Islander's Blog

Goodman’s Gam

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Last Friday evening I was on a beach out at the west end. There were dozens of people alongside of me, waiting for Earl to make landfall. It was a party atmosphere, much like one might find on a holiday weekend. This wasn’t exactly a celebration, but the mood was one of exhilaration as we watched huge rollers come crashing onto the beach.

We were watching the Ratner peninsula take the brunt of an angry sea. Even with immense sandbags in place, some of the spray from the waves was pouring down the roof. Most of those attending the event were expecting to see a house wash into the sea.

Had Earl not fallen apart, or the high tides come at the height of a real storm, their wishes might have been met. As it was, the house stood through the watery attack and is now surrounded by a moat on three sides. The sandbags are now standing free of the perimeter of Mr. Ratner’s Folly. (I have now found out that the house later partially collapsed).

This is a case of a self-centered man who feels no anguish at the damage he has caused by armoring his house. His sandbags have caused scouring of the beach on both sides of his refuge from the waves. In turn, a house to the left of him fell in the wash a few years ago. The house to his right is on the verge of losing the last 15 feet of land in front of it, before it’s going to be sitting on the beach.

Another problem with the sandbagging is that once they fall apart, the bags become a hazard to mariners. Were a boater to tangle with the floating fabric, it would effectively shut the engines down, what with the props being smothered by the dense nylon cloth. That’s exactly what happened to the M/V Eagle earlier this week. As yet, I haven’t heard of the origin of the offending sand bags.

We now have debris floating away from the scene and it’s likely there’s more to come. Should the Ratner house be destroyed, tons of lumber and other building materials would be unleashed on the surrounding beach and into the water. Would anyone care to guess who’s going to pay for the cleanup?

Now, for an unselfish act by someone that cares about Nantucket and our community. Michael Kopko has withdrawn his bid to become sheriff and has thrown his support to Jim Perelman. The race has numerous candidates and Michael’s act has simplified the choice for many voters.

Now that the election has been mentioned, please go to the polls at the Nantucket High School Sept. 14 between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. and cast your ballot. Just because this is a primary doesn’t mean it’s any less important than the general election.

The possibility of Earl and Labor Day had many vacationers clearing out before the weekend. As it turned out, all they missed was an overnight downpour. The important thing was that people were prepared for the worst and we escaped unscathed. After what happened to the island in 1991 and then watching the destruction Katrina wrought, we did all the right things.

Now for three community events that are fun as well as informative. First on the list is the third Elder Expo, brought to us by the Nantucket Council on Aging and the Nantucket Center for Elder Affairs. The Expo isn’t only for seniors. Over 50s (baby boomers) are part of the program. Stop by the Nantucket High School, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11.

There will be music, demonstrations of arts and crafts, health, beauty and fitness advice, along with other timely advice (pun intended) for oldsters. There will be medical screenings, speakers, snacks and lunch to be had. And, it’s free! Call the Saltmarsh Senior Center at (508) 228-4490 if you need transportation or further information.

The Nantucket Park & Rec Island Fair will be held over this upcoming weekend. This is always great fun. On Saturday, the gates open at 10 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. On Sunday, it opens at 11 a.m. and it wraps by 4 p.m. There are numerous contests, such as the largest pumpkin, vegetables, fruits and flowers, as well as best apple pie.

I’m looking forward to the incredibly tasty, but gut-busting fried fish, plus standard fair foods. There are going to be a couple of shows, pony-cart rides and many other activities. Come on out to Tom Nevers, you’ll enjoy catching up with friends that you haven’t seen over the past summer.

Next week, I’ll have information about the 2010 Maritime Festival (an event very similar the Seafest we used to enjoy). This will take place at Children’s Beach and a couple of other venues in the vicinity. It will open on Sept. 25 at 10 a.m. and will conclude that afternoon at 4 p.m. You don’t to miss this; it’s going to be huge!
– Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space, and periodically in The Inquirer and Mirror.

37 Responses to “Goodman’s Gam”

  1. Albert Henderson MD Says:

    Gene Ratner’s house reminds me of the story of King Knut, who conquered England in 1015 AD. His advisors told him that he was such a great and powerful king that he could even command the tides. Therefore, Knut had his throne brought out to the beach on low tide, and the King commanded the tide to stop. Needless to say, Knut lost his throne. As for his advisors, they went on to become real estate developers.

