We were so excited for this visit. Like so many, we suffered from the isolation of the past year, missing the little people we love the most: Henry, Eleanor, Ben, June-bug, Calleigh, Cameron, Mila, Remi, Isa, May, Sally, cousin Kate and one on the way! Finally, a batch of them was headed our way. Their first visit this summer to gram and grandpa’s house on the Vineyard.

I had it all planned out. Swimming at the ocean. Swimming at the pool. Fishing with grandpa, clamming with gram. Metal detectors at the beach where they would wonder how beach-goers could have lost so many dimes and quarters. Game nights of Rummicube and Bingo, where each of them would win. Sleeping bunk style with cousins keeping each other up all night while they bonded in that special way. An Island adventure that they would remember forever. Nothing could mess it up.

Annabel, our 22 year old, a very responsible young lady, was entrusted to accompany the younger crew. Their ferry was scheduled to depart New Bedford at 2 p.m., which meant that the Island would welcome them an hour later.

Annabel had taken this ferry many times. She knew what she was doing. Upon her arrival in New Bedford, she texted that they were waiting in line and that the kids were very excited. She thought the boat might be a little late, though.

No worries. I had plenty of time. I arrived at the dock in Oak Bluffs to see a departing Seastreak ferry. And then I waited. And waited. But by 3:30 p.m., there was still no sign of the New Bedford ferry.

I texted Annabel: “Are you almost here?”

“Mom, I don’t know where we are,” she texted back. “I only see water.”

I usually don’t rattle easily, except now I was rattled. Because they were on a boat. They were little kids. And it was a big ocean.

I went into the Seastreak ticket office and asked the young man behind the counter if he knew when the 2 p.m. New Bedford ferry would arrive. He stared at me for a moment then said,”Wahdddayamean? That ferry came and went.”

My voice remained calm as I explained that I was waiting for my daughter who gets easily anxious, and grandkids.

“They were on the 2 p.m. ferry out of New Bedford,” I said. “They haven’t arrived. I don’t know where they are. Now she’s not answering my texts. Can you help me find them?”

His response was not reassuring. “Sorry, but I have no idea,” he said.

I dialed the Seastreak number. Sounding less calm with every passing second, I gave the shortened version of the situation to the lady who answered the phone. She patiently asked me a few questions then said: “You know, there are two ferries that left around the same time out of New Bedford. The 2 p.m. went to Martha’s Vineyard, the 2:30 p.m. headed to Nantucket.”

Before I could exhale, she continued: “Let me contact the captain of the Nantucket ferry and see if he will page to see if they are on board.”

“Good news,” the woman said when she returned to the phone. “We found them. They’re headed to Nantucket. The captain says to tell you not to worry, that this could have happened to anyone. He will drop off passengers in Nantucket, reload, keep the kids on the ferry and then make a detour to Martha’s Vineyard on his way to New Bedford. He says it may be a few hours though.”

I would have hugged this wonderful woman if she had been in front of me. I thanked her for her help and called home to update the family. Within a few minutes of that good news, I received a text from Annabel. They were okay and they were eating lots of hot dogs and other ferry food, courtesy of the captain.

Two hours later, several ferries came into view. The Martha’s Vineyard ferry from New Bedford was unloading passengers at the dock when I spotted the Nantucket ferry in the distance. The captains must have coordinated the delivery of the missing youngsters who were now ferry famous, because the first boat backed out to allow the Nantucket ferry to come in and unload my crew.

Word travels fast on this wonderful Island and as the little travelers walked down the gangplank to the dock, passengers waiting to board their own ferry waved and cheered, welcoming them home in the Vineyard way.

Linda Pearce Prestley lives in West Tisbury.