Everything is getting dragged into this highly-charged political season, even real estate appreciation.
An eight-year study by Attom Data Solutions revealed that homes in democratically-controlled congressional districts appreciated at a higher rate than those in republican congressional districts-- 21 percent versus 10 percent.
The average rate of return for all 435 congressional districts between 2008 and 2016 was $59,467 in democratic areas, and $22,086 in republican ones.
Generally, homes in democratic districts cost more to purchase and their property tax rate is fractionally higher as well, an average of $1.07 versus $1.02.
In what may foretell next month's general election, the findings are reversed in the political battleground states. In Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin, republican districts outperformed democratic ones in 7 out of 11 states. In nearby New Hampshire for example, the percentage of ROI was 26 percent in GOP congressional districts versus 16 percent for democratic ones.
What will the annual Wellfleet Oysterfest be without the popular local food that gives it its name? We'll find out this weekend. In a sign of widening troubles for Cape Cod's shellfishing industry, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Division of Marine Fisheries today shut down Wellfleet shellfish beds to both commercial and recreational fishing due to a recent outbreak of norovirus. The areas affected are Wellfleet Harbor, the Inner Harbor, Herring River and Loagy Bay.
75 people reported cases of nausea, diarrhea and vomiting due to norovirus ingested in raw oysters originating in Wellfleet over the weekend in restaurants and weddings in the outer Cape.
Wellfleet is the only Cape Cod community outside the wider area of shellfish beds closed along Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds. Those areas were shut down October 10th in response to an algal bloom which can cause amnesic shellfish poisoning in people. Marine mammals and birds can also be harmed by the algae.
Organizers for Wellfleet Oysterfest say the show will go on this weekend, with cooked seafood and other popular festival dishes. As of this writing, the festival website had not yet reflected the news that raw Wellfleet oysters will not be served at the weekend event. An article in the Cape Cod Times quotes a festival organizer stating raw oysters will be brought in from other sources. In a typical year, an estimated 125,000 raw oysters are consumed by thousands of festival goers over the two day October event.
Shellfish beds on Cape Cod's warm south-facing Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds are closed until further notice. The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries found evidence of a toxic algae bloom and shut down the beds to commercial and recreational shellfishing.
Algae exists normally in both fresh and saltwater, but prolonged hot temperatures can cause the plankton to grow out of control. This can cause toxic symptoms in both people, fish and birds, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Affected Cape Cod towns are Falmouth, Mashpee, Barnstable, Yarmouth, Dennis, Harwich, Chatham, Orleans, Aquinnah, Chilmark, West Tisbury, Tisbury, Oak Bluffs, Edgartown and Nantucket.
Coincidentally the annual Wellfleet Oyster Festival takes place this weekend. Shellfish beds in Wellfleet, as well as Cape Cod Bay, Pleasant Bay and Town Cove are unaffected by the emergency order.
Half the homes on Cape Cod are second homes. Of those, I estimate about 20 percent are offered as vacation rentals.
There aren't many hotels on Cape Cod which is a blessing and a curse. If you want to stay the night or a week or longer, renting someone's home is the way you'll probably go.
You'll feel you're in a "home away from home". If you're like me and so many others, you'll begin to wonder if it's best to turn the tables one day, to own your own place and to rent it out to vacationing families to help you pay for it.
Until then, you'll try your hardest to select the best place for your vacation from online photos and descriptions.
As the 2016 summer season comes to a close, and thoughts of 2017 are up next, the New York Times wrote a terrific guide to selecting a rental home for your vacation. Check it out here. And if you would like some recommendations on good rental sites on Cape Cod, give me a call. I was there once too, and I'm happy to help you out.
The phone call came in January from the real estate company that sold me my Cape Cod home in 2000. An alert neighbor spotted a frozen stream outside the foundation of my vacation home beneath my living room window and contacted the realtor whose name they remembered from the sign posted at the house when it was on the market. Thank you thoughtful neighbor! But I was 400 miles away in Syracuse where I lived and worked at the time.
