessed the President’s arrival. The regular evening service had been cancelled. The Methodist newspaper, Zion’s Herald, described the scene this way: ‘Even calm Presiding Elder Talbot flushed a little in the face, as he mounted the stand under the canopy and introduced the President of the United States, not to worshipping, but applauding thousands.’

“Grant did not speak after his introduction, instead, ‘as usual he responded with a quiet bow.’ The Vineyard Gazette gave a few more details of the occasion: ‘. . . the space under the canopy and for rods around was one dense mass of eager humanity, such as probably was never known here before. . . Amid a perfect burst of applause, the President was presented, bowing in response to the enthusiastic salutations of the multitude. . . After the singing of “America,” the party returned to Bishop Haven’s cottage. . . [where] the President again appeared a moment on the cottage balcony and then withdrew and was seen no more till six o’clock, when he dined at the Central House.’

“The Gazette reporter may have missed a good story. The New Bedford Mercury reported that after returning to the Haven cottage, the President slipped out to make a private and relaxing visit: ‘The President called at the cottage of Alderman J. H. Collins of Cambridge on Merrill Avenue, and indulging in a quiet smoke, under the admiring gaze of some 20 spectators. . . the crowd didn’t get wind of this movement, which was effected by a neat little bit of backdoor strategy.’”

On the map

“After dining at the Central House, the President and Mrs. Grant were driven around the Campground and, outside it, along the streets of Oak Bluffs to enjoy the Illumination, that display of Japanese lanterns which is today a Campground tradition. It had been introduced six years earlier by the Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Company outside the Campground, but in recent years, it had spread to Clinton Avenue, within the hallowed area.”

On his last night on the Vineyard, President Grant was the guest of honor at a supper hosted by J. W. Harper of the publishing house, Harper Brothers of New York. “The affair was held at the famed Sea View Hotel, the newest and finest hotel in Oak Bluffs, overlooking Nantucket Sound. It was, no doubt, an elegant affair.”

The following account reveals that in some aspects, presidential visits have not much changed.

“After the supper, another reception followed, this one given in Grant’s honor by Holder M. Brownell, manager and later owner of the Sea View Hotel. It was described vividly by the reporter from the New York Herald: ‘. . . [present were] several hundred ladies and gentlemen, the latter appearing in full dress and the fair sex in the choicest and most elegant toilets which a refined taste or a craving desire for display could possibly conceive. . . those who were not favored with cards of invitation contenting themselves by crowding the corridors and piazzas of the mammoth hotel and peeping through the windows for a glance at the Executive lion. There were thousands of these coming and going all the evening and the scenes outside were scarcely less enlivening and brilliant than those inside. The rustic policemen who were on duty found their authority was not respected and early in the evening they surrendered to the multitude. . . probably not less than a thousand ladies and gentlemen were presented to the President ….’”

Mr. Railton said that the Methodist clergy left the reception about the same time as the President because right after Grant’s departure, “the guests began what was called the ‘hop,’ with dancing going on until after midnight.

“It was, without doubt, the Sea View’s finest hour. It was much more than that: it was overwhelming proof that Oak Bluffs had made it into the big time as a summer resort. Laudatory articles appeared in the major newspapers of the country each day describing the Presidential visit and most mentioned the physical charm of the Vineyard. The weather was superb during the entire three days and the reports praised the loveliness of this delightful seaside paradise. In a year of economic depression, such publicity must have buoyed the spirits of the directors of the Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Company who were having some difficulty selling their building lots. The Presidential visit had put Oak Bluffs on the front pages of America and they began to dream of replacing Newport as the East Coast’s finest summer resort.”

The following day, Sunday, the Big Sunday of Camp Meeting, as the final day was traditionally called, President and Mrs. Grant attended the morning service and then boarded the Monohansett, bound for New Bedford. The President said nothing upon departing.

“He bowed slightly, waved to the crowd, and with Julia on his arm walked up the gangplank. The steamer pulled away, the crowd dispersed and life on the Vineyard returned to normal.”

 

Highlights of President Grant’s Civil Rights Efforts

Following an unrelenting spate of violence against freed slaves and Republicans, Grant explained his use of federal authority to enforce the law in the southern states and argued for Civil rights legislation:

“To the extent that Congress has conferred power upon me to prevent it, neither Ku Klux Klans, White Leagues, nor any other association using arms and violence to execute their unlawful purposes can be permitted in that way to govern any part of this country; nor can I see with indifference Union men or Republicans ostracized, persecuted, and murdered on account of their opinions, as they now are in some localities. I now earnestly ask that such action be taken by Congress as to leave my duties perfectly clear.”

