Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

While enjoying the excerpt from David Kinney’s book The Big One on your op-ed page, May 22, I tripped over the preposterous theory, blandly presented as fact, that the terms up-Island” and “down-Island are based on longitude.

The explanation I heard assumed as obvious by everybody 50 or 60 years ago was that the terms are based on prevailing wind direction. Prevailing winds in good sailing weather are westerlies, mostly southwest. Sailing east is downwind; sailing west is upwind. Similarly, in a familiar phrase, you sail “down east” along the coast of Maine.

From colonial times, for nearly three centuries, all freight carried coastwise, and all fishing, was done under sail (or oars, in very small craft). To get a vessel up to windward was a very different proposition from sailing downwind. Wind direction was of crucial importance to the conduct of the ordinary economy every day, and the difference between up and down was a concern on everybody’s mind alongshore. It’s a difference still spectacularly obvious to any summer sailor on Vineyard Sound.

Of course, you want to know your longitude if you sail far enough offshore. But for coastwise sailing, on which so much of the Vineyard economy depended for so long, nobody ever had to give longitude a thought.

Mait Edey

West Tisbury


To The Editor:

The headline in the Vineyard Gazette on May 29 which read “Hospital Decision Leaves 1,500 Islanders Uninsured, Confused,” is incorrect. The article refers to changes in the state’s Commonwealth Care program, which provides affordable health insurance for eligible adults through five health plans. One of these plans, the Boston Medical Center HealthNet Plan, will no longer be available to Islanders after June 30. However, those members can choose one of two other plans: Network Health or Neighborhood Health Plan. There are several ways that members can select a new plan, as described in the article. If a member does not choose a plan, Commonwealth Care will automatically assign them to a new plan. So, none of these Commonwealth Care members will lose their insurance.

This situation may be confusing for members, however, there are many ways to get that confusion cleared up, including by calling the Vineyard Health Care Access Program at 508-696-0020 or by coming to our Open Enrollment Open Houses on June 1, 8, 15 or 22.

Sarah Kuh

Oak Bluffs

Sarah Kuh is director of the Vineyard Health Care Access program.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

This is a thank you letter to the over 400 people from every town on the Vineyard who joined us at the Tisbury Waterworks, now known as the Tashmoo Spring Pumping Station, for another spectacular Memorial Day celebration.

Thanks to the Water Works, the Tisbury DPW and the Vineyard Playhouse, we had a perfect venue for this year’s picnic.

Our special thanks to everyone who donated food and equipment, to those who volunteered to help with the grill, the ice cream and the games, to those who provided the boats, the pony rides, the music and the food, and especially to Isabel West, Dana Nunes and Linc Hanson for resuming this wonderful Island tradition.

What a terrific way to begin yet another summer on Martha’s Vineyard!

Harriet Barrow,

for the Town Picnic Committee

Vineyard Haven