Happy New Year! Peaceful moments at the tip of Aquinnah. Torrential rain to welcome in New Year’s Eve although Tuesday was pleasantly sunny and seasonably warm. Looking forward to more days like this, serene days for beach walks. Smart deer are on the move again day and night. They knew when deer season ended. Be careful as they are out in full force.

My friends at US Coast Guard Station Menemsha had been on an unpaid leave with uncertainty about their pay for the coming weeks, so let’s be mindful of them more than ever as they are our only military installation on the Island at the present time. Seventy-five years ago it was a different story with the Coast Guard, US Navy, and US Army all being part of the community and the USO in Tisbury was there to be supportive of them. Can you imagine if the government had ever closed down at that point!

It was a very quiet Christmas Eve at USCG Station Menemsha with an essential crew on duty standing by for search and rescue, port and harbor security, and for environmental spills. Those on duty included BM2 Joel Behr, SN Daniel Respeto-Gonzalez, MK2 Jacob Waters-Maciel, BM2 Joseph Belladue, SN Justus Christopher, and FN Christian Ortega-Santiago. Even the US Coast Guard Auxiliary has been on hold during the government shutdown. An intense feeling that we as Americans are all being held hostage for a worthless wall.

We do not allow such goings on to interrupt the spirit of the up-Island community that had once again generously donated food during the holidays thanks to Katie Tamoshunas Carroll and Janet Weidner for organizing the longstanding tradition. I arrived moments before Valerie Sonnenthal and her sons Hudson and Sawyer stopped by with a variety of homemade soups and beverages. Auxilarists Wayne Iacono arrived with Christmas Eve dinner for the crew consisting of stuffed pork and mashed potatoes, followed by the newly elected Auxiliary Commander Joe Berini with homemade baklava that his wife Penny had made. Ted and Judy Mayhew sent homemade cookies in the shape of the Vineyard. Stanley Larsen sent lobster bisque. My sister Jyl Manning stopped by on Thursday with more food for the crew after learning about the effects of the government shutdown. The crew was now down to their last few pieces of Chilmark Chocolates awaiting to be replenished. There are so many who show their kindness and generosity to the crew at Station Menemsha throughout the year.

Due to the uncertainty of innumerable government shutdowns, dating back to the 1970s, there has now been an account set up for the crew to assist them in times like this. Donations may be sent to: Menemsha Spouses Association, 20 Edy’s Island Way, Chilmark, MA 02535.

The crew is not accustomed to the exorbitant cost of living on Martha’s Vineyard which has been reportedly 60 per cent higher than the mainland for food, clothing, gas for vehicles, housing, day care, etc. Most of the crew hails from far away — California, Arizona, Louisiana, Maine, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Georgia and everywhere in between. Three families moved here from Puerto Rico during the summer of 2017. There are 25 crew members who work on an alternating schedule and all are an integral part of our Island community. Many are young families and their 20 children range in age from newborn to high school. They are a vital part of the Vineyard, 365 days a year/24 hours a day. They enjoy their time here and maintain their friendships with many even after they are transferred.

Former Chief Stephen Barr visited Station Menemsha on Dec. 27, along with his son Isaac. He met members of the crew: BM2 Joel Behr, BM2 Joseph Belladue, SN Justus Christopher, SN Daniel Gonzalez-Respeto, and MK2 Jacob Waters-Maciel. There was a a private tour of the station and the new boathouse by BM2 Behr.

Former MK1 Spencer Thigpen, his wife Jamie, and their children Wyatt, Faith, and baby Hattie were in town for a quick visit from their home in Calais, Me. Spencer is presently stationed at Easport, Me on the border of New Brunswick. Rumor has it that Spencer will be retiring from the Coast Guard this summer and they will return to his home state of Texas.

Early on New Year’s Day, the captain of the F/V Mistress out of Point Judith, R.I. notified watchstanders at USCG Sector Southeasterrn New England at about 1:30 a.m. that their boat was taking on water near Block Island. An urgent marine broadcast went out to vessels in the area to request assistance. The F/V Captain Bligh responded and rescued one crew member from the capsized boa. There were still two fishermen that have not been located as of Tuesday afternoon. Weather conditions affected the search throughout the night with winds between 30 to 35 knots and 10 foot seas. Those involved in the search included local fishermen, USCG Cutters Sanibel, Steelhead and Escanaba as well as aircraft from Cape Cod Air Station. A 45-foot response boat from Station Point Judith responded as did the 47-foot motor lifeboat from Station Menemsha. Two crews responded from Station Menemsha. The first crew included Coxswain BM1 Adam Smith, MK2 Jason Breau, BM2 Montgomery Buffington, and SN Dallas Ricker. They were relieved by Coxswain BM2 Joel Behr, BM2 Travis VonDessoneck, SN David Galan, and FN Colby Storm.

Ronald and Joanne Spears enjoyed a Christmas visit with their daughter Jamie Sue Vanderhoop and her husband Woody Vanderhoop, and especially their grandsons Sowunahsh, Kuhpay, and Mataquhas.

Sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Roy Bunker Hope who passed away at Falmouth Hospital on Dec. 29. A long time resident of the Vineyard, a graduate of Tisbury High School, veteran, long time employee of Commonwealth Electric Company, and a dear friend to many. His services will be held on Saturday morning, Jan. 5 at the Nickerson Bourne Funeral Home at the Bourne rotary.

Celebrating birthdays this week are Kara Cawley Riemer on Dec. 29; Kaitlyn Joy Vanderhoop will be 13 on Jan. 6; Nancy Cotton will observe her special day on Jan. 6; Sonya Mayrand parties on Jan. 8 and shares the day with Ava Louise Dubno who will be five years old. My dear friend Ann Burt will observe her birthday on Jan. 9; Aquinnah ranger Michael Sellitti, Jr. will party on Jan. 11, sharing the day with his grandmother Gloria Fisk. Moryn Holmes Widdiss will be six years old on Jan. 11. Pam Glavin will celebrate on Jan. 12 and shares the day with Gordon Perry, Priscilla Belain and Alex Mayhew. Ava Mayhew will celebrate her third birthday on Jan. 12.

Send Aquinnah news to junemanning152@gmail.com.