Today I would like to talk about the 1st commissioning at the Baldwin Bridge Yacht Basin in Old Saybrook and the early years. Our former historian Bud Lasconich told future historians “if you don’t know the facts make them up”. I was 3 in 1948 so I will plagiarize Arlene Blau’s account. If there are any discrepancies blame her.

In 1948 a group from Old Saybrook decided to form a Yacht Club just for fun. “One that would help get people together for cruises, a race or 2 and some social functions”. The 1st meeting was held at a small club house belonging to the Marina at the Baldwin Bridge Yacht Basin. Edmund Hayes was elected 1st Commodore. The meeting showed that the “purpose of the club was mainly to further the pleasure and good fellowship in yachting”. At this meeting a letter was read from then Senator Raymond Baldwin who expressed his pleasure of the adoption of this name in connection with the Club. Ray Baldwin, an accomplished yachtsman who owned both power and sailboat, went on to become Governor and a Supreme Court Justice. It is interesting to note that Ray’s son Lucian became Commodore in 1985, the year that Baldwin Yacht Club membership peaked with 327 boats (34 power and 230 sail). Lucian sailed and raced a 30. Dues were set at $50.00. Those 22 present were listed as charter members. One of the 22 was Jut Wasley, another accomplished yachtsman and sailor. We are happy to have his son here today. The thought of using a red Baldwin apple on a white background was discussed. Edmond Hayes promised the drawing. The Burgee was raised 10 days later at the 1st commissioning. “The Governor’s Foot Guard performed at the ceremony. It was a gala affair.”

I am sketchy on the names of the original 22. The longest living charter member was Dr. Ben Waitcombs, a prominent surgeon who owned a 33ft sloop named “La Voite”. Our beloved historian Arlene Blau joined Baldwin in 1950. They had just purchased their cruiser Walline I and kept it at Baldwin Bridge Basin Marina and joined the club. “It was here we enjoyed lobster parties, clambakes, roast beef dinner on our 2 x 4 bench at the basin put on by the late Commodore George Slott. Many of the parties were catered by the Griswolds and were very enjoyable.” The 1st roster was printed in 1957. Unfortunately the club lost it after Arlene’s death.

The clubhouse facilities at the Baldwin Bridge Basin Marina were bare bones. The furniture looked like it was dropped off on the way to a yard sale. January 1945 minutes contained the first mention of obtaining a club house. In 1951 there was discussion of having a club house at Duck Island or purchasing land in North Cove. In 1955 a committee was appointed to look into the possibility of purchasing the Essex Steamboat Dock. The members voted to have boats rather than a club house. After 59 years we are happy with the decision.

With membership growing from 100-200 it became necessary to find another place for commissioning. In the fall of 1970, the club had a race up the Mystic River to the Seaport, spinnakers flying. (It is amazing they got through the bridge). When they were sitting around having cocktails, Ralph Lathrop said, “If I was going to have a commissioning, I would have it right here.” So here we are 44 years later.

Next year I will discuss the 1st commissioning at the Seaport.