2018 Annual Guide: Cuttyhunk
The old Lookout Hill platform was once a location to keep watch for incoming war ships. Today, it sits atop the hill as nothing more than a cement foundation, but from this vantage point you can see the whole island. As you look out on the bay toward Nashawena or back toward the mainland, it’s easy to imagine yourself as an essential part of the long and critical history this spot represents.
Accessing a footpath from Lookout Hill (above), a short walk leads to another observation platform overlooking the west end of the island. This is an inspiring spot to catch a sunset or watch the shellfishing activities in the shallows below. The Gosnold Monument, erected in 1902 to acknowledge the tri-cenntenial of Bartholomew Gosnold’s discovery of the island, punctuates the view.
Mom & Pops:
Pull up to the Cuttyhunk Fish Pier for a delicious bite to eat and some friendly local color at Cuttyhunk Cafe. From warm, fresh donuts in the morning—as early as 5 a.m.—to an unbeatable classic lobster roll for dinner, this well-kept secret serves everything with unparalleled island charm.
Who doesn’t love fireworks? Cuttyhunk’s annual display happens this year on the first weekend in August. Another prime event for this small island? Cuttyhunk’s 22nd Annual Fishing Tournament will take place at the end of September. Limited to 100 competitors, this shore-only tournament includes everything from surf casting to fly fishing and lasts for 24 hours, followed by an awards cookout with live music.
A day in the life of: Seth Garfield, owner of Cuttyhunk Shellfish, third-generation islander and wearer of many hats
By Allyson Plessner
Longtime Cuttyhunk aficionado and native Seth Garfield is truly the go-to guy for all things island related. Cuttyhunk’s local fire chief, landscaping professional, highway surveyor, Coast Guard boathouse caretaker, Emergency Management Director, and the proud owner of Cuttyhunk’s renowned floating raw bar and shellfishing company, he also serves on the finance and harbor committees for the island. In between all these responsibilities, Garfield teaches classes at Friends Academy in Dartmouth—“just for fun,” he jokes.
Garfield is a third-generation resident of Cuttyhunk, and his three children grew up as fourth-generation islanders. His grandfather won his Cuttyhunk home in a way that is indicative of the laid-back lifestyle of the island—at a cocktail party house drawing. The man who owned most of the island at the time came up with this creative way to distribute his property holdings and expand his community. Garfield’s grandfather ended up with his very own island home that day, and many years and homes later, his family’s presence continues to enrich the area.
“The pulse of the island,” as Garfield refers to it, is the cornerstone on which he has built his life. In the summer, he spends his days managing a crew of eager young workers on the island, helping them navigate tasks ranging from yardwork to shellfishing. In the winter, his trips between Dartmouth and the island, bringing with him a few hardy employees, are less frequent, but he and his wife still manage to spend the majority of their time on Cuttyhunk—a feat that becomes increasingly difficult as the lone market and the few food establishments on the island shut down for the season, but one important for a man whose heart is intrinsically tied to his island home.
Cuttyhunk has a rich history, and Garfield knows it well. As he drives his red four-wheeler down skinny roads and across unpaved paths, he points out various ways the island has changed, how it functioned during wartime and other points of history, and the homes that dot the island—including all the other businesses. Cuttyhunk, he explains, changes with the season: In the winter, there are approximately 25 residents on the island, but in the summer, that number swells to almost 2,000 people when including visiting yachtsmen enjoying the characteristic serenity of the area.
Garfield spends most of his time either on the water or patrolling the island, making sure everything is running smoothly. “I wear many different hats and do a lot of work for Cuttyhunk, so I’m familiar with all the different nuances of the island,” he says. “I meet all sorts of different people and solve all sorts of different problems, which makes for some very interesting days.”
One of Garfield’s most important roles is as Cuttyhunk’s shellfish connoisseur. He leads his team through the harvesting process, collecting thousands of oysters almost daily to provide to local restaurants, events that his company caters, his own take-out restaurant—open for the summers on Cuttyhunk Pier—or his floating raw bar that services the boats in Cuttyhunk harbor.
“When you’re sitting on your boat having your first cocktail of the day, we come up and offer you that day’s fresh catch, from oysters to shrimp, and you never have to leave the comfort of your boat,” Garfield says.
At the end of the day, he’s always thinking of ways to better his community. “People like to talk about a sense of place,” he says. “This is mine—when I come into that harbor, I always think, ‘It’s good to be home.’”
Allyson Plessner is the staff writer for Cape Cod Life Publications.
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