A history of The Massapoag Yacht Club as compiled and written by Suzie Gray in the late 1980's.
THE MASSAPOAG YACHT CLUB
I. The Beginning.
On August 10, 1946 five boats participated in the first sailboat race on Lake Massapoag. The second race, later that Sunday afternoon, saw eleven participants. There was a "committee dinghy" manned by Jim Rose. The sailors had some difficulty seeing the racing markers most of which had capsized due to the strong wind. A triangular course was sailed.
Two weeks later, on August 24, the Massapoag Yacht Club was formed, so that "racing in Sharon could become a major sport." James E. Rose was elected Commodore, George Healy, Vice Commodore, Betty Ann Beaver, Secretary-Treasurer. George Bailey was chosen Chairman of the Race Committee, to be assisted by George Healy and Russell Eppich. The yachting season would commence on Memorial Day and continue until October 1. Plans were made to supplement the existing dock by a T-wharf; hopes were expressed for eventually building a boathouse somewhere on the lakefront. Notices of the Club's activities were to be posted in Scotty's refreshment stand at the Town Beach. Three classes were to sail--A, B, C. Informal races were to be tried on Saturday to determine if there was interest in racing on both Saturdays and Sundays.
Several weeks later, the club's first social event, a weenie roast, was held on the beach near the Salvation Army camp. All boats sailed to the site from their mooring at the North end of the lake. Skippers were asked to provide their food; the event was followed by a moonlight sail.
That summer, the membership of the club was broadened to include all boat owners on the lake whether or not they owned a sailboat. All boat owners "from eight to eighty" were invited to join. The season was not without mishaps. On Labor Day weekend, there was a broken mast, a broken tiller, and several capsized boats. Weekly races continued until early October.
The club started its second season in June 1947 with election of now officers. Plans were well underway for new docks, to be built by the members. A crew was put in charge; the rest of the membership was asked to contribute a few evenings to the project. About half the members of the club were Sharon residents; the rest came from surrounding towns. There were 2 Bete-Abouts, 3-4 Winabouts, a Hagerty 110, an International, a Black Cat, 5-6 Snipes, a Wee Scot and "several craft of indeterminate origin." In August, the 30 ft. dock was completed by club members. Plans were made for the dock to be roped off so that access would be limited to club members, as there were problems with "thoughtless swimmers who like to climb on the sailboats for a rest." Frequent business meetings were held, several "in the form of sailing picnics for members and their friends."
On August 15, 1948, the MYC held its first Race Day. Invitations were issued to all sail owners with boats ranging from sailing dinghies to the 16 1/2 ft. Winabout. Three Comets from the fleet at Lake Winnecunnet attended. In addition to the weekly races, activities included several sailing picnics, a Labor Day clambake at Rainsford Island in Boston Harbor and a series of training and orientation films.
In 1949, the club had become sufficiently established to receive a formal charter, to draw up a constitution and to worry about insurance protection of club property. The "first annual dinner" was held May 6, 1949 at the Bell House in Sharon. There was concern about the club having property (docks, etc.) on land it did not own. New docks were built by the members in time for Race Day in August with "all members wielding paint brushes.'"
By January 1950, serious thought was being given to the possibility of securing property along the lake by lease or purchase. By sponsoring movies and selling candy, the Club raised almost $90 during the winter season. Dock assessments were to be continued and moneys raised to be applied to the special fund. During the summer of 1950, the Club moved from the town beach to a leased location on the West shore of the lake, off East Foxboro Street. The mooring area was more sheltered and there was much better security as it was not in a popular swimming area.
II. Club Facilities.
After operating for the first four years from the Town Beach, The Massapoag Yacht Club moved in 1950 to leased property along the West shore owned by Dr. Bruce. There was a little shed on the site. Electricity was run down to the site after several years of negotiation. There was talk about more permanent facilities while at the same time the club was looking for an army tent to use at the beach. Club members built new docks and picnic tables. Although not permanent, this arrangement was a great improvement over the previous situation.
It had been known for some time that there was a piece of shorefront property available on Lakeview Street, but the club was not in a financial position to purchase such a piece of land. Eventually, a plan was developed by which the club borrowed $9500 from Nat and Mary Wentworth for the purchase of the property. The land was divided and half sold to the Wentworths for $5000. For the remaining land – the present MYC property – the Wentworths gave the club a 4% mortgage. To defray this expense, the officers of MYC agreed to issue 600 MYC bonds each having a face value of $10, to be sold to the members. The mortgage was paid by 1960 and the bonds retired by 1965.
