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Your Perfect Beach
by Peter Fyler – May 25, 2006

These days with summer approaching, you’re probably commuting long distances for work or family responsibilities, sitting in your office, taking meetings, or doing countless mundane chores, BUT your mind is elsewhere. You’ve got Vineyard fever. You can’t wait until those precious few days or weeks you’ve allotted arrive so you can return to paradise.

The Vineyard is waiting for you and it is looking better than ever. Last spring The Boston Globe acknowledged the Vineyard by publishing their picks for Best of in New England in an article titled, “Your Perfect Beach”.

They picked this Island for the Best Waves…

“South Beach in Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard, also known as Katama Beach, has soft sand and gorgeous dunes. It's also a fantastic place for bodysurfing. Catch a frothy wave and ride it into shore -- with or without a boogie board. Beware that sometimes-fierce current can also make for a dangerous swim. Exhaust yourself with a ride, then rest up for your next trip out with a snooze. Parking is free, but you'll have competition.”

They picked this Island for the best Sunsets….

Courtesy Peter Simon Photography
“With its rocky jetties, fishing docks, and near-still water reflecting golden orb and pink sky, Menemsha Beach in Chilmark on Martha's Vineyard is as photogenic as it is friendly. On summer evenings, tourists and locals alike gather there to toast the setting sun with raised glasses of chardonnay and lobster claws. (Chilmark's a dry town, so BYOB. Pick up your picnic before 7 p.m. at nearby Larsen's, which sells steamed and cracked fresh lobsters for rustic al-fresco dinners.) You can also take your fishing tackle and license and catch your own dinner while you watch the sun go down.”

And, they picked this Island for the Best Nude Bathing. All right!

“New England is skimpy when it comes to clothing-optional beaches, but among the few, the unofficially nude area of Moshup Beach in Aquinnah on Martha's Vineyard is tops, with warmer water than other island beaches. And it's small enough that it doesn't draw crowds. Just be sure to cover up as you walk to and from the nudity-friendly areas near the cliffs marbled with clay; the other side of the beach attracts fully clothed families. There is parking for nonresidents, but it's limited, whether you're naked or not.”

Personally, I think we qualify for BEST in a lot of other categories, but we try to keep our best a secret. This brings me to a short story I want to tell you about my Sunday morning this past weekend.

A friend of mine, whom I assisted in purchasing a home here a number of years ago, came down for the weekend. He claims I forced him to buy it, but he keeps telling me over and over again how much he loves his home and how much he loves the Vineyard, so I guess I did the right thing. He sits at a desk all week and loves to be outdoors whenever he can get the time. He came across from the mainland Friday night and was out at the crack of dawn with all his fishing gear strapped to his Wrangler Jeep Island car, 18 psi in the tires and headed for Wasque. He spent all day fishing, and then blew off a dinner invitation from me, because he heard from the legendary Cooper Gillis that the Blues were running at Wasque from late afternoon until nightfall. He caught nothing.

He invited me to join him on Sunday and I accepted. I could not have cared less whether or not I caught anything; I just needed a mental health day and there is no better therapy than being on the beach, plus I always enjoy his company. We went out bright and early with fishing poles bristling from every porthole on his Wrangler. We looked like a porcupine, but very official. First stop was Wasque where the real fisherman had already lined up and the frantic flailing of long poles was in full motion. But, no one was catching anything. There were just as many real fishermen just sitting inside their trucks “watching the water for signs”, my friend told me.

After a while my friend said, “Well, we’re not going to catch anything today, so what would you say if we headed up to the Gut?” That’s what they call the tip of Cape Poge. I said, “Sure, that sounds great!”, so off we drove slogging our way through the deep moist sand and passing truck after truck of real fishermen --- catching nothing, but watching the water for signs. We passed a dead Minke Whale splayed out at the edge of the surf, garnished with seagulls hastening its return to Mother Nature.

Courtesy Peter Simon Photography
I continued to gawk at how absolutely beautiful and magical the marshes and flood plains are all along the Trustees of the Reservations conservation land. Imagine driving along a slender strip of land simultaneously viewing, on one side the pounding Atlantic Ocean, and on the other side the placid waters of Cape Poge Bay; it is just mind boggling. Where was I? All of a sudden my friend said he wanted to stop and try fishing along a stretch of East Beach. We agreed to give it a try, and after backing the Wrangler into the obligatory perpendicular position, lest the tides catch us off guard and we have to make a hasty getaway, we got out and strutted up to the water’s edge in our big boots, poles in hand without a single soul in sight. We cast out into the surf. My friend is a serious, I mean real serious, fisherman so he watched intently whilst retrieving his line, but I just start reeling in, looking everywhere but at the water. It’s just too beautiful not to soak it in, and after all, I’m on a mental health day. I repeated the process another time, but this time my line wouldn’t retrieve as easily, it’s going the other way --- out! I caught a fish! I reeled it in, and it was big. I looked over and my friend was going through the same contortions I just experienced. We both caught a fish.

Now, this is where it gets ugly. After I caught three or four fish I was content and felt accomplished, but real fishermen like lots of fish, and Mother Nature was very accommodating this Sunday. Our combined catch was about 33 blue fish and two striped bass --- my friend seriously in the lead. What I really loved about the experience was, as soon as we started catching fish, the scent was picked up by other fishermen and all of a sudden they started to appear on both sides of us. It just goes to show, if you catch ‘um, they will come. However, they --- the real fishermen couldn’t catch ‘um. They looked at the lures we were using and changed to match, but they couldn’t catch ‘um. We finally left around noon, because my friend had to catch the ferry and I was seriously thinking about seeing my chiropractor. I know one thing for sure; I am now a real fisherman. There is no place like the Vineyard, but please let’s keep it a secret --- it’s the best.

Boston Globe excerpts: Writer Janice O'Leary lives in Boston. Writer Stephen Jermanok lives in Newton.

The opinions expressed herein as SplitRockRE Comments are solely those of the editor.

w w w . S P L I T R O C K R E . c o m

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