Baldwin Yacht Club

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  • Historian Report 2011

I would like to make some remarks on the status of the club through the years. We have 148 members and 38 honorary members. We have 45 members who are children.

The Baldwin Yacht Club was founded on June 11, 1948. The purpose was “to further the pleasure and cause good fellowship” in yachting.

Dues and invitation fees were set at $50 and all 22 people present at the first meeting were made charter members. Jut Wasley founded the club and the 1st commodore was Edwin Hayes. The club was named after senator and later Governor & State Supreme Court Justice Ryamond E. Baldwin, an acclaimed yachtsman who owned both power and sailboats.

By 1950 the club had 31 resident members and 4 social members. In 1957 (the first time the club published a roster with the names of members and their boats) there were 34 powerboats, 13 sailboats and 2 canoes.

Gordon Hunter, “the long time secretary” and “the glue” that held the club together for many years, brought the club from 67 members in 1962 to 99 members in 1967. In 1968 Gordon Hunter brought in Tom Russell who brought in 10 more members: the Rawdings, the Hohensteins, the Luscombs, the MacGoverns, the Pasternacks, the Nickersons, the Van Shaacks, the O’Connells and the Worsleys. By 1975 these 10 brought in an additional 60 members (often referred to as the Noank Contingent).

The original 10 were instrumental in bringing the Baldwin Yacht Club to Mystic Seaport for the commissioning. By this time the club was too large to have its commissioning at the Baldwin Yacht Basin. The club had looked into buying land and building a clubhouse and rejected the idea. In September 1971 the crew from Noank sailed up the Mystic River in a race to the Seaport flying only spinnackers and “providing a spectactular sight to the tourists”. After they bedded their boats talk at the cocktail hour centered on where to have the commissioning the next year. Ralph Lathrop said with his Yankee twang said “If I was having a commissionin’, I would have it right here”. The Board of Governors, with the directors of the Seaport, Don Robinson & Waldo Johnston, made it happen. Len Hoops was commodore at the 1st commissioning at Mystic in 1972.

The club continued to grow. In 1982 Arlene Blau reported that there were 283 ½ members (the half being Andrew Bowman 7 months old). There were 32 powerboats and 204 sailboats.

Membership peaked in 1985 with 327 members: 34 power boats, & 230 sailboats.

In 1988 it was reported that the longest boat was the Runaway at 58ft belonging to Paul D’Arcy. The oldest boat “Swing Lo” belonged to Doris Stevenson. It was built in 1954 and was one of the first fiberglass boats. (I attended my 1st on the water event at Baldwin Commissioning in 1977 on “Swing Lo”). In 1988 it was also reported that 10% of the members lived out of state and the most common profession was listed at “retired”.

Over the 90’s major changes occurred. In 1990 there were 239 members, 170 sailboats and 28 powerboats.

In 1998 (our 50th Anniversary) 64 boats attended the Seaport. (the average length of the boats was 32ft). This was the year the Amistadt was launched. We had the commissioning ceremony in front of the Amistadt and the Baldwin flag was raised on the Amistadt Mast. That year 20 boats went on the Baldwin cruise (a record until 2009 when 33 boats went on the cruise). A major event on the 1998 cruise was the Baldwin 50th birthday party held at the New Bedford Yacht Club. Over 70 people attended. Not only did cruise members participate but some of the older members who could not sail attended by car.

In 2001 the club entered into the computer age mainly with the help of Dick Goduti who set up and managed the website. 49 members received the Applecore by email. Now everyone does. 34 members were from out of state.

In the last 10 years membership has gotten smaller and the boats have gotten larger. From the 1960’s to 2000 the average length of boats increased 7” from 31’ 6” to 32’ 1”. Today the average length is 35.25ft. With larger boats, the cruises have become more ambitious with further ports of call.

In spite of high gas & diesel prices powerboats are on the rise. Before 2000 they consistently averaged under 40. Now we have 54 powerboats in the fleet. Membership is down. In the last year 7 members have died (and we gained 6 new members). Many members who I sailed with in the 80’s & 90’s no longer have boats. We have 31 out of state members (12 of whom no longer have boats). The number of junior members remains between 40-50.

In spite of the change in numbers one thing remains constant. The club is successful because of a dedicated group of volunteeers. Being on the membership committee I am amazed at the caliber & boating experience of new members. It seems that one year we are welcoming them into the club and a few years later they are our club officers. They continue the purpose “to further the pleasure and cause good fellowship in boating”.

Baldwin Yacht Club is a 501(c)7 non-profit organization.

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