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Jim Nixon and Cecile McKenzie On-the-water training 2002

What little we can Remember

-- From Jim Nixon via Club's Newsletter
Early in the summer of 1983, several of the members of the "powers that were" in AT&T's Snowbound Ski Club were reminiscing about past activities over beer and birthday cake in a little bar in Morristown. After several rounds of the golden brew, they concluded that an activity was needed to keep their frustrated members socially active during the summer months. After several rounds more, Jim Nixon, somewhat less than coherently (it was remembered!), volunteered to set up a sailing trip. Everyone agreed that it was worth a try, and off he went (although someone else drove home!).

Beating the bushes for others as foolish as himself, Jim enlisted the aid of his longtime jogging buddy, Jack (a.k.a. Captain Jack, although he wasn't really a captain of anything at the time!) Mazza. For you see, Jim and Jack had just sold a nice little 33 foot sloop (Jack had kids going to college!), and they were desperately looking for a way to keep up their sailing activities. This might be the way!

After a comprehensive search of the sailing magazines for information on charter companies and a thorough canvassing of those on the east coast for options as to boat size, prices, etc., Jim settled on the Chesapeake as the place to go. Unlike Long Island Sound, rarely was fog a problem, and the bottom was a good deal more forgiving of the careless navigator.

One trip was run that year, then a second. As those who remember them recall, there were only two or three boats, but then again, everyone was just learning. Rafting was a real experience! Sailing books looked upon it as a daytime activity only, to be avoided at all costs over night. The intrepid sailors rafted anyway, using principles of good seamanship and common sense. Skippers and crew supported one another on the trips with advice and assistance, a helpful tow was always appreciated if you couldn't get out of shallow water by yourself! The trips turned out to be lots of fun!

The idea seemed to be a success. Five trips were run in 1984, including new experiences in sailing on Long Island Sound and from Newport, RI. There were 7 in 1985 with lots run in the Chesapeake and a return to Long Island Sound and to Newport. There was even a three boat trip to the British Virgin Islands which was more exciting to some than to others. The Trip Leader had a head-on motorcycle accident with a car two days before the trip and had to get a replacement in a hurry! (Early trips were run single-handedly by a lone Trip Leader!)

The Club was well on its way!

But wait, dark clouds loomed on the horizon, AT&T had been broken up (divestiture was the buzz word of the year)! What ill wind would this bring to the Sailing Club's deck?

In 1984, after the Bell System was broken up, the Ski Club "went public" in order to maintain its membership with those now "no longer Bell System" people.

The Sailing Club went public as well, opening membership to anyone interested in sailing. The mailing list soared to over 500 members in 1986 and 1987, and while the trips continued to grow in number and size most participants were from the same core group of people. In an effort to reduce the mailing burden in 1987, and identify people who were truly interested in sailing, the first Sailing Club dues were introduced at $5 per "household". Not surprisingly, the membership list plummeted to a little more than 200 people.

It was during the '85-'86 period that the Ski Club began searching out liability insurance for its activities, since it was no longer covered by any corporation protection. As information was gathered, it became obvious that coverage for both skiing and sailing activities was just too expensive and the Ski Club decided to drop its association with sailing activities altogether. Jim and Jan Nixon, who had been predominantly running the activities for the Sailing Club, decided to continue the effort on their own.

In those early years, Jim made all the arrangements for the boats, wrote the trip flyers, handled the money, set up crews, and ran the trips. Jan and Jim handled all of the mailings and the trip sign-ups as well. The 7 trips that were run in 1985 increased to 10 in 1986, a year that almost ended Jim's infatuation with the sport (as well as what was left of his sanity!) By the end of the '86 season, Jim had enough with this "going it alone" stuff and vowed that he'd enlist more help in the seasons to come.

-- End of Jim's Articles

Jim asked Harvey Goldberg to replace him when Jim expected to relocate to Florida for a new work assignment. The assignment never materialized but Harvey became Commodore nonetheless.

Harvey began asking different individuals to "help" with running the club and these positions later became Membership Secretary and Charter Liaison. This set the stage for a larger governing body, albeit an informal one.

Carol Britten created an "Executive Council"... a select group of members representing skippers, backup skippers, and general members. Carol, concerned about the liabilities to which the club, its skippers, and its members were exposed, researched and initiated incorporation as means of obtaining a corporate civil liability insurance policy. This also led to the formal skipper qualification processes we now use as well as the US Sailing Instructor certification requirements.

The Club was incorporated on March 28, 1994. The existing Advisory Committee was transitioned to the newly created Board positions for the 1994 season. The first annual meeting of the new corporation was held in March of 1995, at which time a new Commodore, Stan Richmond, Vice Commodore, Ken Jones, and Membership Secretary, Rob Chichester, were elected. As per the requirements of the by-laws for a staggered (not staggering) board, the Treasurer, Don Gilmore, and Charter Liaison, Peter Grant continued to serve in those positions for an additional year. All officers serve for a two-year term, and the staggered board continues in effect. In addition, there are 10 members at large positions up for election every year.

For a history of our former officers click here.

For Photos from days gone by click here .

For trip reports of past trips click here here .

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