After several days of wind and rain we went to Sankaty Bluff to see how it was faring, considering that there was the possibility of a hurricane on the way. The hurricane is now predicted to have no impact on our east-facing beaches, but this nor’easter is still taking its shots. Even after a mild summer with little rain, the effects of runoff from the top of the bluff continue. Crevices in the sand envelope covering the geotextile containers are again forming below both sides of the cottage “Swept Away” in the same places that they have appeared since the original installation. It appears that a large depression is forming in the bank in front of the cottage as the recently distributed sand washes away from underneath the netting and planting. It could not have been reasonably expected that the rainwater pouring over the bluff edge or the runout from the wetlands across Baxter Road would simply stop because of a sand cover with netting and grass placed on the face. What always was a reasonable expectation is that the erosion would continue under the cover, caused by rainwater pouring over the edge and finding its way under the netting and by the wetland runout that comes out of the bluff face, not off of the top.

This 900′ long area will soon have a fourth geotextile container installed. We believe that there is no particular expectation that these current installations will succeed – rather it is simply an effort to set a precedent, both in legal terms and in public relations, to facilitate an approval of the 4000′ rock revetment sought by the SBPF. Since the ocean never reaches the top of the current installation, adding a fourth tube is likely to serve no purposes other than to get people used to the greater scale that would certainly be a feature of a rock revetment, and have an approval on record. And, simply, to get their way.

People here who make money from such projects – lawyers, contractors, etc., may well be licking their lips at the prospect of profit, but those of us who love the natural beauty of Nantucket’s beaches are left to wonder why they are being turned into perpetual construction zones.

You can see more and larger photos on Nantucket Erosion at


A crevice caused by runoff erosion has reached into a corner of the viewing pen, disproving the notion that the decay of the bluff has been stopped in this area of the SBPF’s maximum effort.


Runoff and runout continue to make their way around both sides of “Swept Away”, carrying material from the bluff face under the netting, across the geotextile containers and into the sea, all while cutting crevices into the installation’s sand envelope.


This area is not visible from the viewing pen, hence it has little public relations value: an explanation for the half-hearted effort betrayed by the much sparser planting and poor maintenance. The added sand that covers the face of the bluff near the viewing pen is nowhere to be seen once one looks north past the last shed. This is contrary to what should be expected by island residents, town government and the MASS DEP, considering that the reason for allowing the installation was to protect Baxter Road and its infrastructure. This neglected stretch on the tubes’ northern end is where the edge of the bluff has eroded closest to the road, posing the greatest threat.


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