With a cool, brisk breeze rippling the waters of Vineyard Haven harbor, perhaps the most surprising feature of the annual Sail Martha’s Vineyard seafood buffet and auction was the number of sailors who were not out on their boats for the evening. Several of the most recognizable boats in Vineyard Haven — Juno, Magic Carpet, Ishmael, and Malabar II, to name a few — were tied up at the Tisbury Wharf Saturday as their captains joined a crowd of more than 160 people for an evening of good food and good causes. The event auction is one of the main fundraisers for Sail MV, which provides sailing programs for both children and adults throughout the year, and which hosts the Vineyard Cup, taking place this coming weekend. Sail MV also provides vessels, equipment and funding for the high school sailing team.
“It’s really a very important evening for us,” Sail MV director Brock Callen said.
The buffet featuring lobsters and other selections of frutti di mare, was catered by V. Jaime Hamlin Caterers, while Our Market provided drinks. The Beetlebung Steel Band played for cocktail hour but as the live auction got underway the music quieted and auctioneer Kathy Kingston took up her post.
Sail MV board member Melissa Moore, who takes part in the adult sailing program and whose children are in the youth program and high school program, thanked the attendees before the live auction began.
“My family and I would not be sailing if it were not for you,” she said.
Among the live auction items were a sail aboard Nat Benjamin’s schooner Charlotte, a farm-to-table cooking lesson with Jan Burhman of Kitchen Porch catering, and a private tour of the whaling ship Charles W. Morgan with Matthew Stackpole.
Members of the high school team were on hand for the evening, selling raffle tickets during the silent auction and cocktail hour and assisting Ms. Kingston during the live portion, holding posters of each item. The sailors themselves took center stage during a Fund the Need interval, when people could contribute directly to the high school program. The program, which costs over $40,000 per year to fund, has sent nearly all of its participants to college (95 per cent) in its 20 years of existence. Initially, 39 people raised their paper plate paddles to bid, contributing between $2,000 and $100 for a total of more than $16,000 for the team.
Pat Morgan and Scott Earl earned lengthy standing ovations for making the evening’s largest contributions. Ms. Morgan said that she would match the total raised during Fund the Need, while Mr. Earl said he would donate $10,000 per year for two years toward the high school team. Mr. Earl, a regular at the event, said he always likes to give something during the auction; both donors support other Island programs as well, such as the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust.
Ms. Morgan, of Brooklyn, Conn., said her donation was on behalf of the Beagary Charitable Trust, whose mission is promoting education.
“It’s all about the kids and their future,” she said.
Katie Johnson, a Sail MV veteran, varsity sailor and recently graduated senior, is already planning her sailing future. She plans to sail for Georgetown’s team when she starts school there in the fall.
“Sail MV opened up a lot of doors,” she told the Gazette. “Sailing is my outlet, really.” Katie will also be sailing in the Vineyard Cup next weekend, racing on Isobar along with high school vice principal Andrew Berry.
Rising sophomore Lila Sullivan said she started sailing in Sail MV’s summer programs as a sixth grader.
“It’s like being part of a community,” she said. “You learn so much and all the people are great.”