The Origin and History of:

and Cape Fear Sail & Power Squadron


Recreational yachting in the early 1900’s was largely confined to sailing craft and large steam yachts manned by professional crews. The gasoline-powered craft was coming into its own by 1909, but not with much enthusiasm on the part of the outand- out sailors. Yachting was still for the sailors and the new breed of powerboat men found scant fun on club cruises and almost none in racing. Roger Upton was a sailing member of the Boston Yacht club in 1909, but, unlike so many other sailors, he was captivated by the newfangled powerboats. He owned a 50' ketch named "Nirvana" and often cruised up the coast of Maine with his 35' gasoline- powered motor launch to serve as a tender for the ketch and tow her when she was becalmed. The reliability of power appealed to him and he grew to love power boating.

In the summer of 1911, Upton presented his idea for a club-within-a-club to embrace a select group of "gasoliners", who would develop such forms of cruising and racing as the new type of yacht demanded. Upton was elected Rear Commodore of the Boston Yacht Club in 1912, and was placed in charge of the "unofficial" Power Boat Division of the fleet.

There was a need for education at this time, for the U.S. laws governing navigation, applied only to steam vessels. Upton and other USPS founders set out to protect the power yachts from the steamboat inspectors and to remove forever the stigma of ignorance and foolhardiness. On 14 October 1912, the Executive Committee of the Boston Yacht Club unanimously granted Upton’s petition to establish his Power Boat Division officially. At the annual meeting in 1913, the name was changed to Power Squadron, with its officers – Roger Upton Commander; C. N. Burnell, Lt/C; Nathanel L. Stebbins, Secretary – and rules printed in the 1913 Boston Yacht Club yearbook.

Assisted by a three-page photostory in "Yachting Magazine", news of the Boston outfit’s activities spread and other clubs began to plan along the same lines. In June 1913 Charles F. Chapman associate editor of "Motor Boating Magazine", gave the idea a full–page display, and additional interest was generated. On 12 November 1913, the Boston Yacht Club called together 30 delegates, representing 70 clubs and associations of powerboat owners at the New York Yacht Club to consider the formation of Power Squadrons. Cdr Upton explain ed the reasons which led to his forming the Boston Yacht Club Power Squadron and told of what was being accomplished in instructing power yachtsmen on the rules of the road and handling of their boats. A second Conference Committee meeting was held on 2 February 1914 and the final work of organizing and launching United States Power Squadrons was accomplished.

Cape Fear Sail & Power Squadron History

Our Squadron was chartered in 1951 as Cape Fear Power Squadron.

Our first public boating course was offered in 1949; 19 students attended and it was held at what was then Wilmington College. The exam was administered under the supervision of the Charleston Power Squadron.

Charleston Power Squadron submitted a petition for our formation in 1950 and it was granted in 1951. So you might say Charleston Power Squadron is our mother Squadron and the reason for our existence.

 Initially, there were 34 members, most of whom were present or past members of the Frying Pan Shoals Boating Club.

 In 1957 Cape Fear Power Squadron was asked to offer boating classes in areas outside of Cape Fear and the classes led to the formation Of Myrtle Beach and New River Power Squadrons.

We continue the fine tradition of leadership within District 27; Cape Fear Sail & Power Squadron is currently the oldest and largest Squadron within District 27.

Cape Fear Sail & Power Squadron Burgee History

When Cape Fear (Sail &) Power Squadron was initially formed, most of its founders were members of Frying Pan Shoals Boating Club. That heraldry is reflected in our Burgee

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