Ernie Boch Jr. donates personal watercraft to Aquinnah Fire Dept

The PWC is the latest in a string of donations Mr. Boch has made to the Island community.

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Ernie Boch Jr. plans to improve the long moribund lot along Beach Road in Vineyard Haven. — Photo by Michael Cummo

Seasonal Edgartown resident and philanthropist Ernie Boch Jr., president and CEO of Subaru of New England, has donated the $8,300 the Aquinnah Fire Department needed to purchase a personal watercraft that can be used for water emergencies in Aquinnah and surrounding towns.

Fire Chief Simon Bollin said the versatility of the personal watercraft (PWC), which can be launched right from shore, is important when responding to emergencies off some of the town’s more secluded beaches on the Atlantic side of the Island.

The department had use of a Kawasaki PWC last summer under a company public-safety loan program, but was unable to secure funding to purchase the machine at the end of the season.

Chief Bollin said he was searching for funding and came across Mr. Boch’s email. He sent an email to Mr. Boch in which he described the department’s need and the purpose of the PWC. “Within two days after that, I had a check from him, and went and picked up the machine,” Chief Bollin said. “Now it’s a piece of equipment we have in our arsenal.”

Chief Bollin said the Environmental Police will conduct a joint PWC training exercise this fall with the up-Island fire departments.

“On behalf of Subaru of New England, I’m delighted to assist the town of Aquinnah and the Aquinnah Fire Rescue Squad in the purchase of a personal watercraft,” Mr. Boch said in a press release. “This new machine will ensure the safety of Martha’s Vineyard residents and thousands of tourists for years to come. Growing up, I spent summers on the Vineyard swimming in these waters; I know how important water safety is.”

There will be a brief ceremony at the Aquinnah fire house Thursday at noon, where Mr. Boch will speak about his donation. 

Mr. Boch is well known for his generosity on Martha’s Vineyard, which has included funding a new rescue boat for the Edgartown Police Department, funding a new police vehicle for the Island K-9 officer, funding the Tisbury eighth grade trip to Washington, D.C., and allowing the use of his property for a boat-building educational project for three years, two years longer than planned.