Originally published in the Proceedings of the Nantucket Historical Association, 1950, p. 34-42
The Saga of Sankaty
By Edouard Stackpole
As an Island landmark, the lighthouse on Sankaty Head, on the east side of Nantucket, has stood for a century, with its red band on its white tower presenting a familiar sight to islanders since its erection in February, 1850, on the 100-ft. headland called by the Nantucket Indians Sankoty—"highland." However, Sankaty has something else to represent than just its familiar appearance on its bluff above the sea. It is a symbol of the quiet heroism and sacrifice of those who maintained it over the years—those who kept continuous vigil so that the light did not fail to send its beacon rays out over the Atlantic, a faithful guide to mariners who have picked its light up from as far as 45 miles to sea.
Nantucket has had an important part in the early history of the Lighthouse Service. The second lighthouse established on the coast of the young thirteen colonies was at Brant Point, at the entrance to Nantucket harbor, in 1746. Great Point Light (first known as Nantucket Light) was erected in the year 1784, by Edward Allen and Stephen Hussey, of Nantucket.
The bluff at Sankaty rises 100 feet above the surface of the sea. Some historians believe that Gosnold was the first discoverer of Nantucket, having sighted Sankaty as he steered some distance from the land in 1602. Capt. George Waymouth, in 1608, has the best claim for discovering Nantucket. Finding himself in latitude 41° 20' north, and in shoal water, he "sent one man to the top who thence described a whitish, sandy cliffe."
Tradition says that a whale look-out was kept on the Head by the early island proprietors, who went off from shore to harpoon the right whale. A settlement between Sankaty and Sesachacha was called "Peedee," and originally was an Indian camp during the fishing seasons.
It was in a newspaper article, in The Boston Post of 1838, that a writer, signing himself "A Sailor," summed up the need for a light on Sankaty Head, writing as follows:
"There is a passage inside South Shoal, near Sankaty Head, deep enough for the largest ships to pass—sounding five fathoms. Now, the difficulty to us is that we have no directions to govern us in going through this passage, except some vague ones in Blunt's Coast Pilot. None of these directions would answer for the night time. What the mariner wants is the outside passage surveyed and a lighthouse placed on Sankaty Head, Nantucket Island. It would help coming up the coast and going down, and, for those utilizing the inside route, a saving of 24 hours would be made. Having the lighthouse would mark a place of refuge for any ship running into a strong westerly, which might anchor under the lee of the high shore at Sankaty."
To the east of Sankaty are many shoals, especially dangerous being "Rose and Crown," some 15 miles off-shore, the "Great Rip" and "Fishing Rip," and "Bass Rip," besides "The Old Man" and "Pochick" to the southeast of the village of Siasconset and Low Beach.
The first government survey of this area was in the 1840's. Prof. Henry Mitchell, brother of Maria Mitchell, had done considerable work in charting the ocean currents off the east end and in Nantucket Sound, but it was the government survey vessels which did such good work from 1841-43, laying down Davis and McBlair Shoals, Pishing Rip and "Old South Shoal." In 1821, however, Capt. Colesworthy, in the schooner Orbit, had charted the latter. These shoals were well known to Nantucket pilots but were such a dangerous maze to other mariners that they became known as the "Graveyard of the Atlantic." As early as 1790, Capt. Paul Pinkham of Nantucket had made a chart showing the shoals off the east end as well as in Nantucket Sound. In 1821, the government made a survey of Georges Banks. Increased shipping through the Sound brought Cross Rip Lightship into being in 1828. Then came Pollock Rip light-vessel in 1849, and in 1854 the first lightship on South Shoals, under Capt. Samuel Bunker of Nantucket.
Work Began at Sankaty in 1849—Tower Completed in February, 1850.
It was early in the summer of 1849 that the government began the work of constructing the tower at Sankaty. Schooners brought the bricks, granite blocks and other building material to the town wharves, and it was carted out to the bluff. The original tower was only sixty feet high, compared with the 70-ft height of the present tower. The lighthouse bore south by east nine miles from Great Point light, and 23 miles south by west from Pollock Rip.
The keepers' dwelling was constructed entirely of brick, a story and a half high. Here the keeper and his assistant lived, with an ell, connecting the dwelling and the tower, serving as an entrance to the tower during storms and gales. A barn was built to the south of the house. About the property on three sides was a wooden fence.
