Every summer, Paul Curran and Jill Walsh from Oak Bluffs haul their Bahamian Sloop, Mary Eleanor, onto the railway at Gannon and Benjamin in Vineyard Haven. Last weekend, at the end of a hot afternoon building staging in the sand, Paul joked about his relationship with the boat.

“I feel like all I do is paint it.”

Mary Eleanor was built on Man-o-War Key in the Bahamas. She was named after her original owner, a woman from New Jersey who, legend has it, cruised the boat in the waterway to Florida and across to the Bahamas every year.

Owners Jill Walsh and Paul Curran. — Harry Ricciardi

“When her first husband died, she hooked up with another guy and kept it sailing 10 more years. But at this point I’ve owned it longer than she did,” Paul said.

This will be the 29th season that Paul has owned the boat, after purchasing it from Jeff Craig.

“I don’t think I could do it for 10 more,” Paul joked at the end of the day on Saturday, after two hot days in the sun, sanding and painting, broken and bookended by late nights battling with bugs under painters’ lights.

Shapely bulwarks and rails surround the boat. The color scheme is older than Paul’s ownership.

“She was white her whole life. Then she was a variety of greens. She was only green once Jeff Craig owned her. He only owned her for a year,” Paul said.

All the different colors that cover her different surfaces are like a curse, making it more challenging to paint the boat quickly.

“You have to be strategic,” Paul said. “Paint one thing while another thing is drying.”

Mary Eleanor was built on Man-o-War Key in the Bahamas. — Harry Ricciardi

Jeff Craig and Paul are still very close friends. They started coming to the Island together as teenagers, riding their bikes from Dedham and camping out in the bushes.

“We used to ride our bikes to the Cape too,” Paul said. “We liked the Island. On the Cape we were the only weirdos. On the Island there were millions of them.”

Every year Jill is responsible for all the painting on the back of the boat. In a sweeping band across the top of the transom, paint spells out the name and the home port on either side of the heavy rudder.

“I try and do it exactly the same but I think it’s naturally been shifting,” Jill said.

On Monday, when Mary Eleanor was still on the rail, Capt. Bob Douglas of Shenandoah fame came by the boatyard while the boatbuilders were eating lunch. To get a respite from the work he was doing, repairing a deck box on the schooner Alabama, Captain Bob sat down and told everybody about sailing into Nassau, Bahamas in 1963, before any resorts or casinos had been built in the harbor.

Mary Eleanor will be back where she belongs soon. — Harry Ricciardi

“All that Paradise Island was a mangrove. People would anchor their boats there as they came in and out of town. It was covered one end to the other with boats. People tied up to the mangroves. For the most part they were like that,” Captain Bob said, nodding the brim of his hat toward Mary Eleanor when I asked if Mary Eleanor was similar to the boats he saw.

Jill noted that keeping these boats alive on the water is not just for the owners. “All this work, you just have to think about the people on the ferry. It’s cheerful for many Islanders,” she said.

Aside from entertaining us as they preserve their sturdy, traveling home, Paul and Jill are maintaining a tenuous link in many islands’ seafaring histories.

Talking about the Bahamas, Paul said: “I still think it would be cool to take it back there, down the waterway, but I don’t know. We’re all getting old.”