A memorial service for Robert S. Sanborn, a year-round Vineyard resident for 39 years and a Vineyard seasonal visitor since 1918, will be held Saturday, Dec. 15 at 3 p.m. at the West Tisbury Congregational Church. Mr. Sanborn, 95, died Oct. 5 at Windemere.

Bob Sanborn was widely known and loved — as a boy, a young man and an octogenarian — on the Vineyard Haven waterfront. There, as he often said, he happily “messed about among boats.”

“I belong to the Island,” he wrote in a Gazette article in 1962, “and whether I am sailing up the shore to anchor off Cedar Tree Neck or sitting in a New York apartment in a March blizzard, I prize a sense of community and richness, the gift of the Island.”

He was born July 16, 1912, in Stoneridge, N.Y., the only son of the late James Forrest Sanborn and Hazel (Straight) Sanborn. He was the eldest of five children. When he was six, he first came to the Vineyard. His father had become acquainted with the Island when he was a geology student of Professor Nathaniel Shaler’s at Harvard, and Professor Shaler had brought his class to view the geological formations on Seven Gates Farm in West Tisbury. Jim Sanborn was smitten with what he saw and after his marriage to Hazel Straight (whose parents, in 1873 had attended Louis Agassiz’s Penikese Island Institute), Mr. Sanborn, a New York city civil engineer, decided to make the Vineyard his seasonal residence. He had also been asked to put in the water system in Vineyard Haven. (Sanborn Way near today’s WMVY radio station is named for him.) His first Island summer, Bob Sanborn remembered, was when his parents rented Hines Point from the Hines family that was away for the summer.

Bob Sanborn never forgot that first trip to the Vineyard, and in his 80s he was still recalling how he had sat on top of the brass plate of a windlass on the steam vessel Sankaty crossing Buzzards Bay from New Bedford. “A lady accosted me and said, ‘Are you playing Christopher Columbus?’

After the crossing, the Hines Point house was something of a letdown — too many mosquitoes — but the caretaker of the house made up for any failings in the house itself. His name was George Hillman and he had been a whaleman and a deep sea diver. He took the excited little boy, who one day would skipper six boats of his own and cross the Atlantic twice under sail, to the boathouse on the edge of the Lagoon. At the boathouse was a catboat, a skiff and a pram of the kind used for racing in the South Pacific islands. Young Bob took immediate possession of the skiff which generally was kept tethered to the dock with 100 feet of lobster warp.

“I would row to the end of its tether,” he remembered. Later, when he had learned to row properly, he would row the skiff everywhere in the Lagoon.

On the Lagoon, he became acquainted with Charles Benson, father of longtime West Tisbury trap fisherman Norman Benson and grandfather of Franklin Benson. The boat-besotted little boy from New York would row as much as half a mile against the wind to get to Charles Benson’s catboat so he could go aboard and turn the wheel.

The Sanborn family spent three happy summers at Hines Point, and were thinking of buying the Hines house where they had been staying, the caretaker’s cottage and 13 acres that were for sale for $25,000.

“But then my father learned that he could get much more for much less at Indian Hill, so he bought a house there, at Dancing Hill. You could see South Beach and the Cape Cod Canal from there then,” Bob recalled.

The family never lived in the Dancing Hill house, however. Instead, Jim Sanborn let Emma Daggett of Cedar Tree Neck operate a tea room there. Meanwhile, he bought two houses and 20 acres on the other side of the Indian Hill Road. (The tea room is now the Middle Road, Chilmark home of Donald Nitchie.)

“We lived in what we called the Rogers house and ate in what we called the Norton house. That was where the cook lived and we had a kitchen and a dining room. There was also a woodshed that I had to myself,” Bob recalled in a Martha’s Vineyard Magazine interview in 2000. (Today, Bob’s niece, Julie Mitchell Christensen and her husband, John, live in the Norton house and Andrew Woodruff lives in the Rogers house.)

Hazel Sanborn named the property Straight Gate Farm after her family. A winding road led up to it, its name notwithstanding — one on which Bob Sanborn, almost as enamored as a boy of horses as of boats — would ride his horse Trixie, or drive her and a buggy after household supplies. (A favorite tale of his later years was of how he had taken Trixie to New York aboard the steamer. He rode her all the way uptown to the Bronx stable where she was to be kept.)

