Photo Essay of the Merrimack River North Jetty Repairs
Photographic documentary of the project to repair the North Jetty at the mouth of the Merrimack River (Salisbury, Newburyport, Plum Island). Photo essay by Mary Gage with additional photos by James Gage.
The stormy weather the first week of June forced a fourth month old gray seal pup to come ashore on the beach to wait out the rough seas. The day after the storm the seal was still on the beach. Strong rip currents made it too difficult to return to the open ocean waters. A wildlife monitor was on hand to answer questions and keep people a safe distance from the seal. While I was there the seal spent most of its time sleeping.
The Custom House Maritime Museum arranged to have two New England based schooners dock at Newburyport for the Memorial Day weekend.They were scheduled to arrive the Wednesday before the weekend on the morning hightide which was around 11am. I arrived around 10:20am at the north end of Plum Island to find the Alabama passing between the jetties. I got a few a few photos before it headed into the harbor. I wasn't the only one confused over the schedule. A number of other spectator arrived at the mouth of the Merrimack River anticipating a 11am arrival. (In the future, event organizers might want to distinguish between arrival time at the mouth and arrival at the dock). The Alabama was followed about 10 minutes later by the Adventure.
Video showing the two schooners traveling up the Merrimack River past local landmarks like Butler's Toothpick, the jetties, Salisbury Beach State Reservation, to downtown Newburyport.
The Alabama hails from Vineyard Haven (Martha's vineyard). She was original built 1926 as a pilot boat to be used in mobile, Alabama. today she is used for day sail programs and a sailing school. For more information: theblackdogtallships.com
The Alabama passing by Salisbury Beach State Reservation.
Alabama heading up the Merrimack River towards Newburyport
The Adventure is a 122 foot long schooner built in Essex, MA in 1926. She was originally built for the New England fishing industry. Currently based out of Gloucester, MA she is used for education purposes. For further information schooner-adventure.org/
The Adventure on the ocean side of the south jetty on Plum Island.
Low tide afforded us the opportunity to inspect the damage the winter storms did to the jetty. The damage was most evident on the small spur jetty. Quite a few blocks of stone were tumbled off the top towards the beach side. It gives you an idea of the power of the ocean. These photos were taken April 9, 2017
The red lines indicated the damaged top section of spur jetty.
The stone knocked off the top tumbled down to the beach side.
We were walking the beach on the Parker River Wildlife Refuge on Plum Island on Sunday March 26. About 2/3 of mile south of parking lot #3 beach access, at low tide, we saw the remnants of a shipwreck poking up through the sand. [Note: The refuge beach closes April 1st for the Piping Plovers]
Victor Mastrone, Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources,
identified it as likely the wreck of the Schooner Ingomar.The schooner built in 1904 went aground in 1936. (Shipwrecks are protected archaeological sites. Please do not dig or remove any artifacts).
According to an article in the Boston Herald (February 19, 1936):
“The Ingomar crashed ashore on Plum Island during the night.
Her hull was split and it was believed she would break up within a week. When
Capt. John Atwood saw the vessel’s plight, he order the men to take to the
dories, and night got off safely. Henry White and John Whalen were unable to
lower a boat and took to the rigging. They were taken off after a weary vigil
by a crew from Knobbs Beach coast guard station on Plum Island.”
The ocean was remarkably calm the day before. There was barely any wave action especially the farther away form the jetty you got. In and around the jetty, wave heights could be measured in inches. The picture below shows just how clam things were.
Barely a ripple
"Ice Necklace" - These are small pieces of ice that washed ashore.
Day After the Storm - March 15, 2017
The storm was offshore and still kicking up some good wave action.
A wall of water over the top
It also liberated some stairs ...
One small step to ...?
Wind blown sand will make beach access a bit challenging this summer.
The repairs to the South Jetty have had unintended consequences. The repairs have disrupted the natural flow of currents causing extensive erosion on both the ocean side and Merrimack River side. These photos were taken on February 28, 2017. They show the Merrimack River shoreline just before it meets the south jetty and the ocean. A major nor'easter is forecasted for March 14 which may cause major additional erosion.
The south jetty is just visible in upper left. Water is Merrimack River.
A wooden pole from the former Coast Guard station has tumbled down the embankment. The tall white post at the top was setup to monitor the erosion problem, The short, dark, rusted post in the foreground is an old iron fence post.
This photo gives you some sense for the height of the embankment being eroded.