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the way we


Founded in 1926, the Waquoit Bay Yacht Club is located at the head of beautiful Waquoit Bay, along the southern coast of Cape Cod, in the town of Falmouth, Massachusetts.

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The idea for "The Way We Were" articles was initiated by Bob and Joan Bradley. They mentioned Frannie Shepherd was thinking about writing some articles about the early days of the Waquoit Bay Yacht Club and life in general on Cape Cod. Building on that, we thought it would be a good idea to integrate these timeless articles into the WBYC website so everyone could share them.

It would be wonderful if over time we could continue to build this library of articles through contributions from those of you who remember, "the way we were."


If you'd like to contribute, please send your articles, even rough drafts that we can clean up, to

Reflections of Waquoit Bay Yacht Club Through the Years

By Betsy Rogers Young, 2011

It is hard to believe that it’s been 85 years since the founding of Waquoit Bay Yacht Club located on Waquoit Landing Road in Waquoit. The club has continued through the years as a lively, fun-filled place of learning – swimming, sailing, racing and seamanship – and fun.

Betsy Nichols Lowery, who passed away this year at the age of 94, told me about her father and a few others including Homer & Sara Conant Ostrom setting out to organize a yacht club for Waquoit Bay. That was in 1926. Earlier in the 1920’s Pop Nichols had begun to develop the Seapit peninsula. Sara Conant Ostrom, as one of the founders, was ahead of her time in insisting that women be allowed to become members of the club. This was revolutionary for 1926.

​Sara Ostrom King reports that her family’s membership in the club has been continuous throughout these 85 years. Actually, the next generation of Ostrom descendants has recently become members perpetuating the family legacy.


As a newcomer to the club in 1956, I remember sailing across the Bay to teach sailing to the younger children while the older youngsters taught the younger ones to swim. Norris Eastman was everything to us kids then – steward, sailing master, swimming supervisor, racing committee, lifesaving instructor and definitely ping-pong champ of the Club.  Back then races for the Beetle Cats happened every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon – rain or shine, wind or no wind, hot or cold. At that time about 10 Beetles sailed the bay. Cape Cod Knockabouts and Beetles raced every Sunday and holiday throughout the summer. Some of the junior sailors crewed for the senior races teaching the youth sailors the art of the jib and racing techniques. ​The Club was created to promote sailing, but through the years families have learned more than the basics of tacking or reefing. They’ve discovered the joy of learning from each other and spending time together out on the water. This summer my grandchildren will participate in sailing lessons offered at the club and I will have the opportunity to pass a lifetime of boating skills onto them. This summer the club offers an eight-week youth program of sailing lessons in Optis for the young inexperienced and intermediate sailors. Older sailors are learning racing techniques and competing in inter-club races using the larger 420’s sailboats. Adults gather on Sunday afternoons and holidays throughout the season to race their Knockabouts. New this year is an instructional adult sailing program. Adults will be sailing the Club’s 420’s one evening a week for six weeks. They will instructed in rigging/de-rigging, basic sailing and racing as well as docking, capsizing procedures while following prescribed safety rules. Club members with larger boats have a cruising schedule each summer. This year trips include cruises to Oak Bluffs, Edgartown, Cuttyhunk, Mattapoisett, Tashmoo, and Vineyard Haven’s Lagoon Pond. The boats, both sail and power, raft up and use their dinghies to explore these harbors as well as relax and enjoy each other’s company. ​Today the Club retains it’s friendly, relaxed feel with the laughter of children learning to love and respect the bay and enjoy the activities it provides. The adults are not left out of the fun. They too enjoy the beauty and the comradery it provides. Members enjoy several social events held throughout the summer. One of these is this year’s 85th Anniversary celebration. We will be marking this 85th Anniversary with a dinner and dance on July 9. Members and friends will be entertained by the music of George Gritzbach’s Blues Band. We will be remembering the names of those who were involved with the Club over the years – Eastman, Lindberg, Barnard, Becker, Kline, Canning, Cannon, Crowell, Munro, Nichols, Clements, Jones, Lawrence, Brick, Riley, Savery, Converse, Bradley, Wise, Shepherd, Lipka, Levi, Berry, Fleischmann, Karl, Briana, Lunn, Collins, Crocker, Kanter, Hallenbeck, Kaye, Offen, Otis, Rich, Smaykiewicz, Vail, Lester, Khan, Rogers, Swain, Ostrom, McMenamy, Burns, Grinnell – just to name a few. ​The thrill of gliding through the air and water, harnessing and facing the wind all at once, is a feeling that resonates through the generations. Parents watch their children, and then grandchildren, learn the art of sailing while enjoying the same waters they grew up exploring.