  2. David Says:

    In this modern tale, other homeowners were hurt. Had it only been Ratner’s house falling down, that’s his problem. I still want to know who will be paying for the cleanup of the beach, not to mention the damage to boats, tangling with the sand bags.

  3. Martie Says:

    Ratner’s house is already starting to break apart and litter our beaches. I was there Sunday (September 12) and noticed pieces of his deck and house all over the beach. Also, one of his huge geobags was down the beach in front of Rams Pasture. Mr. Ratner was nowhere to be seen cleaning up his mess. What a disgrace! I understand because of insurance reasons, he cannot do anything until his house topples over and breaks apart but for now he should be cleaning up what is breaking apart and littering our beaches, ocean and harbors.

  4. Martie Says:

    I stand corrected. I have just read a story by the Inquirer & Mirror that Ratner plans on cleaning up his mess.

  5. Robin Atkinson Says:

    I have known Mr. and Mrs. Ratner since I have been 17 years old, I am now 47 . My parents built the last house on sheep pond which is getting very close. They have sold and moved because of people like you that would sit on the beach and ceebrate a house that is full of family memories and love go into the ocean. Do you have any family memories in your house with your kids? Guess not! This was such a nice island when we moved there its too bad its turned out this way.
    He loved Nantucet thats why he brought his whoe family up there. I am so sorry for the loss of their home.
    Robin Atkinson

  6. sue Says:

    Lets stand corrected!!!!!! I have been at Ratners house and there has been an extensive clean-up there!!! Those of you who just stop in for a nosey look , apparently haven’t been there while the guys have been working their butts off cleaning the beach and stacking the loose wood!!! The ocean has been very rough there and they are doing all they can while the surf does hinder some of their efforts…if it troubles you that much , stop in and pick some debris up and help thy neighbor. I have personally helped clean up and have taken my own time to see if i can help an 84 yr old man!!! The Ratner’s have spent 35 yrs in a place they called home and raised their children and grandchildren in. Those of you who are incensitive and judgemental, need to stop the talk and get on with your life. You should be asking (Where did the wholesome Island go???)

  7. David Says:

    What’s so wholesome about putting sandbags on a beach, that then caused further erosion? So much so that his neighbors suffered for his selfishness. Now, Mr. Ratner is doing what he should do, picking up his debris. Then, there are the sandbags that are out causing problems for boaters. As for children and grandchildren, think about the other people out that way that have lost houses and land. Their kids and grandchildren have already lost out. As for helping thy neighbor, if I was his neighbor, I’d be suing him for what he’s done to that beach.

  8. sue Says:

    It is a GIVEN that Beaches erode!!! you are lost!!! And its pointless to argue with ignorance…

  9. Barbara Says:

    I too have known Gene and Roz Ratner for a few years and they truly are wonderful responsibe people. If anyone of us owed that property and raised our children and grandchildren there, we would have done anything in our power to preserve our home and our memories. How thoughtless can you be David! Furthermore, years ago Mr Ratner proposed the use of Geo-Tubes (at his own expense) to hold back the erosion, much like the ones used to stop Atlantic city from falling into the ocean, He was denied. And while I’m at it, I’ve walked that beach for many years now. I’ve seen several houses make use of these sandbags. I’ve seen three of them loose their battle most recently. Those bags are still rolling around out there somewhere. Why is it that every bag spotted now is automatically considered to be Gene’s bags? Do they have his name on them???!!! I know for a fact he plans a total clean up at any expense. He loves Nantucket and all it has to offer. I wish him and his wife well. His efforts should be commended!!!

  10. David Says:

    You’re right that beaches erode, and there’s nothing man can do to stop it. Look at the damage Ratner did to his neighbors trying to fight Mother Nature. And, for naught. The only ignorant party here is the man who’s house is slipping into the drink. Look at past columns of mine, going back many years. This was no surprise to me, or anyone with two eyes and a brain.

  11. Joe B. from Madaket Says:

    I attended the meeting when Gene Ratner proposed the geotubes to the conservation comm. He brought in two engineers who developed and saved the collapse of Atlantic City. His neighbors were all for it. The plan was brilliant. But once again the conservation committee is hell bent on scooping up as much land as they possibly can at the home owners expense. I don’t recall you being at this meeting, David!…Perhaps it’s because you had NOTHING to loose!

