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Being fulltime Cape Cod residents and innkeepers, we try to keep abreast of all things local. But sometimes new finds come in strange ways. To wit, while at a doctor’s appointment recently the chitchat turned to local restaurants with a summer vibe. As we idled past the usual fare… Baxter’s Boathouse, the Hyannis Yacht Club, Tugboats…a new name piqued my curiosity: The Islander at Crosby Boat Yard. Not being familiar with this restaurant or its location, naturally we had to give it a whirl at the first possible opportunity, which happened to be the day after my doctor’s appointment. We don’t like to let any grass grow under our feet, as the saying goes.
Armed with my trusty atlas, we navigated our way over to Osterville and pulled into Crosby’s. It was a warm and humid day, not full of this year’s ubiquitous sunshine, but not raining either. Born at the former Keeper’s location, the Islander turned out to be quite a find. The atmosphere and menu can best be described as Florida Keys meets Caribbean spice. Small, but colorful, the dining tables are arranged to take best advantage of the view out to the boats at the marina, and in the evening the setting sun. A large bar area dominates the cozy dining room, with an interesting array of summer drinks, especially martinis. And as Rich experienced, the pour is generous.
For lunch, I chose a pulled pork salad topped with a mango chutney over spring mix greens. Served with a side of barbeque sauce, the pork was moist and succulent and balanced perfectly with the bright flavor of the mango. Rich ordered the Cubaño, a combination of pulled pork, ham, sweet and spicy pickles, and mustard on grilled ciabatta with a most excellent side of crispy French fries. Perhaps the best lunch we have had all season, the Islander quickly rose to a new favorite haunt for those days when we need to escape the Inn and have a mini-vacation at lunch.
We liked the place so much, in fact, that we made a reservation for dinner the following evening. We enjoyed watching the sun set over the harbor from our table for two at the window tucked in the corner at the far end of the bar. A much different vibe infuses the Island at night. Filled with summer folk, a bevy of girls out for a night on the town, and a few couples at the bar, the noise factor was significantly higher, but our waitress was accommodating and the food just as good as we had experienced at lunch. We both chose the smoked pulled pork over housemade gnocchi with carmelized onions, BBQ jus and goat cheese. Again, the pork was the star of the dish. We were tempted to try one of the amazing sounding starters, but opted for a bowl of clam chowder and a “Hail Caesar” salad with housemade dressing instead. Both good choices, I especially liked the whimsy of the pineapple croutons in the salad, and Rich declared the chowder A-1, although the rendition he had at lunch was spicier.
A sister property to the Island Merchant on Main Street in Hyannis, the Islander is a seasonal restaurant, open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner through mid-October. Reservations are highly recommended for dinner and gladly accepted for parties of any size.
Last Saturday night Rich and I attended the 16th annual Gifts from the Sea Auction and Lawn Party put on by the Barnstable Land Trust (BLT) to benefit Barnstable’s open space. This year’s event took place at a secluded estate located in the exclusive Oyster Harbors section of Osterville. The $12 million dollar estate sits on a private point overlooking West Bay. It turned out to be perhaps the most beautiful evening of the entire summer…warm, dry, still. We donned our best “Sunday go to meeting” clothes and joined dozens of other locals supporters of the non-profit conservation organization dedicated to preserving the natural resources and open space of the Town of Barnstable for an evening of festivity.
We signed on as silver-level sponsors of the event this year, as part of our annual contribution to the land trust that protects our scenic view, along with the wetlands, sensitive watershed parcels, wildlife habitats, and other important open land in Barnstable in its natural state so that our guests as well as members of the community will benefit now and in the future. Rich and I made a commitment to give back to the community we live and work in, as much as we are able to for as long as we can, when we first opened the High Pointe Inn on Cape Cod many years ago. To that end we made a pledge to donate a portion of every room night we sell to the Barnstable Land Trust as our way of thanking them for preserving the fragile environment for future generations.
In addition to protecting the land for its natural, recreational, scenic, historical, or productive value, BLT also offers a series of walks and talks from early spring through late autumn so that locals and visitors alike can explore the great outdoors and learn about nature. With any luck you’ll find Rich and me on at least one of the hikes coming up and hopefully a kayak adventure as well.
The evening turned out to be magical. The setting itself all but insured that, but the music, food and drink, and entertainment enhanced the experience. There were wonderful items to bid on in both the silent and live auction, everything from art to jewelry, and travel to adventure. I must admit that I didn’t walk away empty handed. Caught up in the moment, swirling champagne and nibbling on hors d’oeuvres, I raised my paddle more than once and took home a lovely necklace and tickets to the Cape Cod Summer Playhouse as my reward.