Memories of Beetle Cats on Waquoit Bay

By Frannie Shepherd

Some Background: 

In early September, I had a surprise visit from Bob and Joannie (Eastman) Bradley. They live in the warm weather at Charlotte, near Eastport, Maine and in Florida, during the winter months. Probably over a couple of hours drive up north. Bob and Joannie were our next door neighbors when we lived in Waquoit. 

Bob called me from Bangor about mid morning of the 7th of September. He was in the city and remarked that in a couple of hours they would like to visit me and take me out to dinner. We ended up eating in the same spot that Dan, Denise, her sister and mother, took me during the first of the summer season. The restaurant is on Route 1, over the bridge, towards Gouldsboro. (Bob called the Crocker House in Hancock but they were not open for the noon meal.) My haddock chowder that day was so good. 

Later, I remarked to Joannie and Bob that I had not written my letter and wondered what I should write about? They both agreed an article about Beetle boats, years ago, in Waquoit. Joannie said she would send me a list of folks who used to sail the beetles in the Bay. It sounded fun to do and is something good to think about. I agreed.

And here’s the “rest of the story” ...

My first connection with a beetle reminded me about Woods Hole on real windy days. Coonie, Bec and I often would sail Sammy’s beetlecat, Sea Win, instead of the knockabouts, and we had loads of fun. ​On our Cape Cod 18’ Knockabouts in Woods Hole, we had to take off the cotton mainsail, jib, and spinnaker to dry them before we stored them for the next week. (We used our older sails, during the week.) Pa would check things over and tie the spinnakers the night before the races. We did help, as he held one end of the spinnaker, after he had fastened the eye to a door knob at the other end, to keep it tight. The spinnaker ties had to be made of some of Ma’s older yarn, so they would break easy, after being set.  The Beetles were something else. The small 12 footers were great in heavy weather - ‘cuz if a puff of wind came - all one has to do is let out the main sheet of the one gaff-rigged sail. They were not easy to tack in the strong tides in “the Hole” area, but were OK in Great Harbor. However, I remember one day we sailed into Little Harbor and on our return, we could not tack around Juniper Point to go into Great Harbor. So.... we sailed into the sheltered cove at Nobska Beach. There we could “come about” and “head” for the buoy off Juniper Point. Ken and I were married in 1950 and my father passed away in 1952. We lived at Ma’s camp in Waquoit for four years. In 1956, we purchased a house in Waquoit and Cynthy was born. Ken had a job with Einar and Susie (Jones - Swain) Edwards at their boatyard in Waquoit for a number of years. That is when Ken bought a catboat from Mr. Curtis of Menhaunt.  Ken’s first mate was his son, Kenny, who was a little almost 3 yrs old. Johnny Pires, who worked with Ken at Edward’s Boatyard, was the second mate. The boys went on a week-end cruise to Tarpaulin Cove. ...was I ever nervous about “Kenny Lloyd” as he was so.. young. Judy (Bailey) Manchester was my baby sitter at the time and the boys returned ‘no worst for wear’.​ They had sailing classes for the children in Waquoit Bay. During the week days, the young ones used the Beetles and the grown-ups raced with the Beetles on Sunday. I can’t remember when last I sailed my 18’ Cape Cod Knockabout. I probably did, but I am not sure. I enjoyed the beetle more. I did sell the knockabout, Mae Win, to a young fellow down the street at Seapit, Waquoit.  ​A few years later, Ken changed jobs to sport fishing (he skippered the Tomahawk for Mr. Perry Hall). Now he was on the water during the day and home at night. (I have an album I made of Ken’s Life but it is in Woods Hole.)  As the kiddos became older, we purchased a 12’ beetle cat to sail in Waquoit Bay. We named her SOS. As we lived just across the street, we joined the WB Yacht Club. Young Ken and Dan did enjoy racing. Cynthy crewed for Dan but she didn't skipper until 1983. Dan enjoyed being in any kind of a boat on the water. ​Brooks Becker gave his 18' knockabout to Ken the first time he retired from sailing, and another boat to Dan the second time Brooks retired. Now Dan's wife Denise is skipper and he watches from his power-boat. They live across the street from WBYC. ​Of course, I had to race the boat on the Sunday afternoons and the holiday races at Waquoit. The “beetle cat” helped me get over my “change of life”. If you were all alone, then you forgot the giant problems of the day. The sails were always left on the Beetle boats so, we just put in the battens, hoist the sail, let down the centerboard and you are off. It was so easy to control and didn’t require a lot of up-keep. About Frannie Shepherd Frannie's father, Sam Cahoon was a great sailor of knockabouts in Woods Hole. Of course the genes from him have made Frannie, Cynthia Shepherd Limberakis, Danny Shepherd, and Kenny Shepherd (children of Kenny and Frannie) topnotch skippers. Frannie worked at her father's fish market in Woods Hole for years and in later years for the Penikese Island School which was for troubled teenagers. This is how she got started with working on a computer and did a lot of geneology work for herself and others (including the Eastman side of my family and also Bob's.) She is very interested in the old days and has written a lot of monthly letters with interesting stories pertaining mainly about being around the water, sailing, fishing, etc.


