When she was retired in 2007, I (like many) deeply mourned the loss of the Islander. Launched two years before I came into the world and onto these shores, she became like a dependable older sister to me. I learned to tell time by her schedule, watching her bow appear, inch by inch, from behind West Chop before she cleared the buoy, made a graceful turn to starboard, and chugged past my family’s Eastville home.

My would-be familial bond with the Islander strengthened during the decade-plus that my brother, Jim Lodge, captained the vessel, which he describes as “the workhorse, who ran year-round and even made one round-trip daily to Nantucket during winters.”

Jim was at her wheel at sunrise and sunset, in stormy and still seas, and through impossibly dense fog. Whatever nature hurled at the Islander and those at the helm, that intrepid double-ender unremittingly reached her port — though not without some extra effort. According to my brother: “Her ship-handling characteristics and need for constant attention to engine speeds, rudder angle, winds and currents made her an adrenaline, cold sweat inducing docking terror. I said many Hail Marys before turning into that Woods Hole slip.”

Though I couldn’t bring myself to watch the Islander’s final crossing, I’ve found solace in my ever-growing cache of Islander memorabilia, including (but not limited to) three rugs, untold photographs and sketches, a miniature wooden model, and — best of all — a giclée print of a stately oil painting by a talented artist and friend, Chrissy Williamson. Showcasing the Islander passing a brilliant, foliage-filled shore, this 2006 painting is titled, aptly and affectingly: In the Autumn of Her Life.

Unsurprisingly, I did not give the Island Home a rousing welcome when she first sailed the sound, brazenly commandeering the Islander’s route and schedule. Though I will always miss the Islander, last week I realized how much progress I’ve made toward accepting her successor when my heart skipped a beat at the sight of the Island Home, gradually appearing from behind West Chop after her winter sprucing-up — an estranged cousin I’m warming to, especially since her arrival signals the start of spring. And so I offer, only a wee bit begrudgingly, a hearty welcome home to our Island Home.

Sally Lodge is a contributing editor of Publishers Weekly who lives in Oak Bluffs.