The long and short of it 

Brant Point Lighthouse

Brant Point Lighthouse is the shortest lighthouse in New England.


New England may have some of the shortest lighthouses but its long on history. 

Portland Harbor Lighthouse.

Portland Harbor Lighthouse on Fort Constitution.


Fort Constitution where Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse is located recalls the days of Paul Revere. Reminders of New England’s Whaling History are prevalent at Nantucket, the site of the second oldest lighthouse in the United States.

Portland Breakwater Lighthouse.

The Portland Breakwater Lighthouse is inspired by the Greek Choragic Monument of Lysicrates.

Memories of WWII are present at a shipbuilding museum near Portland Breakwater Lighthouse. Surfside Life Saving Station now a hostel beckons old and youth alike. 

Surfside Life Saving Station.

The Life Saving Service is the precursor to the US Coast Guard.


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A Damsel in Distress

Star of the Sea Youth Hostel

Star of the Sea youth hostel was formerly a life saving station.


It’s kind of ironic that I stayed at the Star of the Sea Youth Hostel in Nantucket. I really needed a reprieve from a chaotic visit to Martha’s Vineyard. The hostel was once a life saving station for distressed vessels. Now I was looking for shelter from a distressed encounter. 

Brant Point Lighthouse

Brant Point Lighthouse can be seen from the ferry.


Although the ferry ride was about a hour from Martha’s Vineyard, it felt a world away from the turmoil I had witnessed. I was happy to retreat to Nantucket for a few days of painting and quiet.

Old Brant Point Lighthouse

Most people don’t realize this a lighthouse because the lens is missing.


I had reluctantly booked a stay at the hostel. I thought the military style sleeping arrangements would not offer the peace and quiet that I needed. To my surprise there was a curfew with a time of quiet at night. 

Sankaty Lighthouse

Sankaty Lighthouse took a little maneuvering to get to.


After three days of quiet and completing 4 paintings, I felt renewed. The hostel was beautiful and I memorialized my visit by painting it. Of course the weather was windy and the water turbulent on the ferry ride back to Martha’s Vineyard. I was afraid it was an indicator of things to come. 

Surfside Life Saving Station in Nantucket, MA was established in 1874. The Life Saving Service is the precursor to today’s United States Coast Guard. It is a National Landmark.

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The best deal in Nantucket

Granted Nantucket is known as an upscale resort with pricey hotels. The visitors read like a who’s who list from Fortune 500. Despite of all the pricey obstacles, I was lured by the four lighthouses. I was also intrigued about staying at a historic building. Star of the Sea Hostel in Nantucket was once a Life Saving Station. It had been a part of the United States Life Saving Service.


I admit to being reluctant about staying at this hostel. I mean I didn’t know to expect when I booked two nights for $80. That wasn’t exactly the going rate in Nantucket. Yet, I recalled saving a bundle of cash and being happy when I stayed at the dorms at historic Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland and Suffolk University in Boston. But a dorm with 32 bunk beds didn’t seem very inviting. I wondered about privacy and the bathrooms.


But the excitement of staying where the Keepers would look for shipwrecks was persuasive. There are steps to the lookou in the women’s dorm where I would be sleeping. I finally voted in favor of the lookout, lighthouses and my pocketbook when I read all the positive reviews. 


Once I checked into the hostel all my concerns evaporated. The furnishings were modern and well kept. The bathroom had a private door. 

My bunk was on the bottom in a quiet corner of the dorm. The first night the dorm was packed. But at night the dorm was quiet because everyone observed the quiet hours from 10 pm to 7 am. I watched a movie with the free wifi and put my phone on silent. 


In the morning there was a light complimentary breakfast with cereal, coffee and assorted breads. For those who want to prepare a heavier meal, there’s a fully equipped kitchen with dishes, pots and more. 


My second evening at the hostel was extremely quiet as most of the quests had checked out. During my stay, three ladies were kind enough to befriend me and invite me to sit at their table. I learned from them that there are cabins for rent in addition to the beds in the female dorm. They also taught me the truth of hostel’s motto: “There are no strangers only friends you haven’t met.” 

It takes a village to get to Sankaty

I knew from the start that my journey to Sankaty Lighthouse would be a long one. I stayed in a hostel on the southern coast of Nantucket Island at Surfside Beach and Sankaty Lighthouse was located on the eastern coast. I rode a bus into town then caught a bus to Sconset. 


Upon getting off the bus, I looked for directional signs to the lighthouse and found none. After walking the wrong way, I asked for directions. A couple of acquaintances the day before recommended the scenic route for the two mile trek to the lighthouse but gave no detailed instructions. Thankfully, I met a family who gave me printed instructions and tips for navigating the route. The path to lighthouse was scenic but tricky indeed. It led through a rocky road between some cottages then to a short paved walkway and to a grassy winding unmarked trail. 