  12. Raymond Says:

    Your posts indicate a personal attack on Mr. Ratner and his his motives and efforts to save his home, rather than a logical argument on how best to deal with the problem of erosion. To call Mr. Ratner names serves no purpose. I agree that beaches erode, and there is little man can do to stop it completely, but the evidence also indicates that its effects can be mitigated and valuable property protected as was accomplished at Atlantic City and elsewhere. When Man is pitted against Mother Nature measured and logical discussion often flies out the window. It is indeed a shame that this debate often is influenced by politics, which is what this is really about. The attitude that “God created Nantucket and God can take it back” that I have heard voiced by some, seems to reflect the opinion of someone whose property is not threatened by erosion and could care less if someone’s home is washed into the sea. Self Centered? Ignorant? You bet your life if it was your house you would have done what Mr. Ratner did and more. I would.

  13. Mike Says:

    I live one block away from Baxter Road. The erosion there is devastating. Do you blame Gene for this ??? And while walking down at the docks today i spotted a paper cup floating in the water…Again, Gene’s fault??? Martie and David, does your mother know you’re out?

  14. David Says:

    Man cannot stop the forces of nature, and when we do try to, it almost always causes more damage than what would have happened. And, pray tell, what names did I call Mr. Ratner? I’ll say it for the umpteenth time: If your house is on the ocean, it’s very likely that your kids may never get to live there. This is just as ridiculous as the ‘Sconset bluff people. You can’t get by Mother Nature. Huge egos won’t stop the sea from claiming what is hers.

  15. AckBoater Says:

    FYI, one of Ratner’s huge geobags and parts of his house are still littering the once pristine beach in front of Hummock Pond. I wonder how many of his geobags are still littering the beaches of Nantucket and the ocean and harbors surrounding Nantucket posing an extreme hazard.

  16. David Says:

    I don’t dislike Gene Ratner, but I do dislike what he has done. That’s what this boils down to. He may be the most loving husband, father and grandfather in creation. I’m happy for his family. The simple fact is that armoring his house, caused damage to neighbors property, as well as debris that has washed out to sea. Are all of the sand bags that wash up his, it’s impossible to tell. Even one would be too many, and there’s no question that many of Mr. Ratner’s bags are, or have been adrift.

  17. Rae Says:

    Re: AckBoater…Are you kidding me??? Gene’s bags are littering the Ocean and the harbors surrounding Nantucket? Do you live here? A dozen homes on the west side are using or have used geo bags for years! Some have failed and are swept out. To place blame on one individual is not only wrong, but ignorant!!!

  18. AckBoater Says:

    Each geobag has the owner’s colored identifying thread sewn into the bag.

  19. Rae Says:

    Hahaaa…Okay, now I know you don’t live here!

  20. AckBoater Says:

    Go look at the geobag that is still littering the beach at the end of Hummock Pond. You will see a colored thread running through it.

  21. Rae Says:

    I’ve seen him and his help sew these bags. I’ve stood on these bags. And more importantly, for the last two years I’ve been buying spools of this roping for him when I go off Island from Home Depot. If you call “Jute” a color ,than yes, maybe that one is his bag. For the last 4 years I’ve only seen him use black bags or white bags, but all of them are sewn with the same threading. Light Brown! I have no idea where you come up with this stuff!

  22. AckBoater Says:

    Rae, you are not getting it. It’s not the color of the bag. It’s the color of the owner’s identifying thread woven into the bag.

  23. Rae Says:

    Apparently you’re having diffuclty understanding this. The theading used on these bags our of the owners choice. They purchase what they feel works best for them and/or what’s available. I’ve seen some land owners use a yellow stitching as well as red. It’s called Mason Twine and color only denotes gauge. Sandbags are not ordered or puchased with any options of colored threads. There is no registry matching sandbag owners to any particular color of threading…but I like that idea. Then again, what’s to stop an indivdual from buying the same color thread as his neighbor? If his sandbag gets washed away, his neighbor would be blamed.

