Opening of the boating season has been delayed this spring, as Island shipyards await the lifting of the state’s stay-at-home order to begin launching boats.

And at least two popular harbors, Cuttyhunk and Menemsha, have postponed their opening dates. Cuttyhunk harbor master George Isabel said this week that harbor will be closed to transient boat traffic until at least June 15. Menemsha harbor master Ryan Rossi said he will begin June 1 taking reservations for moorings and slips for July 1 or later. 

Until July 1, Menemsha will not be allowing temporary tie-ups except to buy fuel and ice. However, Chilmark residents with the proper permits are allowed to keep their vessels in their designated slips and on moorings, Mr. Rossi said.

Prime Marine and the Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard will be able to do maintenance and prep vessels for launch beginning Monday, but cannot put boats back in the water until Gov. Charlie Baker lifts the emergency order barring non-essential businesses from operating, said James Hale, vice president at the shipyard.

Mr. Hale said in a normal year, 40 to 50 boats would have been delivered to their owners by now.

“We’re finding a way to keep our business moving forward while addressing the concerns around people coming here,” he said.

Three of the four largest marinas on the Vineyard are staying the course with opening procedures for the summer, but when they will be allowed to open is yet to be determined. 

Vineyard Haven harbor master John Crocker said the town marina at Owen Park is usually open for business by Memorial Day. He is waiting for guidance from Tisbury town officials regarding his opening day.

 “We’re doing what we typically do. We’ve painted the bottom of mooring balls and we’re re-lettering and renumbering them as well. We’re going to start painting the bottom of boats soon and I’m waiting for direction as to when and if to put in the dinghy floats and turn on the water,” he said. 

In past summers, Tisbury has allowed boaters to temporarily tie up at the pier at Owen Park, but Mr. Crocker said he’s not certain if that will be allowed this summer.

Normally, the Oak Bluffs harbor facilities open the week before Memorial Day, and as of now the plan to open mid-May is still in place. If the marina is ordered closed for transient moorings and slips, gas and diesel will still be available in Oak Bluffs, harbor master Todd Alexander said.

“Unless it comes down from the governor that we can’t be open, we’re going to be operating as we always do and then make proper adjustments as they come down,” he said.

 When he started taking reservations for the summer on Feb. 1, Mr. Alexander said he received about two to three per cent more reservations than usual. Since the the stay-at-home order was imposed, reservations “fell off a cliff,” he said.

In Edgartown, town administrator James Hagerty said the harbor doesn’t have a hard date for opening this year. Although the town facility at the North Wharf usually opens Memorial Day weekend, Mr. Hagerty said “that’s subject to change in regard to any extension of the governor’s orders. As of now, we’re planning to install [harbor] moorings once the return to work order begins.”

Edgartown harbor master Charlie Blair said his crew members were able to work alone from their shops at home to give the town moorings a fresh coat of paint and prepare the town’s patrol boats for launch.

Mr. Hagerty reported a decrease in boater reservations for May and June, but July and August are nearly sold out, he said. Mr. Blair said he has received cancellations for June reservations, but the rest of the summer is uncertain. 

 “We don’t know how it’s going to wind up. If the bars and restaurants don’t open up, we’ve had it,” Mr. Blair said. “No one brings a boat to Edgartown harbor and cooks a meal. The season really hinges on the hotels, bars and restaurants.”

Cuttyhunk’s decision to delay opening the harbor is designed to protect the island community from outside infection, Mr. Isabel said. The closest hospital for residents is in New Bedford, about an hour away by boat. 

“I hate to tell people they can’t come in, but all it takes is one innocent person that doesn’t know they’re infected,” he said. 

While the breakwater that leads into the harbor will not be physically blocked, Mr. Isabel is asking boaters not to anchor in the marina. Boaters will not be able to get onto the island through the marina’s dock, nor will they find any of the amenities the marina usually offers, including fuel and fresh water. 

On Cuttyhunk, shops and restaurants are not open, restrooms are closed and the summer season is on hold until Mr. Isabel and the board of selectmen determine it’s safe to open the harbor, he said.  Given the uncertainty of the scale of the coronavirus pandemic, Mr. Isabel said they may push the opening date further into the season if deemed necessary. 

“We’re going to have to wing it like everybody else. It’s a sad state of affairs for everybody. We’re going to take a big hit, but we can’t control it,” the harbor master said.