It's been a long time coming, but the Eastport Yacht Club's permanent roots have blossomed.
Club officials and friends conducted an informal ground-breaking ceremony recently to celebrate the acquisitionof financing for building and the start of construction of a new clubhouse on the Sycamore Point site on First Street in Eastport, near the mouth of Spa Creek.
"This is the culmination of a lot of work by a lot of people," said Commodore Mark Murphy. "We hope to have construction actually under way as quickly as possible. The contractor has been talking about afive-month construction schedule, and new membership applications are starting to come in again after being stalled for a few months while we waited to see what would happen."
Murphy said the toughest decision, beyond the acquisition of the property and the examination ofmore than two dozen properties since 1985, was whether to ask club members to pay an additional assessment to cover construction costs, or to increase the size of the membership.
"We decided to grow," Murphy said. "We hope to have 450 voting members within three years. We're not planning to assess the membership or double the dues."
Annapolis architect Jeff Halpern and other members of his firm, Halpern Architects, have sweated through the process for a number of years, too, and are the designers of the new 4,400-square-foot clubhouse withlarge meeting room, pub, storage areas to provide support facilitiesfor both the club and its marina, a large deck with panoramic view of the mouth of Spa Creek, the Severn River and the Naval Academy, andaccess for the disabled.
The new building, to be built by NorwoodConstruction, will be functional, attractive, and a good reflection of the club itself, a unique organization in the area.
Envisioned as innovative and fun, EYC was at first seen as a kind of anti-establishment yacht club that from the first admitted women and minorities as well as active members of the marine community from all walks of life. It was founded in 1980 to promote the pleasures of sailing and boating, to develop and sustain interest in watercraft of all types, to sponsor sailing races, and to further enjoyment of yachting in Eastport and elsewhere.
It wasn't long before this congenial, but eclectic, group of diverse and interesting people had established a strong reputation for the club both on and off the water.
The EYC Solomons Island Race each summer, which draws upward of 200 boats each year and culminates in a day- and night-long party at Zahniser's SailingCenter in Solomons, is immensely popular. The biennial Annapolis to Bermuda Race, co-sponsored by EYC and its sister club in Bermuda, theSt. George's Dinghy & Sports Club, continues to grow with each sailing. The J/Jamboree, too, a unique event with one-design starts for J/Boats from the '22s up to the '35s, quickly has proven a popular regatta.
The club's Cruise Committee is also very active, with plannedevents, raftups and special presentations all year long.
Ashore, the annual Spring Cotillion, traditionally the Thursday prior to the start of either the Annapolis to Bermuda or the Annapolis to Newport,and the legendary Caribbean Night guaranteed to chase late-winter blues away, are popular bashes of the truly memorable, don't-miss variety, proving that EYC hosts are among some of the area's most convivial.
And who could overlook EYC's greatest gift of all to the sailing community and the region -- the annual Christmas Lights Parade of Lights. It's a moving and exciting spectacle on the waters of Spa Creek each December in which dozens of sail and power boats parade through the frigid night, brilliantly illuminated in the spirit of the season, and bringing joy and delight to all who see them.
We'll miss the view from the upper deck at the Annapolis City Marina building that has been a key feature of the club's current quarters since 1983, but we'll look forward to seeing the club and our old friends in theirnew location in a few months.
After successfully conquering his Chesapeake Bay area quarterfinal competition and smashing the other quarterfinalists from across the U.S. Yacht Racing Union's Area C in the semifinals, Annapolitan John Torgerson faced off against nine other semifinalists, one from each USYRU area or region, in the URYRU/Rolex Junior Sailing Championships Singlehanded Division for the Smythe Trophy.
The nine-race regatta, sailed in Europe dinghies at the Mentor Harbor Yachting Club in Mentor-on-the-Lake, Ohio, outside ofCleveland on the waters of Lake Erie, concluded on Saturday, Aug. 24.
Victor overall for the top singlehanded honors was Texan Elizabeth Kratzig, 17, representing the Corpus Christi Yacht Club and USYRU Area F, with finishes of 2-1-3-3-1-1-1-3-4 for 18 points, with silvermedalist Brian Camet of the San Diego Yacht Club in Area J 4.25 points behind at 22.25 after finishes of 3-3-2-2-2-4-5-2-3.