  24. AckBoater Says:

    Rae, you are still not understanding the colored thread discussion here. Go to the end of the Hummock Pond Road and take a right. Walk along the beach until you come to the huge geobag littering the beach there. Look at the bag closely. Also, note the pieces of Ratner’s house littering the beach as well. It’s easy to tell. Look for his signature green trim paint on the wood. When do you suppose he will clean up his mess on the beach?

  25. David Says:

    I know this might sound a little bit unusual, but I think there’s a conspiracy to plant bags that look like Mr. Ratner’s along our beaches. It’s probably being perpetrated by other nearby homeowners and Friends of Ackboaters. Make sure to line your house with foil, lest they read your thoughts and come after you next. It’ll be our secret.

  26. Rae Says:

    Hahahaaaa! You Got Me!!!

  27. Rae Says:

    Hahahaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You Got Me!!!

  28. AckBoater Says:

    Rae, it’s of no use continuing this discussion with you. You are not willing to work with anyone here for some reason. That’s fine. This will be my final post to you. The only thing left for you to do is take the time and go look at the geobag which is still littering the beach at the end of Hummock Pond. You will find your answer on the bag. Good luck.

  29. Rae Says:

    Awww…I’ll miss you!

  30. Jane S-is discusted!! Says:

    I walk the beach every day and I pick up trash along the coast of every inch of this beach!!!Do you think instead of complaining about the bag at hummock pond you might want to try and pick it up???????? you go on and on about the bag at hummock pond an blah! blah !blah!the trash i pick up doesn’t belong to me either but i still manage to pick up the litter???? It takes only minutes to pick up someone elses trash and dispose of it… It hasen’t got anyones name on it, but i am not going to let it go because it doesn’t belong to me!!!!! be serious !!! It takes an effort from Everyone to help maintain our Island and pick up crap from people who really don”t give a dammmm where their junk goes!!!!! Unreal!!!!! This Island is headed for disaster unless we all do our part and help maintain it!!!!!! disgusted!!!

  31. AckBoater Says:

    Jane S, I’m not sure what discusted means in your subject line.
    Ratner’s geobag is too big for me to pick up. It will take several men and a front end loader to remove it from the beach. Also, for insurance reasons, I am not going to touch his geobag. It is Mr. Ratner’s responsibility to remove his bag plus all the wood from his house that is still littering the beach.

  32. Jane S Says:

    discusted means: Dumb-Ignorant-Stupid-Cranky-Useless-Selfish-Typical-Egotistical… thats my subject line does this clear things up for you !!! And I am disgusted with all of those poeple who can just sit back and blame ,blame ,blame. get up off your butt and do something for someone else once in a while… I am done with this blame game blog!!! Have a nice life boating in LA LA LAND… TA TA

  33. David Says:

    I don’t remember seeing that many exclamation marks, since Mrs. Royal advertised her real estate firm in the I&M. I’m disgusted by the trash I pick up on the beach and around the ponds.

  34. Jane S Says:

    well said david…at least we agree on some things… Isn’t that one thing we are taught growing up, not to litter? And I will continue to pick up litter on my beaches and hope someday people will get it and use the trash barrels!!!

  35. Mike Says:

    Jane, you left off the last letter in the word “disgusted”, or perhaps it was pulled? Well, left to the imagination I can come up with a few words on my own. And aren’t you afraid there could be a colored thread woven into your message that will match you to your true identity? AckBoater has a magic color matching system (if only in his own mind). All homeowners should be responsible for their own debri as well as the idiots who think its cool to release balloons into the air. Do they actually think these balloons make it into the upper atmosphere and float around in space for infinity? Everytime I walk the beach i pick up 3 to 5 mylar balloons and yards of ribbons attached to them! As far as Mr. Ratner’s signature green siding washed up near Hummock Pond, he’s been made aware of it and is making plans to remove it. I’ve contacted him, and offered my time to help when his work crew has been organized. If anyone can get passed their petty “it’s not my mess” mentality I can give you more details on when the clean up takes place. AckBoater, for [as you say] “insurance reasons” we don’t expect you to lift a thing! Just sit back and complain about it….from your boat!!!

  36. David Says:

    The word is debris…

  37. AckBoater Says:

    Mike, take the time to go and look at the geobag littering the beach at the end of Hummock Pond. Your answer is on the bag. Good luck.

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