Distance from Nearest Road: 8.2 miles
Travel Method: Boat
Travel Distance One-Way: 11.4 miles
Cell Phone Coverage: Yes
Public Land: Yes, Monomoy Wilderness Area within the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge
Remote Footprints is working to precisely calculate and travel to the remotest locations in each of the 50 United States. We call this unique endeavor–Project Remote. Below is a written account of our 1-day boating expedition to document the Massachusetts Remote Spot. This is our 17th state Remote Spot documented as part of Project Remote.
June 28, 2012. Our excursion to the Massachusetts Remote Spot begins at Saquatucket Harbor boat launch on the south shores of Cape Cod. We set out by motorboat southward into northern Nantucket Sound. Our cousin and captain, Bryan, along with his two eager young sons, graciously provide us with the boat ride to the Remote Spot. And a whole lot more–such as local water knowledge, enthusiasm, and camaraderie…
Bryan’s boat measures approximately 20 feet with a small cabin up front and plenty of standing room aft of the cabin. Skyla loves a good boat ride, but needs attention the whole time, especially a stable hand to hold. The V-shaped hull of the boat is well suited to take on bigger waves like we will see today. Conditions on the Sound today are relatively good, at least at around mid morning. Clear skies with winds around 5-10 knots. Wind will increase a little in the afternoon. We want to get the mission accomplished before that happens, if possible. Air temps are in the 60’s out on the cool, early summer waters…
Our destination is the southermost tip of Monomoy Point. Bryan tells us that sometimes Monomoy is a peninsula connected to the Cape while other times it may become “cut” by storms, creating an island. Right now, the penisula is cut. If it hadn’t been recently cut, we would be hiking out to the tip to intercept the Remote Spot. A hike to the tip would have been a two-day, overnight excursion along the beach. When we began Project Remote, we naively aspired to reach all 50 U.S. Remote Spots without motorized assistance. But it just wasn’t possible either because of land use restrictions or the logistics of carrying a toddler along, or both. If camping is prohibited in remote, publicly owned conservation lands, then you must get out to them, do your work, and get back all in one day…This is why we had to start using a motorboat to get to far out island Remote Spots. Of course, we Go Remote without motors wherever possible.
After a solid hour of slow to moderate speed boating along the western shores of Monomoy Peninsula, we arrive at the southern tip where the MA Remote Spot resides. There it is, up on the beach. We stop for a few minutes to contemplate a safe method of approaching the surf-pounded beach. The adults start to realize that getting people and a non-swimming toddler on shore in the pounding surf will be a tall order. The waves aren’t monsters, but they still have plenty of power to manhandle the boat. We consider all options. The captain boats us up and down the shore a good distance to scout. It all looks the same. We approach the beach for a closer look. It looks do-able, but not ideal. A wave thrusts us almost to shore. People scramble. The next wave plows the bow aground. Waves smack the stern. Water splashes into the back of the boat.
No time to chat. It’s now or never. Quickly the Remote Spotters react by exiting the boat into waist deep surf. Ryan and Rebecca instinctively protect Skyla and get her up on shore away from breakers and helpless boat. Ryan rushes back to help Cameron and the Captain dislodge the hefty boat, now sideways and grounded in the surf. They slowly push the stern of the vessel back into deeper water. Once the Captain realizes his motor is in deep enough water to operate, he gets in and guns the throttle in reverse. The bow dislodges. He backs into deeper water out of the dangerous breaking surf.
All but Captain Bryan are on shore near the Massachusetts Remote Spot. Bryan is about 80 yards out to sea now. He shouts and gestures. Presumably, he’s saying that he will make a run down the beach to find a more suitable location to go aground and retrieve us after we document the spot. But no one can really hear over the surf. He heads on.
Up on shore, as the adrenaline from our beaching wanes, we take in the wide open surroundings. The beach is a mixture of whitish sand and rather coarse gravel. The gravel is rounded by eons of wave tumbling. It is a beautiful coastal landscape with a pristine beach spanning on for miles. But there are things of human origin within view, most notably, some signs atop the beach past the high tide mark. Several boats are visible off shore.
We weren’t alone on the beach either. A large group of grey seals were following us as we walked along the shore. Their heads bobbed in and out of the water as they slowly drifted alongside us. We wrote a Remote Note about the seals that you can link to here.
We decide not to waste any time getting our Remote Spot Assessmet (RSA) accomplished. Cameron and Bryan’s two young sons decide to walk down the beach to find where Captain Bryan may be and keep him company while Ryan, Rebecca, and Skyla conduct the RSA…Skyla has no trouble occupying herself on the expansive beach.
The RSA consists of spending 15 minutes recording quantitative data on human presence/absence. Specifically, one of us stands calm and observes all surroundings in the time alloted. We observe sights, sounds, and smells of anything of human origin, then we identify it, estimate distance, and record the compass bearing of the datum. This is an attempt to measure the current effects of humanity on remoteness in each state. Additional to the RSA, we also make wildlife observations. Last, and not least, we make high resolution, panoramic photo and video of the Remote Spot. Through Project Remote, we are quantitatively measuring remoteness as it currently exists in the United States. This work provides a baseline of information on remote (i.e. roadless) areas that is useful to current and future roadless area conservation efforts.
This is a view southwestward from the MA Remote Spot. Monomoy Point is just in view. The Remote Spot is about a half mile north of the southernmost point of Monomoy, up the eastern side of the peninsula. Note the skinny sign post that appears right of center in the adjacent photo, right under the cumulus cloud. That will be recorded in our RSA as a human structure. There are also several boats out on the water visible from the Remote Spot.
The sign tells us that the area behind it is “closed to protect nesting and staging birds.” Of course, we do not go beyond the sign. As biologists ourselves, we understand quite fully the need for closure of some public lands in favor of wildlife conservation. It doesn’t necessarily take being a biologistst to know this, however…
The “Remotest Family in Massachussetts…”
Meanwhile, Cameron and the Captain are dealing with another situation down the beach a mile away. While trying to get ashore, a wave pushes the boat up on land. It’s too high to simply push it off like the first time. This is confounded by lowering tide. We must now wait for the tide to return…There are worse places to be tidally stranded for a while. It turns out that our wait isn’t a long one. It was almost low tide already when the boat got washed aground.
Here come the girls at a Skyla pace …The little one is very thirsty after nearly 3 hours, including a mile long hike, without a drink in direct sunlight. It’s a great thing that we were not stranded for too long out here because we were running low on water.
We get the boat back on the water and make the 11.5 mile return jaunt back to the harbor. Looks like the chance for continued conservation of the Massachusetts Remote Spot is a good one inside the Monomoy Wilderness within Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge.
A group of double-crested cormorants sits atop a channel marker in Nantucket Sound–a reminder that humans and nature can coexist…
We can if we don’t overdevelop the planet. Let’s say enough is enough. Like, right now.
Project Remote Fundraiser: After reading this website, you might be surprised at just how hard it is to get away from a road or a town nowadays–and instantly understand that we must now as a nation speak out to protect remaining public roadless areas from further roads development. Project Remote is now over half-way done! Our goal is to raise enough funding simply to offset the cost of traveling frugally state by state, completing the documentary field work, and maintaining this website. This work depends on donations from people like you. If you like what we do, please make a tax deductible donation to support Project Remote today. Thank you so very much for helping us to document and preserve Remote America… –Remote Footprints