I am quoting former historian Tommy Russell’s 2002 account as he was there in 1972.

As I mentioned last year it was Ralph Lathrop that put the bee in our bonnets but then Commodore Len Hoops and the board rapidly approved and thankfully Don Robinson and Waldo Johnston of the Seaport got behind the idea whole-heartedly. Gordon Hunter, our almost permanent secretary and heart of the club, pulled the paperwork together and notified the fleet of the upcoming commissioning. Let me give you a few of the historical tidbits that stand out in the memory of that 1st weekend here.


One of the brightest of those for me is the preparation of the pancake breakfast. In that year, Ron and Joyce Walker were fairly new members (they are now honorary members) and it was Joyce who had come into a bit of sourdough starter from an associate of Ron’s in CA.  For a few years it was the sourdough pancake breakfast. What give color to the history part is that the 1st preparations were performed in the ladies room behind the New York Yacht Club station after dinner and running into the early morning hours. The ladies room also had washing machines and a counter thus providing room for the creation of the sourdough concoction that was to be served later for breakfast. Needless to say there was a good deal of enthusiasm involved in this evolution with beverages and snacks brought from several different boats. Even the security person who looked in was welcomed with cheer. There is something about a spontaneous gathering for a mundane purpose that upon evolving into a late night party with gaiety and laughter creates an indelible picture.

Recalling the morning of the breakfast, envision the fleet of yachts alongside with 10 or so electric frying pans plugged into the dock service outlets. Little did we know that the circuitry for the docks had been designed for casual and occasional use and the sudden call for some 150 amps of current tripped all of the circuit breakers – also located in the ladies room.  Bob Worsley saved the day as we located the electrical panel, guided some of the cooks to other circuits, reset circuit breakers and doled out the power to the remaining chefs. A little waiting for pancakes & sausages but a great way to start the day!

And there were cocktail parties – in those days we could bring our own in BYC fashion – we had the 1st potluck supper almost by accident and there was plenty of boat visiting & camaraderie. At night the birds were having a field day without visitors getting in the way, playing hide & seek and exploring the Seaport in the dark. There was dinghy racing, prizes for all classes, the hors d’oeuvres contest at the awards cocktail party, the theme costume judging and more.

The highlight of the weekend was the commissioning ceremony itself which much to Gordon Hunter’s delight, I can still see the   in his eyes, we had the entire Mystic Highland Pipe Band leading the procession to the NYYC flagpole area. (Arlene Blau, former historian, who joined the club in 1951, had said that there was a parade of the Governor’s Foot Guard at an earlier commissioning).  Commodore Len Hoops held forth, we fired the cannon and youngsters who are now in their fifties hoisted the burge. It was incredible.

There is nothing quite like a first time for something and those who were there will never forget it.  But the wonderful thing that continues with our very special club is that we bring 1st timers here every year to experience and savor the activities that are involved with friendship on the water, the customs and traditions of the sea and spirited conviviality – all the while surrounded by the premier maritime museum in the United States.

Lets work to ensure this privilege for future members.