During this period, some improvements were made at the new property – electricity was installed, the beach was improved by depositing additional sand each year. The "Clubhouse" had been moved from the previous club location to the present one over the ice during the winter. In 1960, the first of several "long range planning and/or building committees was convened. While commenting in its report that "the club is a sailing club, not a beach club.. that it is never intended that the club become high-prized for its membership... that any development should not detract from the natural, sylvan beauty of the club property..", it made a number of recommendations: immediate installation of town water, construction of now dressing rooms, toilets, cooking unit and concrete slab. Water was brought in and the electrical wiring buried. The next year a building committee presented a three-step recommendation (toilets, kitchen, refectory seating 125 people). The Ways and Means Committee charged with determining how the club would finance these improvements determined that the club could not afford these without major dues increases. Instead, "normal maintenance" was continued and a crash boat purchased for the club.
The fieldstone fireplace was built in 1962. The next "Property Development Committee", formed in 1966, recommended installation of chemical toilets within improved buildings. In 1967, the present two small buildings were designed by Larry Lawrence and built by club members. The previous "clubhouse" was demolished. Requests for "better facilities" became regular items at club Business meetings. In 1975, a "Properties and Facilities Committee", chaired by Charlie Byers, brought in another set of plans for buildings with flush toilets and recommendations for financing these improvements. Only the acquisition of portable flush toilets was approved by the membership. The electrical system was rewired in 1981. That year, the club voted to hire someone for "head duty". The previous year, another building plan had again been defeated for lack of available financing.
Throughout the history of the club, the members have been busy with maintenance of existing property – docks and picnic tables. In addition, the "Oar House" was built in 1969 and L.L.'s Locker was built in 1982. The club dinghies have been replaced several times and better motors acquired for crash boats, etc.
Throughout the history of the club, races have been held every Sunday afternoon. Wednesday night races were held in the fifties, revived in the early seventies, and continue to date. From 1946 to 1949, the club held a "special Sunday Race Day". The regatta was revived as a weekend event in 1966, to be held in early September. National regattas for Falcons, Towns, Day Sailers have been held at Massapoag.
The types of boats recognized as official classes has changed over the years. At the very beginning, racing was in classes A, B, C. In 1950, Comets and Skimmers were recognized as official classes, in 1952 Penguins were added. Towns became an official class in 1958, Falcons in 1959, Day Sailors in 1960, Flying Scots in 19??. For a few years we also had a small fleet of Dusters.
Moonlight sails have been part of the club's activities from the beginning. There have been a number of attempts to start Junior race programs; several times these were accompanied by very successful Saturday classes. Since the inception of the sailing program by the Town of Sharon, the classes have been discontinued. Although there has not been a tradition of Junior sailing, almost every year there has been at least one young sailor who competed successfully against older and more experienced skippers.
Because of concern for safety, the club purchased its first motor boat in 1962 and arranged for members to take turns manning it during races.
IV. Social Life – The Massapoag Eating Club.
From its inception members have always wanted some social activities in addition to the racing. The spring banquet, always the club's gala activity had been held annually at a restaurant in the area since 1950. During the first few years of the club's existence, that was also the time of the annual meeting. The spring banquet was retained even after the beginning of the club year was changed to January and gradually evolved into an event to honor the previous year's Commodore. Amid a burst of enthusiasm for such activities, the 20th anniversary banquet was held in the spring of 1968, a year early. There is thus a measure of poetic justice that the club celebrated its 35th anniversary in 1985, – a year late.
The tradition of the monthly suppers goes back to the beginning. During the early years, "the ladies of the club" many of them also expert skippers, put on potluck suppers to raise money for racing trophies and other needed expenditures. After the Lakeview Street property was bought, these became "mortgage suppers" with the proceeds to go to the club to help pay off the mortgage. All food was contributed and everyone paid to attend.
For many years the Fall Supper was a special gourmet event to which members contributed special dishes. After dinner, the awards were presented. Until 1961, the fall business meeting was also held on the same evening. The two events were separated when the fall meeting included the drawing of 40 - 60 bond numbers after the mortgage was paid up in 1960. Don Stoddard's movies of that year's club activities became part of the Awards Supper tradition for a number of years.
Fourth of July and Labor Day were other times for club social activities. When the club had no permanent home, members journeyed to Boston Harbor for a clambake. In the early fifties, members put on their own bakes at the lake. These were found to be too much work and became chowder suppers instead. In the late sixties, the Fourth of July clambake was revived for a few years, this time professionally catered. When that met with criticism from members, a group led by Jim Simmons put on a chicken barbecue for the members. About that time, "Larry Lawrence and the Chefs" started the tradition of the Pancake Breakfast on the Fourth of July. That tradition still continues.
In the late 1970's and early eighties, the fall Awards Banquet became a catered dinner or was held at a restaurant. In 1984, the club voted to discontinue the Spring Banquet and to combine it with the Awards Supper.