That’s My Boat: John Thayer

Captain: John Thayer

Home Port: Lagoon Pond, Martha’s Vineyard Marina

The Name: Kittiwake III. “I do not change the names of boats.”

ivy Ashe

The Boat: Twenty-six-foot bass boat originally built of cedar on oak by Erford Burt at Burt’s Boatyard in 1952. The boatyard is now Martha’s Vineyard Marina, on the Lagoon [formerly Maciel Marine].

The Best Part: “Erford Burt I knew when I was in my twenties. I worked in the yard here, so we knew the builder. Erford and I were friends until he passed away [in 1993]...He built these for, say, twenty years. There might have been forty of these hulls, and now Kittiwake’s the last one here. There’s one in Annapolis; the rest are in somebody’s backyard. And the best part is [mine] is literally two hundred feet from where it was built. That is so cool.”

The Less Best Part: “It’s a wonderful hull for the local waters. I have no problem taking it anywhere. It’s just not a go-fast boat. It goes fourteen knots in the top end.”

How I Got It: “He built it for a local family in Harthaven. That family owned it for a long time; I might be the fourth owner. [The third owner was Walt,] this old New Hampshire tobacco farmer from the Connecticut River Valley. I go over to Walt to buy the boat and this bill of sale is totally Yankee. It says, ‘You may have bought the boat but you don’t own the jack stands.’ And I’m like, ‘Okay, Walt, but you don’t need to put that in the bill of sale.’”

Ivy Ashe

What We Changed: “We brought it over here and did our rebuild to it...electrical, plumbing, motor, and maintenance, and put it in the water in 2007....People from the other generation should get the credit. We got lucky enough to maintain it.”

Home Waters: “We use it for family stuff, we use it for fishing, and we go over to the Elizabeths, Cuttyhunk, Cape Pogue, Wasque, pretty much Vineyard Sound, Nantucket Sound, and then up into Buzzards Bay. We all have game fish licenses, so we’re looking for seasonal fish – bass and fluke and whatever we can find.”

First Mates: “My son Nate and I both got fifty-ton Near Coastal Masters from the Coast Guard, so we have two licensed captains on board....The grandchildren use it, we go clamming, we go swimming. My fifteen-year-old granddaughter never gets off it; she actually considers it hers.”

The Voyage That Sticks: “When Nate turned twenty-six we went to Wasque and we were fishing the rip down there, and we got to see the dramatic change on the south shore. The chart is showing us that there’s another four hundred feet of beach before you turn the corner, and it was all gone. So much of it that we knew had just totally disappeared.”

The Boat Before: “We’ve owned a boat for forty years here. Before Kittiwake we owned a Wasque twenty-one. We’ve just always been in boats.”

One Fine Day: “We took Kittiwake around and rowed to the beach. The grandchildren had never gone from the water to the land, and it was one of those moments where they were like, ‘I get this. Oh my God, I get what we’re doing. I can’t believe we’re doing this.’”

But What’s A Kittiwake? “A type of gull.”