Welcome, but we'll wait and see
Like the big kid who shoots up in middle school, standing out among her shrimpier peers exactly when she wishes not to stand out but to blend in, to be embraced as one of the girls, Island Home, were she able, might cringe each time she heard herself described as huge.
Huge is the common description for the Steamship Authority's new, $32.1 million ferry, which has been lurking in Vineyard Sound for a week or so, hoping to slip unnoticed into Vineyard Haven on a test run. Huge refers to the impression the hulking new ferry makes as she passes ancient Islander, the latter nearing the end of her long life as our most dependable home afloat. If the photograph on the front page of last week's Times had been worth only one word, it would have been huge.
Huge also refers to Island Home when 30 or so of her aftermost feet stick out beyond the end of her Vineyard Haven slip; or when she dwarfs the Steamship Authority's headquarters building in Woods Hole as she lays in her slip there.
But huge is all about surface impressions. Apparently, the word that describes Island Home's insides, her accommodations for automobiles and passengers, is vast. At least, that's the term visitors settled on after a guided tour of Island Home hosted by SSA personnel Monday in Woods Hole. Pat Waring, Times staff writer, took the tour Monday, called it as she saw it, and she found the accommodations vast. Ms. Waring credited the new ferry with "bright spaciousness and well considered amenities, which promise to make the Vineyard Haven to Woods Hole crossing a pleasant adventure."
Well, we'll just see about that.
For those of us who've ridden as supercargo aboard Islander, Nobska, Naushon, Junkatena, and on and on, as well as a fleet of adapted offshore oil field supply boats and castoff Coast Guard ferries, the plan is to root for Island Home, but wait and see. Sort of, trust, but verify.
For those of us who remember comfortable, untethered, green canvas deck chairs that you could gather in circles or place at the railings and tip back while you watched Vineyard Sound slide by, nobody's going to convince us that rigid, immovable plastic seats are an improvement.
For those of us who've stretched out and slept on the long, green settees in Islander's mezzanine, taking the late boat home after a busy day shopping at BJs, airline seating does not impress.
For those of us who knew - absolutely knew - that Islander would leave at 7 am, no matter what the weather, and that she'd be the last, and sometimes the only, boat under way on the foulest days getting everyone home to Vineyard Haven, we'll just wait and see.
Double-ended, fast and powerful, turns on a dime, goes five knots sideways, latest electronics, latest propulsion, latest materials and design features, spectacular visibility from two ocean liner bridges, Island Home is a splendid creation. Professional reviews have been sensational. Next week, we'll begin to get to know her. We'll be welcoming and hopeful. But, we'll wait and see.