Sail MV whale for sale

Maynard Silva
The artist Maynard Silva, also known as a sign-painter and vocalist, rests on his whale of a design this summer. Photo by Susan Safford

By Eleni Collins - November 9, 2006

For Maynard Silva, his answer when asked to paint a large whale to raise money for Sail Martha's Vineyard (Sail MV) was a no-brainer. "My attitude is, if someone asks me to paint something, I say sure," said the artist.

Sponsored by the New England Fast Ferry, the proceeds raised for Maynard's whale will benefit Sail MV, a non-profit organization that began as a free sailing program for Island children in 1992, and has now reached more than 1,000 students taught over the span of 14 years. The organization, which is run on funds from memberships, donations, and grants, is also credited for creating the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School's varsity sailing team.

The whale, which will be auctioned off as one of four at the Vineyard Artisan's Festival on Saturday, Nov. 25, is covered with images like those of Gustave Dore, the illustrator for Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." Mr. Silva's whale is painted with scrimshaw colored background, and can be found very close to its natural ocean habitat. Located at Boch Park on State Road in Vineyard Haven, the whale traveled a bit this summer to raise awareness for the fundraiser. "We had it at our annual seafood buffet and auction, and at our seafaring festival," said Hope Callen, administrative director of Sail Martha's Vineyard.

Choosing Sail MV for their non-profit organization was an obvious choice for the New England Fast Ferry. "We always look for charities to contribute to, and Sail MV seemed like the most logical one to us," said John Tiernan, Island manager for the ferry company. "We like the idea of Island kids taking to the water." Enthused about the fundraiser, New England Fast Ferry marketing manager Julie Doherty commented, "We are just really thrilled to be a part of this. We're very committed to the Island, and the service we operate to the Island."

When approached to paint a whale for the Cape and Islands Whale Trail, Maynard was surprised. According to himself, he is not an artist in the typical sense. "I'm not really an artist, I'm a sign maker," he commented in an interview earlier this summer. "I specialize in getting people's attention."

Maynard's whale, rightly titled "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," has a current bid price of $3,500, which makes Ms. Callen hopeful for the upcoming auction at the Agricultural Fairgrounds in West Tisbury. "Looking at what we have bid on it already as an opening bid in a couple weeks, we'll make some decent money on it."

To view the whales online or to place a bid, visit