In a total panic I called my Cape Cod plumber who prepared me for the worst. A pipe could have burst in the house, flooding the first floor and bursting through the wall to the outdoors, only to freeze once it hit the January air. Can you spell T-E-R-R-O-R?
Luckily my fears were for naught. It turns out my outdoor spigot had been slowly dripping all winter and it built into an impressive frozen mini Niagara Falls. It was an easy fix but I've never looked at pipes and cold weather the same since.
Our friends at House Logic have some tips on how to prevent your pipes from freezing, beginning with the most vulnerable areas:
A frozen garden hose can cause more damage than a busted hose; it can actually burst an interior pipe. When the water in the hose freezes, it expands, increasing pressure throughout the whole plumbing system. As part of your regular seasonal maintenance, garden hoses should be disconnected, drained, and stored before the first hard freeze.
If you don't have frost-proof spigots, close the interior shut-off valve leading to that faucet, open and drain the spigot, and install a faucet insulator. Don’t forget, outdoor kitchens need winterizing, too, to prevent damage.
Exposed Interior Plumbing
Exposed pipes in the basement are rarely in danger of freezing because they are in a heated portion of the home. But plumbing pipes in an unheated area, such as an attic, crawl space, and garage, are at risk of freezing.
Often, inexpensive foam pipe insulation is enough for moderately cold climates. For severe climes, opt for wrapping problem pipes with thermostatically controlled heat tape (from $50 to $200, depending on length), which will turn on at certain minimum temps.
If pipes traveling in exterior walls have frozen in the past (tell-tale signs include water damage, mold, and moisture build-up), it’s probably because of inadequate or improperly installed insulation. It might well be worth the couple hundred dollars it costs to open up the wall and beef up the insulation.
Heading South for the Winter?
For folks leaving their houses for an extended period of time in winter, additional preventative measures must be taken to adequately protect the home from frozen pipes.
Make sure the furnace is set no lower than 55 degrees. If you prefer, you can shut off the main water supply and drain the system by opening all faucets and flushing the toilets.
In extreme situations (vacation home in a bitterly cold climate), Abrams recommends having a plumber come to inspect the system, drain the hot water heater, and perhaps replace the water in traps and drains with nontoxic antifreeze.
One of the first vendors I share with my new homeowners is a reliable plumber, especially when sales occur in the fall and winter. He or she will be your best friend. Go to Angie's List for a growing list of vendors on Cape Cod, or contact me via email, text or phone call for my personal recommendation.
Until I purchased my own Cape Cod home in 2000, my children and I rented cottages for two weeks every summer for 12 years. We really settled in for those wonderful vacation days. The first thing I did was to push aside decorative items that were vulnerable to damage from four young children. I moved a chair or two to reflect the way we were using the rooms during our down time after the beach. In every case, I carefully replaced everything just as it was when we found it. My goal was to make it personal but not permanent.
Our friends at Houzz.com have great ideas on how to tweak a rental cottage to make it more like "home". While not all the advice is something I would have done -- bothering to bring a framed photo of our family in an already filled-to-the-gills car, others, like taking a quick phone photo of the layout so you remember exactly where everything was when you took possession, you'll find something you can use on your Cape Cod vacation.
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Planning a Trip to Cape Cod? Start with "Street View".
I am fascinated by backyard birds. Part of it is a nod to the comfort of my childhood when I watched my mom study the traffic at her bird feeders outside the kitchen window in Worcester. Now I am her. Bird feeders of various designs, all loaded with dinner for Cape Cod's diverse bird population, hang just outside my window for year round entertainment I find better than TV.
In the winter, I cook suet for the woodpeckers and I supply another feeder with dried mealworms for the bluebirds, chickadees and finches. Now that the summer birds are back, the winter feeders take a less prominent role near the fence and the Welch's grape jelly dish and the nectar feeder move forward. Until the weather turns cold I'll fill these non-stop for flashy Baltimore Orioles and acrobatic hummingbirds.
