Kurt Peterson grew up in the small town of Carver, Mass. But it was summers at his grandmother’s house in Cotuit on Cape Cod that introduced him to a lifelong passion: sailing.

Kurt’s father would arrive on weekends and take Kurt and his brothers out on his catboat to explore Cotuit Bay and waters beyond. Sometimes the family would sail over to Martha’s Vineyard, and Kurt remembers falling in love with the Island immediately. But it took him years to realize that he could actually build a business around sailing that just might allow him to put down roots here.

Tigress, a 29-foot catboat, has a new custom-made Stars and Stripes sail this year. Tim Johnson

He is now a charter captain, sailing his antique catboat Tigress out of Edgartown Harbor four-and-a-half months each year. He is a sailmaker during the offseason. And you probably already know his boat. It’s the one with the Stars and Stripes on its sail!

Q. I know you’ve sailed since you were a kid. But how did you learn it could be a business?

A. I took a year off after college and sailed my own boat down the coast, all the way to the Florida Keys. Down there, I crewed on a 48-foot schooner. That’s what opened my eyes to charter sailing as a career opportunity. Growing up in Carver, I was never exposed to something like that, so I didn’t know it was a possibility.

Q. I was surprised to learn you could sail to the Island from the Cape in a catboat.

A. Oh you’d be surprised how seaworthy they are. They were made for fishing these waters. Many times men would take them 20 miles offshore to go swordfishing. The old swordfishing catboats would have a very long bowsprit. One person would be aft at the helm and another would be forward, out on the bowsprit with a harpoon ready to spear a swordfish. The wide beam makes a catboat nice and stable in the water. And the boat was also designed with a shallow draft so that it could get around easily in waters that have a lot of shoals and sandbars. Another defining characteristic is the single, large mainsail, with just one mast stepped all the way forward in the boat. And that’s also for simplicity and ease of handling.

Q. Why did you decide to launch your business on Martha’s Vineyard?

A. I sailed here for the first time with my dad when I was about four years old. I just totally fell in love with the Island. I could always see myself living here. But it didn’t become a real possibility until 2015 after I bought my first catboat. It was called Nantucket. I met harbormaster Charlie Blair down on Memorial Wharf and told him about my idea to do charter sails –after I got my captain’s license, of course – and he was very supportive. I really owe a lot to him.

Kurt hopes to get more locals out on Edgartown Harbor this summer. Maria Thibodeau

Q. When did Tigress enter your life?

A. Tigress entered my life in 2016, after a successful season with my first boat. I found it for sale online, and it was way out of my price range. But I called anyway, because it looked like it would be the perfect boat for what I planned to do with it. The owner actually ended up financing the boat for me after several meetings. Obviously I shared a lot of enthusiasm for his boat and it was very sentimental for him too. He wanted to make sure it was in good hands.

Q. So what was so special about this boat as opposed to your first boat?

A. It’s bigger and better in most every way. First of all, it’s wooden, where the Nantucket was fiberglass. It’s also a real antique. Tigress was built in 1927 by Charles Anderson in Wareham, Mass., right next to the town where I grew up. In all of New England, Tigress is the biggest catboat. She weighs about 22,000 pounds, she’s 29 feet long and is just a real relic of a boat.

Q. Why the American flag sail?

A. In the late 1800s there was actually a boat that sailed these waters that had a very similar sail. It was right after the Civil War and it was a symbol of reunification. I think it’s appropriate now during these divisive times. I just thought it was a very beautiful thing. I saw photos of that boat when I was very young, and I was surprised that no one had tried to replicate it. This past winter, we made a brand new sail for Tigress. It still has the flag, but the difference is that the old one was painted. This one is actually stitched together with red, white and blue Dacron. I think it will be more beautiful than the previous one.

Q. Sailing for pleasure or adventure is one thing. But deriving your living from it seems very different. Is it?

A. I would say yes, and no. What I do in the summertime is sort of what I’ve been doing for fun my whole life: taking folks out on the boat and showing them a great time. And when people who have never sailed come aboard, I love seeing their reaction when the motor goes off and we’re just under wind power and it's so quiet. But what’s different is I do so much sailing in-season, that when I have a day off, I don’t go sailing at all.

Q. Anything missing from your business so far?

A. I’d love to get more locals out on the boat. Right now we take out about 10 to 15 percent locals, and 85 to 90 percent are tourists. I really love meeting people who live here, and if you want to see the Island in a different way, try something that you’ve never done before, come out for a sail with us.

Q. And what about Martha’s Vineyard? Permanent home or temporary?

A. I hope it’s permanent. I don’t take anything for granted. I just hope the town continues to embrace Tigress and Catboat Charters. I just love every minute of being here. Paula Lyons is a former ABC and CBS television consumer journalist. She lives in Vineyard Haven.