Spirit of America 2016
On October 18, members of the Wright Landing Committee and the Horticulture Committee were honored as the 2016 Westport Island Spirit of America recipients. Spirit of America awards are given to individuals or groups which exemplify service to community.
The Wright Landing Committee and the Horticulture Committee, which was created to beautify the landing, have worked together to develop and manage the Wright Landing property as a public boat landing and park. Members devote many volunteer hours throughout the year in various ways to make our public landing accessible and welcoming to residents, fishermen, boaters and visitors. Their efforts have included:
- Applying for grants and managing funded improvements that added a walkway and jetty to improve the landing’s facilities as a boat ramp for residents, fishermen and visitors;
- Managing the overall improvement, development and landscaping of the public landing and park;
- Overseeing the annual installation and removal of the ramps and floats;
- Maintaining and advocating for the Wright Landing house and property;
- Creating and maintaining a landscaping design and perennial garden that has beautified the landing and provided a changing display of blooms and color from Spring into Fall; and
- Transforming the Wright property into a proud community landmark where town office staff routinely send new residents or prospective property purchasers – to see both its scenic beauty and its facilities for providing public access to the water.
The Wright Landing Committee and the Horticulture Committee have created a community asset which has garnered praise from residents, fishermen and visitors as well as representatives from area town conservation committees.
Not all members could be present at the Lincoln County awards ceremony, but all are recognized by the town in its award of appreciation — Wright Landing Committee: Richard DeVries, Chair; Al Andrews; Robert Morris; Ken Parsons; and Bruce Whittemore as well as past chair, Art Ballard, and John Nelson, in memoriam; and Horticulture Committee: Donna Curry, Chair; Emily Adler; Brad Adler; Elizabeth Lee; Gretchen McNamara and Debbie Williams.
A Page In the Helen M Story
Boats are a fixture of island life. A passion for open water, fishing, sea life, water sports, and nautical crafts attracts a mixture of fascinating life stories here on Westport. Bruce Whittemore, a neighbor and retired Wakefield, MA, fire fighter, is right up there on the “check it out” meter. Although he did not grow up on an island or around boats, he is a woodcraftsman, who decided 20+ years ago that it would be cool to build a tugboat, so he could cruise with his family during summer vacations on Lake Winnipesaukee.
Although the children are now grown and gone, the boat is still a family mission. Bruce and Suzi retired to Westport where they now have more time to pursue their crafting passions, one of which is the tugboat “Helen M.” My husband, Roger, has joined the mission, contributing electrical and problem-solving skills, as well as some assistance with the heavy lifting. Between family and friends, Bruce’s mission to hit the water with the Helen M will be accomplished this summer.
With this in mind, Roger decided the Helen M needed, what he initially believed to be, a “tug pudding.” Contrary to what a friend speculated, a tug pudding is not an edible made with “scrap fish” or “marine grade oily residue.” A tug pudding, also called a bow mustache, is a large, manila rope fender to protect the tug’s bow.
With some internet research, Roger found Barbara Merry at Marlin Spike Artist and commissioned what turned out to be a “collision mat” aka buffalo head — unique to tug boats — which protects the tug’s bow fender or its pudding from wear and tear with the many work missions of a tug.
Barbara Merry is a rope artisan in Wakefield, Rhode Island, who makes nautical puddings and collision mats by hand. She grew up in Newport, CA, around her dad’s wholesale import-export marine hardware business. Through her dad’s business, Barbara became interested in marine knotting. Initially, she focused on macramé, and developed a small crafts business. When macramé went out of vogue, she tried her hand at other fiber arts, but returned to her passion for knotting. Barbara tried to support herself making fishing nets in New Bedford, MA, but soon turned to “splicing,” the art of joining line. Perfecting splicing, because of its specialized applications, is what made her passion a self-supporting avocation.
Barbara Merry has written “The Splicing Handbook,” a reference primer on marine rope splicing. She has taught at the WoodenBoat School in Brooklin, Maine; at the Northeast Maritime Institute — and she may visit Westport Island this summer during the Rockland Boat Show to view her most recent buffalo head decked on the honorable Helen M.
See the handover from Barbara to Roger preceding the buffalo head’s transport to Westport Island, and the presentation to the Helen M’s Captain and First Mate, Bruce and Suzi Whittemore: