We’ve updated Nantucket Erosion with a new post.

You can see more and larger photos on Nantucket Erosion at http://www.nantucketerosion.com


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We have fixed all the links from the blog to Nantucket Erosion so if you are reading a post and click on the link to Nantucket Erosion, it should now take you to the appropriate page. If you have any issues, please leave a comment or email us. Thanks!


It’s been amazing here this summer – cool with beautiful light almost everyday. We found a new vantage point to enjoy the harbor.



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We made a trip to the UMASS field station in the harbor to begin documenting erosion. Dr. Sarah Oktay, the head of the field station told us they have lost 14 feet over the past two years.

You can see more and larger photos on Nantucket Erosion at http://www.nantucketerosion.com





Dirck and I made a few stops this afternoon on a cool day here on Nantucket. We took a walk down Mill Street, ate at a new restaurant here which we highly recommend and then went out to the bluff.


A garden at a house which was built in 1790.


Barcos y Tacos is now open in the old Sanford Boat Building. The food is fresh and delicious and not expensive.


Friendly staff at Barcos y Tacos


We then went to the bluff to check on its grass toupée which is doing well.


And then stopped at Sankaty to enjoy the view

We have now updated our website. The site has a new format to make it easier to navigate on mobile devices and our photos are now displayed larger.

There is lots of new work to see in our portfolio section including a new section titled “Sand and Tides” and we have several new series. We also have a section titled Nantucket People with several series in it.

If you have any issues, please let us know.

Here’s the link to our site – Van Lieu Photography


From our Seascapes section


From a new series titled “The Winter of Ought Fifteen”.

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We are taking down Van Lieu Photography today to install our new website. The blog will stay up. Please check back soon to see our new site with lots of new work. We’re very excited about it.


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We made a trip to the Sankaty Bluff tonight to see how it fared after the recent heavy rains and saw that fresh dirt continues to fall from the top, further eroding the edge. A great deal of sand was added to the bluff in the vicinity of Swept Away and the two building remnants to the north prior to the planting of its face, extending it several feet back out toward the ocean. The SBPF has maintained the new grass there which is now fuller and greener, but to the north of Swept Away, they added much less sand and the grass there is brown and languishing. It seems that the focus of their efforts is to protect Swept Away and the other building remnants, hoping to preserve the only legally justifiable reason  for the entire project while paying much less attention to the area of the bluff where the road is most threatened by erosion. The town partnered with the SBPF in an effort to gain time to provide alternate access to the northern end of Baxter Road but the area where the bluff is closest to the road is getting the least attention.

Three members of the Board of Selectmen chose to not reappoint Dr. Sarah Oktay to the Conservation Commission last week – an obvious political decision as Dr. Oktay is an oceanographer and expert in the many water issues the island faces, and has worked tirelessly and for no compensation on the commission. This decision was a result of pressure from a special interest group that is only interested in promoting their own agenda, no matter what harm it does Nantucket.

You can see more and larger photos on Nantucket Erosion at http://www.nantucketerosion.com






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I made a quick trip to the top of the bluff after a day of rain and put up an update on Nantucket Erosion.

You can see more and larger photos on Nantucket Erosion at http://www.nantucketerosion.com



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Both houses we have photographed on Nantucket’s North Shore that were close to the edge have now been moved and new houses are being built further inland on those lots – leaving room for the bank to erode. It’s gratifying to see folks who own beach-front homes here preserve the natural state of the beach and bank. Further north of these houses, the beach has been reduced to a construction zone similar to that on  Sconset Beach.

The first photo was taken in May of 2005 and the second was taken this past Sunday – June 8, 2015.



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We photographed the bluff and the North Shore today. I’ll try to get photos of the North Shore up in the next couple of days. You can see our bluff photos on Nantucket Erosion. The planting over the geotubes is now complete. Sconset beach is a permanent construction site with the beach covered in machine tracks, piles of dirt and messily arranged jute bags – it really is Nantucket’s ugliest beach.

You can see more and larger photos on Nantucket Erosion at http://www.nantucketerosion.com



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I’m home again after 3 weeks in Texas enjoying family and friends and our new granddaughter! This seems like a good time to post a personal project we have about Nantucket. These were taken from our deck over the past several years and show the changing seasons here. They also express how we feel about this island where home isn’t just a house but is the island itself. Please click on the link to view the slideshow.




We’ve taken a hiatus. We’ll be back the first week of June. Please check back then!

Thanks for reading the blog. If you need anything, please email us.



We always found Sconset Beach to be Nantucket’s most beautiful beach. Now it is its ugliest. The Baxter Road Homeowners who call themselves a beach preservation group have so destroyed the beauty of Sconset Beach that we find it hard to look at anymore. This will continue on a regular basis as you can’t have erosion projects on the beach without constant maintenance. We will continue to document what is taking place on Sconset Beach but it is no longer a pleasure to be there.

The planting continues below the pre-1978 structures.

You can see more and larger photos on Nantucket Erosion at http://www.nantucketerosion.com








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They have begun planting the face of the bluff over the geotubes. The dirt surface has been prepared and one section completed. We’ll have a full set of photos when it is completed. They have also added a larger berm on Baxter Road to try to prevent runoff.

You can see more and larger photos on Nantucket Erosion at http://www.nantucketerosion.com



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Nantucket’s Annual Daffodil Parade marks the beginning of the island’s non-winter season. After a harsher few months than usual, there appeared to be fewer daffodils and fewer cars, but sunshine and smiles were abundant. The parade sometimes  boasts Pierce-Arrows and Cords, but always has entries from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, and now ’60s muscle cars are a favorite. It’s a “run what ya brung” event in many ways, always full of spirit.