Of course, nature is the primary source of food and our friends at Houzz compiled this excellent list of flowers that attract hummingbirds.
So get to your favorite nursery and start digging. You'll love being a magnet for the highly entertaining backyard bird population.
Massachusetts and Maine tie for the lowest property tax burden of the six New England states. That's according to the National Association of Realtors, using data from Core Logic.
The report, titled "Comparing the Real Cost of Home Ownership Across the United States", calculates that the average property tax rate in the U.S. is 1.31 percent of value, but northeastern states have a higher rate with southern states generally requiring less.
The highest rate in the country is the state of Illinois. There, homeowners pay 2.67 percent of the value of their homes in property tax each year, followed by New York State at 2.53.
In New England, New Hampshire leads the pack at 2.43 percent, owing perhaps to the lack of a state sales tax there. Connecticut follows at 2.10, Vermont is next at 1.98. Rhode Island stands at 1.93. Massachusetts and Maine tie at 1.47 percent.
Where does your state rank? Consult the table below, provided by Core Logic.
For most people, a ride over the two bridges that span the Cape Cod Canal means their beach vacation is about to begin. That saltwater view, from 135 feet up, is the first glimpse of anything but highway and trees that travelers have seen for hours. It triggers nostalgia for vacations past, anticipation of the happy times ahead, and for a few, it's a white-knuckle three minutes on narrow lanes and heavy traffic.
The first version of the privately-funded canal was begun in 1909 and completed five years later. Shipwrecks along the sandbars of the outer stretches of the Cape were taking their toll on commerce. According to the Cape Cod Canal Centennial website, ships ran aground an average of every two weeks in the 1880s.
In spite of the new shortcut, mariners avoided the Canal due to exorbitant tolls. It wasn't until the U.S. government took control of the waterway in 1928 that the canal was deepened and widened, and two 1935 bridges-- the Sagamore and the Bourne, provided toll-free passage for seamen and tourists.
I found this video of the Canal being constructed. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Bike paths, dedicated bike lanes and bicycle-share programs are creating a surge in residential home values, according to a recent report by the Urban Land Institute.
Nationwide, the report's author's found homes located near "active" transportation are worth an additional $34,000.
The report titled "Active Transportation and Real Estate: The Next Frontier", studied ten communities in the U.S.. In Indianapolis, the six year old Cultural Trail created an increase in nearby residential values of a whopping 148 percent. Authors cited graded paths, protective posts and “bicycle boulevards” as reasons for the popularity of the surrounding neighborhoods.
Used for commuting and also for recreation, the report stated a bicycle infrastructure contributes to overall better health, fewer greenhouse gas emissions and reduced use of fossil fuels.
Cape Cod is known as a bike-friendly region with paved and protected bike paths throughout the 70-mile area. An extension of the Cape Cod Rail Trail is currently being constructed to link what is now the end of the trail in Dennis, through Yarmouth, and into Barnstable.
For more information about Cape Cod Bike Trails, with downloadable maps, visit the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce here.
And to experience Cape Cod biking from your easy chair, enjoy this video by Kinlin Grover Real Estate and Paul Freehauf Productions.
Sativa in Harwich Port is well-known as the shop that sells nothing you absolutely need, but which you must have. Situated in a landmark red clapboard building on Route 28 at the western fringe of the business district, the shop sells of-the-moment costume jewelry, some fine and gemstone jewelry, scented candles, soaps and fragrances, fashion and home accessories and colorful bags of all descriptions.
"Our Scout line is particularly popular so we're going to open a new location with a lot of it" says owner Ron Remondino of the planned seasonal expansion across the parking lot from Sativa. "It's so new we haven't even come up with a name for the store yet".
Remondino's second boutique will move into the building newly vacated by the 1816 House of Gourmet. That charming little kitchen store lasted three years at the site which Remondino owns and rents out. This year he'll use the building for his new boutique of summer items.
"We'll stock it with summer and beach items that appeal to the vacationers and tourists". Remondino is targeting a May first opening with a run to last until October.
