Tommy Russell, former Commodore & past Historian & Neal H. O’Connell, former Commodore.
The 1st meeting of the Baldwin Bridge Yacht Basin was held by a group of owners who kept their boats there. Edmund Hayes was voted the first Commodore. From the minutes of the 1st meeting we learn that the purpose of the club was discussed and it was agreed that it was mainly “to further the pleasure and cause of good fellowship in yachting.” At this meeting a letter was read from then Senator Raymond Baldwin a well-known yachtsman who expressed his pleasure of his name in connection with the club. The thought of using a red apple on a white background was discussed. (Senator and later Governor Baldwin used the Baldwin Apple as part of his campaign slogan). Commodore Hayes indicated that we would have a drawing of the burgee for approval at the next meeting.
The 2nd meeting was held on June 18th and at this time the burgee that we use today was adopted. The matter of dues and registration fees was discussed. Twenty-two members present were charter members and paid $50. Jut Wasley, another renowned yachtsman, father of Alan Wasley, was one of these charter members. 1949 showed 20 resident members (those who kept their boat at the Baldwin Bridge Marina) and 1 social member. 1950 was the year the 1st roster was printed.
Initially the club was primarily a powerboat club and in those days the most important event was the annual predicted log race. Ex-Governor Ray Baldwin donated the perpetual trophy for this event.
The clubhouse at the Baldwin Bridge Marina was a 3 sided shelter with a second hand furniture. This served as an informal meeting place on weekends and a location for shore side social events. There were no paid club employees. Service at the docks was handled by employees of the Marina. This set up did not permit the club to offer facilities that a larger club would. The club arranged to have moorings in Hamburg Cove, North Cove and an extra mooring at the Baldwin Bridge Basin to offer club reciprocity for visiting yachtsmen. “The moorings were originally arranged for because they provided an excellent place to hold rafting parties through the year”. If Baldwin has a peculiarity it is that its members enjoy each other’s company and are quite likely to be found in a compact group of boats approaching the size of a small island”.
From the minute of the BYC, and the recollection of older members there was very little racing. The yacht of the day was a power boat. In future years the rendezvous & long cruises were replaced by hard sailing races as more and more members obtained sailboats. (In the 1985 roster, there were 187 sailboats and 27 powerboats. In the 1957 roster, there were 34 power boats and 13 sailboats.) Now the pendulum is swinging back, there are about ½ and ½. Today at Mystic Seaport we have 13 sail & 14 power boats registered.
From time to time, there were many discussions on obtaining a clubhouse. The 1st mention of this is in the minutes of 1949. Ed Hayes was called upon by the Commodore to explain to those present what steps had been made & further steps made of obtaining a clubhouse. In the minutes of January 1951 discussion followed of the possibility of moving to Duck Island or the purchase of land in North Cove. In November 1955 a committee was appointed to look into the possibility of purchasing Essex Steamboat Dock. Even at a later date there were discussions of purchasing a large house overlooking the Connecticut River. Members were asked if they would be willing to donate $1,000 each for the purchase of the property. Fortunately for the club not enough people were willing to commit.
Why was the Club looking for a new venue? Membership had grown and there was no longer room on the dock to hold the parties. The notice of the May 1962 commissioning explained that the commissioning would start at 11am. There would be a short ceremony to raising the club burgee and the ferry of the salute. In the evening our Fitting Out Party held at Floral Park Inn, Old Saybrook starting at 6:30pm. $3.75 pp with reservation, $4.25 without. Apparently some of these dinners up the river and inland were a disaster. They also took people away from their boats.