Things to Do in Martha's Vineyard

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Edgartown Harbor seasons

BY VSH | 31 January 2010

Harbor1As Lane touched on in our last post, Martha’s Vineyard is a very different place in winter than the beloved Island that most of you see only in it’s glorious summer colors.  This morning, I walked up to the top of the Edgartown Residence Club wing of the building, as I do most days, and took a few minutes to look out on the Edgartown Harbor.  I make a point of seeing the water at some point every day.  Even if it is from the window.  It’s my version of the wonderful movie line that goes, “It’s only an Island if you look at it from the water” (and I’m sure there are many Amity lovers who know that movie).

You see, the harbor is the pulse by which I measure the seasons.  The ebb and flow of the tide is mirrored in the traffic patterns each season.  As you can see from my photo, the sun is shining down on an almost empty harbor today.  There are one or two lonely boats, bobbing on their moorings but otherwise, a deserted stretch of chilly water greets me.  This isn’t the case every day in winter though.  It’s Sunday today, so I’m missing the early morning rush of scallopers heading out to harvest their daily bushels and bring them back for shucking.  If you have never tasted an Edgartown Bay Scallop fresh from the shell, then I swear you are missing one of the most amazing taste sensations in the world!  Sweet and velvety, they are a treat to behold and worth a special visit during Bay scallop season which usually starts in mid November.  I am lucky enough to have a few scalloper friends who make sure I am well stocked and a chef husband who lovingly prepares them in the simplest ways to let their flavors shine.

Every spring I watch as slowly but surely, the harbor once again fills up, until there are rows of neatly moored boats of all shapes and sizes enjoying all that life in this bustling summer town has to offer.  I know summer is here when I see the Edgartown Yacht Club moor its pontoons for the kids sailing programs, then watch as all those little sails bob precariously in and out of the other boats while the children learn skills that I dream of having time to learn one summer!  Huge and luxurious yachts become a talking point, “Did you see the one with the heli-pad?”, “There’s one with guards at the end of the dock – who owns that one?”. Charter fishing boats take hopeful groups on high seas adventures, and the harbor launch works overtime shuttling people and their purchases back and forth to their chosen vessel.

Then the exodus begins.  The pontoons are dismantled and stored away ’til next year, the families with kids and dogs in life preservers are fewer and there’s a bit of a lull in harbor activity for a couple of weeks. Then mid September hits and brings with it the biggest event of the Edgartown Harbor calendar – The Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby The dates for this year’s event were just announced, so grab your favorite fisherman/woman and make some plans!  You can even take advantage of the Book Early and Save promotion at the Colonial Inn.

So, the harbor life continues, the fishing boats are pulled out of the water for the winter, the harbor empties and then, here we are again with a deserted harbor and bay scallops.  I love to watch this cycle every year, mostly because I know that the next step brings another part of life on the Vineyard to look forward to.  If you want to keep an eye on this cycle, check out our webcam, overlooking Edgartown harbor to see what’s going on while you’re gone.