30 Aug 2012

Whale Tales On Nantucket…

Nantucket Whale Tales

     Whale Tales    

       Photo courtesy of John C. Bogle Jr.

Just when you think you’ve seen all that Nantucket has to offer, something jumps out of the water to surprise you…literally! A few days ago residents and visitors enjoying a summer day on Brant Point must have thought their eyes were playing tricks on them when a whale breached in the channel leading into the Nantucket harbor. Just a few hundred yards from the Brant Point lighthouse, the estimated 25 foot Minke thrilled onlookers even as it snarled boat traffic. The social media lines lit up and the text messages flooded cell lines alerting islanders of the August surprise. Within minutes, a huge crowd had gathered along the shoreline to get a front row view of the seafaring mammal. Although it’s not the only time a whale has made its way into the channel, it certainly is a rare occurrence and something to behold.

Nantucket is famous, at least among those who call it home or are regular visitors to the island, for serving up the “wow factor.” Brant Point in particular is a place well known for planned…or sometimes completely unexpected magic moments. Thousands of brides and grooms (including my cousins) have said “I do” on the sand. I’ve seen babies christened and friends and family (including my husband and daughter) baptized in the cool harbor waters. Many lucky anglers (my sons among them) have caught their first striped bass while standing knee deep in the water just off the light house.

Some Brant Point scenes, like the ferry rounding the corner or the rainbow fleet out for a sail, have been widely photographed or captured on canvas. They’re part of the fabric of the island and scenes we expect to savor when spending time on Brant Point. But periodically, like with the whale sighting, we get caught completely off guard and find ourselves right in the midst of some unplanned Nantucket Experience.

This past July Fourth, our family was enjoying a sunset picnic while awaiting the annual fireworks display. We noted, as we relaxed on the beach, that the charter sailboat Endeavor was just pulling into the harbor. My husband Dan quickly pointed out that there were only 2 people on board (a couple) – which seemed strange for a chartered cruise. We also noted separately, that a small crowd of nicely dressed folks had gathered, champagne glasses in hand, along the shoreline. The next thing we knew, the young man on board was down on one knee along the rails, ring in hand. The girl squealed, the guy stood up, fist pumped the air and screamed “SHE SAID YES!” To which the assembled family whooped, hollered and clinked their glasses, prompting the rest of us (over 100 complete strangers) to join in with a resounding round of applause. Their Nantucket Experience became our Nantucket Experience as the sun dipped into the sound and the first fireworks erupted overhead. “Just another day on Nantucket,” we heard one of the proud dad’s say as the families went off to celebrate with the new fiancés.

These sort of “wow moments” and many others like them are available each day on Nantucket. Although every island location holds its own enchanting opportunities, there is something about the comings and goings around Brant Point that exemplifies the ebb and flow of Nantucket living . Make a plan someday soon to gather friends and family near the lighthouse for an afternoon of fishing, a sunset picnic or a relaxing day of watching the boats and people go by.

Thar she blows!

Shellie Dunlap

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