Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Whalecome to Nantucket: A Whale of a Time!

We just returned from 2 and 1/2 days on Nantucket, the "Faraway Island" as the original Indian American called it, it also goes by "The Grey Lady". We were so excited to make it there as weather and currents don't always cooperate. Hundreds of ships wrecked on its shoals, and we sure did not want to make that list. The guide said as soon as you step on shore, you feel there is something different about this island. This place is just so freaking special. It is known as the world capital of whaling, but the history around it is just fascinating, and when you are tired of museums, the food scene is out of this place and so are their bike paths. I could write pages of excitement, but maybe a short list of 10 things we'd love to share would be more digestible.

  1. It is the only place in the US that is an island, a town, and a county.
  2. It is 14 miles long and 3 1/2 miles wide, has an ice rink, a gold course, a disc gold course, 32+ miles of bike paths, 80 miles of beaches (all around the island) and one brewery (Cisco Brewers)
  3. It has over 800 houses built in the 1800s, making it a registered historical site 
  4. It has the oldest operating windmill in the US
  5. At the highest of its whaling era, it had over 88 ships hunting whales around the world, and men would leave 3 to 5 years at a time before returning.
  6. It is a big foodie place (have not had a bad meal there and some of the meals were just to die for) and similarly to Block Island we had foreign waiters, several form Bulgaria.
  7. It has 3 light houses and supplemented them with lightships (ships with lights for dangerous areas around the island here a lighthouse was not possible). Early on, men were deployed on those lightships four months at a time (later on a more reasonable 6 weeks at a time). To pass the time, they weaved baskets which are now known as the Nantucket LightShip Baskets that sell for hundreds if not thousands of $$.
  8. Although known worldwide for its whaling industry, that era only lasted 150 yrs of so, and ended drastically when a perfect storm occurred: petroleum oil was discovered in Pennsylvania, gold in California and a massive fire destroyed the city in the mid-1800s. For 50 years after that, the town was a ghost town until its citizens realized they could leverage the incredible amount of history they had to fuel a lucrative tourism industry. They do a really good job at preserving the past and educating visitors, with many small and super well done museums.
  9. Its whaling industry was in a way the first global economy developed in the States. Whales were hunted not just around the island but around the world. Folks from places like Cape Verde, the Azores and many other countries came back to Nantucket making it quite a melting pot. 
  10. The oil from the hunted whale lit most of America and helped fueled the Industrial Revolution
Can't help to go past #10 with the Nantucket sleigh ride: the exhilarating boat ride the sailors on the small whale boat launched from the big whale boat to harpoon the beast. That ride could go for 20 miles until the beast tired out and they then had to row the beast back to the main ship. Only 6 men were aboard to do this task.









We are now back in Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard for a night to stage our Cape Cod Canal passage over the next few days. We got a chance to dip in the South Beach (atlantic side) today and the water was so much warmer than Block Island.

We leave those 3 wonderful islands - Block Island, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket - with fond memories and wishing we could have stayed days longer on Nantucket - biking all their bike paths and seeing all their museums - but at this rate, we'll never make it to Maine....


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