Work on the tower was completed in December, 1849, leaving the delicate task of installing the new lens in the lantern. The bulls-eyes and prisms of the lens, with their bronze and brass frames, platform, and turning mechanism, were purchased in France by Engineer Isherwood, commissioned for the trip by the government, and the man who installed the entire assembly in the new tower. The lens cost $10,000. A clock-like apparatus in a glass case, operated by means of heavy weights which descended into the tower on a wire cable, turned the lens. This was in constant use for eighty-eight years, being replaced in 1938 by a smaller electric motor. The lens remained at Sankaty for 100 years, and in May, 1950, were removed, together with the entire assembly, and re-erected in the Nantucket Whaling Museum.
The windows of the lantern were large sheets of glass, half an inch thick, a protection to the lens when sea-birds, driven by storms, crashed head-on against the lighter tower. In some instances, a heavy bird struck against the glass with such force as to come crashing into the tower. In the center of the lens-platform was placed a single-wick whale-oil lamp, afterwards replaced by a lamp with several tubes and finally with a kerosene vapor light. In 1938, the light was electrified, increasing its candle-power to 720,000.
It was at first planned to have alternate red flashes to show at a distance of six miles, and of occasional white flashes at a distance of more than 6 miles. William R. Easton was the Collector of the Port of Nantucket at this time, and his "Notice to Mariners" in The Inquirer and The Mirror read as follows:
"This new light will be a fixed white light, with brilliant white flashes; two successive flashes being given at intervals of 1 1-2 minutes, then the third flash at an interval of three minutes; followed by two successive flashes at intervals of 1 1-2 minutes, then a third flash at an interval of 3 minutes as before, and so on for the time the light is visible. The fixed light will not be visible farther than 12 to 15 miles, beyond which the flashes only will be seen."
In the Feb. 4, 1850, issue of The Inquirer, it was reported:
"The new lighthouse at Sankaty Head was lighted for the first time on Friday evening (Feb. 1.) The flashes of light are very brilliant and must be visible at a distance of twenty-five miles."
Sankaty Becomes an Island Symbol.
The first keeper of the new light was Capt. Samuel D. Bunker, one of the most successful island shipmasters but one who had met with financial reverses upon retiring from the sea. Capt. Bunker remained at Sankaty for four years, then left to take over command of the new lightship placed on Old South Shoal, southeast of the lighthouse, in 1854.
The supplies needed by the light-house to maintain the light (aside from the fuel and food for the keepers) were many and varied. First, of course, was the whale-oil for the lantern. In those days, whale-oil was refined for winter use as well as summer. Then came wicks for the lamps, chimneys, buff skins, linen towels, brushes, spirits of wine, straight and curved scissors, paint, litharge, linseed oil and turpentine, "coachmaker's" oil, solder, paint brushes, whitewash, plated glass, sash tools, limes, corn and hickory brooms, spare burners and hand lanterns.
It is not surprising that Capt. Bunker should write to Collector Allen, under date of May 31, 1854, as follows:
"Sir: I shall be obliged to you if you will send me a copy of the inventory of the lamps and their appurtenances, as I am unacquainted with the names of many of them, and because I wish the tenor & tally in my receipt book to agree with the receipts already given. If sent to Capt. Baxter's, or to Mr. Winslow's, I will get them in time; or perhaps you intend going to Sankaty Head yourself to see the things & can bring the copy of the original."
Capt. Bunker, leaving to take command of the South Shoals Lightship in 1854, was succeeded by his 1st Assistant Keeper, Samuel G. Swain, who held the post until July, 1861, when Capt. Henry Winslow was appointed.
One humorous touch is given the life of the lighthouse during Capt. Swain's incumbency. Sankaty had become a favorite goal for islanders who went out on "a cruise" of a Sunday. It took pretty much the whole day to get out and back, allowing for a lunch or picnic. In October 25, 1856, The Mirror noted:
"The narrow aperture on the platform under the lantern at Sankaty lighthouse has been widened to allow ladies with hoop skirts to pass through to see the reflectors."
