Sail MV raises thousands in donations at seafood banquet

From left to right: MV Sail president Peggy Schwier stood with auctioneer Kathy Kingston and Melissa Moore, whose four children and she, herself, have participated in MV Sail classes. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Sail Martha’s Vineyard (Sail MV) is on a roll. More than 200 supporters attended the youth and adult community sailing program’s 21st annual seafood buffet and auction on Saturday, July 7.

This weekend, Sail MV hosts the 7th annual Vineyard Cup Regatta. More than 70 boats are expected to participate.

“At the end of the day, this is all about the kids and we couldn’t do it without you guys,” Brock Callen, Sail MV’s program director, told the crowd assembled under a tent on Tisbury Wharf. “Thank you so very much.”

Kathy Kingston, Sail MV fundraiser, served as the auctioneer for the night, and provided rapid-fire play-by-play of the bids on auction items that included a week-long trip in Ireland for four and an afternoon sailing trip for eight on the schooner “Juno.”

An African photo safari for two received the highest bid of the night. The six-night trip sold for $4,100. When the donor offered a second trip at the price of the winning bid, it raised the total donation amount to $8,200.

Ms. Kingston also appealed for donations to help Sail MV add a fleet of Flatirons, wooden skiffs used by instructors on the water with students.

“We have an opportunity tonight to fund a project that the board felt was very important,” said MV Sail vice president Daniel Pesch. “You’ve been very generous in years past, and I hope you will be today as well.”

That appeal generated $23,350 with donations that ranged from $100 to two $6,000 donations.

The auction provided a prelude to a ceremony honoring Captain Robert S. Douglas.

Matthew Stackpole, who is currently restoring the last surviving wooden whaling ship at Mystic Seaport, presented the Walter Cronkite award to Mr. Douglas, designer and builder of the topsail Shenandoah 48 years ago.

“The reason I’m on Martha’s Vineyard is because of Robert S. Douglas,” said Mr. Stackpole who was hired in 1966 to be a crew member on the Shenandoah. “I can honestly say that that decision changed my life. In fact, I think we can accuse Bob of increasing the population of Martha’s Vineyard due to crew members on the schooner who still live here, and are happy to live here.

“I think it’s unimaginable to think of the Vineyard Haven harbor without the Shenandoah as a centerpiece. It has almost become a signature of the harbor.”

The award was named for the late CBS News anchor who was a supporter of Sail MV and a longtime sailor. “I had the good luck to sail with Walter Cronkite on his vessels and Walter loved this organization, was our honoree chair when we started it, and came to all these evenings,” said Mr. Stackpole. “When sailing with him, he told me how much he admired the topsail schooner, the Shenandoah, and the way she would sail, and the job Robert S. Douglas did with her.”

Mr. Stackpole also thanked the captain for his dedication to teaching children about sailing and wooden boats.

Every year, Mr. Douglas invites students from along the East Coast aboard his schooners, the Shenandoah and the Alabama. On Sunday, he set sail for a week-long trip aboard the Shenandoah with the fifth grade class of West Tisbury School.

“I’ve got nothing against grownups, but I’ve got a lot of things for teenagers,” said Mr. Douglas. “If I were to bonsai people, I would make them all 11 years old. For them, everything is new, everything is different, and everything is exciting.”

The captain also thanked his fellow sailors for making the Vineyard harbor an enjoyable place to moor. “Vineyard Haven is a very special place mainly because of the people and their shared love of wooden boats,” said Mr. Douglas. “It is living in a time-warp and it’s a wonderful place to be.”

This weekend, Sail MV hosts the annual Vineyard Cup Regatta. Boats of various length will compete in races Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The course can be viewed from a variety of Island locations, including East Chop, West Chop, State Beach between Edgartown and Oak Bluffs and Lake Tashmoo beach.

At the end of each day, awards parties featuring music, food and drink, will be held under tents on Beach Road extension, in front of the Black Dog Tavern. Tickets are $30 per night, or $75 for the weekend. A free party will be held Saturday night at 7 pm.

Boat race registration is open until midnight, July 12. For more information, go to