President Grant commented after he signed “An Act to Enforce the Provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment,” also known as the Klu Klux Klan Act:

“It is my earnest wish that peace and cheerful obedience to law may prevail throughout the land and that all traces of our late unhappy civil strife may be speedily removed. These ends can be easily reached by acquiescence in the results of the conflict, now written in our Constitution, and by the due and proper enforcement of equal, just, and impartial laws in every part of our country.”

President Grant reached out to the North and South in his first inaugural address:

“The country having just emerged from a great rebellion, many questions will come before it for settlement in the next four years which preceding administrations have never had to deal with. In meeting these it is desirable that they should be approached calmly, without prejudice, hate, or sectional pride, remembering that the greatest good to the greatest number is the object to be attained.”

As a general and president, Grant was a man of few words and used the following speech often:

I rise only to say that I do not intend to say anything. I thank you for your hearty welcomes and good cheers.”

General Grant on war:

The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on.”

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President Barack Obama spoke about the murder of journalist James Foley during a press briefing at the Edgartown School Wednesday. — ©Rick Friedman

President Barack Obama returned to his Martha’s Vineyard vacation schedule and the golf course Wednesday following a two-day break for a return to the White House and a series of meetings and conference calls Sunday and Monday concerning national and international events, including the situation in Ferguson, Mo., and the latest developments in Iraq and the economy.

Mr. Obama’s first full day back began on a somber note. In a brief statement from the Edgartown School cafeteria, President Obama, tieless but wearing a blue jacket and accompanied by deputy press secretary Eric Schultz, stepped to a podium and delivered remarks on the murder of journalist Jim Foley, 40, by terrorists.

A video posted online yesterday appeared to show a militant dressed in black beheading Mr. Foley.

“The entire world is appalled by the brutal murder of Jim Foley by the terrorist group ISIL,” Mr. Obama said in his remarks. “Jim was a journalist, a son, a brother, and a friend. He reported from difficult and dangerous places, bearing witness to the lives of people a world away. He was taken hostage nearly two years ago in Syria, and he was courageously reporting at the time on the conflict there.”

Mr. Obama said that he had spoken earlier in the day to Mr. Foley’s family and told them that “we are all heartbroken at their loss, and join them in honoring Jim and all that he did.”

Turning to the subject of the terrorists, Mr. Obama said, “Jim Foley’s life stands in stark contrast to his killers. Let’s be clear about ISIL. They have rampaged across cities and villages — killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and children, and subject them to torture and rape and slavery. They have murdered Muslims — both Sunni and Shia — by the thousands. They target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes, murdering them when they can for no other reason than they practice a different religion. They declared their ambition to commit genocide against an ancient people.

“So ISIL speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents. No just God would stand for what they did yesterday, and for what they do every single day. ISIL has no ideology of any value to human beings. Their ideology is bankrupt. They may claim out of expediency that they are at war with the United States or the West, but the fact is they terrorize their neighbors and offer them nothing but an endless slavery to their empty vision, and the collapse of any definition of civilized behavior.”

President Obama said ISIL would ultimately fail “because the future is won by those who build and not destroy, and the world is shaped by people like Jim Foley, and the overwhelming majority of humanity who are appalled by those who killed him.”

He promised that the United States “will continue to do what we must do to protect our people. We will be vigilant and we will be relentless. When people harm Americans, anywhere, we do what’s necessary to see that justice is done. And we act against ISIL, standing alongside others.”

Mr. Obama ended his remarks by saying that the country mourns the loss of Jim Foley. “May God bless and keep Jim’s memory, and may God bless the United States of America,” he said. He then turned quietly and walked out of the room

Afterward, the motorcade drove to the Vineyard Golf Club where he has played once before on this vacation. His golfing companions were retired basketball player Alonzo Mourning‎, businessman Glenn Hutchins, and Valerie Jarrett family member Cyrus Walker‎, according to the White House.

Mr. Obama and his family are expected to maintain their-low key schedule of dinner with friends, family activities and golf.

In the past week he and Michelle Obama have dined at State Road restaurant in West Tisbury, Atria in Edgartown and the Sweet Life Cafe in Oak Bluffs. In the past, President Obama and his family have attended the Oak Bluffs fireworks and, without the president, the Ag Fair.