But in addition to riding, Bob Sanborn was learning a little farming — and much more about boats from Cedar Tree Neck farmer and fisherman Obed Daggett.

On summer mornings, Captain Daggett would throw a stone at the shed window where young Bob was sleeping and the boy and the man would feed the Daggett pigs and chickens, drive the cows to pasture, have breakfast and then head off on Captain Daggett’s 30-foot open boat, Emma, across the Sound and through Woods Hole to Quisset to empty and set the captain’s fish traps. Meanwhile, there were sailing lessons with Captain Reuben Cleveland at West Chop and Bob proudly took ownership of his first boat — a catboat. Sadly, she was wrecked in the August gale of 1925.

But good fortune followed. When he was 14, his father got him his own powerboat. Bob Sanborn never forgot the name of a boat he had owned — Wasp, Dry Fly, Reta, Conjurer, Patience and Cathy P. When he was 17, his father sent him to Italy to help sail back a yacht and learn the rudiments of seamanship. Two major accomplishments of the trip were turning 18 and learning how to navigate using a sextant.

But the halcyon days of childhood and young adulthood were interrupted, by school — first in New York city at the Horace Mann School, next at Cornell College and Harvard and Boston University Law Schools. A fellow student at Cornell was Isabel White of Vineyard Haven and she and her husband Pat remained lifelong best friends with Bob Sanborn.

Another favorite Vineyard friend and co-conspirator on many adventures he met on a vacation from law school. Strolling the Vineyard Haven docks one day, Bob noticed “this dandy tying knots on a Friendship sloop,” he later recalled. The dandy was Craig Kingsbury. The two young men were soon involved in many escapades and outings. A satisfying but innocuous one was going down to Lake Tashmoo with a jack light in the spring and dipping nets into the water to catch herring so they could enjoy their roe. Bob Sanborn was a lifelong lover of seafood and a talented seafood cook, listing among his specialties, sautéed Island scallops on toast and quahaug chowder.

There were also less sanguine Sanborn-Kingsbury adventures — one a waterfront brawl with the ash cats — the stokers on the steamship that then served the Island. It ended with Craig in jail and Bob escaping only because he was hidden in the crew quarters. On a Menemsha escapade at about this time, he sailed up to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s training vessel moored there one night and threatened, in piratical language, to board the boat.

Then came World War II. Poor eyesight prevented Bob from joining the Navy, but he enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve. First he was an ensign and oversaw beach patrols on Long Island, searching for possible German submarine landings. Then he was a first lieutenant on a freighter escorting convoys in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. Finally, he was senior watch officer and damage control officer on a troop ship.

After the war, he entered private practice in Boston as a lawyer, living first in Waltham, then in Marshfield with the family he then had. There was a big enough basement in the Waltham house for boat-building and there he proudly built a double-ender. But when it came time to take her above ground and launch her, he found the only way to get her out of the cellar was by removing a wall. He did and she was soon sailing. With lumber left over from the double-ender, he built a paddling canoe that he would take to neighboring ponds on weekends (where it frequently overturned).

In Marshfield, there was enough land around the house so he could build a stable and once again have his own horse. Both houses were close enough to the Vineyard to allow for considerable Island sailing. By this time, he had a 26-foot catboat, the Conjurer. He would sail her to the Island from Green Harbor near Marshfield. Then he would happily go out on expeditions with his children Gilbert and Dorothy and their assorted cousins, also summering on the Vineyard. These were Julie, Lucy and Anna Mitchell, Patrick and Katie Mitchell, Guppy and Hazel Day — and Bob’s sisters (the children’s mothers — Joan and Betsy Mitchell and Peggy Day). They would frequently take picnic sails to Cedar Tree Neck or Naushon.

In the 1950s, Bob Sanborn joined the International Paper Company as a patent attorney and sailed Conjurer to Long Island, where he kept her or her successor, a 30-foot wooden Casey cutter, Patience, built in New Bedford. In summer he would leave his boat in Woods Hole so he could drive up from New York after work, spend the night on board and sail the next morning for Vineyard Haven.

