I just returned from a Windjammer cruise in the British Virgin Islands.  I have only great things to say about that cruise.  However the cruise pales in comparison to previous Baldwin Cruises. Today I am going to talk about Baldwin Cruises, mainly in the 1990’s, and in particular those led by Ed Smith.

The Baldwin Cruise is a major part of the summer program with the objectives of (in Ed’s words) “easy sailing, exploration, comraderie, sea stories, relaxation, and whatever else comes to mind.”  I had been a member of BYC for a few years before Bob and I had a boat big enough to keep up with the cruise.  I felt I really got to know BYC members better and that I finally belonged to the Baldwin family after being on a cruise.  Many prospective members have joined us on the cruises, and they were fortunate.  I understand that some “Yacht Clubs” will not let people join their cruise until they are full-fledged members.

Originally the BYC did not have an annual cruise.  People from the North Cove area had their cruise, and people from the Noank area had their cruise.  According to Ed Smith the “Father of the Baldwin Cruise” was Warren Jackson who started the cruises while he was going through the chairs to become Commodore.  I talked with Jewel Jackson.  She said that the first cruise was in 1978 when a few families went to Maine.  They included the Hales, the Neals, and the Chamberlains.  At that time they only had two weeks vacation so they left their boats in Marshall, Massachusetts the week before.  The trip was such a success they tried Cape Cod the following year with the Berrys, the Neals, the Wagners, Larry Baldwin, the Hales and others joining in.  Warren loved North Bay at Osterville.  He secured his boat by chain to a hurricane mooring, and all the other boats rafted together on that mooring.  On that same cruise they also went to Stage Harbor in Chatham.  Both Jewel Jackson and Ed Smith fondly remembered a picnic on the outer beach as well as a trip ashore to a band concert. 

After several years of leading the cruise, Warren got a bigger boat.  He resumed his cruises to Maine with several of his friends.  Ed Smith took over the reins at BYC.  In 1989 the Baldwin Cruise started with six families, among them the O’Connells, the Hales, the Birches, and the Marstons and mushroomed in 1999 with 102 participants and 46 vessels.  In that year 2/3 of the flag officers and past commodores of the previous five years attended.

Ed said that the Cruise Committee started meeting in November to plan.  Tides and currents were studied. Availability of moorings and availability of fuel and food supplies as well as local shore events were considered in the planning.  In 1997 the Cruise Committee held a contest for the design of a Cruise Pennant.  This Cruising Pennant is still in use today.  The committee strove to select events to achieve the goals mentioned above.

Exploration:  Ports of call on Ed Smith’s first cruise in 1989 were Block Island, Quick’s Hole, Oak Bluff, Katama Bay, Quisset Harbor, Cuttyhunk, Dutch Harbor and Napatree. 

When Bob and I joined the Cruise in 1993 with Main Squeeze, 24 boats went to 3rd Beach, Hadley Harbor, Osterville (North Bay), Menemsha, Katama Bay, Oak Bluffs, Hadley Harbor and Block Island.  Without Ed Smith’s guidance, I never would have entered Osterville in a boat with a 5’-9” draft where the chart showed the channel with a 6 ft. depth.  In other years we went to Newport, Montauk, Menemsha, Dutch Harbor, Bristol, Point Judith Pond, and Westport, MA. Padanaram, Marion, Lake Tasmoo, and the Pond at Vineyard Haven.  What can I say?  We were in the “finest cruising waters in the world.”

In every port of call were had significant events.  For example, in 1999 we headed to Newport where many of us had moorings at the Ida Lewis Yacht Club.  We had a private walking tour called “Newport on Foot” arranged by Al and Darla Blowers.  We headed to the old stomping grounds of then Commodore Bill Siwik who arranged for us to take a bus to the Whaling Museum and then a walking tour of New Bedford.  That year a dinner was arranged at the New Bedford Yacht Club, and we were joined by Ed and Dot Smith, Dick and Diane Mela, and other members who were temporarily unable to join the cruise by boat.  In other years we had similar adventures.  We biked as a group from Edgartown to Oak Bluffs with our leaders the Blowers and the LaRivieres.  We had wonderful clam bakes at Cuttyhunk, Dutch Harbor and Wickford.  We had rum parties hosted by the Gillens, moonlight swims in Hadley Harbor, and a Bahama Mamma party on Wellentanzerin.  I remember Ed Smith collecting articles of food from each boat in North Bay and producing a pot luck stew you could die for.  I also remember an impromptu “banana pancake breakfast” produced by John Seionte.  The list goes on and on.  However, the most memorable event of all for me was a cruise in our dinghies in Stage Harbor Monomy Wild Life Sanctuary to view the seals.  They were expecting us and put on quite a show!

Comraderie: As you travel the world you meet Baldwin members.  We visited Baldwin members on the cruises.  In 1993 we visited Dick Schaffer in his Cotuit home for a lavish cocktail party.  Barb and Tony Weatherford invited us to a pool party at their home.  We dinghied from moorings at Marion, Mass.  In 1997 we stayed in Westport Harbor (another difficult entrance) for three days where we were not only entertained by Dick and Doris Magovern at a barbecue in their home but they also arranged a dinner at the Yacht Club, a day of biking and beaching, and a wine tour.

Another aspect of camaraderie was the helpfulness of other cruisers.  We had an outboard motor when we cruised and often the motor would not start.  A lot of motor experts gave us a hand.  I also learned about preserving food and cooking on a boat, boating etiquette, and other boating tips.  My first cruise was a delightful learning experience.  Of course camaraderie is an integral part of any Baldwin experience.

It seems impossible to believe that we achieved the goal of Relaxation with the frenetic schedule but we did.  My favorite part of the cruises was the Happy Hour where we relaxed, swapped sea stories, and bonded.  Since Main Squeeze had a large cockpit and wide flat deck, we hosted many of the Happy Hours.  In 1998 and 1999 when many BYC members purchased newer, bigger boats the Happy Hours were great opportunities to have “in the water” boat shows without traveling to Newport, RI. 

I regret that I have not been able to participate in cruises since the millennium.  A future Baldwin Historian can talk about them.  I know the cruise epitomizes the spirit of Baldwin Yacht Club “to further pleasure and good fellowship” in yachting.