Deer Isle Yacht Club

Sylvester Cove, Sunset, Maine


In 1924 a group of the summer residents around Sylvester’s Cove decided to start a class of 15′ Marconi Sloops called “WeeScots.” These were fin keel boots that were knuckle-built. They proved rugged and able in the choppy waters off Dunham’s Point. Mrs. Isabelle B. Baldwin was the first owner, and with in a few years the fleet had grown to seven boats.

At the same time a group of summer residents came together and authorized Mr. Frank D. McVeigh to build a dock with a float at Sylvester’s Cove. The end of the cat walk touched the shore on the land of Alfred Craven’ who gave the club a narrow right of way along the edge of his property. Subsequently in 1938, the club purchased a small one quarter acre lot near the Fish House which belonged to Arthur Sylvester. This currently is the turn around and parking lot.

The formation of a class of small racing day sailors and the building of a pier were the necessary prerequisites to the formal organization of the Deer Isle Yacht Club. This was accomplished on September 8, 1925. The purpose of the club was to promote small boat sailing and to instruct juniors in this sport of sailing, rules of the road and seamanship.

The following officers were elected:
Commodore – William C. Appleton
Vice Commodore – Melvin D. Southworth
Secretary/Treasurer – Owen C. Jones

Mrs. Baldwin was requested to design a burgee for the club. The following described burgee was adopted:

“The burgee of the club shall be a pointed flag. The length to be one and one- half the hoist. The device shall be of red along the hoist to a line drawn from the top of the hoist downward to a point half way along the bottom edge of the flag. The balance of the flag to be blue. There shall be a white stripe, the middle of the width of the stripe, to start at the bottom of the hoist running upward to a point half way along the upper edge of the flag. The width of this stripe shall be one-ninth the length of the flag.”

At the first Annual Meeting of the Club in July, 1926 four other persons were added to the list of Charter Members. The club voted annual dues to be $1 per member, with juniors below fifteen years of age paying 50 cents.

There was informal racing in the “Wee Scot” class for several years,which gave much pleasure to the participants and the membership as a group.

On August 10, 1929 the club was incorporated. The first meeting of the newly incorporated club was held at Mrs. Bruce’s cottage on August 24, 1929. At the same time the club was officially recognized by the North American Yacht Racing Union.

The annual summer racing series for “Wee Scots” continued on a more formal basis with Frank McVeigh performing the services of starter, and supplying the committee boat.

Mrs. Bruce instituted after race teas, which were held at her cottage. These were much enjoyed by the race participants. as well as by the other members of the club. They were often the scene of amusingly heated arguments between contestants. Elder Race Committee member were charged with arbitrating these protest disputes. One of Mr. Gluyas Williams’ cartoons was inspired by these after-race activities. The original hangs in the Bruce Cottage.

In 1937 a new float was built  by Mr. McVeigh, and in later years extensive repairs to the club dock and floats were financed by donations from the membership. In the spring of 1950 Captain Cecil Billings replaced the outer crib pier with one of granite at a cost of $1,109. Robert McGuire of the Stonington-Deer Isle Granite Company donated the granite. In 1960 the inner piers were replaced by two new granite piers. Once again built by Captain Billings. A new cat walk 16″ higher than the original one was installed and bolted to the piers. The cost of this was about $3,000, financed by the sale of 4% bonds, donations from members, and by funds taken from the club treasury.

By 1960 it was evident that the Wee Scotts were becoming too old to rejuvenate as an active class. Some of them had been sold; some had been abandoned. Therefore a new class called the “BullsEye”was adopted. This famous little boat was designed in 1914 by Nathaniel Herreshoff and has been modernized as to rig and construction being built of fiberglass. The “BullsEye” is noted for its ability to toke rough water while being lively and interesting to sail. It is 15′ 8’1/2″ overall, 12′ 6-3/4″ on the water-line, has a beam of 5’10 ” and draft of 2’5″. The boat handles easily, points well and is exceptionally seaworthy. Flotation is provided in the airtight molded cockpit deck. With her spinnaker she provides the challenge of a larger boat, thus giving the junior sailors of the club, and the seniors too, much valuable experience in soil handling. Currently there are six of these boats in the fleet, in addition to the remaining Wee Scots.

Throughout most of the active days of Wee Scot racing the season officially ended with the club’s Regatta from Sylvester’s Cove to Northwest Harbor. The Wee Scots and other day sailers would race. The larger boots of the club would soil in company. Copt.Willie Greene of the Village would sail out in his small open boat to welcome the club to the Harbor. The boats would raft up for lunch and an awards presentation. if there were wind in the afternoon, the boats would race home again informally.

In recent years the entire fleet has sailed each August to Butler Island for an over night camping trip. This is a high spot of the season. As many as forty to fifty people of all ages have participated. Tents large and small appear in the meadow of this lovely island. Games and songs are enjoyed by all before a large camp fire in the evening. The next morning’s breakfast on the shore prepared on driftwood fires is an interesting sight.

The club has had a simple but pleasurable past and looks forward to providing the same simple pleasures for the younger generations which each year increase the summer colony around Sylvester’s Cove.

Howard Corning Jr.

December 15, 1971

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