Early Keepers Were Experienced Seamen and War Veterans
Following the Civil War, many of the Keepers and Assistants were veterans of service with the Army or Navy. Uriah C. Clark succeeded Captain Winslow, holding the position until February 11, 1873, when he died, the first Keeper to pass away on the station. George F. Folger, the 1st Assist., became Keeper, but did not receive his official appointment until April, 1873. Charles B. Swain, the 2nd Asst., was transferred to the Cliff beacon lights in town, and Franklin B. Murphey was appointed 1st Asst. Keeper. Both Folger and Murphy had served in the Army of the Potomac. Mr. Murphey resigned in June, 1875, his place being filled by John M. Lamb, another veteran. Freeman Atkins, Benjamin Sayer and Charles Pollard also had short periods of service as assistant keepers at Sankaty.
In November, 1875, a new type of wick was used--an "English wick"--which made it possible to operate the light with only one trimming of the wicks during the night as compared to the two or three times necessary before. All who have tramped up to Sankaty's lantern tower will appreciate how the keepers felt about this improvement.
Asst. Keeper Lamb resigned Sept. 30, 1877, and Simeon L. Lewis, Sr., became his successor, serving a year, and being followed by William H. Gibbs, who came to Sankaty October 1, 1878. John S. Cathcart replaced Mr. Gibbs on July 10, 1880, following an altercation between the keepers. There were numerous instances where short tempers flared between men living in "close quarters," with families, children and island relationships contributory factors.
Benjamin F. Wyer was appointed Asst. Keeper in August, 1880, but resigned in December of the same year, to be replaced by Calvin C. Hamblin. Two years later (Nov., 1882) George F. Folger resigned as Keeper after having served since 1873. Calvin Hamblin was appointed keeper, and Benjamin F. Brown was given the berth as 1st Assistant Keeper.
A Telegraph Line To Sankaty—Then the Telephone.
In 1886, the U. S. Government Signal Station, with head office at the Pacific Club building in Nantucket, ran a telegraph line out to Sankaty Head. The government's Main street Weather Bureau was opened in October, 1886. A cable had been laid out to the island the preceding November 18, 1885. In December, 1886, the government installed telephones at Sankaty and at the Surfside Life Saving Station—the line afterwards being extended to Coskata and Great Point Light.
During this same month (Dec., 1886) a 50-ft. flagstaff was erected on the bluff by Capt. William T. Swain, who had the government contract, and weather signals were displayed at Sankaty for the first time on December 30.
Keepers and Assistant Keepers
It was found that living quarters at Sankaty were not favorable, and so in the fall and early winter of 1887, the present dwelling was erected at a cost of $6,700.00. An additional $50 was spent for the "oil house" at the north. On Sept. 18, 1887, Assistant Keeper Brown and his family moved to 'Sconset, followed two days later by Keeper Hamblin and his family. This marked the first time in the thirty-eight years of its existence that the keepers had resided away from the lighthouse. Workmen commenced knocking down the brick dwelling, and on Sept. 30 the foundations for the new double-family house were laid. The present water cisterns were constructed at the same time. By December 20, the dwelling had been completed to the extent that most of the workmen departed. Keeper Hamblin moved into the new house on January 10, 1888, and Asst. Keeper Brown and family came over from 'Sconset on the 15th. An old notation book at the lighthouse states: "Jan. 22— At sunrise the thermometer at 4° above; ice seen from all directions." Apparently the keepers had set up housekeeping just in time.
In May of this year (1888) a new "deck" and lantern section were installed in the tower by two machinists and four laborers from Boston. The sextet brought down their own cook—as if rather in doubt as to the ability of the lighthouse families to properly feed them! Engineer S. V. Poor was in charge of the work. This new section increased the lantern tower 10 feet in height, bringing the tower to its present 70 feet above the ground level—or 170 feet above the surface of the sea. Major Stanton and Commodores Coffin and Barker inspected the completed work and pronounced it satisfactory. At this time the inside of the tower was plastered and white-washed. During the work on the tower, a fixed light was shown from a temporary platform which served as the lighthouse beacon from Sept. 30 to June 10, 1888.
Other installations during the spring of 1889 were a lightning rod conductor (which remained until removed in 1936 by Keeper Larsen), a speaking tube, which proved unsatisfactory, and new frames and doors in the tower. These latter were installed by Thomas Ceely, of Nantucket, who did an excellent job.
