Julia Wells
The legendary former owner of the topsail schooner Shenandoah will receive the prestigious Creative Living Award for 2020-2021, the Martha’s Vineyard Community Foundation announced Wednesday.
Creative Living Award
Bob Douglas


schooner alabama schooner alabama

On Saturday, at the bow of the historic schooner Alabama, Capt. Ian Ridgeway addressed a group of Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School fifth and sixth grade students who had just returned from a five-day sail at sea.

“This is a bond that the 20 or so of us will all have together for the rest of our lives,” he said. “You are now ambassadors for this boat.”



When the topsail schooner Shenandoah goes sailing this summer, credit for some of the work this spring in preparing the beautiful wooden vessel for another season goes to a 26-year-old West Tisbury resident. Working in his shop in the woods, Myles Thurlow built and restored several important spars on the 47-year-old Shenandoah.


After more than a decade of wrangling which threatened to see the historic tall ship the Shenandoah removed from Vineyard Haven harbor, the ship’s owners and the Steamship Authority have reached an agreement which will allow the vessel to stay.

In deference to concerns held by SSA captains that the old ship presented a collision hazard to ferry operations, the owners, Black Dog Tall Ships, have agreed to move Shenandoah’s mooring within the harbor, to which it has added picturesque maritime charm since 1964.


Shenandoah, the graceful 108-foot topsail schooner that has long been a landmark in the Vineyard Haven harbor, is laid up at a Fairhaven shipyard, her majestic hull stripped bare and her ribs exposed as she undergoes extensive work to reverse a botched restoration job performed by a shipyard in Maine last year.

Robert Douglas, who is both captain and owner of the Shenandoah, has sued the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard for the apparently shoddy work that left his schooner taking on seawater last summer while she was filled with school children.


Shanandoah and Alabama schooners

Since 1964, the tall ship Shenandoah has brought picturesque maritime charm to Vineyard Haven, moored in the same place in the harbor. But maybe not for much longer.

The Army Corps of Engineers has written to the owners of the 150-foot wooden sloop, the Douglas family, threatening to suspend the permit for the ship to moor there unless they can come up with some solution that resolves persistent complaints from the Steamship Authority that the Shenandoah is a hazard to ferry operations.


A thoroughly refurbished schooner Shenandoah was relaunched Saturday morning at Boothbay Harbor in Maine.

The Shenandoah, one of the Black Dog tall ships that sail from Vineyard Haven harbor, had undergone about six months of extensive rebuilding at the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard.

“We essentially did what is referred to as retopping — a rebuilding of the vessel from the waterline up,” said Bob Foster, a spokesman for the shipyard.