As I crossed a couple of lawns during the walk, I became unnerved. I felt like I was trespassing but I had been reassured that the land on the path was public. After walking for a while, I became concerned that I was lost. One couple told me I was indeed lost and directed me toward the pavement. Another couple said they were walking to the lighthouse and invited me follow them along the grassy path I was on. This preposition seemed more reasonable. When the winding path eventually ended, we began the final 15 minute trek on a paved road to Sankaty Lighthouse. 


As I approached the lighthouse, I was delighted to see two lights flashing at the 70 foot red and white lighthouse ahead. Built in 1850, Sankaty lighthouse overlooks the Sankaty Head Golf Club and the Atlantic Ocean. There was marker indicating the previous location of the lighthouse which was moved in 2007. Signage told the story of the lighthouse. As I set down and sketched, I reflected on the long winding path and pondered how to include it in my final art. 


After being warned about the presence of deer ticks in the grassy areas, I decided forego the scenic route and take the paved road back to Sconset. 

Nantucket: A Sanctuary of Peace

 

The next day, I caught the first bus to Downtown Nantucket and the second one to the village of Sconset. My final destination, Sankaty Lighthouse was 2 miles away at Siasconset Beach. I walked to the lighthouse and sketched it for over an hour. 

After catching the bus back to downtown, I stopped by East Street Cantina and Stop and Shop. I had such a pleasant experience with Clyde the cab driver, I decided to take another one of his cabs driven by his wife for the ride back to the hostel. She answered a few lingering questions I had about the island. 
The nights were peaceful at Star of the Sea hostel. Everyone abided by the quiet curfew from 10 pm-7 am. During my final night, I had only had a few summer campers as my bunk mates.


The serenity of the hostel is reflective of the island. The island was designated a national landmark in the 50s. A commission actively limits construction to ensure that the island is homogeneous and uniform. Almost all the houses have cedar shingles. The cobble stoned streets in the Historic District hail from an earlier era. There are boutique shops, restaurants and museums to explore. Since Nantucket was once the Whaling Capital of the world, there’s a fascinating Whaling Museum. I bought a few souvenirs from the gift shop on my final day. 


When I returned from Nantucket to Martha’s Vineyard, my cousin and his mom greeted me at the dock and asked about my trip. It’s the best one I can remember, I replied. My escape to Nantucket delivered more than I expected. The quaint resort and peaceful island was relaxing and a welcome reprieve. 

Nantucket: Where the living is easy


The cruise to Nantucket was smooth. We passed by Brant Point Lighthouse one of the lighthouses on Nantucket. After debarking, I stopped by the small Visitors Center on the dock, got a map and walked to Brant Point Lighthouse and Old Brant Point Lighthouse. When I finished sketching the lighthouses, I grabbed a falafel at Easy Street Cantina. How appropriate there was a street actually called “Easy Street.” Everything was flowing so easy. 


Before going to the Star of the Sea hostel, I picked up from some fruit from Stop and Shop near the dock. I hailed one of the local cabs lined up alongside the street. On the way to the hostel, The cab driver greeted his wife who was driving the night shift of his company.

The ride was short and sweet. Clyde the cab driver was affable and knowledgeable. He shared tidbits about the island. After checking in and paying my bill, the host gave me a quick tour and led me to my bed. There were 32 bunks in the female dorm. My bed was in a quiet corner and on the lower bunk.


The dorm and hostel were spotless. There was a community kitchen that was fully equipped. The hostel prepares a light complimentary continental breakfast in the kitchen. The dinning area was neat and modern. 


The lobby was well furnished with a variety of board games like monopoly. Outside the hostel, there were a volleyball court, bicycle racks and a walkway to Surfside Beach. 

Besides bicycling, public transportation is one of the most affordable ways to see the island. A bus stop is conveniently located a block away from the hostel and the bus runs until 5:30 pm. 

Escape to Nantucket 

After spending a few hectic days on Martha’s Vineyard, I took a two day retreat to Nantucket Island. Last year while in New York, I read about the island and its four lighthouses. So I hoped perhaps one day, I would visit Nantucket. I filed the article away on a shelf with the thought in the back of mind. 

When my cousin invited recently me to visit Boston and Martha’s Vineyard, I immediately thought of Nantucket and the lighthouses. I wondered how far it was from Martha’s Vineyard. To my delight, I discovered that there was a ferry from Martha’s Vineyard to Nantucket for a little over an hour. The round trip ticket for Nantucket was less than $70. As I researched hotels, I found them to be out of my budget. I discovered a hostel for $38 a night! The hostel, Star of the Sea, was once called Surfside Life Saving Station. 

Surfside Life Saving Station was established in 1874. It is a National Landmark. The lookout where keepers would search for distressed vessels was located in the hostel’s female dormitory. The idea of staying at a Life Saving Station intrigued me. The Life Saving Service is the precursor to the United States Coast Guard. After learning about the hostel’s connection to the Coast Guard, I decided to investigate further. After all, the Coast Guard oversees many lighthouses. The reviews I read were stellar, so I booked two nights at the hostel. I began looking forward to my stay at Nantucket a few weeks later.