Assistant Keeper Benjamin Brown resigned on Sept. 1, 1889, after seven years of service. The occasion gave rise to a humorous anecdote. It appears that Keeper Hamblin, during a "tiff" with his assistant, had stated: "Ben--if you go to town, I shall have to log you as leaving the station without giving notice--that you are refusing duty!" Mr. Brown very calmly replied: "But, Calvin, I am giving notice--I'm not refusing duty--you can put me down in the log as resigning--here and now!"
James H. Norcross, of Quidnet, was engaged at the station for the next month, and on October 1, Wallace A. Eldredge became Assistant Keeper. On February 1, 1891, Keeper Hamblin resigned, having served as Keeper for eleven years, and Ethan Allen was appointed to the post. The light at this time was burning 50 gallons of oil a month, with kerosene having long since replaced whale-oil.
About this time there came on the scene at Sankaty a young man named Joseph Remsen. He had entered the Life-Saving Service in 1884, being at that time stationed at Coskata, and three years later was transferred to the Lighthouse Service, becoming Keeper at Brant Point. In 1891, he went out to the South Shoals Lightship as Master, but the next year was transferred to Sankaty to succeed Ethan Allen as Keeper.
Captain Remsen was a fixture at Sankaty for the next twenty-seven years. During his service he had seven Assistant Keepers--Wallace A. Eldredge, Marcus E. Howes, Thomas J. Kelly, George W. Purdy, Charles M. Vanderhoop, Carl D. Hill and Eugene N. Larsen. All of these men became keepers of lighthouses in New England, while two of them—Charles Vanderhoop and Eugene Larsen—became Capt. Remsen's successors at Sankaty.
Charles Vanderhoop, a Gay Head Indian, came to Sankaty as assistant in June, 1912, and was transferred a year later, being replaced by Karl D. Hill, who, in turn, remained at Sankaty until September, 1914, when Assistant Keeper Eugene N. Larsen arrived with his family. Keeper Remsen resigned April 1, 1919, and was replaced by Keeper Vanderhoop. In May, 1920, Mr. Vanderhoop went to Gay Head to become Keeper, and on June 1, 1920, Capt. Larsen became Sankaty's Keeper. He had as his assistant C. A. Ellis, until March 16, 1921, when Francis Macy, a native Nantucketer, became his assistant. Mr. Macy was transferred in 1925, and James Dolby replaced him, serving as assistant until 1933 when he was transferred to Gay Head.
The Coming of The Electric Light.
On May 15, 1933, an electric light was installed in Sankaty's tower, replacing the kerosene vapor light, and the candlepower of the light was increased from 99,000 to 720,000 candlepower. The kerosene vapor light, with various improvements, had proven satisfactory for many years, but the trouble experienced in cold weather often resulted in "smoke-ups"—caused by the failure of the kerosene to ignite properly in the mantle of the lamp—and this blackened the lens and the lantern with soot. Electrification included a motor for turning the lens, replacing the brass clock-works which was run by weights descending into the tower suspended on a wire cable. With the introduction of the electric light, Keeper Larsen became the sole operator of Sankaty for the next decade.
Shipwrecks Off Sankaty.
It would be difficult to ascertain the number of craft which have "laid their bones" in the shoals off Sankaty, but there have been hundreds. In 1673, the Dutch ship Exportation, laden with whale oil, tobacco, logwood and hides, came ashore in a storm between Sankaty and 'Sconset. The salvaging of the cargo of this ship led to much trouble for Tristram Coffin, then the King's Magistrate on the island. In 1774, the sloop Rochester and the schooner Lowden, bound on whaling voyages to the Coast of Africa, were wrecked in the rips off Sankaty, and the crews barely escaped with their lives.
It was on the morning of Dec. 21, 1812, that the British ship Sir Sidney Smith, prize of the American privateer General Armstrong, Capt Barnard of Nantucket, was sighted on Bass Rip with the seas breaking over her. The crew had taken refuge in the shrouds and watchers ashore were forced to stand by, powerless to aid, and watch the men perish. A packet, setting out from this harbor, was forced to put back due to ice forming on her bows.
Many craft which became entangled in the shoals off Sankaty eventually drifted along the shore to go onto the beaches at Great Point or at Tom Nevers or Nobadeer. In 1846, the ship Earl of Eglinton, from Liverpool to Boston, struck on South Shoal and then the "Old Man," finally being beached at Nobadeer, where four of her crew perished attempting to reach the shore. An improvised breeches buoy was used to bring the crew safely to the shore. The French ship Louis Philippe, with 167 passengers and a $500,000 cargo, became caught on Great Round Shoal, and drifted, rudderless, to the south, grounding off Tom Nevers head. Skillful work by island seamen on the two Nantucket steamers saved the craft from going to pieces.
