NAT BENJAMIN: I was the same as Ross—a total misfit (laughs). I grew up not far from him in Garrison, New York, a little Hudson River town, and I came here a couple of times as a kid with my parents. They would rent a cottage for a few weeks, so I knew the Vineyard that way, but I didn’t have any real connection with it. In 1972, my wife and I and our baby daughter sailed here and liked the look of the place—we had been traveling around for about five years, sort of bouncing around between the Mediterranean and the West Indies trying to figure out which side of the pond we wanted to be on. We came here, took a walk ashore, the beach plums and rosa rugosa were all in bloom, and my wife looked around and said, “Boy, this is pretty nice! Maybe we should stay for a while.”
ROSS: I had a 36-foot boat named Urchin, a Casey cutter, and it needed a lot of work . . . I was a house carpenter, but I realized that I needed to talk to someone that had already done the work I was attempting to do. The only person around was Nat. I didn’t have to get his name—I had already sailed his boat back across the ocean (laughs).
The first conversation we had was, “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a little boat yard here?” And here we are, on this site, fulfilling the dream we hatched during those conversations.
• • •
NAT: The property was owned by a local family and they had signed a purchase and sale agreement with the McDonald’s hamburger people to buy it—the golden arches, they were destined to come here. There was a huge groundswell of opposition island-wide and beyond, and McDonald’s was eventually driven out. We had spoken to a local contractor, before he bought the property and we said, “If you don’t have any plans for it, we’d like to lease it and start a boat yard.” He said, “Alright,” and we signed the lease. And we still sign it every year.