A few days of gray overcast skies in Aquinnah over the past week but mostly there were bright sunny days with intense orange-red sunsets to end the day. Temperatures have been in the 20s to 40s and still no snow, although there are predictions for a storm over the weekend. It appears that most of the birds have migrated south as there is a great absence of them this week. The deer and the wild turkeys remain in abundance.

Today is the 135th anniversary of the sinking of the City of Columbus, a passenger steamer headed from Boston to Savannah which went down just off of Devil’s Den, a short distance from the Gay Head cliffs. It was because of that dreadful shipwreck that the Station for the United States Lifesaving Service was built near the edge of the cliffs in 1895. Many members of the Wampanoag Tribe were members of the USLSS; our great-grandfather Francis Manning being one of the first to join along with two of his Smalley brothers in law.

In 1915 the United States Coast Guard was formed, combining the USLSS as well as a few other departments of the government, and it thus became the United States Coast Guard Station Gay Head. The Station at Gay Head ended operations as it was too close to the edge of the cliffs. In August 1952, the USCG Station Cuttyhunk was barged over to Menemsha where it officially opened in 1954. It was then renamed USCG Station Menemsha in 1974.

The up-Island community has embraced the Coast Guard for more than a century. Now even more so as the crew did not get paid this week due to the shutdown of the federal government four weeks ago. On my visit to the station a week ago it was business as usual as if the shutdown had not affected them. The crew is working their regular schedules and standing watch. They are still putting in a full day of training, working together to get things done, with time for exercise (oh those eight minute abdominal exercises). The two sections made slight personnel changes over the holidays and they await two new crew members in the coming weeks, an MK3 and a BM2 to round out the crew. The present BM2’s have selected their next duty stations and are anxious to see if they will be transferred to their desired locations. I appreciate the concern and support from so many on and off the Vineyard who have called, emailed, Facebooked, texted and stopped me while I am out and about.

There is a fund being set up for the Coast Guard Spouse’s Association of Menemsha and can be sent to 20 Edy’s Island Way, Chilmark, MA 02535. If you would like to assist otherwise, the families are in need of non-perishable foods, laundry soap, baby diapers in any size, paper products, gasoline gift cards, and grocery gift cards from Reliable Market, Stop & Shop, Vineyard Grocer and Cronig’s Market.

Quite a few businesses have stepped up to assist, the latest being Mocha Motts in Tisbury has offered to feed any of the Coast Guard crew free of charge during this time. Mocha Motts serves Coast Guard blend coffee, originally created especially for USCG Lt. John Beal.

The response has been encouraging and obviously keeps their morale upbeat. Please feel free to email me with any questions. In the meantime, it is business as usual at USCG Station Menemsha as the crew continues to preserve through the longest federal government shutdown in history. One would not mind the shutdown if it was necessary but this is just absurd.

Belated Happy Birthday to Meg Athearn who celebrated on Friday night a week ago at the PA Club. The theme was to dress like the 90s. There was more flannel worn than that found in Freeport, Me. Words of adoration from her husband Dan opened the festivities, delicious food was enjoyed, a night of dancing for the young folks, and a grand time was had by all.

Get well wishes to Kylee Ann Darcy who underwent surgery on Tuesday at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. She returned home on Wednesday after being accompanied by her mother Kayla and her grandmother Theresa Manning.

Congratulations to Molly French and her husband Aaron Ashton on the birth of their son Cecil in December. Molly and her family have moved back to the Vineyard from Maine, accompanied by her mother Carol French.

Captain Hugh Taylor and his wife Jeanne will not be opening the Outermost Inn for the summer of 2019, while a few renovations take place. The restaurant will be open as usual, so make your reservations early when they open in May.

Celebrating birthdays this week: Hayden Higgins celebrated his 12th birthday on Jan. 10; Abdiel Gonzalez celebrated his sixth birthday on Jan. 14; Chuck Downing partied on Jan. 17; Sarah Shipway and Abbie Steele share the day on Jan. 19; Captain Gordon “Todd” Bassett parties on Jan. 20, as will Holly Pretsky. Mark Owen Shea will be nine years old on Jan. 20th, and Catherine Deese celebrates on Jan. 21 and shares the day with Wendy Stone.