President Barack Obama and daughter Malia ride through the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest in West Tisbury, Mass, on August 15, 2014. The President was joined by First Lady Michelle Obama.
President Barack Obama and daughter Malia ride through the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest in West Tisbury on Friday. The President was joined by First Lady Michelle Obama.

Last Friday, on another gorgeous Martha’s Vineyard summer day, President and Ms. Obama and their daughter, Malia, behaved like any other vacationing family — the difference being a train of SUVs, reporters and Secret Service agents — and went for a bike ride in the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest.

The traveling press pool traveled by van a few miles to a scenic spot on the bike path and waited for a fleeting glimpse of the bicycle-riding first family. Mr. Obama, the first lady, and Malia passed by, pedaling at a leisurely pace. “Hey guys, nice day, huh?” Mr. Obama said to the pool.

All three were decked out in athletic wear, with Ms. Obama in gray spandex capri pants and a short-sleeved top. Malia wore running shorts and a black tee-shirt.

The president wore a black athletic shirt, dark gray pants, white socks, and black Nikes. All three wore bike helmets. A phalanx of Secret Service agents followed closely behind.

The press pool saw the first family for only seconds as they made their way down the path.

President Obama’s motorcade departed at 12:33 pm, a little less than an hour after arriving at the bike path.

Ten minutes later, the president arrived at Farm Neck Golf Club, his third trip to the popular Oak Bluffs course since his arrival on August 9. His golf partners that day, according to the White House, were Mr. Hutchins, Mr. Walker, and Robert Wolf.

President Obama is scheduled to depart the Island this Sunday, August 24.

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Matt and Alicia Winter in Coop’s last week shopping for a third Mojo rod. — Nelson Sigelman

Fishermen believe in mojo. Tides, fresh bait, the hottest lure, the best fly mean nothing if a fisherman does not have mojo. Look no further than the annual Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby for evidence.

Experienced Derby fishermen go to such great pains every year to register under the same number that the tackle shop outlets keep lists of “reserved” buttons. There are lucky rods and lucky lures. But on any given day mojo is what makes the difference. That and a good fishing rod.

St. Croix makes some of the finest quality fishing rods around. The company’s Mojo Surf rod is light and tough and named to inspire confidence. But what happens when you start to believe in bad mojo?

I was standing in Coop’s when Matt and Alicia Winter, longtime West Tisbury seasonal visitors from Kent, Conn., walked in and began inspecting fishing rods. Alicia picked up an 8-foot Mojo. “I love this rod but I’m starting to think it’s bad luck,” Alicia said to Justin Pribanic, who was manning the store while Coop was off tuna fishing. What fishing columnist could resist that opening?

In this earlier photo, Alicia Winter holds a brace of bass she caught when her rod was intact.
In this earlier photo, Alicia Winter holds a brace of bass she caught when her rod was intact.

Alicia, Matt, and their son, Nathan, visit their family’s home every spring and fall to fish. Last October, they walked into Coop’s looking for a rod they could use for bass and other species. The 8-foot Mojo, matched with a Penn Battle 4,000 reel, was perfect. They each bought a new rod.

It was the last day of Columbus Day weekend. They had been fishing on the beach and were tired. “We leaned the rods against the truck, which we never do,” Matt said. “Neither one of us thought anything. We drove away and ran over them. It was awful.”

Two rods were destroyed, including Alicia’s new Mojo.

They returned to the Vineyard in May and again in June. Alicia had bought a new Mojo. They were excited to be on Island during the spring squid run along Bend-in-the-Road Beach in Edgartown.

They went to State Beach. Matt was with Nathan, 13, who was jigging for squid. Alicia threw out some frozen squid on a bottom rig and set her rod in a sand spike. “I walked over to talk to her for a minute, maybe half a minute,” Matt said. With their attention diverted they were not looking at the rod.

“The rod holder was just lying on the sand  and there was a groove in the sand leading to the water,” Matt said. “Alicia was really sad.”

Not only had she lost her new rod, but she had also very likely lost a very big striped bass. As Matt was retelling the story, Alicia was outside the shop testing the feel of another 8-foot Mojo. She admitted it was a very “cool” looking rod, but she could not shake the notion that in her hands it might just be bad luck.

Unwilling to succumb to bad mojo, Alicia bought the Mojo. Third time’s the charm!

