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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








They have begun planting the face of the bluff over the geotextile containers. 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



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 geotextile containers, 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 geotextile container 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 geotextile containers below.

Blanket of Sand

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

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 geotextile containers. This damage is all caused by runoff and the fragile structure of the bluff at this location because of the wetlands. The geotextile containers are unable to protect the bluff from this type of erosion.

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



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 geotextile containers 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 geotextile containers 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 geotextile containers.


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.

We made a quick trip to Sankaty Bluff today. As it was raining, raw and windy, we only looked at the top of the bank and will go down to the beach tomorrow. We found significant new losses around the remains of “Bluff Edge” and “Swept Away”. The erosion is causing a chasm between the two properties as it works its way toward the road. While it might be expected that the hedge on the property line might strengthen the surface with its root system, it seems to be the most vulnerable area, due most likely to a concentration of runoff on the surface and seepage from the bank’s face. The shell patio at “Swept Away” has lost a corner and the board at its outside edge is loose in the wind. As the photos show, the remainder of the fence will soon fall.

We wonder about the material they are trucking in to attempt to maintain a cover over the geotextile containers. It includes a lot of sizable rocks and gravel and is nothing like what was normally found on the beach below.  Given that compatibility of the delivered sand and the beach sand is a requirement of the DEP and the ConCom, it raises the question of its suitability to meet that requirement.

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


The erosion of the bank has now worked its way past the fence line at “Swept Away”.


There have been recent, heavy losses to the lot north of “Swept Away”.


The cottage is increasingly isolated as the ground erodes on its north and south sides.


This fill brought in to maintain the armoring of the beach below is little like the sand normally found there.

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We have updated Nantucket Erosion with photos from Sunday the 15th for the bluff and Monday the 16th for Eel Point and Steps Beach area.

Sankaty Bluff photos are here http://www.nantucketerosion.com

And the North Shore Comparison galleries have been updated at these links –

Eel Pointwww.nantucketerosion.com/?page_id=1799




I’m working on the bluff photos from this weekend and North Shore photos taken today. They won’t be ready today so I thought I would post this photo of lovely sanderlings that Dirck took on Sconset Beach yesterday. There were hundreds of them enjoying a feast.


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This weekend brought the weather that has proved to be the bluff’s biggest enemy – a steady rain. When it was over, a 9 foot piece of the bluff was on top of the geotextile containers along with a multitude of other large clumps and the bank at Swept Away had eroded to the edge of its patio.

We will have more photos and a fuller report tomorrow.






Last month, we were on a Nantucket beach and saw one of the most beautiful sights we have ever seen. It was breathtaking. We haven’t posted those photos yet – we are saving them for our website redo that we are working on.

Yesterday,  I had the opposite experience. Sconset Beach is again an ugly construction site. This is the future of Sconset Beach. These projects require constant maintenance involving heavy machinery.  It was so sad to see this once beautiful beach spoiled.  This is an environmental and aesthetic mess – and the bluff continues to erode.

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


I made a trip to the bluff today and the North Shore. I’ll have a complete report here and on Nantucket Erosion as soon as possible.

Tonight I  thought I’d post a few of the lovely textures and colors I found today on the parts of the bluff that haven’t been interfered with. Click on the thumbnails for the larger photos.


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I made a very quick trip to the North Shore this morning. The temp was at 9 degrees and the wind chill was brutal. I could only stay for a few minutes. We have lots of new work. We are redoing our website so we can show larger photos.


We made a trip to Sankaty Bluff yesterday in frigid temperatures. The beach was coated in ice, the sand was frozen and the bluff was covered in snow. As cold as it was, the beauty of Sconset Beach made it worth the trip in spite of the fact that there are more and more new and decayed jute bags at the toe of the bank . The SBPF continues to talk about increasing the length of the geotextile containers to 4000 feet. Sconset Beach – once one of Nantucket’s most beautiful, will soon be it’s ugliest.  A member of the Board of Selectmen who voted for the geotextile containers once said to me that it didn’t matter what was done on Sconset Beach because nobody went there. I’m glad this view isn’t shared by everyone or we wouldn’t have protected many of the beautiful wilderness areas our country has. We hope the citizens of Nantucket will continue to fight to protect Nantucket and its beaches, even the beaches that aren’t heavily visited.

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



We spent a very cold day photographing erosion. We have a lot of photos to go through and will have this blog and Nantucket Erosion updated tomorrow.


The boat basin is slightly thawed creating an interesting effect in the water. If you click on this photo, you’ll get an extra large version to view. This was taken with the iphone 6 plus.


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The Inquirer & Mirror recently published an article echoing the SBPF’s claim that the Sankaty Bluff geotextile containers “did their job”. We wish the Inquirer & Mirror had done its job differently and published a balanced and more accurate article instead of quoting only one source, a spokesperson of the SBPF. As a result, the article featured a number of inaccuracies, half truths and fantasies. When it comes to an issue like the geotextile containers where the ultimate outcome could be that our beaches are lost or ruined and a beautiful natural resource is destroyed, our newspaper owes it to our community do a more thorough  job, or not do it at all. When one reports on a volatile political issue and only uses one source, then one loses credibility. If the Inquirer and Mirror wants to come out in favor of hard-armoring Nantucket’s shoreline, in spite of overwhelming evidence of harm, it should do so on the editorial page and not present an unverified public relations release as news.

There is nothing like the Sankaty Bluff anywhere else on Nantucket. As it erodes, it reveals the geologic history of our island with fossils dating over 125,000 years old and it will be ruined by the fruitless machinations of the SBPF with the blessing of a few members of our Board of Selectmen and the Mass DEP.


This photo was taken in September of 2010. One can clearly see that the damage here is from runoff – not toe erosion.


This photo was taken in October of 2014, on top of the geotextile containers. It shows the same type of erosion – not from the toe, but from the top.


The above photo was taken in March of 2013. The face of the bluff falls away even when the jute tubes protect it from the waves.


This photo shows the bluff face near the end of the walk after it lost another round of planting in March 2014.


Here is the same area, planted months ago and starting to give. No toe erosion at this spot in the past year. This was taken in October of 2014


And the same spot taken in December of 2014. The plantings have slid down the face of the bluff. We have seen this happen repeatedly, even behind these jute bags. The beach grass has no chance to develop long roots in the bluff environment.

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Edit: Looking back on our previous photos, we think it is likely that the geotextile containers were ripped by the machines used to add sand and not by the storms.

We went to the geotextile containers late this evening after being told that they had ripped. The have ripped in one section and in others there is noticeable sagging – geotextile containers deflategate perhaps. There has been a considerable amount of sand delivered, a different color than the previous load a couple of weeks ago. We aren’t sure what that signifies but found it interesting. The bluff continues to erode from the top, despite assurances that the geotextile containers are “doing their job”. We found frozen sediment on top of the tubes that had made its way through the newly poured sand. Swept Away is in worse shape – nearing the edge.

It was a beautiful evening with a lovely gradient sky and a huge moon that broke the horizon as we walked back to the stairs.

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








Our final comparative post is now up on Nantucket Erosion. These are photos taken from the end of the bluff walk to the geotextile containers. The photos are posted in pairs, the first of the pair was taken on January 11, 2015 and the second on January 28, 2015.

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


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