12:30 PM Saturday
“I dare you to find a cloud in the whole sky,” I say, more by way of an exclamation than a true dare. The sky is a deep postcard blue. The color blue that just doesn’t exist on the mainland.
It’s amazing. A couple of hours ago, we had the heater on in our boat as we crossed a chilled, grey-green Nantucket Sound. It really looked awful weather-wise. Now, as we stroll down the picturesque, boutique filled Tisbury Main Street, I realize that I am seriously overdressed. “Jeez it’s warm!” I say as I push up the sleeves of my long-sleeved shirt.
Main street is a tad touristy for my taste, but interesting all the same. We check out a few shops, but there is nothing for us to buy, and everything is expensive. One block away, however, Water Street holds more of the stuff a frugal boater can use, like a Supermarket, pizza parlor, post office, and Mad Martha’s ice cream shop. We stop at a tiny information kiosk to grab a walking map before heading off to see firsthand what this Black Dog thing is all about.
“The Black Dog System,” is what I jokingly call this complex of several quaint, cedar shingled buildings, set out on a whole city block of valuable and rare Marthas Vineyard waterfront. First, they hit you with no less than three clothing and souvenir shops, “For all your Black Dog merchandise needs,” as Susan so aptly puts it. I admit, I was so taken by a heavy, old fashioned coffee mug, that I bought one. Then, there’s the bakery, the museum, and finally, the tavern. We consider stopping in to test out the new drinking laws, but are rebuffed by the 18 people waiting outside the door.
“I don’t feel like waiting. Do you?” Susan asks.
“Nah. Let’s go back to the boat and cook those Porterhouse steaks I brought.” Nothing puts a spring in your step better than the promise of a sizzling steak and an ice cold beer. Within ten minutes we were back on board.
Late Saturday Afternoon
Although the Sun is getting low, it remains a perfect 72 degrees with no humidity to speak of. There is a crystal clarity in the air that is hauntingly memorable. A young couple meander by in a small inflatable and wave. “Nice evening,” the Captain says with a smile. I raise my drink in agreement. Their scruffy little terrier is boldly perched on the bow, mouth open, tongue hanging, bright eyes sparkling, deliriously happy. Heck! I feel the same way!
Early Sunday morning
The sun is a promising glow beneath the horizon, but I, the incurable morning man, am up and about, and trying very hard not to wake Susan, but I can’t even look at my old stainless steel percolator without making it rattle loudly. Miraculously, she sleeps through the coffee making procedure. With a hot cup of coffee in hand, I pad my way out onto the aft deck, wipe the morning dew off the deck chairs, and wait for the Sun to rise.
Through binoculars, I watch the workers on the nearby ferry dock. They are busy directing traffic onto their ship. At this ungodly hour, it’s mostly tractor-trailers and commecial vehicles. On the ships well lit bridge, I can clearly see the captain arrive and get right down to business. He pulls down a microphone from the ceiling and says something into it. Immediately, lines are released, engines rev up, and they leave the dock. It’s amazing how such a large floating mass can pass so close and have practically no wake.
The sun pops up behind the lagoon’s bascule bridge, silhouetting its outline like a pen and ink drawing. Wonderfully warming sunlight floods our boat. Within minutes the temperature rises at least ten degrees. I take off my hoodie and don my Wayfarers. Have I mentioned that I really love it here?
After awhile, Susan appears on the aft-deck, extra large mug in her hand.
“What would you like to do today?” she asks.
“Dinghy tour! Well, for for starters anyway. I thought we’d check out the Lagoon Pond. Then have a walkabout to Lake Tashmoo, and then get ice cream at Mad Martha’s”.
“Wow! you got plans,” she says.
“I do indeed. You in?
I leave her to enjoy her coffee while I start cooking breakfast. I’m making an omelet with bacon, tomato, onion, mushrooms, and olives, and frying the whole thing in butter, garlic, and olive oil. The galley is smelling pretty darn good!
10:00 AM Sunday
After breakfast we hop into the dinghy and head out to the Lagoon Pond. It’s much larger than I expected, twice as large as the harbor. “So this is where they hide all the power boats,” I thought. I might like to anchor here next time.
After exploring the Lagoon Pond, we zip over to the dinghy dock, tie up ol’ Salty, and walk the sun drenched side streets to Lake Tashmoo. It takes all of twenty minutes. It’s a nice walk but so anticlimactic. The road just ends at a dirty old dock. I dunno, I thought there would be a nice park or something, but no, there is not even a bench to sit on. So we turn around and head back to Vineyard Haven to get ice cream at the highly recommended Mad Martha’s. When we arrive, I go with the butter crunch, and Susan orders coffee. We are not disappointed, and the servings a so huge we can’t finish them.
9:00 AM Monday morning
Boating on Monday rules! Tourists and weekenders are gone! We are having breakfast at the normaly packed Black Dog Tavern. Today, the place is practically empty, so we get the primo window seat facing the harbor. I surprise Susan by ordering the avocado eggs Benedict. “You don’t even like avocado,” she says. “But I don’t hate it, I just thought I’d try something different,” I reasoned. She orders a massive cheesy omelet with corned beef hash and white toast. Hers looks better than mine so we sort of share. It was all wicked tasty.
On the dinghy ride back to the boat, the mood is somewhat subdued; we will be leaving this beautiful place within the hour.
“Susan honey, I don’t want to leave.” I say bluntly. I really mean it. I could seriously live here forever. The weather is nicer here, the sky is bluer, the food tastier, the boats boatier, the beer beerier.
All good things must come to an end. Today, that old cliche echos over and over in my brain. We must go. We have jobs, a house, a life. “But we could quit our jobs, sell our house, start a new life!” I can’t believe I just said that out loud! My wife just looks at me, but not like I am crazy, it’s a look of understanding, and love, and knowing that I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. She kisses my forehead, walks to the bow, and slips the mooring line off the bitt. Ginger Lee reluctantly backs away, turns, and heads home.
I pick up the radio mic, tune to channel 9, and transmit:
“Vineyard Haven Harbormaster. This is motor vessel Ginger Lee checking out. Thank you for having us in your beautiful harbor, we really enjoyed it. We’ll definately be back. Ginger Lee, over and out.”
I didn’t expect a reply, but I was pleased to hear Harbormaster Jim’s voice come back loud and clear.
“Copy that Ginger Lee. Nice to have you guys, you are welcome anytime. Have a safe voyage, and come back soon. Vineyard Haven out.”