A winter sail
There's nothing better than sitting around a warm fire on a cold winter's night and hearing stories about the sea. For the 40 or more who gathered at the Black Dog Tavern on Jan. 16, the evening meant good food and good tales as Sail Martha's Vineyard hosted a fireside dinner and maritime presentation on the Mayflower II.
The Black Dog Tavern was the perfect backdrop for Capt. Peter Arenstam of Plimoth Plantation to talk about the reproduction ship under his command. Before his slide show, there was dinner and lots of friendly conversation. The restaurant staff served up piping hot mugs of chowder from behind a buffet line. There was a huge bowl of mixed greens with walnuts and delicious vinaigrette dressing. The entrée was a choice of (or a little of both) salmon or chicken with asparagus and rice on the side.
After dinner the buffet tables quickly disappeared, and a projection screen was raised. Mr. Arenstam took the floor and told the story of the Mayflower II, from idea, through her construction in England, the Atlantic crossing, to her final home at Plimoth Plantation.
Step-by-step Mr. Arenstam took the audience through the process with anecdotes and facts, all enhanced with the slide presentation. Fact: it takes 10 acres of timber to supply the lumber for one ship. Fact: a small kitten named Felix made the trans Atlantic trip in 1957 and wore a specially made life jacket during lifeboat drills. In what he called, "Shameless self-promotion," Mr. Arenstam held up a book he wrote, "Felix and His Mayflower II Adventures," a children's book about the kitten's journey to America. He also wrote another children's book, "Nicholas, A Massachusetts Tale," the first book in a new series, published by Mitten Press.
Books by Captain Peter Arenstam
"Felix and His Mayflower II Adventures," by Peter Arenstam, illustrated by Ronnie Rooney. Published by Plimoth Plantation. $8.99. Available at www.plimoth.org.
"Nicholas, A Massachusetts Tale," by Peter Arenstam, illustrated by Karen Busch Holman. Mitten Press. 144 pages. $14.95.
The fireside dinner and lecture at the Black Dog was the first of three such evenings hosted by Sail MV. Next month Stephen Barr of the United States Coast Guard station in Menemsha will speak, and in March, Marc Songini, the author of "The Lost Fleet: A Yankee Whaler's Struggle Against the Confederate Navy and Arctic Disaster," will talk about Vineyard whaling captains.
Why not join other maritime enthusiasts for a good meal and a good talk around the fire this winter?
Fireside dinner and maritime presentations, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 6 pm, with Stephen Barr of the United States Coast Guard; Wednesday, March 12, 6 pm, with author, Marc Songini, at the Black Dog Tavern, Beach Road extension, Vineyard Haven. Tickets $20 for adults, $12 for children. For reservations or more information, call Sail MV, 508-696-7644.