“There is nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats”, or so the saying goes. So on an afternoon that could only be described as a Chamber of Commerce kind of day, or as Rich would describe it “severe clear”, we boarded the Blue Claw sightseeing boat for an adventure out to see the abundant seal colonies off the coast of Chatham.
We were greeted by Captain Rob, a ruggedly handsome man with windswept hair and a twinkle in his eye. A charming fellow who clearly loves what he’s doing, Captain Rob went over the itinerary for the afternoon, along with the requisite safety precautions, before heading out on our adventure. The hour and a half trip would take us through the salt marsh, past ancient Native American Indian grounds, areas abundant with wildlife, sites of storied pirate treasure, and my favorite: in front of spectacular waterfront properties impossible to see from land.
We cruised from the town landing at Meeting House Pond in Orleans, down The River, along Barley Neck, and out into Little Pleasant Bay. Here Captain Rob regaled us with a story of buried pirate treasure at Money Head on Hog Island, treasure attributed to the infamous Captain Kidd, a notorious pirate that sailed off the coast of Cape Cod in the 1800s. We squeezed through the Narrows along Sipsons Island, a private island that sold for the meager sum of $3 million dollars just a few years ago, through Pleasant Bay, and past Strong Island, where a magnificent summer wedding was taking place.
Our ultimate destination was Chatham Harbor, where large colonies of gray seals populate the waters year round. Their presence here is controversial, as the seals feed on striped bass, a popular sport and commercial fisherman’s quarry, and happen to be a tempting food source for great white sharks. According to Captain Rob, the seal population in the harbor is growing, by some estimates it is now in the neighborhood of 15,000 to 25,000. The recent sighting of great white sharks off the coast of Lighthouse Beach has created some tension among inhabitants of Chatham and other parts of Cape Cod, causing beaches to be closed to swimmers and a flurry of media attention of late.
We watched transfixed as the seals bobbed effortlessly in the gentle water of the harbor. Some were curious, seemingly trying to make eye contact with the strange creatures aboard the Blue Claw. Others paid no mind to our presence, content to float fat and lazy on their backs in the sun. We tarried for a while, then motored on to Lighthouse Beach, just off the coast of Chatham Light, then back through Aunt Lydia’s Cove, home of the Chatham Bars Inn, and up past the Chatham Fish Pier.
Too soon it was time to head back to where we began this afternoon odyssey. The captain skillfully navigated the return trip at speeds approaching 25 knots. The wind felt warm against our sun-warmed skin, and the boat bounced in the wake of other power boats out enjoying the spectacularly gin-clear afternoon, causing salt water to spray our faces and great glee among some of our younger fellow passengers.
For $30 per person, less for children and seniors, we spent a delightful afternoon on the water with Captain Rob aboard the Blue Claw. In addition to seal cruises, he offers beachcombing and sunset tours, as well as custom charters for special occasions from mid-May through mid-October. We highly recommend this trip for all our guests!
I’ve been collecting sea glass for years, as did my mother before me. It’s a passive hobby, one that can easily be combined with a gentle stroll along the beach. It does require an eagle eye, however, and the ability to grab and go, lest a wave roll in and wash away a treasure. My husband is not very good at it, and often grouses at me for spying the tiniest of glass fragments well-polished by the sea that simply elude him. At any rate, I have a pretty good collection after all these years, which I keep in a jar on the window sill in the living room of our inn on Cape Cod.
Little did I know, though, that there is an actual association of sea glass collectors and that they hold an annual convention. This year it is being held right here on Cape Cod in October. Who knew?! The North American Sea Glass Association (NASGA) Festival will take place Saturday and Sunday, October 9th and 10th at the Resort and Conference Center in Hyannis, MA. The event is open to the public for a $5.00 daily fee.
Established in 2004, NASGA was formed in part to educate the collector as to the properties of pure natural beach sea glass. In addition to the annual convention, they publish a newsletter twice a year, and have a website that offers a wealth of information for collectors and enthusiasts alike, including links to purveyors of all things sea glass.
Recently, I read an interesting article on sea glass published in Parade magazine, which offered up the following tidbits of info regarding the rarity of various colors.
While recycling efforts have reduced the availability of naturally occurring sea glass, I will continue to pursue the art of collecting, hoping to one day score my holy grail-a true shard of cranberry glass from the shores of Cape Cod Bay. Until then, I will amuse myself with Richard La Motte’s self -published tome, “Pure Sea Glass”.