From the February 26, 1943 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

There must have been something in it, because the robins came back and sang cheerfully. The skies lit up, a warm haze made the horizon look like summer or fall, and the thermometer went up into the fifties. This happened over the weekend and the first part of this week, but notwithstanding the robins it was all a false spring, nothing more. Still, since it was nothing less, everyone had cause to be grateful.

Yesterday the false spring ended. It was rumored around that a zero drop was coming, but this proved too extreme a view. Yesterday was no longer balmy, but it proved an idyllic foretaste of March. February might as well quit right now.

The 70-year-old schooner, Alice S. Wentworth, famed for decades for her exploits under the command of her skipper and principal owner, Cap’n Zeb Tilton of Vineyard Haven, and finally becoming the property of a number of Island and national celebrities, has been sold, and will soon sail from her berth at Vineyard Haven. The old vessel has been purchased by Capt. Parker J. Hall, widely known coastwise skipper from Sandy Point, Me., who plans to take the schooner to the Maine coast and there rebuild her.

As Captain Hall has explained his plan, he will tow her far up a river, where he owns a timber tract, and there get out the timber from the live trees, and replace those that have become aged and decayed. Cap’n Tilton, who has sailed the vessel for more than thirty years, will accompany Captain Hall on the Wentworth’s last voyage as a Vineyard vessel.

The Wentworth has laid at Vineyard Haven wharf for the greater part of the winter, following Cap’n Zeb’s departure from her quarterdeck with the declaration that he intended to leave her before she took him to the bottom. An attempt to sail her out of the harbor, under command of a new skipper, brought near disaster, whereat her former skipper declared that the schooner would not sail without him. Since that time she has not been moved.

The Wentworth is a type of vessel never seen in these days. She is either a Connecticut River model, or closely akin to the same, in the opinion of old-time seamen who have seen her. Short for her beam, shoal of draught, and with a huge centerboard, she is impressive even today, disheveled as she is, because of her lofty masts, and her pronounced sheer, which has never straightened, despite her age, and which proves, more than anything else, that “the life has not yet gone out of her,” as the waterfront expresses it.

Rigged with two topmasts in the days of her prime, the schooner was one of the fastest of her type ever to sail the waters of Vineyard Sound. During the heyday of her career, under Cap’n Zeb’s command, she broke many a record for speed, and even toward the close of her final chapter, her time in a run from Nantucket to New Bedford was faster than that of the Island steamers.

The schooner will leave Vineyard Haven early next month, according to present plan, after some little refitting has been done to enable her to make the trip down-East without mishap. When she puts the Chops astern of her, it will be the ending of the sailing packet business of the Vineyard, a business that has been carried on for considerably more than two hundred years.

It is not a too fantastic idea that when her stained old lowers pass out of sight in the haze, it will be the final departure of a commercial sailing vessel from an Island port. For years, the arrivals and departures of such vessels have been few, and the Wentworth has kept alive, to a considerable extent, the romance of ships and shipping which has woven itself into the history of Island harbors and has left its imprint upon every generation down to the present day, in their nautical turn of speech and kinship with the sea.

Yachts will slip through blue Vineyard waters again, and occasional lofty training ships may well bar the face of rising sun and moon with their black yard-arms. But they will have auxiliary engines somewhere beneath their decks, and propellers that will drive them on in a calm. They will have no kinship with this battered but brave old schooner, whose long, carven beakhead has poked its way through blizzard, fog and squall, for three-quarters of a century, “with no ally but the breeze,” as Edgar Guest once said.

Her departure may not attract widespread attention, but it will mark the ending of an era, a famous, thrilling era, second only to the whaling days and their adventure.

Now she is leaving, to secure a new lease on life, and though she never again enters the home port, or, entering, does so with an auxiliary engine stirring her ancient planks, thus changing her character, still she will not have died, and no future agriculturist of the hills will ever point to a fence post and say: “This was a timber out of the Wentworth.” So the old timers are glad.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox