About a dozen miles off the coast of Cape Cod sits a rustic island named Penikese — part of the Elizabeth island chain. A hundred years ago, Penikese was home to a leper colony, then a school for troubled boys and a bird sanctuary. This past fall, Penikese opened to its newest incarnation — a treatment program for opioid addicts.
We leave the dock in Woods Hole on a 35-foot lobster boat, and push off into the calm waters of Buzzards Bay. An overcast dawn has made way for blue skies and stunning visibility. We can see seals on the rocks in the distance.
It’s my first time on this hour-long trip, but for the staff of the Penikese Island treatment program, this is their commute. Clinical director Coco Wellington, a rugged, straight-talking woman, says it never gets old.
“I’m in love with that island,” she says, as the land comes into view. “It’s so starkly beautiful.”