NELL SPRING MEETING /
May 6-8, 2005 (extended to May 9-10)
"Thar She Blows", and blows, and blows !!
May 5, 2005,
Weather Forecast for 41.26N - 70.12W
"I thought I should pass on this weather forecast to you all as soon as
I found it. The storm forecast for this weekend has become much worse
since yesterday. Rain Friday late afternoon through Sunday night. Inches
of rain, high winds up to 48 MPH and high seas. No one on the island
seemed to be aware except the Trustees.
Great Point and the walking tour are cancelled. The CG checked their
weather while on the phone and said "where did this come from" ! They
are not coming (to open the lights for us) and say it would not be safe in
those winds at Sankaty Head Light and advise that seas will be rough for a
return on Sunday.
The CG, the Trustees of Reservations, the bus co. all advise that ferries
may cancel on Sunday, but the ferries say they won't know until the first
boat sails that morning. If that happens it means another night on the
island (?) in the rain. The ferry home crossing will be rough."
Several of our group were already on their way to Hyannis. Of the 66 NELL
members registered for this tour, 21 opted to cancel after the above
e-mail. The tour was not cancelled, and 45 hearty souls survived:
HURRICANE NELL II - The Resurrection
Cliff Olson flew to the island on Thursday. Some took the fast ferry,
but most of us traveled on the cheap slow car ferry under overcast skies
but calm seas. The rain didn't start until we had all checked in at the
Nantucket Inn. You couldn't ask for a better place to be stranded, well
maybe.Link to Photos
Sales Manager Mark Manchester and the entire staff were most
accommodating, personable, efficient and very friendly. The ambiance
of the Inn and its well appointed rooms were among the best we have stayed
at, and Mom's breakfast buffet was "to die for".
Friday night's NELL group buffet dinner was served in their Nobadeer
Ballroom. Everyone enjoyed the excellent meal catered by Richard Diamond
of A. K. Diamond's, a restaurant down the road frequented by members on
other nights. Meanwhile, the storm gathered strength.
Our whole Saturday tour schedule was changed as I noted in my May 5 e-mail
above. We all departed the Inn at 9:00 AM on two buses for Sankaty Head
Light. The rain was not heavy but the wind was extreme at the lighthouse
atop the bluff. Lee Hall did his impression of a ski jumper leaning into
the wind without falling over. Cameras began clicking. People sheltered
themselves behind a small shed and only a relative few "brave diehards"
gathered for a group photo with the NELL banner while those "less
inspired" stayed on the bus. This was a most invigorating stop and set the
tone for the morning. Are we having fun yet?
A few days before our trip, the 67-foot commercial clammer, the
Hanna-Sarah out of Hyannis, beached itself about 100 yards from Sankaty
Light when its pumps failed while taking on water. We stopped to
photograph the wreck with waves crashing over the boat. It was taking a
beating and was a lesson for all in the seriousness of the storm. Many of
us who returned Sunday in rental cars we booked to tour the island were
shocked to find only the steel superstructure remained in the pounding
surf. The boat was totally destroyed.
From Sankaty, bus 2 went on to the Lifesaving Museum and its 3rd order
Fresnel lens from Great Point Light and 4th order from Brant Point Light.
Curator, Jeremy Slavitz gave a presentation of the lifesaving history of
the island and members were able to escape the wind among the museum
Bus 1 moved to the Brant Point area where we viewed (from the street) the
old wooden range lights relocated to a private residence off Bathing Beach
Rd.. The buses later switched venues. We could only peek at the 2nd order
Fresnel lens in the Whaling Museum lobby through the window. The Museum
reopens in June.
The stop at USCG Station Brant Point was more sheltered and we were able
to photograph the Old Brant Point tower without its lantern room, (moved
to the "new" 1901 current Brant Point Light) and the two tall harbor range
lights. The latter had been brightly visible from the ferry coming down
the channel into Nantucket harbor. They were quite a sight up close too,
being so very tall to be visible over area homes (including that of
Senator John Kerry).
The wind and stinging rain, sleet, or sand at the red flashing Brant Point
Light kept us from spending much time photographing that light, but alas
the NELL banner was displayed proudly by the very few who gathered in the
lee of a sand dune in front of the island's signature lighthouse.
At noon, the buses then returned us to the Inn for our box lunches in the
shelter of our home away from home. We spent the rest of the day there
conducting the NELL business meeting and raising preservation monies from
silent auction items, 50-50 drawing won by Judy McCann, chances on the 2
HL GLOW Brant Point flashing lighthouses donated by Collectors World and
Country Card Corner, as well as several others donated by Harbour Lights,
including a #10 Alki, Washington HL from Bill's private collection with
winning bid by Frank Carbone. NELL merchandise also did a brisk sale. I
defer to the Treasurer Judy Hall's report for an accounting, and Carolyn
Carbone for meeting minutes.
Thanks again to Ron Foster for his "treasured" Nantucket tour buttons, and
MJ' for her mailing labels. Ron has been putting together a great NELL
Fall meeting / tour for the Avery Point relighting in Sept. so stay tuned,
and check our website for other events.
I learned later that the 5:30 PM ferry did sail that night but encountered
20 foot waves that crashed over the bow deck and took 3+ hours to cross in
60 mph headwinds. :( The ferries as well as commercial flights
were cancelled until Monday.
Steve Nicolle of the Trustees checked out Great Point Saturday and told us
it would not be possible to go out in open trucks even on Sunday due to
wind blown sand. Bob Cipriani and Lynn Robinson would not be
deterred, rented a jeep, and gave it a shot only to be stopped short by
high tides. But that told us it was possible, and at least half a dozen
SUVs rented by groups of members trekked out at low tide early Monday AM
for another lighthousing adventure several miles across the sand.
The majestic 1986 tower stood solemnly against the strong winds and the
seagulls hung silently in mid-air. A lone seal lay down the beach and
appeared sick, or perhaps just tired and battered by the storm. :( We
didn't get to enter the tower, but those who really wanted to go, made it
out to GP. :)
Some members desperate to return to the mainland and their work-a-day
world flew out, but most departed on the noon ferry Monday. The winds had
subsided some but the seas were still rough. Five of us, the Halls,
Pregmans, and Cliff Olson stayed yet another night, shopped the day away
in Nantucket town, and took a leisurely, warm, sunny, smooth ferry home at
"AT NELL WE DON'T JUST DO TOURS, WE DO ADVENTURES", or how about "I
SURVIVED THE NANTUCKET NOR'EASTER OF MAY 2005" (I see a T-shirt
Those who went to Nantucket I'm sure had a good time with friends in an
environment reminiscent of the hard lives of lightkeepers of old. We at
least visited all the lights and got to see how really small the island
is. The tour book says "Spring comes to Nantucket a week before summer."
With wind chill in the thirties, wet off-season weather, in fact the
nor'easter of May 2005, "we were there" while other NELL members could
only watch "Storm Stories" on the Weather Channel and wonder.
Eat your hearts out !!!
Follow-up to welcome committee
and Hannah-Sarah - thanks to Al Pochek