The History of
Local Yacht Clubs
The Annapolis Maritime Museum
is growing rapidly from its humble beginnings in the tiny "Barge
House" on the Back Creek end of Second Street in Eastport to the
McNasby's Oyster House next door. The museum has leased McNasby's
from the City of Annapolis and is in the process of renovation
in order to become a world-class maritime museum in 2003.
Meanwhile, the museum will continue to produce exhibits to educate
visitors and residents alike on the rich nautical history and
heritage of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. Museum volunteer
John Morgan is currently working on collecting information, photographs
and artifacts from four Annapolis boating clubs as the first part
of a series of exhibits on racing and cruising the Chesapeake
Bay. Peter Tasi will design the exhibit, which will be on display
both at the Barge House and at the Maryland Maritime Heritage
Festival at the Annapolis City Dock, April 26 to 28, 2002.
"We're starting with four of the most prominent clubs in Annapolis,"
John explains, "Annapolis Yacht Club, Eastport Yacht Club, Severn
Sailing Association and the Seafarers Club. These organizations
represent a fascinating cross-section of on-the-water activities,
from open-ocean racing in large sailboats to one-design racing
in sailing dinghies, to cruising in classic motor yachts. For
future exhibits, we'll expand our reach and eventually cover all
the clubs ever active anywhere in Anne Arundel County."
According to Morgan's research, Annapolis Yacht Club traces its
beginnings to an informal canoe club founded in 1883. A club building
went up on a pile of oyster shells at the end of Duke of Gloucester
Street becoming, in 1886, the first home of the new Severn Boat
Club. In 1933, a hurricane severely damaged the clubhouse and
left the wharf a tangled mass of pilings, contributing to the
club's decline. In 1937, the Annapolis Yacht Club was incorporated
and, in 1940, the new AYC held its first fall racing series.
In 1995, AYC's clubhouse underwent its most recent renovation
and, as of 2002, AYC has more than 1,400 members. Some of the
many large, international events sponsored by AYC include the
Star Class World regatta and the Rolex Women's International Keelboat
Established in autumn 1954, Severn Sailing Association has led
the way in one-design sailboat racing on Chesapeake Bay. The founders
created an association that has grown to 18 fleets. It promotes,
fosters and sponsors one-design racing and activities connected
with sailing on the Severn River and nearby Bay waters.
SSA today maintains a nearly year-round schedule of racing, with
the "regular" season extending from April through November, followed
by the numerous "frostbite" dates. To those approximately 100
race days is added a Tuesday series. SSA estimates it offered
close to 1,100 separate races in the 13 "club" and five "open"
fleets this past year alone. In its 47 years, it's been host to
many dozens of national, North American and world championship
race series, and SSA has sent sailors to compete in Olympic events
and other national and international events.
In 1958, the founders of SSA bought its current property on Sycamore
Point in Eastport, at 311-315 First Street. An early club history
describes the land as "...a tiny plot surrounded by mud and broken
pilings," from which the property has grown. The current two-story
clubhouse, with its priceless vista of the junction of Spa Creek
and the Severn River, was completed in early 1966. The original
clubhouse which had been a small home, was destroyed by fire later
that year, in which many photos, trophies and keepsakes of the
early SSA days were lost.
The Seafarers Club is the Eastport-based yacht club founded in
1960 by a small group of African-American powerboaters who shared
a universal, abiding love for the Bay. In those days, Anne Arundel
and many other Maryland counties still had separate schools and
public accommodations for "Negroes" and "Whites."
In 1967, after meeting for years in basements and other temporary
sites, the Seafarers paid $11,000 for an old, unused schoolhouse
at 317 Chester Avenue in Eastport, formerly the "Black" school.
The building was extensively remodeled to include a large addition,
swimming pool and patio deck. The club's 24-slip dockage facility
is just a block away.
The Seafarers' program includes swimming lessons for neighborhood
children and creating opportunities for children from Annapolis
and Baltimore to go out on the water to learn boating and safety
Eastport Yacht Club began at a meeting at the former Marmaduke's
Pub on October 13, 1980, where 83 men and women became the charter
members. In 1983, EYC had its first temporary quarters in an upper
floor office in the City Marina. In 1989, after years of searching,
they bought a small waterfront property on Sycamore Point at 317
First Street, next door to Severn Sailing Association. The present
clubhouse opened in October of 1992.
EYC has about 500 members and, in its 20-year history, the club
has established the Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade and the
Leukemia Cup, participates in the annual Solomons Island Race
and organizes the Santa Maria Cup, the prestigious women's match-racing
Originally from Wisconsin, researcher John Morgan earned a degree
in journalism from Marquette University and worked with several
newspapers in Wisconsin. When his family moved to Silver Spring
in the 1960s, he became a Congressional Fellow and stayed on to
work on Capitol Hill. He then moved to Annapolis and recently
retired from a career of legislative and government relations
work with the Communications Workers of America. John seems to
be having a good deal of fun with the project.