Cape Cod retailers know the unique challenges of surviving in a region overrun with affluent summer visitors and an off-season population of working-class residents and retirees. Remondino says he hasn't seen any change to the rhythm of life here-- only the styles and tastes. Sativa has done a great job keeping up with the trends, as a recent visit on a Saturday afternoon in February would attest. On a chilly afternoon, with the streets of Harwich Port devoid of pedestrians and the street through the center of the village quiet of cars, Sativa was packed with young women purchasing affordable, fashionable accessories.
Remondino knows what his shop is all about. "The less you need something, the more you've got to have it", he chuckled.
By now, wild turkeys are a familiar sight to residents and visitors of Cape Cod. The big birds once threatened with extinction and now abundant on the Cape, emerge from woods and fields to forage out in the open in yards and roadsides. When they decide to cross the road it takes forever. My instagram feed is peppered with my peaceful encounters with these guys.
Rarely though, do we ever see these birds take flight. The other day I looked outside my front door to see three turkeys on the ridge of the roof on the house across the street, with two others sitting in the leafless branches in the trees above. It was a startling sight, appearing rather, unnatural. I mean, I've heard of birds on a wire before, but turkeys on a roof ridge? I took out my iphone to record this rare scene. Rare for me anyway.
Here is the result: One by one the turkeys flew off, leaving one very unhappy-- and I assume juvenile, turkey behind. See how the drama played out, and enjoy.
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Wild Turkeys Show No Concern for, Ahem....Thanksgiving
Across the U.S., the average starter home price is now $189,300, according to the National Association of Realtors. On Cape Cod that figure is closer to $300,000, putting young families who hope to buy their first place in a bind.
As the infographic below demonstrates, it requires an annual salary of $44,222 to qualify for the typical starter home in the U.S. Cape Codders who earn less than $50,000 have difficulty affording homes here, where the median price in 2015 was $365,000, according to the Cape Cod and Island's Association of Realtors.
Housing affordability has long been an issue on the Cape because year-round residents compete with wealthy second-home owners for the available supply of homes for sale.
And, as the graphic illustrates, homes on the east coast are more expensive than anywhere else in the country, and require a greater annual salary, for families to be able to afford.
You can find inspiration and solutions for any decor dilemma on houzz.com. I like to start a file for my real estate clients where I store ideas for the Cape Cod house they have in escrow. Access to the file is shared only between the clients and me. It's a terrific resource.
Today the site published some universal tips for a variety of decorating styles and I wanted to share it with you. Enjoy the rooms and their descriptions below. Advance them with the little arrows at the lower right of the photos.
The call came in this morning. Would I be available this afternoon, the caller inquired, so that the caller and his wife could present me with a handmade scarf, fashioned with yarn from A Great Yarn in Chatham. It was a token of appreciation for the video profile I did of the shop's exclusive collection of yarn inspired by the Disney feature film "The Finest Hours". Would I be available? Are you kidding?
The Finest Hours is based on the true story of the greatest small boat rescue in U.S. Coast Guard history. On a February night in 1952 a handful of brave Chatham men took off into a vicious nor'easter to rescue merchant marines stranded offshore. Against impossible odds the rescuers brought home nearly all the seamen.
The Finest Hours opens in theaters nationwide Friday. Tomorrow night at the historic Orpheum Theater in Chatham, I will wear a black cocktail dress and my Finest Hours handmade scarf to a special preview and gala afterward at the Chatham Bars Inn. It's a sell-out and the hottest ticket in town right now. If you go, look for me. I'll be the one with the colors of "an angry sea" around my neck and proud of it, too.
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Chatham Shop Owner Creates Finest Hours Yarn
Sneak Peek at The Finest Hours
Cape Codders Answer Casting Call for The Finest Hours
In spite of the weekend snow storm, there were five new listings on the broker tour in Harwich this morning. Let's begin with 45 Whip O Will. This place is adorable and there's a special feature at the end.
