DIYC Cruise

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History of Cruising at DIYC

The DUCK Also Cruises

DIYC Cruising History

              It was in the late ‘70s. All of DIYC racing was on weekends. Most of our “hot-shots” like Steve Purdy & Fred Fishbien had joined the ECYRA circuit, leaving very few boats to race or cruise at DIYC. Often we would have only three boats to race and one of them had to be the RC. After each race we would transfer the shapes and cannon from one boat to another. The races were longer then. We would often raft for lunch behind Duck Island between races. And after racing we would raft for results and a party.


            We recruited new blood by inviting perspective members to participate in the Commodore’s Invitational. Our Captain’s Meetings were held at the rickety old Menunketesuck YC at the Old Duck Island Marina which is now PP North Yard. Slowly we began to rebuild our fleet of race/cruisers.


            Since we were cruising anyway, we started having races to and from our destinations. We used a modified PHRF handicap system and allowed an extra six seconds per mile for those towing a dingy. The first boat to cross the finish line, usually an aid to navigation, would take times. Good incentive to come in second.


            One race/cruise to Mystic, we had a gentle southerly which was perfect for a spinnaker reach. The chutes went up; the wind continued to build until our sail popped with a very loud “Bang”. You should have seen all the other chutes come down, pronto. We had an Irish wake for the red & yellow Hard sail (made by Ben Hall; or was it a Sobstad by Tom Whidden?) on the lawn in back of the old NYYC station by the Seaman’s Inn. Margie McClellan officiated.


            Our parties started on a cruise to Block Island. No one had a boat big enough to accommodate the growing fleet. We dingied into the beach between the Boat Basin and Champlains and planted an oar with our burgee. People would bring h’ordeuves & a libation and have a heck of a party. Incidentally, back then the yacht clubs had the only moorings in the pond, in that corner. DIYC had three. Thus began a tradition of beach parties. Weather it was Block or Napatree or Coecles, when the sun was over the yard arm the Duck was flying on the beach. They have since given way to less sandy parties on our bigger boats. Ah, the good old days.


            Our race/cruises were family affairs. Our kids grew up on the boats. I remember Brian Weinstein learning to row on a tethered dingy at Cuttyhunk. Nicole Ballou as an infant being held on Glen’s shoulders while he was standing at the helm of his 25 footer racing and preventing us from passing as an overtaking boat. At Block the kids would often go to the movies at the old downtown movie theater. It’s still there. The older kids would look after the younger ones. Don Dyson promoted our getting a fleet of Dyer 7’11”s. The kids (and adults) would have races using moored boats as turning marks. Boats were run in heats, with the winners competing to determine the overall winner.


            Where did we go: Mattituck, Mystic, Watch Hill (Napatree), Stonington, Greenport, Coecles, Sag Harbor, Three Mile, Dearing ,West Neck, Port Jefferson, Montauk, NYC, Northport, Huntington, Block Island,  Dutch Harbor, Warwick, Wickford, East Greenwich, Newport, Bristol, Fall River, Fog Bound (Sakonnet), Westport, Cuttyhunk, Hadley, Quissett, Woods Hole,  Falmouth, Waquoit Bay, Hyannis, Chatham, Nantucket, Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven, Tarpaulin Cove, Red Brook, Mattapoisett, Onset, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Marblehead, Boston, Scituate, Plymouth, Wentworth by the Sea and of course Maine as far as Bar Harbor.


            I’m sure there are some I have forgotten. The memories & sunsets are just  too many to innumerate here. The point is we are blessed with one of the best cruising grounds in the country. Come share the experience with family and friends. Come cruise with the Ducks.


Pete Connal

March 26, 2009