The plan was to carve away the ground under the whale’s anchorage, bring in Coady’s 75-ton rotator crane to raise it up on a sling and lay it down on a flatbed.
“We can do it; we’ve lifted trailer trucks before, just never a whale,” Contarino said.
And by noon, the fragile body of the whale, cracked and crumbled, along with its broken tail, was on one of Coady’s flatbeds. On a scale of one to 10, Contarino said, freeing that whale rated at “about a 12 and a half.”
The whale had a date with a state police escort for the trip to Contarino’s rehabilitation ward in Haverhill so repairs can begin within days.
The two women who launched the effort to save this icon of their youthful Salisbury Beach memories were on hand. Martha Hickey Dastous and Joanne Housianits waved off the bugs as they watched, hoping the rescue wouldn’t turn into a funeral for their beloved whale.
Initiated this winter, the undertaking was finalized only a few weeks ago, Dastous said, when Town Manager Neil Harrington agreed to have the whale sit on town land when healthy again. Its future home will be a piece of land by the beach skate park that Salisbury just reacquired from the state, she said. Having a spot to put the sentimental treasure made everything gel, she said.
When it arrives at its new home, perhaps as soon as next spring, Harrington said, the whale will be fenced in to protect it from vandalism, children from injury and the town from liability lawsuits.
Also watching the whale get a second lease on life was the daughter of the man who many believe built it in the first place. The late Charlie St. Cyr’s daughter, Mary-Beth, was there, camera in hand, to document the process for the family. Her late dad, a local mason and contractor, created the behemoth for Jim Natowich, owner of Nat’s Fun Spot, before Jack Goldman purchased and ran it as Kartland.