Honored for their contributions at sea


May 07, 2001|By Douglas Lamborne | Douglas Lamborne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

MANY Annapolitans are proud of their maritime heritage. At one point a sign greeted visitors on Rowe Boulevard with a declaration that their town was "America's Sailing Capital."

So, it made sense for the city's Maritime Advisory Board to establish a Maritime Hall of Fame, which introduced its first class of honorees last year. The second class was to be announced yesterday during the Maryland Maritime Heritage Festival. The new inductees are:

Retired Rear Adm. Robert W. McNitt of Annapolis, noted for his 60 years as a sailing coach and ocean racer and as a chronicler of sailing at the Naval Academy.

Carleton Mitchell, a blue water (ocean) racer, adventurer and writer. He lives in retirement in Key Biscayne, Fla.

Gaither Scott (1917-1999), credited by judges as the "originator and innovator of world race management operations."

Charles R. "Sunny" Smith Jr., of Annapolis, a teacher and behind-the-scenes volunteer who has worked with the sailing community for six decades.

John Trumpy Sr. (1879-1963), patriarch of the boat-building company prominent on Spa Creek in Annapolis from 1947 to 1974.

Jerry Wood of Annapolis, founder of the Annapolis Sailing School and Annapolis boat shows.

They were selected by last year's honorees - Scott Allan, Gary Jobson, John R. Sherwood III and Dr. Stuart H. Walker. Julie Gay represented her late husband, Arnie Gay, in the voting.

When McNitt was told that the judges had picked him because he was a "distinguished educator and maritime author," McNitt said, they were "being awfully kind."

McNitt was born in New Jersey in 1915 and raised near Raritan Bay. Boats were important to him almost from the start, and he and a brother shared the construction of a dinghy before he was a teen-ager.

He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1938, rising to the rank of rear admiral before retiring in 1972. As a midshipman, he helped refurbish the academy's sailing and yacht racing program.

He served on destroyers, cruisers, submarines and an aircraft carrier. Several tours brought him back to the academy - and to racing - and he was dean of admissions until 1985 after his retirement from active service.

"While I was in the Navy I raced whenever I could," he said. "If I was new somewhere, I would head over to the local yacht club and see if anyone needed crew that weekend."

He wrote a book, "Sailing at the U.S. Naval Academy," published in 1996 by Naval Institute Press. The book tells of the training activity of midshipmen on the frigate Constitution in the 1860s, down to the present day of racing and cruising on boats with names such as Vigilant and Dauntless.

The book also recounts the close relationship between the academy and its civilian neighbors in Annapolis. Arnie Gay, Allan, Mitchell, Scott and Jobson are mentioned in the book.

The backbone of the academy's sailing program is its summer cruises for midshipmen, said McNitt. About 300 Mids head off to the Atlantic each summer for three-week cruises on sailboats called Navy-44s.

These are not occasions to get a neat tan.

"This is an excellent way to bring young people along," said McNitt. "This is an opportunity to learn that everybody on the boat matters, that it's important to look out for one another, to develop a sea sense, to feel humble in the face of the forces around them."

Business `garden party'

The West Annapolis Business Association will stage a garden party from noon to 5 p.m. Mother's Day.

Food and beverages, floral displays, a silent auction and other features will be available along Annapolis Street and adjoining streets.

Lynne Sherlock, who made her appearance on Annapolis Street as owner of Tara's Gifts and Parties of Distinction last year, is treasurer of the business association and a co-chairwoman of the Mother's Day affair. "I think they saw me coming," she said.

"The association usually has a spring activity of some kind, so they decided to do a Mother's Day garden party," she said. It's been a lot of work, and a lot of fun, she said. "I'll be baking brownies" for the bake sale.

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