Vineyard Conservation Society Katama walk
It was a great, sunny, nearly 60-degree March day to go to the beach, and so thought scores of other people last Sunday when we converged at the left-fork parking lot in Katama to take part in the Vineyard Conservation Society (VCS) walk along the barrier beach to view that far distant neighbor island of Chappaquiddick. The channel caused by the breach two years ago seems to be growing wider every day, yet on closer observation there are already signs that a spit is forming on the Katama side reaching out towards Chappaquiddick.
Photos by Susan Safford
Jo-Ann Taylor, Coastal Planner for the Martha's Vineyard Commission, was armed with historical records showing the breach to be a recurring geological event. When too much water builds up on the Katama Bay side, it rips open the beach, according to Jo-Ann. Then in time, 10 to 15 years according to the historical data, the breach closes as sand carried by currents moves eastward along the South shore. Some of the sand moves into Katama Bay where it settles undisturbed, but mostly it moves out past Wasque.
We kept up a quick pace along the beach to witness for ourselves this evidence of erosion and repair. The break is at least a quarter mile wide, and the small islands visible in the middle of the channel last summer are no longer there. Nor is the spit of land that curled into the bay on the Chappaquiddick side. So even though a spit of sand is building up along the Katama shore, Wasque is still losing as much as one foot of sand a day.
It must have been two miles out to the opening, but no one was in a hurry to return. Young Patrick Best took his shoes off and waded into the opening, but not too far because the tides can be tricky through the channel. There were a few trucks out on the spit, one family with fishing rods and a picnic basket, ready to enjoy the day. None of us brought food with us, but an advantage to going on a VCS walk is the refreshments on our return and we were not disappointed. Homemade cookies, pumpkin bread with cream cheese, and apple cider provided the perfect ending.