He remained at International Paper until his retirement in 1977, rising to be head of the patent department. Once retired, he and Patience were happily berthed in Vineyard Haven, she in the harbor, he at Mink Meadows after his 1972 marriage to Constance Fuller Huff, the ex-wife of Arlie S. Huff, mother of Vineyarders Penny, Nicky and Chico Huff.

The couple’s April wedding took place at the home of the bride’s grandparents, the late Samuel and Constance Greenough Fuller. Though it was a bright and sunny day, as the ceremony ended, the lighthouse keeper — inveigled by the bridegroom into doing it — sounded the foghorn in salute.

After his Vineyard marriage, for more extended sails than Naushon and Woods Hole, he chose Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, sailing there with his wife and with friends John and Sharon Pearson. He also sailed in Bermuda races and for many years he and his wife cruised aboard Patience with the Cruising Club of America. Then he entered his 70s. The trips he was taking were enjoyable, but he still longed for more adventurous sailing.

Awaiting abdominal surgery, he one day answered an ad for a navigator on a transatlantic crossing that appeared in the Cruising Club of America magazine. The captain seeking a navigator was a woman in her 60s. Her plan was to sail from Horta in the Azores to Salem in her 65-foot yawl, Wester Till.

Eight storms, two gales and a broken mast later, the Wester Till limped into Nantucket harbor. She had left Horta on Sept. 20 and reached Nantucket Oct. 24. When Connie Sanborn went to welcome him home, she remembers being greeted by Bob wearing a Hemingway-like white beard and a happy smile.

Though that was his last great sailing adventure, there continued to be short trips on Patience until he said sadly one day that his old friend “didn’t look like a boat anymore. She looks like a chicken coop.” It was time, he said, to put her back into shape.

On and off for nearly a decade, he did just that, working at the Maciel boat yard in Vineyard Haven under the tutelage of Nat Benjamin and Ross Gannon of the Gannon and Benjamin boat yard. They helped him out physically when they could, taught him how to steam wood that needed to be bent and generally offered wise counsel. In time Patience was ready to set sail again with her proud captain at her wheel.

In the early 1990s, however, his son and daughter decided it would be wise for their father — then in his late 80s — to give up sailing. Grimly he did, selling Patience and moving into a house on Skiff Lane in the West Tisbury woods. There was no water in sight, but he did keep a boat or two (a little fiberglass sailboat and a kayak he had built that he and Nat Benjamin took to a Small Craft Weekend at Mystic Seaport) in the backyard, and a cluster of buoys marked the entrance to his driveway.

Though no longer sailing, he kept his mind on things nautical by writing of some of his sailing adventures and painting watercolors of boats. When ill health finally forced him to move to Windemere, he was delighted when a room was found for him overlooking Vineyard Haven harbor, where he could watch the wind whipping the waves, sailboats tacking, the ferry’s comings and goings, fog creeping across the water — and remember.

Bob Sanborn is recalled by his friends not only for his superb seamanship and his devotion to the water, but for his indefatigable spirit both in youth and old age, for storytelling that the patient found fascinating in its detail and history, though younger listeners would wish he would get on with it. He was courteous and gallant, even when courtesy and gallantry went out of fashion. He was a fine dancer and warm host and — even as the years progressed — never failed to enjoy the company of women.

He was a member of the Barnacle Club, the Cruising Club of America and the Union Boat Club of Boston.

He was married four times, to Natalie Robertson, by whom he had two sons, Jim and John. Both predeceased him. He was later married to his second cousin, Grace Mitchell Mills, to Rose Frothingham and to Constance Sanborn, now of Oak Bluffs, from whom he was divorced in 1990.

He is survived by two children of his second marriage to Grace Mitchell Mills: Gilbert Sanborn of Weston, Conn. and Dorothy Sanborn Elliott of Kansas City, Mo.; four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. His four sisters, Peggy Day, Betsy Mitchell Tully, Dorothy Foord and Joan Mitchell also predeceased him. He was also a first cousin of the late Michael Straight of Chilmark and of the actress Beatrice Straight.