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The most recent sand deliveries to Baxter Road are not for beach nourishment at the geotubes, but for blanketing the face of Sankaty Bluff in an attempt to provide a base for beach grass and other plantings. The sand has been deposited on the bluff edge in a number of places and pushed over the side by machines much smaller than the front end loaders normally seen during replenishment operations. The small cottage that is a remnant of the house called “Bluff Edge” is wrapped in plastic to protect its contents from blowing sand, a problem faced by its occupant during the initial geotube installation. On the same lot, a row of privet has been taken up to allow machine access to the edge.

The sand covering hides much of the devastation the bank has endured due to runoff erosion in the last 14 months. Whether or not it will prevent its continuance is debatable.

You can see more and larger photos on Nantucket Erosion at http://www.nantucketerosion.com

Sand Conveyor

The sand conveyor in the driveway of the house remnant “Bluff Edge”.

Heavy Machinery


Heavy machinery on the top of the bank.

Sand Piles

Sand piles deposited at the bluff’s edge to be pushed over the side by a small machine.

Path to the Edge

A path to the edge made by a skid steer (small front end loader) while dumping sand over the edge.

Filling a Gulley

The deep gulley on the north side of “Swept Away” has been filled with pit sand. It is evidently hoped that this loose sand will fare better than the native material,  deposited and compacted thousands of years ago, in resisting the runoff from the top of the bank and the flow of the adjacent wetland through the bluff face.

Pre 1978

The challenge facing the SBPF is to keep these three placeholder structures from going over the edge. Without them there is no legal justification for the geotubes below.

Blanket of Sand

The blanket of pit sand that will presumably cover all of the nearly 900′ of bank above the geotubes.

Dry Runoff

Sankaty Bluff erodes in a number of different ways. Today, fine, dry sand poured uninterrupted down the face in many places. While it doesn’t look like much…

Fine Sand

…a longer view shows that it adds up to an impressive accumulation along the toe of the bluff.

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We made a quick trip to the bluff tonight. The ocean was active, the wind was blowing and it was raining. We watched a dump truck pouring more island sand over the edge of the bluff. We were able to get a different view of Swept Away and Bluff Edge. The edges in front of those structures are rapidly eroding. What was once a fairly straight line along the edge of the bluff is now scalloped with a deep cleft forming on the north side of Swept Away.

You can see more and larger photos on Nantucket Erosion at http://www.nantucketerosion.com


We have posted two large photos of Swept Away at 93 Baxter Road on Nantucket Erosion. The first was taken on August 3, 2014 and the second on March 15, 2015. You can see the considerable erosion around this house that is over the geotubes. This damage is all caused by runoff and the fragile structure of the bluff at this location because of the wetlands. The geotubes are unable to protect the bluff from this type of erosion.

You can see larger photos on Nantucket Erosion at http://www.nantucketerosion.com



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After a rough winter for heavy construction (them) and difficult parking (us), the new Stop & Shop is whetting our appetite for convenient shopping, wider selection and easier navigation. Let’s hope we get all that and better parking too. My island-raised brother is having a hard time imagining a store that extends fully from Sparks Avenue to Pleasant Street. And he hasn’t seen the new Boys and Girls Club either!

All taken with our iPhones.


The Pleasant Street elevation.


The loading dock adjacent to Sparks Avenue. The restrooms are temporary.


The entry elevation facing the old store.


Not much space between the old and new. The old will be demolished to make way for parking.


To the left, after this large airlock entry, is a counter for Nantucket Coffee Roasters.


“Grab ‘n’ Go! A giant buffet?  This looks like it might be a good place to pick up lunch.


How long have we wished for adequate room between the end caps and the registers? Could this be the end of an island tradition of lining up in the aisles while leaving a gap for the cross-traffic?


Peet’s Coffee, originally from Berkeley, California, has its own end cap.


Another entry toward the Sparks Avenue side. We’re ready!

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For Easter – He is risen!


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This winter was tough on the banks on the north shore. One house in particular was on the edge and has since been moved or demolished. There appears to be a new foundation staked out elsewhere on the property. We are grateful for the home owners along this stretch of the north shore as they are moving back from the eroding bank and are allowing the beach to remain in its natural state.


House shown earlier this winter.


This is from the 16th of March, 2015.


This was taken today – the 30th of March, 2015.


A view down the unobstructed beach today.


The beach a little bit north of the previous houses. Coastal armoring with its required maintenance turns beaches into frequent construction sites.

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The geotubes below Sankaty Bluff were permitted by the Mass Dep because there are three pre-1978 structures endangered by erosion along a short stretch of the bank. One of these structures, “Swept Away” is a cottage. Another is a small remnant of a house where “Bluff Edge” once stood, the third being an uninhabitable shed on the next lot. We found that the little remaining area around Swept Away is seriously undercut on the water side and the north end. Although there appears to be several feet of ground from the north corner to the edge of the bluff, in reality much of that is just a shallow ledge that will soon fall away. We saw several feet lost on the Bluff Edge lot, there being obvious and significant losses along the top of the bluff from Swept Away to the shed that marks the end of the pre-1978 structures. The geotubes extend well past that point where there are no structures to protect, pre-78 or otherwise.

It was a gorgeous day, the ocean was beautiful and the beach looked, as always, like a construction site.

You can see more and larger photos on Nantucket Erosion at http://www.nantucketerosion.com


The access ramp to the road on top of the geotubes.


It seems unlikely that “Swept Away” will survive another winter season, perhaps not another summer.


Not much left of the fence or back yard of “Swept Away”.


The undercutting of the top of the bank wraps around the cottage.


The work to move or demolish “Swept Away” will be more difficult as time goes by.

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