Pascal Albanese and Jeanie Hay Sternbach pay particular attention to the weather. They pay attention to the currents, the tides, the ebb and flow of pattering waves — the wind.
They live aboard Dulcinea, a 42-foot Tayana cutter from Taiwan built in 1988, with their year and a half old son, Montgomery, and charter cat, Mulu — or better known as “Bila” through the chatter of an 18-month-old. It’s the family’s second season living aboard this beamy blue vessel in Vineyard Haven Harbor, but captains Pascal and Jeanie are no strangers to life at sea.
After nine seasons aboard their beloved 41-foot Formosa ketch, Witch of Endor, a powerful nor’easter grounded the vessel on March 2, 2018. Montgomery was a month and a day old. In addition to its reliable summer housing, Witch of Endor chartered summer sails — a vital source of income for the Island family.
“We’re a little out of the yachting community,” Captain Pascal told me from the inflatable tender. “I’m a carpenter, Jeanie does massage. Renting our house [in the summer] and doing the charter sails has worked for us.” The family needed a new boat, and they needed one fast. As luck, fate, destiny would have it, Dulcinea was on the market, and she wasn’t far away. “Montgomery’s first sail was from Newport to the Vineyard,” Pascal said. “We didn’t have to go very far at all. This boat was from a friend of a friend of ours who works at Gannon and Benjamin.” They closed on Dulcinea on May 15, 2018. “That’s a crazy fast time to find something like this,” Pascal said. “It’s come a long way.”
“She was in really good shape for sure,” Jeanie said. “But boats are always sort of in constant maintenance, and if you’re my husband, constant improvement.”
Pascal has his own carpentry business — a handy trade for Dulcinea upkeep. He recently replaced her furlings and fuel tanks, all new electronics, and brought up the varnish. “She’s a well dialed in boat for what we’re doing,” Pascal said. Because they’re chartering sails at any moment, the boat is always ready, always sparkling, and always in tiptop condition.
Dulcinea is moored by the jetty in Vineyard Haven Harbor. They like it there. It’s quieter than other harbors. As we approached the vessel, the water around it glistened. Seagulls called as they soared overhead. A few neighbors were around. It was private, tranquil, and about 10 degrees cooler than it was on shore. Jeanie sat in the cockpit with little Montgomery on her lap. They waved to us as we climbed aboard. The family was kind enough to let The Local inside to take a peek.
Blue cushions line the area around a large, classic, wooden helm. Shiny silver beams and taut line jet off in every direction. The boat has three sails — the main, jib, and genoa — the largest of the three.
“Make yourselves at home,” Pascal said.
Montgomery hauled himself from cushion to cushion — mom and dad never far. “It’s extra challenging with a child when you’re out here,” Pascal said. “He just learned to climb last week,” Jeanie added. But both parents agree that ultimately, few things changed when Montgomery came along. “We’ve lived [at sea] for so long, so we know how to do it,” Jeanie said. “Not much changed. What do you think?” She asked her husband.
“Just the normal things that happen when you have a kid,” Pascal said. “You’re not as relaxed. You’re chasing him, hanging on to him. We spend more designated family time together which is a good thing. He’s a pretty easy baby and he loves the boat.”
Jeanie, a native Islander, and Montgomery spend afternoons on shore with Jeanie’s mother in Vineyard Haven, while Pascal charters sails or is out on construction. Charters last anywhere from two to eight hours, and sail all over the Island, sometimes Cuttyhunk, depending on the currents. Pascal and Jeanie are both licensed captains.
By dinnertime, the whole family is back on board, Mulu, too. Under starry skies and a gentle breeze, this summer home would certainly float my boat.
Is there a Martha’s Vineyard home you’re curious about? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll see if we can make the connection and take a peek.