After a very long week, the dust has settled and the hustle and bustle that characterizes July and August on the Vineyard has made its way back to Menemsha.
Shop and restaurant doors are all open and ready to serve ice cream, fried clams, lobster rolls, chowder, and more. Kites, Frisbees, dip nets, and hand lines are ready to be purchased and brought to the beach to make the day just a little more exciting. Flowing dresses, fine jewelry, and brightly colored tee-shirts are ready to be worn.
As you all know by know, there was a fire at the USCG Station Menemsha Boathouse last Monday. What started with a thick black cloud of smoke shaped almost like an ominous thunderhead very quickly turned into the complete loss of the boathouse, the entire length of the drive-on dock, and several boats. The face of Menemsha village has changed and that is hard to comprehend. But, somehow, no lives were lost and only a few minor injuries made it into the record book. There are so many unsung heroes who played a vital role in containing the damage that could have been. What was a beautiful and sunny day grew dark and dangerous as the thick cloud of smoke was grabbed by the wind. It lay down over us with its heat, noise, and intensity quickly enveloping us in smoke. At times, you could only see a few feet in front of you.
Marshall was on our fuel dock with a hose trying to wet everything down as burning embers landed all around us. As fast as he could spray, the dock dried. As fast as I could stomp there was something else that needed extinguishing. The boats were evacuated as quickly as possibly; with a collection of guys cutting lines and towing them out, it looked orchestrated. Some were too close to the fire and lay melted in the harbor. Those that got outside the harbor set their anchors and waited until after dark before they were let back in one by one.
All Island fire, rescue, and EMS were here along with the Falmouth fire boat. Coast Guard cutter Sanibel sat outside the harbor throughout the night and into the next day keeping watch over marine traffic. We were at the Texaco until 12:30 am fueling fire boats, trucks, and generators. The fire chief dismissed us at that point. I returned at 4:15 am to the birds starting to sing, fish jumping in the harbor, and the draggers headed out for their daily catch of fluke.
As the sun came up, the cleanup began. The rain started to fall around 6 pm on Tuesday night — not typically a welcome sight in a beachside community that thrives on sunny days, but it was welcomed with open arms. Tempers ran a little close to the surface for some. Others were mellowed out after having had a few moments to regroup. Seth Karlinsky has not complained about how heavy the trash is when he empties it. We have all swept and picked up charred debris, melted bouys, and bait barrels and more. The harbor had an oily sheen but, with a strong tide, it looks clean again. Menemsha Pond is closed to shellfishing indefinitely, but the cleanup continues and we are hopeful that it will be reopened soon. Again, a heartfelt thank-you goes out to all who jumped in when your help was needed. I wish I could mention each and every one of you. Please know who you are and that you are deeply appreciated.
Things were fun at Flanders Field this past Sunday. My sports commentator, Bill Edison, did his duty and got the scoop to me. He says: The Chilmark All-Star double was a great success but ended in frustration with the second game's score finishing up at 15-1. After Junior Farrell hit two home runs in one inning, the losing team invoked the mercy rule and walked off the field in desperation. Another all-star player worth mentioning is soon-to-be 14-year-old Paul Henry Jeffers Mayhew. Paul Henry's feat in right field was captured on camera by his grandmother, Beth Mayhew. Kudos go out to Sophie Balaban, daughter of third baseman Jason, for providing lemonade to all the players.
Don't forget the Chilmark School Outing Program; raffle ticket sales are in full swing. Tickets are $10 and available through all school parents and at Menemsha Texaco. Some of the items include a half-day charter with Jeffrey Lynch, a weekend get-a-way at the Captain Flanders House, John Keene mulch, six dozen home baked cookies, a gift certificate to State Road, and so much more. So, find a school parent or swing by the Texaco. All the proceeds will go towards offsetting the cost of our amazing and unique Outing Program.