Tisbury secures a loaner vessel for harbormaster

At a meeting closed to public attendance Tuesday night, Tisbury selectmen authorized a MOU for a loaner boat for the harbor dept. — Rich Saltzberg

Tisbury selectmen unanimously authorized town administrator Jay Grande to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Massachusetts Environmental Police for the loan of a 25-foot Parker brand boat. 

“We’re in debt to the Environmental Police for making this opportunity available to us,” Grande told the board. “I want to thank John Crocker, our harbormaster, for his initiative and steadfastness and persistence on getting this to a place where I can bring it before you today.”

Grande also thanked Fire Chief John Schilling and Police Chief Mark Saloio for participating in the vessel search.

Tisbury has been without a harbor patrol boat since the “Rock Salt” sank at the Owen Park Dock in October. Initially, it was a mystery why the boat sank, but a marine surveyor eventually determined the sinking stemmed from an unsecured hatch and an overwhelmed bilge. The $265,000 boat was funded by a FEMA grant and delivered in 2011. Initially dubbed “Hold Fast,” by former Harbormaster Jay Wilbur, the firefighting equipment aboard the vessel proved dysfunctional and frustrated some town officials. The town declared the boat a total insurance loss after it sank. 

The Environmental Police boat is on loan from March 20 to Sept. 30.

Grande told the board the harbormaster is eager for “harbor patrol capacity.” He added it was his understanding the boat is “fitted out and ready to serve.”

Selectmen chair Melinda Loberg expressed concern the town might have to choose whether to extend the loan in the middle of the tourist season.

By then, Grande said, “I think we’ll know more about our procurement of the new vessel.” He added he was optimistic an extension of the loan was doable, if need be. 

Asked by The Times if the loaner boat has firefighting capability or will have it, Loberg said, “The loaner does not, I’m hearing from our fire chief.” She went on to say, “When we eventually replace the patrol boat, that may be a different story.” 

“Or it may not,” Selectman Jim Rogers said. 

“[T]he insurance company says we have to get a boat that’s just like one [lost],” Loberg said. 



  1. How ironic… the Harbormaster sinks the town boat and then the town administrator thanks him for helping to get a loaner from the state. That’s just bass-ackwards.

    • There’s a lot I could say about Tisbury but in this time of crisis I’ll hold my fire. We all do need to work together now.

  2. While I agree that in this time of crisis we need to set priorities and be positive, there are some serious concerns about the responsibility for the sinking and the purchase of a new boat by a Harbormaster who is not a mariner and knows little about boats. We’ve been through that before. Why are we limited to spend only what the insurance company paid? I thought there was a grant. And the redesign of Owen Park Pier which as the Harbormaster reported at the last Committee meeting, isn’t going anywhere. We will have another season with a dock in bad shape. So, with all meetings on hold, will this all happen in the background? Without much needed public or Committee input? We can’t loose sight of these issues . Stay safe.

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