For Andrew Nutton, sailing is more than a lifelong love and vocation. The newly appointed executive director of Sail Martha’s Vineyard credits it with his very life.

“It’s really close to my heart because sailing saved me, really,” Mr. Nutton said.

Mr. Nutton grew up in England and has been sailing his entire life. After high school he turned to restaurant work before finding his way back to his first love.

In January, after 30 years of coaching sailing, Mr. Nutton was named executive director of Sail MV, a nonprofit started in 1992 to bring sailing to kids who might not be able to afford lessons. He started with Sail MV in 2017 as director of programs, and succeeded the retiring executive director Jonathan Kettlewell.

Since he started working at Sail MV, Mr. Nutton has had one clear goal: get as many kids on the water as possible, regardless of their backgrounds. He sees sailing as a lifelong pursuit in a way that many sports are not.

All summer long, kids hit the water at Sail MV camp. — Mark Alan Lovewell

“Sailing, I believe, is one of the only sports that sailors, if they get bitten by the bug at age eight, will still be sailing at 80.”

Sail MV’s summer camps teach both new and experienced young sailors how to “go fast and look cool” — the reason anyone first learns to sail, Mr. Nutton said. It also demonstrates how being challenged can encourage personal development.

Campers grow faster when they are on the “raggedy edge” of their comfort zones, Mr. Nutton said.

“It’s our job and our aim and passion to get children to that edge, where they are being pushed as hard as they can within a very safe and constructive environment so that they learn quickly,” he continued.

In 2019, Mr. Nutton created Sail Mobility to help enable people with disabilities to sail, including groups from Camp Jabberwocky and Island Autism Group. Mr. Nutton said that Sail MV blocks out time for those groups four afternoons each week.

Edie Thorup. — Mark Alan Lovewell

“Everyone deserves the chance to see the sunset over a diamond-encrusted sea,” Mr. Nutton said.

The organization is also firmly entrenched at the regional high school, with Mr. Nutton coaching the sailing team and teaching maritime education programs. Every freshman gets an introduction to the basics — navigation, knot tying and leverage, among other things. After completing that course, students have the option of taking up to five more semesters of maritime coursework.

And they have the opportunity to go out for the sailing team. This year the Vineyard team was ranked fourth out of all public schools in New England.

Mr. Nutton said his work at the regional high school can give kids who may have a harder time with school a purpose. Success in high school doesn’t have to be about getting into a college, he said, but about building the skills and confidence to help choose the future they want.

“If you judged every fish by its ability to climb a tree, there would always be a failure,” Mr. Nutton said. “Traditional academia doesn’t suit everyone, and we need to give them the skills and the confidence to be able to go, that’s not me, this is me.”

Mr. Nutton understands this personally as college wasn’t the right step for him when he finished high school.

“I was that fish that couldn’t climb a tree,” Mr. Nutton said.

Winds up. — Mark Alan Lovewell

He said his path became clearer when he went back to sailing because he wanted to help people learn the life lessons he took from the sport.

“The belief in yourself that sailing instills is second to none,” he added.

This year, Sail MV has provided more than $166,000 worth of scholarships to get Island families on the water, he said. “The whole Island depends upon the marine industry, depends on people being stewards of the sea and making sure that it’s healthy.”

Mr. Nutton sees Sail MV as not just a sailing camp, but an important resource for the Island that deserves support. The organization relies on grants and donations to be able to increase its fleet and offer a variety of programs.

“We have been around for 32 years and we’d like to be around for another 32 years, but without the support of our community both volunteering and financially, that will be hard to maintain.”

Mr. Nutton believes that the sea has a song for everyone.

“You just need to have the opportunity to listen to it,” Mr. Nutton said. “And that’s what we are here for.”

For more information about Sail MV, visit