Tag Archives: housing market

My Martha’s Vineyard Fisherman


At my house, you don’t have to look very far for some real and authentic Martha’s Vineyard-ness. You see, I happened to have married a Mayhew – the Island’s founding non-native – family. And my hubby Jonathan’s a longtime commercial fisherman to boot.

So, I sat him down and got him to spill the beans so that I could share my personal slice of this island with all of you…

Anne: How long have you been fishing on Martha’s Vineyard?

Jonathan: I grew up in a fishing family. So I’ve been at this for 50 years – since I was 7. My father and grandfather, and my great grandfather too, they were all commercial fisherman.

Anne: What kind of fish do you mainly target?

Jonathan: My favorite species to fish is harpoon swordfish. But in my life, I’ve caught them all: sea scallops, squid, cod, haddock, yellow tail flounder, grey sole, monkfish, fluke – my father was a lobsterman – bay scallops, quahogs (clams). Honestly, it would be easier to tell you what I haven’t caught!

Anne: Tell me about the camaraderie of the fishermen on the Vineyard?

Jonathan: We actually have great camaraderie here. In other places in New England there’s a lot of conflict between fishermen of different species – because their gear can get mixed up – nets and traps can get tangled, etc. But on the Vineyard – we supply bait to each other and we have good communication about gear use – so this doesn’t happen.

We even formed the Martha’s Vineyard Duke’s County Fishermen’s Association. We work together to preserve the environment of our waters and our fish. For example, we’ve agreed collectively not to use harmful gear – like the gill net.

Anne: You’re a Mayhew – the founding non-native family on the Island – what does this mean to you?

Jonathan: I’m an 11th generation Vineyarder…that and 50 cents will get me a cup of coffee on the docks of Menemsha!

There’s always been discussion about the wash-ashores being the newcomers – but the truth is that we were wash-ashores too – just a little earlier than everyone else! The only true natives on the island are the members of the Wampanoag Tribe. Some people put stock in how long your family’s been on the island, but most of the Mayhew’s don’t put any stock in it at all. My dad used to say, ‘The mayhews are like a hill of potatoes – the best of them are underground.’ Today there are at least 20 families above ground.

Anne: What’s your favorite thing about fishing in Vineyard waters?

Jonathan: It had always been the freedom of making your own choices and the challenge of making a living out of fishing here. But that’s changed a lot with government regulations. Some of them are good, don’t get me wrong – but they’ve really hurt the small fishing communities along the east coast. Maybe it wasn’t their intention, but it’s been the consequence. We’ve lost a lot of access to the big fisheries, the corporations. It’s been painful and destructive. Similar to agriculture and the damage done to the small farm. Sadly, it’s been a long fight with little satisfaction.

Anne: Where’s the best place to take kids to fish?

Jonathan: Up-island, I have to go with off the dock’s in Menemsha. Dutcher’s dock is public, has easy access, not a large expense – all you need is a small rod and a pack of frozen squid. You can also fish off the jetties. Another option is beach fishing – you need a little more knowledge (like sunrise and sunset are best). And even if you don’t catch anything, it’s still fun.

Down-island I’d hit the bridges between Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. You can get striped bass and bluefish, and if you’re lucky you’ll get a bonita – they’re fast action, big fight, you need a good rod and reel.

Anne: And the best place for a seasoned fishermen?

Jonathan: I’d go with the charters. There are fantastic fishermen taking folks out all over the island.

For a list of great Martha’s Vineyard fishing charters click here.

Places to Explore on Martha’s Vineyard: Sheriff’s Meadow


It’s spring – and I just can’t stop blogging about all of the glorious places to explore the nature of Martha’s Vineyard. Today, I’m thinking about Sheriff’s Meadow – an incredible organization with beautiful properties sprinkled across the island.

Some of my favorites are Sheriff’s Meadow Sanctuary, Cedar Tree Neck and Packard Preserve – don’t miss ’em when you come to visit!

The mission of Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation is to conserve, administer and manage natural habitats for wildlife, and all other lands that represent the beautiful, rural, natural character of Martha’s Vineyard.

The foundation takes great pride in preserving our island through conservation…and educating our residents and visitors about this precious hunk of land.

Summer 2009 marks the Meadow’s 50th anniversary, they’ll be celebrating on July 20th with a gala edition of their annual summer benefit. Held at the beautiful Allen Farm on the Atlantic Ocean in Chilmark, dinner will be catered by Tea Lane Caterers and feature locally-grown foods – some right from Allen Farm. The party is a special fundraising opportunity for Sheriff’s Meadow, they’re inviting one and all to purchase tickets to the party and to consider becoming a sponsor.  Check the Foundation’s website for more info!

The State of the Housing Market on Martha’s Vineyard


This week, I decided to stroll over to the other side of our Sandpiper office and talk to my colleague, Elaine Miller, about the state of the housing marketing – buyers, sellers, on the Vineyard and across the U.S.

Anne: What’s your take on the national housing market?
Elaine: The housing market escalated in a short period of time to extremely high values.  It was realistically necessary for it to plateau and moderate as it did before and as the same cycle in the stock market needed to be corrected.  The economic crisis exacerbated the downward motion of the real estate market and followed the spiral of everything else.

Anne: And the market on the island? Is it different or the same? How?
Elaine: We are a second home market and no one needs our product.  It is a luxury item and the easiest item a potential buyer can remove from their wish list.  On the other side of the coin is the fact that the majority of our owners are not financially required to sell their property and will either resort to renting it or waiting out the current low market.  Though we have a large inventory, our average reduction in value is approximately 15% whereas the balance of the state is experiencing a 30% to 40% value reduction.

Anne: What do you predict will happen with the market on the island this summer?
Elaine: I have increased the size of my crystal ball and it is still not providing me with concrete answers.  I do however feel that once the confidence level in our economy is stabilized, buyers will realize that they are experiencing the best values with the lowest interest rates that they may see again for a very long time, and that this is the time to make a purchase.  The low value reduction of 15% in one of the worst economic crisis the country has seen in several decades is a further indication of the strength of making an investment in real estate on Martha’s Vineyard while enjoying all the benefits of your investment.

Anne: We’ve all heard the rumor that the Obama’s will be joining us this season – either for the entire summer or just for a visit, do you imagine that will have an impact on the island’s economy?
Elaine: The Clinton’s constant visits to the Island gave it global panache.  When they left, some of that public awareness went with them.  If the Obama’s return to enjoy the pleasures of our great Island, their visits will highlight the beauty and desirability of Martha’s Vineyard.

Anne: Any advice for folks looking to buy or sell a home right now?
Elaine: If you are planning to sell your home get a realistic Opinion of Value from a real estate agent, have confidence in the office and agent representing you and be patient. If you are a buyer, this is the moment.  The inventory provides for a broad selection of wonderful homes and don’t let this opportunity pass.

Thank you, Elaine!

If you’re interested in buying or selling a home on Martha’s Vineyard, I’d be happy to connect you with Elaine!