The Rotary Yacht Squadron of Chesapeake Bay came into being in the early fifties. The first mention we have been able to find relative to the present Squadron appeared in the “Spinning Wheel” of the Rotary Club of Baltimore on August 31, 1954.
Of interest to many of our members is the fact that a flotilla of motor boats will leave Philadelphia, made up of Rotarians from the 266th district, and flying the Rotary Ensign, and will arrive in Annapolis, Saturday evening, September 18th.
It would be interesting to know how many boat owners there are in the 267th district, which takes in the Eastern shore of Maryland, the Western Shore, and the District of Columbia. Are there enough boats in the 267th district to form such a flotilla? How many boat owners are there among Baltimore Rotarians? Will you please let the Rotary office know if you own such a boat?
Bob Fleagle, Jr., President”
William P. Kerr, Vice Commodore of the Pennsylvania Squadron, presided at the meeting held that weekend at which the Chesapeake Squadron was formed. The following officers were elected:
CommodoreJohn M. Taylor, Annapolis Rotary Club Vice CommodoreElwood Williams Jr., Baltimore Rotary Club Rear CommodoreMillion Daneker, Bel Air Rotary Club Secretary/TreasurerWilliam Van Brandt, Annapolis Rotary Club
The name adopted was "The Rotary Power Boat Flotilla 267th District."
Commodore Taylor was presented with the Rotary Burgee in 1953 at the Cambridge Yacht Club by Bill Kerr, the designer of the burgee. It was at this time that the idea of starting the Rotary Yacht Squadron of Chesapeake Bay was first discussed. Bill Kerr was then in the process of starting the Pennsylvania Rotary Yacht Squadron. The Pennsylvania Squadron was started in January 1954 and the Chesapeake Squadron started in July 1954.
At the outset, the formation of the Squadron was slow going. It was not until the 1954 rendezvous that the full beginnings of a Chesapeake Squadron were felt. The Squadron remained mostly in the planning stage until this time. Bill Kerr gave much consideration to the design of the Rotary Burge for Chesapeake Bay. It should be rectangular in shape, have a white field for peace, and a blue border for the water which we enjoy and respect so much. It also should have the Rotary Wheel on it with bands of blue and spokes of gold for the fellowship around the world. The first Chesapeake Bay Burgee was flown at Georgetown, Maryland on Bill Kerr's boat, Miss Smoothy III. The objectives and purpose for the Yacht Squadron, as stated in the by-laws are:
A. To develop a particular acquaintance between those who combine an acceptance of Rotary's principles with a love of boats. B.To promote the sport of cruising, yachting, racing and sailing. C.To further social events that are of interest to those participating in the sport of yachting.
As a result of Bill Kerr's efforts in assisting with the founding of the Yacht Squadron, his contribution in designing the Chesapeake Bay Burgee, and his attendance at our rendezvous, he was elected Honorary Member for Life in 1958. A few years later, as a result of his continued interest in the Yacht Squadron, he was voted Honorary Commodore.
In the fall of 1956, William Van Brandt moved to the head of the Yacht Squadron as Commodore. It was under his leadership and with the efforts of other members of the group that a more regular schedule of rendezvous and social events were organized. At this time there were twenty active members from nine Rotary Clubs.
Activity increased during the 1957 boating season as the club sailed ahead. At a meeting on May 3, 1957 at the Annapolis Yacht Club, the first and second rendezvous were planned and a suggestion to change the name to the Rotary Yacht Squadron of Chesapeake Bay was made. At the first rendezvous ever at the Cambridge Yacht Club on May 25th and 26th the membership voted to change the name.
The second rendezvous was held at the Annapolis Yacht club on September 7th and 8th. About 60 members and guests gathered at the Naval Academy Officers Club for a cocktail party and banquet. They were greeted by Mayor Arthur G. Ellington of Annapolis, Philip Richebourg, President of Annapolis Rotary Club, and R. Tilghman Brice 3rd, Commodore of the Annapolis Yacht Club.
Commodore Brandt deserves great credit for getting the Squadron started on its highly successful career. Brandt lived in Annapolis after his retirement following a highly distinguished career as a naval officer, and was very well know to all Navy and Naval Academy people.
The Yacht Squadron continued to increase its membership and under the leadership of the Commodores (listed separately) each year held a highly successful rendezvous program. It started with just two rendezvous a year in 1957 and has grown to five rendezvous per year currently.
Over the life of the Yacht Squadron, visits have been made to such destinations as Annapolis Yacht Club, Baltimore Yacht Club, Cambridge Yacht Club, Chesapeake Yacht Club, and Miles River Yacht Club.
The Yacht Squadron has visited Baltimore Harbor, Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, Crisfield, Georgetown Maryland, Gratitude, Great Oak Landing Marina, Kent Island, Oak Grove Marina, Oxford Maryland, Rock Hall, Solomons Island, St. Michaels, Windmill Point Marina, and Salisbury.In addition, we have had rendezvous cocktail parties at the home of Verda and John Noble on the Tred Avon River.
A very pleasant extension to our rendezvous season was the winter boatless rendezvous held at the home of Jimmy and Billy Hollis each winter. These were always delightful parties and were well attended by members from all around the bay.
At the World's Fair, held in New York City in 1964, our Rotary Yacht Squadron was an important part of the exhibitions shown at the Maryland Pavilion.