Author talk

Author Michael J. Tougias seems to have found his niche in retelling the gripping details of disaster and rescue at sea. The common threads in the books I have read are weather, Coast Guard heroism, and decision-making, underpinned in some cases by personal courage and in others, characterized by miscalculations.

I met Michael several years ago when he spoke at the Vineyard Haven library about his most recently completed book, “Ten Hours Until Dawn.” The book tells the story of survival, heroism and disaster at sea story during the Blizzard of 1978 when the tanker Global Hope floundered on the shoals in Salem Sound off the Massachusetts coast. The Coast Guard heard the Mayday calls and immediately dispatched a patrol boat. Within an hour, the Coast Guard boat was in as much trouble as the tanker, having lost its radar, depth finder, and engine power in horrendous seas. Pilot boat Captain Frank Quirk was monitoring the Coast Guard’s efforts by radio, and when he heard that the patrol boat was in jeopardy, he and his crew of four went out in their 49-foot steel boat, the Can Do, to assist the Coast Guard.

Bounty Cover 2His latest book, which he co-authored with Douglas Campbell, is “Rescue of the Bounty, Disaster and Survival in Superstorm Sandy.”

The tall ship Bounty, featured in the Marlon Brando movie “Mutiny on the Bounty,” sank during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The captain and a crewmember died in the accident, but the Coast Guard performed harrowing helicopter rescues to save the other 14 sailors.

“The story begins on October 25, 2012 when Captain Robin Walbridge made the fateful decision to sail the HMS Bounty from New London, Connecticut, to St. Petersburg, Florida. Walbridge was well aware that a hurricane was forecast to come up the Eastern seaboard. He explained to his crew of 15 that the ship would fare better at sea than at port, and that he thought he could sail ‘around the hurricane.’ He told the crew that anyone who did not want to come on the voyage could leave the ship and there would be no hard feelings. No one took the captain up on his offer, and this decision would have fatal consequences.”

Michael will speak at the Vineyard Haven library at 7 pm on Tuesday about “Rescue of the Bounty.” He will speak at 6:30 pm on Thursday night at the Oak Bluffs library about “Ten Hours Until Dawn.”

Michael’s slide presentations and dramatic accounts make for a great night out for anyone with an interest in the sea and the heroism of those who risk their lives to save others. A book signing will follow the program, and the presentation is suitable for all ages.

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A perfect day for a bike ride in the State Forest.

President Barack Obama and daughter Malia ride through the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest in what would be a rare public sighting. (Ivy Ashe for the Vineyard Gazette) — Ivy Ashe for the Vineyard Gazette

On another gorgeous Martha’s Vineyard summer day, President Obama, Michelle and daughter Malia behaved like any other vacationing family — the difference being a train of SUVs, reporters and Secret Service agents —  and went for a bike ride in the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest.

President Barack Obama rides through the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest.
President Barack Obama rides through the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest.

President Obama departed his vacation home in Chilmark at 11:18 am for West Tisbury, according to pool press reports. The motorcade arrived at a bike path in West Tisbury at 11:38 am and the Obamas and their security contingent pedaled away.

The traveling press pool traveled by van a few miles to a scenic spot on the bike path and waited for a fleeting sighting of the bicycle-riding Obama family. Mr. Obama, the First Lady and Malia passed by, pedaling at a leisurely pace. “Hey guys, nice day, huh?” Mr. Obama said to the pool.

All three were decked out in athletic wear, with Michelle Obama in gray spandex capri pants and a short-sleeved top. Malia wore running shorts and a black T-shirt.

The president wore a black athletic shirt, dark gray pants, white socks and black Nikes. All donned bike helmets. A phalanx of Secret Service agents followed closely behind.

The press pool saw the president and family for only seconds as they continued to make their way down the path.

President Obama’s motorcade departed at 12:33 pm, a little less than an hour after arriving at the bike path.

First Lady Michelle Obama.
First Lady Michelle Obama.

Ten minutes later, the president arrived at Farm Neck Golf Club, his third trip since Saturday to the popular Oak Bluffs Course. Today’s golf partners, according to the White House are: Glenn Hutchins, Cyrus Walker and Robert Wolf.

The State Forest was created in 1908 in an effort to save a dwindling population population of heath hens. Only 45 remained on Earth at the time. The State Forest has since expanded to 5,343 acres and the heath hen is extinct.