24 Whip O Will has a lovely feel to it. It definitely feels larger on the inside than it appears on the outside. I have written in the past how I'm a fan of warm knotty pine and this place uses it sparingly in the living room with space above for paint. Or you could paint it all white which is a trend on the Cape these days.
And now the surprise....
Is this wild? After touring the lovely main floor, you descend this super tight circular staircase, the kind you see leading up through the roofs for widow's walk views, into a partially finished lower level that I admit was a complete surprise.
See what I mean about adorable? 24 Whip O Will has two bedrooms, one bath and is offered at $309,000 by Sue Peterson of Today Real Estate.
Next up, spacious 950 Orleans Rd. This has a completely different feel. With an in-ground pool and Cranberry Valley Golf Course beyond the back yard, you feel miles away from everywhere. I think it looks a little like what I see in the Carolinas... space, privacy and fairways out the window, and yet you're just a few miles from ocean beaches and even closer to Long Pond freshwater beach.
There's the pool, resting until summer, and the fairways of Cranberry Valley beyond the fence. 950 Orleans Rd. has four bedrooms, three bedrooms and is offered at $750,000. Peg LoPresto of Robert Paul Properties listed this fine home.
Now for some true Cape Cod charm close to Red River Beach. It's time to tour 6 Sunrise Lane.
Looks quaint, doesn't it? And a little snug, but wait. There's a super spacious two-car garage attached to the back with a heated tile sunroom between that and the house. That's a real Cape thing...cottages ramble from the back to keep the home looking quaint from the street, but with additional space in various additions for easy living.
I love the large windows and hardwood floors throughout the home. And it's "south of 28", a location bonus.
6 Sunrise Lane has three bedrooms, two baths and is offered by Diane Mongeau of Olde Cape Sotheby's International Real Estate. It is priced at $579,900.
The last home on our tour today has access to the Herring River for fishing and small boating, and is close to Pleasant Rd. Beach on Nantucket Sound too. Plus it's gorgeous and that's always a joy to see. Check out 7 River Pine Circle.
It has a muted Cape colonial vibe. Inside the colors are SO soothing. You could drink the walls with the cool gray blues and greens.
The owners converted the living area into a giant dining room and they made what had been the dining room into the living area above. You could make it what you want. Both options are great.
7 River Pine Circle has three bedrooms and two baths and is offered at $619,000 by Sandra Tanco of Kinlin Grover Real Estate.
Let me know if you have any questions about today's homes, or you'd like to arrange a showing. I'd love to get you in.
Property taxes in Provincetown increased more than any other town on Cape Cod, more than triple the Massachusetts average in 2016, according to a recent analysis by The Boston Globe.
An interactive map on the Globe website shows the average Massachusetts property owner will pay $200 more in property taxes this year. On Cape Cod the figure is slightly lower, at $180.
But in Provincetown, Cape Cod's liveliest, funkiest and relatively affluent town, the average tax bill for a single-family home will increase by $673.
Property taxes pay for municipal services and are determined by what the town spends in administration and improvements. Towns assess a relative value to every property and apply a universal tax rate to that value. If the cost of services decrease, the tax rate goes down, however that is rare. The cost of services and the corresponding tax rate, almost always goes up.
Increased property taxes create a ripple effect throughout the economy. For example, for home buyers, a fixed rate mortgage payment will remain the same for the life of the loan. A high property tax rate will take a larger share of the monthly household budget than a smaller one, forcing shoppers to look at less expensive homes.
In Provincetown in particular, where many homeowners open their places to short-term renters and guests, the cost of a higher tax bill will be passed on to the guests for a pricier nightly or weekly rate. That will leave fewer tourist dollars in the boutiques and restaurants.
The median price of a single family home on Cape Cod increased by 2.8 percent in 2015 to $365,000, according to the Cape Cod and Islands Association of Realtors. That is slightly lower than the Massachusetts median of $383,606. Overall, the tax burden for Baystaters falls in the middle of the country, at number 25 among all 50 states.