A letter of appreciation was received from Mr. William B. Mathews Jr., of the Chief Boating and Recreation Division, Department of Chesapeake Bay Affairs. He pointed out that the Burgee not only made the Maryland display more attractive but he felt it also helped promote boating on the Chesapeake Bay. The Yacht Squadron, in years past, has shown an interest in the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and frequently visited there when we rendezvoused at the Miles River Yacht Club. John Noble of our Squadron has served on the Board of Trustees of the Museum, as well as President of that organization.
In 1967, with John as Commodore, the Squadron made a substantial financial gift to the Museum. In collaboration with the Maryland Economic Commission and the Maryland Marine Police, a special display "Chesapeake Bay Waterman and Their Work" was opened to the public in the museum shop.
In 1973, under the leadership of Commodore Bob Barranco, the Yacht Squadron became a member of the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Club Association, which numbers as its members most of the yacht clubs on the Bay. Membership entitles our Squadron to participate in all of the activities of this association and entitles our members to guest privileges at all of the member clubs.
Under Commodore Bud Dieudonne, a three day cruise was added to our summer schedule. This cruise was extended to four days and eventually evolved into what we call our long cruise. The long cruise starts on Wednesday and continues thru Sunday, a total of five days.
Commodore John Harms led the Yacht Squadron to several rendezvous in the upper section of the Bay, which we continue to visit. Our first Sheet Fleet or Sail Boat Commodore was Dr. Bill Thomas in 1974.
Past Commodores who participated in the early development of the Yacht Squadron and who were active in its affairs are: Mil Daneker (1959 - 1960), Harvey Bradshaw (1963), Burrell Marsh (1965), and Cy Hawkins (1971 – 1972).
Charles Marsh, Commodore in 1964, was one of the most active members until his death in 1973. He was the first Commodore to have three rendezvous in one boating season.
Bob Barranco picked up where Charles left off, as one of our most active members.In 1970, he started the June cruise and the October Frost Bite cruise. This was the first year the Yacht Squadron had five cruises. We have enjoyed five cruises a year since this time. Bob is also remembered for having 23 years perfect attendance at rendezvous from 1967 to 1990.
Commodore Frank Miano started the Friday night "Dock Party" in 1977. The idea was borrowed from the Kent Island Yacht Club and has been a pleasant addition to our cruises.
Another idea was tried in 1992 by Fleet Captain Ernie Swanson. He extended our Solomons Island Cruise to Crisfield for anyone interested in going, unfortunately mother nature let it rain all weekend so everyone headed home.
In 1994, under the leadership of Commodore Dennis Hatfield and Fleet Captain Thomas Fine, our Squadron had an early dinner meeting at our Baltimore Cruise and went off to watch the Baltimore Orioles defeat the Minnesota Twins at our new stadium at Camden Yards.
In 1983-84 our Squadron had two Commodores. Fred Hawkins became Commodore in September 1983. He moved to Florida and resigned at the June Cruise. This was an opportunity for George Milroy, who was Secretary/Treasure from 1973 to 1984, to become Commodore from July to September 1984.
In 1990-91, a similar situation occurred. Both the Vice Commodore (Bill Strawn) and the Rear Commodore (Dick Cohee) moved to Florida and resigned. Dennis Hatfield was appointed Rear Commodore. It was then decided that Fleet Captain John S. (Pat) Neild would be moved to Commodore in 1991-92. Past Commodore Ron Willoner would be Vice Commodore and Dennis Hatfield would remain Rear Commodore. Through all this, our Squadron functioned normally.
In addition to our regular schedule of rendezvous, a special outing was held in the summer of 1975. Held on the Western Shore under the direction of Past Commodore Harry Monroe and on the Eastern Shore under the direction of Past Commodore John Noble. Members of our Squadron arranged to take groups of handicapped and retarded people on day long cruises furnishing the boats and the refreshments. About ten boats participated and entertained about forty-five guests. Rotary Yacht Squadron of Chesapeake Bay is affiliated with the International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians, which is a world wide organization having flotillas in Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, France, Great Britain, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Monaco, Nassau, Peru, South Africa, United States, Virgin Islands and the West Indies. It was started in 1947 by John G. Barrett, Brixton Club, London, England.
The Pennsylvania Squadron was the first Squadron in the United States and it is thought to be the second in the world. Our members have been active in the International organization and have served in many official positions.
Past Commodores Carl A. Beck, Earl Brannock, and Bill Thomas are Past International Commodores. Bill was also Past International Secretary. Bill Marsh served as Rear Commodore and Senior Liaison Officer for North America. Charles McKinley was International Regional Rear Commodore in charge of the fleet from Virginia to Florida. Past Commodore Bob Barranco served as International Regional Rear Commodore in charge of the fleet on the East Coast of the United States.
As International Commodore, Earl Brannock played an important part in the Tall Ships program celebrating the Bi-Centennial of the United States. He made trips to London, Bermuda, and New York in this regard. As a result of this and through efforts of other members, including Commodore John Harms, Rotary Yacht Squadron held a rendezvous in Baltimore Harbor during the visit of the Tall Ships to that port. The induction of the new International Commodore took place on the deck of the historic U.S.S. Constellation.
Charles M. Oliver is our first second generation Yacht Squadron member since it's formation in 1954. He was just a small boy when he came boating with his father Charles T. Oliver. His father became a member in 1956 and was active in the Yacht Squadron until his death in 1970. We are looking forward to many more second generation Rotary Yacht Squadron members.
Since 1954, the Squadron has elevated boating into a sport that is enjoyed by all our members, although owning a boat is not a prerequisite for joining. Many members and Commodores as well, do not own their own boats. Open to all Rotarians in good standing, the Rotary Yacht Squadron of Chesapeake Bay has stood as the undisputed leader in the sport of fine boating.