by Rick Conti
Paris has the Eiffel Tower.
New York City has its Empire State Building.
San Francisco boasts the Golden Gate Bridge.
Every great city has a landmark that is visible from almost any vantage point within its limits. Edgartown is no different. In fact, Edgartown does them all one better. While those other architectural wonders are impressive where they stand, the one that is the pride of Edgartown Harbor is mobile.
It’s a massive, fluttering sheet of white suspended from a majestic mast and sporting the image of a surly buccaneer named “Mad Max”. The sinister stare of this profligate privateer surveys the harbor whenever he’s not otherwise occupied cruising the coastline of the Vineyard.
Mad Max is the name of a catamaran that offers cruises to landlubbers like me whose oceanic exploits are normally limited to the ferry. But it’s more than that. It is actually a monument to the seafaring history of the city.
OK, maybe I’m overstating it. I do that. But it is definitely a site that has always represented Edgartown Harbor for me. It peeks above the roofs and gables of the buildings that line the shore, beckoning to the sea everyone within reach of its siren call.
I resisted that call for longer than I care to admit. I remember hosting friends who were visiting the island. Ever the pseudo-local, I put on my best haughty manner as I showed them around, pointing out the scenery and places of interest. As Mad Max loomed over us, with feigned superiority I described its features and told them how I’d always wanted to take it for a sail. One of them called my bluff. “Why not now?” I had no answer.
We all spent the next couple of hours skimming over the waves along the northeast coast of the island. What a ride! We brought some wine and snacks (encouraged by the boat’s management) and took in a view of the coastline we’d never appreciated before. Being one who is prone to mild queasiness on anything but the most placid water surface, I feared the worst on a relatively small boat. No need to worry. The twin-hulled construction makes the ride as smooth as gelato.
One of the craft’s exceptional features is the mesh surface that spans the two hulls on the front half of the boat. We lounged on it as the water rushed just a couple of feet underneath us. We were mermaids and mermen soaring above the surf. (See how the imagination can run away with you on such a magical experience?)
As the sun set, we made our way back to the harbor, where Max could once more lodge leisurely in his niche, overlooking his enchanting empire. The rest of us carried the memory of our excursion long after we had reacquired our land legs.
Try that on the Eiffel Tower.