On Sept. 5, 1850, a vessel loaded with lime was sighted from Sankaty's tower and a brig was observed standing by and rescuing the crew. On May 31, 1851, the ship Jacob A. Westervelt, with 800 passengers on board, bound from Liverpool to New York, grounded on Old South Shoal, within sight of Sankaty. The steamboat Massachusetts from this port went out and put pilot Capt. David Patterson on board, whose heady work brought her safely out of her dangerous predicament. The schooner Cora Etta, of Rockland, Me,. v/as not so fortunate—when they went out to her off Sankaty they found her a total loss, with all on board going down with her.
In March, 1888, the English iron steamer Canonbury was seen from Sankaty on the "Old Man" shoal. Her crew was saved but the vessel became a total loss. A month later the bark Katahdin anchored off Sankaty, and her crew came ashore for supplies, announcing the craft leaking badly. On Oct. 27, 1889, a 3-masted schooner was sighted from the tower flying signals of distress. She was the Kate Foster of Machias, Me., bound to New York. Although her masts were cut away and both anchors down, she was swept into the shoals, Her captain was lost but a steamer managed to take off the crew some distance from her original sight of stranding. The Italian bark Nostri Genitore was abandoned off Sankaty in December, 1889, and the crew went ashore. A tug afterwards towed the bark out of the shoals.
The Famous Rescue of the Crew of the "H. P. Kirkham."
Perhaps the most memorable incident in the story of shipwrecks off Sankaty occurred on that wintry day of January 20, 1892, when at daybreak, from the tower, Keeper Joseph Remsen with his spyglass sighted the masts of a three-masted schooner. The craft was on the "Rose & Crown" shoal, 15 miles east of Sankaty. Keeper Remsen immediately telephoned to the Coskata life-saving station. Capt. Walter N. Chase, stalwart islander, in command at Coskata, promptly got his crew together. The life-savers went out through the freezing gale to the wreck and, after an hour of dangerous work, took off her crew. Then came the long battle to return to shore. Darkness set in—and the townspeople felt that the men were lost. The next morning, however, Capt. Chase and his men landed with their rescued seamen on Siasconset's beach after a 26-hour battle which has created an heroic incident in the story of life-saving operations on this coast.
News of America Brought From Europe During Island Freeze-Up.
It was during a famous "freeze-up," early in the year 1857, that a large steamer was sighted in the shoals northeast of Sankaty. She was the steamer New York, bound from Glasgow to New York, and on Jan. 21 she anchored off Quidnet flying signals of distress. A whaleboat from shore boarded her and found that she was short of coal after a hard passage. On the 24th she was piloted to a new anchorage off 'Sconset, and sixty-three men were engaged four days carting coal from town to 'Sconset by sleigh, until 115 tons had been placed aboard the steamer. By a strange coincidence, the steamer, which had left Scotland on Jan. 5, 1857, brought the first news to reach Nantucket from the mainland of America—the island having been frozen in since that date—and the steamer having received U. S. newspapers just before she sailed from Glasgow.
The Path Along The Bluff To Sankaty
One of the chief natural attractions of 'Sconset's village and environs is "The Path" which runs along the top of the bluff from the village to Sankaty Light. Always commanding intriguing glimpses of the sea on the one hand and the heathland on the other, "The Path" curves to the north from the fringe of 'Sconset proper and winds its way in front of the many cottages which stretch away. It dips and turns as its follows the confirmation of the bluff and provides an entirely unique opportunity for a stroll to and from the famed lighthouse at Sankaty.
Undoubtedly, the most unusual feature of this "Path" is that it is a public way, although leading directly across the front lawns of all the properties which line the bluff-top from the village to the lighthouse. Twenty-five years ago there was an attempt by one property owner to close that section of the "Path" which ran through her front lawn, but a decision rendered by the late Judge Davis, of the Land Court, upheld the Town's contention that the "Path" was a public thoroughfare. In most cases, property owners have had their grounds landscaped so that a stroller apparently is walking across a series of front lawns and gardens, with only a gap in the edge to mark the way. But those who take advantage of the opportunity to walk the mile-long "Path" are usually too deeply appreciative of the experience to trespass beyond its winding confines.
