Island Home hits dolphin, breaks door

A line of people waits to get onboard the Island Home in Vineyard Haven Wednesday.

The Steamship Authority ferry Island Home struck a dolphin (a maritime structure) Wednesday in Woods Hole with enough force to damage an evacuation door. The vessel was subsequently sent to the SSA’s Fairhaven facility for repairs, and is expected to leave there “shortly,” according to SSA spokesman Sean Driscoll. Jim Malkin, the Vineyard’s representative on the SSA board, said the vessel was slated to return to service at noon Friday. Sure enough, the Island Home departed Vineyard Haven shortly after noon.

Martha’s Vineyard Times Editor George Brennan was aboard the vessel when the strike occurred, and described it as “jarring.”

In a message to The Times, Driscoll wrote, “the vessel was docking in Woods Hole in strong winds.” Driscoll specifically described the damaged portion of the Island Home as “the marine evacuation system door,” from which an inflatable chute and liferaft are deployed. The Nantucket came in to substitute for the Island Home, Driscoll noted. 

There was some good news from the SSA this week. Some concessions have returned. 

According to a press release, limited food and beverage sales (yes, there’s beer) are now available on certain Steamship Authority vessels. The authority’s concessionaire, Centerplate, is offering prepackaged food and beverages on a limited basis, and only on certain vessels, as they continue to ramp up their operations.

“Initially, concessions will be offered daily on the MV Iyanough, the MV Island Home, the MV Nantucket, and on weekends, on the MV Woods Hole,” the release states. “However, not all trips may have concessions available, so please plan accordingly if you need something to drink or eat for your trip. Food and beverage service is not available at our terminals at this time. We ask customers to remember they may only lower their mask while they are eating or drinking, either inside or outside on the vessel.”

 Meanwhile, the SSA issued an alert Friday about an impending storm. “The Steamship Authority is monitoring an upcoming period of high winds that have the potential to disrupt service on both the Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard routes,” the SSA wrote in an email. “Winds are expected to gust between 30 mph and 40 mph throughout the day on Saturday, May 29, 2021. Please plan accordingly.”

To change or modify a reservation, visit the SSA website at, call the reservation office at 508-477-8600, or visit one of the terminals.


  1. Before Times readers unfamiliar with maritime lingo get all flustered about the headline, they should know that the dolphin in question is part of the man-made structure of the Steamship’s wharf.

    Thankfully, no marine or land animals were harmed during the Island Home’s docking.

    Have a safe weekend, everybody!

  2. The SSA propellors chop up hundreds of marine animals every day but not any cute one’s like dolphins.

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