By Joan and Bob Bradley

In the early days, Ken Shepherd would start the races from the yacht club deck with the firing of the cannon and finish the races from the same spot. At that time, we had permanent markers around the Bay starting from the north west side and going counter clockwise around the Bay - there was Clark (by entrance to Seapit River), Washburn, Brant, Brown, Becker, Metoxit. Ken would set the course, start the race, walk across the street to his house then when he figured the race was close to finishing he would walk back to the yacht club and finish the race.

At this time, the club owned 2 beetles which were used for the youth sailing program and available for members to race during the weekend. The red hulled beetle was referred to as the club tub. If you got to the club too late and wanted to race a club boat, this is the one you wound up with. In later years, Stu Levi refinished both beetles and they were both more competitive boats. 

Plates of sandwiches, cookies and punch were served after the races and were provided by one of the skippers. We each took a turn doing this.

We had a few sea lawyers racing at the time, and they were quick to protest when they thought they could get an advantage over another skipper. So, when the races were over and we were all back at the clubhouse, the protests would be heard. Tempers would fly, but, come the following weekend, all would be forgotten and we would start all over again. One good thing that came out of these protests was that skippers soon learned the rules of racing. ​Did we have squabbling between skipper and crew? Does the tide rise and fall?  We all used to anticipate what would happen when Nancy and Dick finished the race and approached their mooring, On more than one occasion, Nancy would bleep out and expletive, jump overboard, and swim ashore. What a hoot!! We also had some characters racing. How about George and Jack with their beetle "Jaws". It had a shark's mouth, teeth and all, painted on the bow. They would chant the jaws tune when approaching another boat, which was not very often. Then there was Capt' Nemo, the capsize king, yelling salty phrases as he sailed along making little progress. But the best of all was when Capt' Nemo tried to leave the dock when tied to the dock. Nemo's whaler was tied bow out to an anchor with the stern to the dock. With much fanfare, he jumped in the boat, started the engine, untied the stern, and opened the throttle. When the boat reached the end of the bowline, it swung around violently and almost threw him overboard. Dan Shepherd and Bob Bradley fell on the dock in belly laughs - Capt' Nemo had done it again and for this he received the long cleat award!! ​Holiday races, especially the fourth of July, would be raced by mothers and fathers, or past commodores. They usually featured a few boats capsizing which would be towed back to our club by Russ and Ellie White to the fanfare of much laughing and kidding. The Labor Day race on most occasions would be around Washburn's Island. You could elect to go either way (down Seapit River or down the Bay and around) and that was the strategy. We also had the Marion Norris Eastman memorial post season race. This could be around the island race or race down Little River to Great River to a mooring and back to the clubhouse. Awards Day was held at the end of the season and it was a very big deal. Everything that you had been working for all season long, culminated on this day. The Awards Committee would polish all of the permanent trophies. They would purchase the series trophies and lay them all out on the white sheet covered ping pong table - very impressive. The club house was packed with kids and adults and the air was electrified. This was truly a happy tribute to all of the WBYC skippers and crew! Here are the WBYC skippers and crews while Joan and I were racing beetles. Neil Bennett and Andrea Bennett Beckie Gakidis and George Gakidis Bob Bradley and Joan Bradley Nancy Zalenski and Dick Zalenski Jerry Galick and Jan Galick Dan Shepherd and Denise Shepherd Jeff Converse  Bill Strauss and Joy Durell Jean Riley Miller and Gardner Miller Lee Savery and Dick Savery George Wise and Jack Hamilton Fran Shepherd and Cindy Limberakis Cindy Limberakis and Denise Shepherd John (Capt' Nemo) Ostrom Jeff and Kirsten Kennette Joan and Bob Bradley are both past commodores of the Waquoit Bay Yacht Club, are lifetime members, and currently reside in Charlotte, Maine in the summer and Florida in the winter and still visit friends on Cape Cod from time to time.

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