Vineyard Sound: Enter at Your Own Risk

August on Vineyard Sound is a busy time.

You can see all sizes of watercraft.

There are mini watercraft.


Tearing around Vineyard Sound, on a “personal watercraft”, aka “jetski”, is not the smartest thing in the world. Unpredictable waves and high traffic make for high-risk fun.

In addition to mini, there is mega.

Each August seems to bring us larger numbers of mega-yachts. There are some in Vineyard Haven harbor right now. One of them has its own helicopter, carefully wrapped in a red cover, parked on its own helipad, on the back of the boat.


In a contest between jetski and megayacht there is no contest.

Out on the Sound, there is a lot of Play going on.

There’s some Work going on, also.

Play and Work pass each other by…


Flashing blue lights in the distance? In the middle of the Sound? What’s going on?

A pair of jetskis in the middle of the Sound have gotten stopped by the Coast Guard. If I were the CG, I might give them a piece of my mind, and tell them to get back nearer shore, instead of risking their lives and the lives of others.

The blue lights approach us…

And now the ferry has a double escort, a Coast Guard boat on each side.


They are prepared for “eventualities”.


Serious eventualities…..


As we approach Woods Hole, they speed up, and shoo recreational craft to the side of the channel.


Yacht shooed, they rev the engine, and start to return to their position ahead of the ferry.


In five seconds, their boat is planing, and at speed.

What the heck level of horsepower is required for acceleration like that?


Eighteen minutes later, I was walking out of Woods Hole.

As I passed the Coast Guard harbor, there was our escort, returning to base.


Tied up at the quayside are some “Island class” cutters, including the Sanibel, resting at the dock. Station Woods Hole is a busy place in the summer.

Like our escort, the cutters are armed.

Should you be at sea, and the cutter wishes to hail you, there is only one proper answer.


“Yes, Sir!”

(or Madam)

4 responses to “Vineyard Sound: Enter at Your Own Risk

  1. WOW, does your ferry always have an armed guard? Is it only in the summer when there is a possibility of “high powered” ferry passengers???

  2. The guarding is an intermittent event. Ever since 9-11 the Coast Guard shadows the ferries from time to time. Practicing, it would seem. It’s more likely in the summer, and even more likely in the weeks leading up to say, a presidential visit. He won’t use the ferry, though, he flies in.

      • It sure would. The Steamship Authority would probably have to run a special boat for the presidential party, though. Bill Clinton would have adored such a ride. I’ve seen Clinton in action at a fancy party. He did not leave until he’d talked to every single person in the room, from the richest tycoon to the lowliest blackshirt on the catering crew. Ronald Reagan in his prime could do that, too.

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