Here are the typical property tax increases for 2016 for each of the Cape's 15 towns, from the tip to the bridges:
When Mary Weishaar opened her new yarn shop in Chatham last March, film crews had long since wrapped up filming scenes for "The Finest Hours." The Disney movie depicting the true story of the U.S. Coast Guard's most successful small boat rescue mission in history, was partially shot in Chatham and it featured dozens of Cape Codders acting as "extras" in the background of the film. Yours truly was one of the extras and I can honestly say I have rarely been so cold as I was those 15 hour days which began at 1 pm and concluded around 4 or 5 each morning in December of 2014--all while wearing flimsy period clothing trucked in from Hollywood. I could have used a warm hat, scarf and gloves!
Which brings us back to the yarn. "A Great Yarn" co-owner Weishaar was impressed with the local buzz about the film, so she commissioned a textile artist in North Carolina to create a collection of yarn in various weights of silk, wool and cashmere. The inspiration for the colors and the end product can be seen in the video below.
One aspect you can't appreciate in the video is how the yarn feels. It is scrumptious and you'll want to own some even if you don't knit, if only to feel the luxury of it. On second thought, maybe this will propel me to finally learn how to knit.
With half the homes on Cape Cod used as vacation getaways, homeowner's thoughts in the off-season turn to home security. Wired alarm systems are an obvious solution, but short of that, you can keep intruders away by giving them a thorny surprise. Prickly plants placed at the foundation beneath windows are a deterrent to break-ins, according to "defensive gardening" expert Bruce Wegner of California.
The good news is, there are plenty of options on the Cape, chief among them, roses. Shrub and climbing varieties grow abundantly all over Cape Cod and their spectacular summer beauty gives way to an inhospitable mess of thorns in winter. As any gardener can attest, even with protective equipment, it's difficult to escape scratches just thinking about pruning those things.
Here are some other plants to consider in your defensive gardening plan, according to gardeningknowhow.com:
Pyracantha, "Firethorn Bush".
This versatile and very prickly plant grows from 6 to 16 feet tall, depending on the fertility of the soil. Look for a dwarf version to place beneath windows.
Berberis vulgaris, Barberry Bush
See the word "vulgar" in the latin name? That's the kind of language that will come out of your mouth if you have an accidental run-in with barberry. Able to tolerate both sun and shade, this super thorny bush is at home on Cape Cod. The leaves remain red throughout the growing season for constant color from from spring until winter.
Other defensive gardening plants include:
You don't want dense foundation plants to grow too tall, so as to create a hide-out for thieves. Keep your plants trimmed one foot away from the side of the house, and no higher than the window. Plants at the street and along the driveway should be trimmed to no more than five feet tall. Year round Cape Codders are astute observers and will take note of anyone lurking around a property. You'll want to allow a good line of sight from the street and neighboring homes.
Another tactic favored by law enforcement is pebble mulch around foundation plantings. Though not as aesthetically pleasing as wood chips, the sound of footsteps on the stones might catch the ear of someone nearby.
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Massachusetts ranks far below the national average in the percentage of homes purchased with cash, according to a new report by CoreLogic. Fewer than one in five Bay State homes is a cash deal. The national average is about one in three. Across the U.S. the percentage of cash transactions dropped slightly from one year ago from 35.9 percent to 32.5 percent.
The highest percentage of cash sales is in Alabama with nearly half, followed by W. Virginia, Florida and New York. Maine, Colorado and California join Massachusetts on the extreme low end. As the CoreLogic map below shows, data for Vermont and Nebraska was incomplete.
In metropolitan areas, Miami leads the nation with 58.8 percent of all homes purchased with cash. Syracuse, NY, with annual property taxes that approach nearly 4 percent of the market value of a home, has the lowest, just 14.1 percent.
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Homes on Streets Named for Trees Command Higher Price_
Many people think of Cape Cod as a summer-only destination. After all, once it's too cold to swim, what do you do in a place that's all about the beaches? Plenty. For many people, Cape Cod is best after Labor Day.
