BYC in the 1930’s

In the Thirties, the original BYC facility was an unsupervised day camp for ten to eighteen year-olds of both sexes. A Steward, Captain Al Davis and sometimes his wife, who ran the candy store, rarely interfered with the kids. The big attractions were sailing and swimming. When it was too cold or unpleasant there was still a group that sat on the porches in the rocking chairs – the original rocking chair fleet!

The big event of each week during July and August was the Friday Beetle Series. Races were held at 2:00 PM in Smith Cove ( west of the beacon). A faithful race committee – Henry Street of Bristol Highlands and his committee boat “Chinook” was joined by Jack Marshall. He rowed out from his dock at Rumstick Point – usually in a suit and felt hat. Jeff Davis, the yachting editor of the Journal was often part of the committee. Two races were held and the winners received the empty shotgun shells that signaled their wins.

In preparation for the Friday and other races held each week the Beetle owners would haul their boats down by the mast to scrub and polish the bottoms. This was done in the small area, just south of the Club. Another common practice was tapering both centerboard and rudder to add speed. Younger Members were recruited by skippers as crew and there was no Sail Training Program. The kids learned to sail, take care of their boats, and tie knots, while crewing. As Beetles were always wet, pumping was a large part of the winning effort, and crewing to win meant sometimes being sent forward under the deck or hiking out getting soaked.

When not sailing or swimming, the rocking chair fleet learned from the old salts (paid hands on the larger yachts) who were fond of the kids, and the feelings were mutual. Captain Fray on the “Trebox” – Bill Clayton on the “June”, mechanic Al Harrington and fisherman Ed Seymour were not only characters but teachers in their fields to the group that hung out.Some of the expertise learned in this era went on to later help in forming the Sail Training Program of the Barrington Yacht Club across the river, and set standards for the new set of Juniors.