Patriot owner defends against online accusations

The owner of the Patriot Boats ferry Quickwater says his company is being maligned publicly, even though there's no proof a commuter was infected with COVID-19 on the boat. — Rich Saltzberg

A Vineyard contractor called out Patriot Party boats, operator of the ferry Quickwater, on Facebook for lax pandemic precautions that may have infected one of his employees. Jeff Melanson alleged in a post that one of his employees contracted COVID-19 from his commute on the ferry. 

“They put masks on and social distance as much as they can on such a small boat,” he wrote. “They informed me when they board the boat everyone has their masks on, but when they get down below they remove them, and the boat crew says nothing. So my guys get up and stand outside to be safe. This went on all week till Thursday. Friday morning I got the call that he was sick which were the same symptoms of the virus. I told him to get tested and not to come in to work. I went down to the boat Friday morning to tell the boat what happened, and of course didn’t have a care in the world. My worker got tested Friday, heard last night he was positive. So now my whole family is quarantined and getting tested today, and my other worker and his family.”

Melanson said his company is now shut down for an undetermined amount of time, just after he was able to restart it following work restrictions. 

Jim Tiertje, owner of Patriot Party Boats, defended his company. Tiertje said he’s recently pulled services up from a low point of four trips to Oak Bluffs a day back to eight. He noted the mate on the Patriot has been vigilant on masks. “He has been asking people to wear masks if they’re not wearing them,” Tiertje said.

He said he was at a loss as to how Melanson is sure a person’s infection started on his boat. “That’s his conjecture,” Tiertje said. “I don’t know how he can prove it.” Tiertje said he spoke with Oak Bluffs health agent Meegan Lancaster. “She herself said it’s impossible to say where a person got coronavirus,” he said.

Lancaster could not be immediately reached for confirmation.

Tiertje said his crews regularly wipe down controls, knobs, handles, and handrails on the boat. 

He said he’s appreciative of help offers he’s received from SeaStreak and J.B. Blau. SeaStreak owner Jim Barker offered to carry his service, if need be, should his crews get ill, he said. Blau offered to connect him with the disinfection company he uses for his restaurants.

In a message to The Times, Melanson said he’s getting tested for COVID-19. 

Tiertje said while he remains skeptical, he wasn’t above an olive branch. “We’re really sorry someone might have caught it on the boat,” he said.


  1. When everyone is in a panic about riding the SSA. You still chose to ride the patriot?
    Granted Jim and the Patriot crew are great people, BUT if you think being anywhere in close proximity to many people is not risky, obviously you were wrong. Yes, it is true you could get the virus anywhere. It is not fair or responsible to say it came specifically from the boat travel.

  2. Stories like this reaffirm my decision to quit social media years ago. I’m not sure islanders appreciate the value of the Patriot boat and Jim Tiertje and his family. I could fill this space with all he does for the island but i’ll limit it to one story. Years ago I got a call late one Friday night that my 12 year old daughter was in an ambulance from the Cape to Children’s Hospital in Boston. In less than an hour Jim met me in OB and I was on my way to Falmouth so I could head up to Boston. I’ll never forget that night and am forever grateful to Jim.

  3. Patriot. Thank you for the service you provide us Islanders. Sorry that Melanson posted on Islanders Talk and spread unsubstantiated rumors against your company. Instead of an olive branch, Id send out an attorney and sue him for libel.

    • I love the Patriot boats. I have only fond memories of taking the early-morning boat from Falmouth to OB and back.
      People must do their own risk calculations when they spend time in an enclosed space.
      Adults must Just as they do for any other action they take in their daily lives, such as driving. “More than 38,000 people die every year in crashes on U.S. roadways. The U.S. traffic fatality rate is 12.4 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. An additional 4.4 million are injured seriously enough to require medical attention.” Still, people get into their cars. As well they should. We must live until we die.
      The weather is decent now and passengers can stay on deck for the whole trip. If they choose to go below instead of staying out on deck and breathing in healthy sea air, they have only themselves to blame if they expose t hemselves to an environment they have been warned is higher risk. The owner of the Patriot boats cannot prevent people from breathing.
      It is virtually impossible to pinpoint where one might have picked up the virus, and it it pointless. This culture of denunciation is worse than the virus itself. Grow up and take responsibility for your own health. If you have a healthy immune system, don’t smoke, eat nutritious food, are not overweight, take supplements (vitD-C-A and zinc), you have little to fear from the virus.

      • “If you have a healthy immune system, don’t smoke, eat nutritious food, are not overweight, take supplements (vitD-C-A and zinc), you have little to fear from the virus.”

        and where did you get your medical degree, dr random-person-on-the-internet?

  4. I am very sorry for you and your family and your workers and I hope that everything turns out well for all of you, but there is no way to know how your employee contracted Covid-19. To blame The Patriot in this way with this written defamation is wholly inappropriate and does not appear to be based on any demonstrable facts. You claim in your facebook post “ I’m not posting this to complain” but then you go on to call the Patriot “a menace to the island”. That is an outrageous torch and pitchfork accusation. I have ridden The Patriot as a daily commuter for the last eight years. I have never seen you riding as a passenger on the boat. I’d be curious to know how many times you personally take the boat each week. It appears your “true facts” are based on hearsay, gross assumption and fear. I appreciate that what you are going through must be very scary and also frustrating (both financially and emotionally) and you are obviously looking for an answer or “someone to blame”. But as a regular rider on the boat I will say that during the pandemic I have never ONCE seen them not wear masks. The Patriot is the only true “lifeline to the islands”. They are there when the Steamship isn’t. Every member of the Patriot team from the owner right down the chain are always there with empathy and kindness and decency and professionalism. They are there in storms. They are there in the middle of the night. They are there in illness. There is never any ego. There is never any rudeness. They always go the extra mile at every opportunity. Whether that extra mile is turning the boat around when someone has missed it, or holding the boat for someone running late. They carry groceries. They play taxi-cab. I remember one particular touching moment when the mate held a bucket and comforted a puking sea-sick child when her mother had no idea what to do. They genuinely care. Last week when The Steamship wouldn’t give me a reservation off the island with my car to pick up my sweetheart who had just had open heart surgery at MGH (horrible story for another day), I called the Patriot. Thank GOD for the Patriot. If it wasn’t for the Patriot we would not have made it home. They are angels and I am grateful for them every, single day.

  5. I, too, want to thank Jim and the Patriot boat crew for years of outstanding service, and for going above and beyond the call of duty. I’ve relied on them many, many times in a pinch, and they are always cheerful and willing to help out, no matter the conditions so long as it’s safe to travel. They have high integrity and are a critically important service to Martha’s Vineyard.

  6. Abominable. Posting accusations of the contracting of this corona virus is irresponsible as there is absolutely NO WAY to prove where the person contracted the virus, at this time. In future, there may be, but as of now, NO.

  7. once again if you’re that worried about this virus stay at home. Why should everybody have to suffer over your paranoia . Heard immunity . Thank you patriot boats for your services !!

  8. I would probably take a closer look at the contractors importing cheaper labor from the mainland Daily than The boat that’s trying to make a living bringing them here! Patriot boat does so much for the people who live here transporting items as well as people back-and-forth .

  9. The owners and crew at the Patriot go above and beyond. They have saved the day multiple times for me over the last 20 years when the SSA boat wasn’t running, from my mother’s cancer treatments to family vacations. Talk about a “lifeline”! Thank you Patriot folks, you are a Godsend to many Islanders!

Previous articleVineyard beaches open for Memorial Day
Next articleAquinnah addresses short-term rentals