This video, shot and produced in September 2013 by Petr Hejl of Aerial Drone Worx in Connecticut, will pull you in to the outer Cape as the summer season wanes. From the dunes of the Cape Cod National Seashore in Truro, to the Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown, see the Cape as the seagulls view it.
Labor Day marks the end of the big beach season on Cape Cod, and the beginning of the best oysters all year. Traditionally, oysters taste best when consumed in months ending in the letter "R", although an oyster lover like me finds them yummy year round.
Recently I had the opportunity to join the oyster farmers from Big Rock Oyster Company in Harwich at their oyster beds in Cape Cod Bay.
A special thanks to Oyster Redeployment Specialist Jim Ferry for the kind invitation.
Big Rock Oysters are sold in fish stores, supermarkets and restaurants all over the northeast, but if you're in Harwich you can buy them direct from the warehouse at 501 Depot Street in Harwich.
You might also like: Dennis Oysters: So Special you can see them from Outer Space.
Cape Cod marine mammal rescue crews successfully disentangled a large sea turtle from fishing line last weekend, according to a report in the Cape Cod Times.
Authorities say a passing boater spotted the distressed leatherback turtle near Pamet Harbor in Truro and reported it to the Provincetown-based Center for Coastal Studies Marine Animal Entanglement Response Team. Rescuers found the five foot long leatherback and cut the commercial fishing line. They reported there were minor injuries to the turtle. It swam away slowly and is expected to recover.
The Entanglement Response Team says it has freed approximately 200 marine mammals, including endangered whales and sea turtles from fishing line and nets, and credits boaters with spotting the animals in need of help.
The best way for recreational boaters, commercial fishermen and beachgoers to help marine mammals is to stay clear of them and to report injured or entangled animals to the U.S Coast Guard's Entanglement hotline, 800-900-3622.
Just last August, rescue crews cut line from another sea turtle in the waters off Cape Cod. Video of that effort, posted on the Defense Video and Imagery System website, is posted below.
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Dennis Oysters, so Special you can see them from Space
It's difficult to know what gives Carrie Small greater pleasure -- her sewing or her dogs. The Harwich woman has run Alterations Unlimited out of her tidy Lower County road antique home since 1989 and every customer is greeted with a bark.
"OK, Bella, over here. Delilah. Come!" Small says, leaving the customer temporarily outside the door as the canine reception committee is ushered to a nearby room in the home.
For Small, Isabella and Delilah are part of the fun that comes with working at a home-based business. The Cape Cod Regional Technical School fashion design graduate has welcomed customers into her personal space-- a crisp white home with black shutters and surrounding Cape Coastal plantings in the center of Harwich Port.
The studio exists in a series of little rooms in the back of the home with sewing machine, full-length mirror and lots of task lighting.
Customers put on the clothes requiring adjustment and Small returns with a pin cushion filled with colorful push pins.
A pull here and a tug there and the garment is ready for take-off. Orders are completed within a week.
Throughout it all, Isabella-- a fox terrier and Delilah-- a chihuahua, hover nearby, jumping to noisy attention only when there's a knock at the door.
"It's good to have them around" says Small. "They keep life interesting around here".
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With summer over and the parking lot attendants gone, it's time to explore the beaches that are normally off-limits in the high season. My 22-year old son Christian is spending a final week at home before departing for his new job in New York City. Among other things, we are taking advantage of the early autumn sunshine and warmth to photograph Cape Cod beaches. Christian is a 3-D artist who appreciates technology and video and he helps me a lot with my tech prowess.
Here is one of our favorites -- West Dennis Beach. It's convenient to unload the car right onto the sand, it's diverse with Nantucket Sound on the south and the Weir Creek marsh to the north, and beyond the marsh are homes that lie on "the fingers". The fingers are little deep water canals that allow for boat dockage. West Dennis Beach is the westernmost tip of the town. It ends at the Bass River which separates Dennis and Yarmouth and at sundown you can sit on park benches to watch the boats come in, the birds peck for food and the tide come in and out. On windy days, one can watch the kite boarders at play. It really is a terrific place to spend time.