Early in 1873, William J. Flagg, a summer resident, obtained title to a large section of land between 'Sconset and Sankaty, in that portion of the island laid out by the original Proprietors as "Plainfield," bordering on the Sesachacha Lots. Although the original title gave Mr. Flagg ownership to the foot of the bluff, itself, the "Proprietors" reserved for themselves the beach land from the foot of the bluff to high water. At the same time or soon after, Mr. Flagg acquired other land at the east end and made plans for dividing the section into house-lots. He was careful, however, to run the easterly boundary of these lots at what he, no doubt, considered a safe distance from the edge of the bluff. Mr. Flagg called his development "Sankaty Heights" and in 1892 requested the "Proprietors" to accept his lay-out of "a certain tract of land in that part of . Sankaty Heights . . for the residents and visitors of Nantucket, and to be used as a foot-path or foot promenade and for no other purpose or purposes whatsoever." Mr. Flagg thus saved what had always been a path for the fishermen and farmers and for the sheep and cattle—a path which had been in existence since the east
end of the island was first settled by the white men.
Sankaty's Flash Seen Forty-Five Miles Out at Sea.
In March, 1932, the Norwegian steamer Balto steamed down along the east shore of Nantucket, close to the beach at Sankaty. Undoubtedly, she is the largest craft ever to use this inside channel, and in a letter to Keeper Larsen, who wrote asking the reason for such a course, the Balto's master stated he had chosen the route because the weather was clear and he wanted to make a quick run down the coast to get "a charter" before a rival craft, also sailing from Boston at the same time, could make the same destination.
Just how far Sankaty's flash may be seen as a matter for conjecture, but it has been sighted by steamers as far as 45 miles away. In 1933, Capt. Grant, master of the San Bias, plying between Boston and West Indian ports, wrote that he had picked up the Nantucket beacon while 45 miles off the island. A few years ago, the late Capt. George Eaton, then Supt. of Lighthouses for this District, had a radio message from Capt. Mosher, of the South Shoals Lightship, in which the latter described a light, constantly flashing, which he thought was a runaway gas buoy. A search of the area revealed nothing. Again came the message; telephone wires buzzed between various offices. Then Capt. Eaton remembered that the characteristics of this mysterious light were the same as those of the newly-increased light at Sankaty. That night, the Lightship's radio again checked the flash, direction, etc. Capt. Eaton's solution proved correct. It was Sankaty—sighted from 43 miles away.
Today, the famous French lens from Sankaty reposes in the Nantucket Whaling Museum, erected as it stood in the tower for 100 years. The new light installed in August, 1950, is an "air-sea" beacon, with a candle power of 900,000, showing a flashing white light every 15 seconds, with a visibility of 25 miles.
Keeper Larsen and His Family Spent Twenty-Nine Years at Sankaty.
When Eugene N. Larsen came to Sankaty from Minot's Light in September, 1914, he brought his family from their residence at Hull, Mass. Mr. and Mrs. Larsen were then the parents of a boy, Eugene, born in Norway, and a daughter, Alice, born at Thacher's Island, off Gloucester. During the next two decades at Sankaty, five more children were born to them—Marie, now Mrs. Hartwell Thurston; Thelma, now Mrs. Hubert Salmonson; Ethel, now Mrs. Vernon Hamilton; Helen, now Mrs. Ernest Walters; and Evelyn, now Mrs. William Munroe.
During their twenty-nine years at Sankaty, Keeper and Mrs. Larsen made the station one of the most outstanding on the coast. On numerous occasions, the lighthouse received the Commissioner's Stars—2nd highest of the government awards for excellence. In 1939, Sankaty received the Commissioner's Pennant, the highest honor which a station may receive. Keeper Larsen retained that pennant until his retirement in December, 1943, from the station. When he retired from the service in 1944, he had completed forty years in the U. S. government service.
With the departure of a keeper and his family from the lighthouse, the station was occupied by a Coast Guard detail. Notwithstanding any efficiency of operation on its part, the actual "Saga of Sankaty" as an island institution has come to an end, as the lighthouse has lost its identity as an institution peculiar to Nantucket and its people.