Glenmar Sailing Association
History of the Glenmar Sailing Association
GSA Home
Written by Jay Irwin in the 1980's
Chapter I

     The foundation or keel of Glenmar Sailing Association was laid down in early 1928. Baltimore City opened negotiations with Glenn L. Martin with an offer of fifty acres of land, free, for a factory and municipal airport site. He, however, refused so as not to be under any obligation to the City. And to provide the setting for the kind of factory he envisioned, he needed his own land. Wandering through the wooded lowlands of Middle River, he was quick to notice the access to a major railroad. Most important of all, however, were the broad inlets, which cut into the land in half a dozen places providing ample landing space for amphibious planes.

     Mr. Martin had already become one of the world's outstanding pilots by holding speed, altitude and endurance records. His talents included a natural genius for design, and he envisioned a great future for the aircraft industry. For years, he had been pushing the importance of amphibious aircraft to the War Department. With pilots such as Billy Mitchell and the famed MB2 Bomber, five ships including the 27,000-ton OSTFRIESLAND, which the U.S. Navy believed to be unsinkable, were sunk to convince Congress and the Public of the effectiveness of and need for amphibious aircraft.

     By October 7, 1929, he had changed the placid waterways and peaceful birch groves of the area into a modern aircraft plant with 1,500 employees. Two hundred acres of the tract of land were for the factory and one thousand for the airport.

     As the years passed, more and more people were hired which brought such housing areas as Wilson Point and Aero Acres. Many of these people were from the New England area and were sail oriented.

     Sailing on Middle River in the late 1930's and early 1940's was mostly an individual thing. The majority of the vessels were of no certain class, design or construction. Many of the names have been lost with the tides, but the Parks brothers, Ed and Tom, still stand out. John Klopp remembers an afternoon when sailing his first day-sailor, a 19-foot knockabout sloop, around the area of Sue Island (which was then a bootlegger's haven), when he was hailed by a larger anchored yacht. Apparently some of the local gang wanted to race, something they were accustomed to up North. A Mr. Hoover from the anchored yacht handed John the NYRAC rules from the Committee boat, completing his introduction to around the buoys racing. Handicapping had to be simple and fast in order to give the result out immediately because of the lack of a club or organization. On one's first race out, one just sailed the course to gain a recorded time. In subsequent races, one's time was subtracted from the first boat, than divided by one-half. In this manner, one's handicap was always changing in respect to the other boats.

     The year 1942 brought war and with it dark clouds over the river. Glenn L. responded as a twentieth century minuteman with a work force of 58,000. Gas rationing patrol boats and flying boats of war now kept the river in a no-nonsense state. Pleasure boating and sailing were at a standstill for a time, but many of the work force were being molded and drawn to the river. Glenn L. did not let the war change his mind that the five-day workweek was the most efficient in terms of productivity. He went before a congressional committee to testify that "Every man should have a day a week to develop a hobby and a day for Church."

     With the end of the war and reduced workloads, the river returned to the placid waterways where ducks bred from the surface and drummed through the air above. Once more white sails silhouetted along the shoreline, only this time there were more of them. Boats had advanced with design and materials, making competition keener. The 110's from up North were being sailed by such skippers as Charles Slater, Frank Monson, Joseph Dew, Miss Blanche Geer and Gene Lehman. Here again, New England's influence pulled sailors together in competition.

     Glen L. encouraged activities among Martin employees and contributed to their interests with the use of plant facilities. Reading clubs, sewing circle, bowling teams, mixed chorus and even a Bible study group, just to mention a few, were in full force. Charles Slater saw the need and interest for a sailing club. Taking it up among the fleet, he had John Weld arrange a room for a meeting in Mahogany Row. This first meeting in 1947 was the shaping of Glenmar Sailing Association. These first skippers created the hull or body of Glenmar.

     The first Commodore and the one with all the drive was Charles Slater. John Weld made all the contacts with the Martin Company. John Klopp was Treasurer. Some of the charter members are Don Corberry, Dan Hubers and John Harr.

     Since everyone was connected with aircraft, it was only natural for the burgee to consist of an airfoil and the name to be similar and in keeping with the Martin Company. The original object read as follows: "The object of the Association shall be to promote sailing among interested Glenn L. Martin employees and other qualified persons as described in the Constitution and By-Laws." To be a regular member you had to be an employee of Martin Company. The company agreed to pay for all the trophies and printing in addition to supplying a meeting place. With this kind of backing and interest, Glenmar was bound to develop into a club that would touch all phases of the yachting world.

Chapter II

     Word spread fast about Glenmar after those first meetings in Mahogany Row. Within the year there were twenty-three members. The initiation fee of one dollar and fifty cents a month dues kept membership in the club well within the workingman's means. An ex-Army barracks on Wilson Point was bought from Martins. It was the Club's first meeting place of its own. The 1949 dues list shows John Kratzer was the first Cruising Skipper with his Wolverine D40. He was followed by Tom Turner with a 28-foot cutter. Charter members such as Fred Klapproth remember well how interest and change came about fast.

     By 1950 GSA was holding CBYRA sanctioned small boat regattas out of Baltimore Yacht Club. With membership shares of ten dollars each, GSA and BYC rounded up $450.00 to buy an old seaplane tender, which they used as a committee boat. The stable old barge, which was about fourteen feet by thirty feet, had some type of canopy for shade, but no head. (That must have created an embarrassing situation at times.)

     More and more non-Martin employees began to join GSA. Ted Leighton-Hermann and Charles Strausurg, who were members of the old Baltimore Penguin Club that sailed out of Bush River, talked their fellow members into merging the club with GSA. Two more barracks were bought to be used for storage and a workshop. Nestled among the trees on the head waters of Stansbury Creek, the buildings were a fitting setting for a sailing club to meet, work and play together. Stories are told about meetings on cold winter nights with those sitting near the oil stove being roasted, while in the rear froze.

     An incident is related that upon entering the building used as a workshop, a new member was very impressed with the size of the frames and timbers being used in work on a Snipe until he was told they were the strongbacks on which the boat was built. Fred Klapproth says the half dozen or so Snipes that were built here tore up the competition on the Bay. Ted Leighton-Hermann built the first of about ten Penguins, none of which could beat Charlie Strausburg's "Tid-Bit". Charles sailed "Tid-Bit" to win the CBYRA High Point Trophy in Penguins in 1953 and 1954. He also won the Men's Chesapeake Bay Championship in 1961.

     Signs of the Martin Company were everywhere in the building. Tools, stainless wire, screws, bolts and craftsmanship were visible there amongst the sawdust, smell of glues, wood and the whine of power tools. Anyone who was present could not help but become part of the whole atmosphere. John Klopp would be laminating ribs for his Tahiti Ketch, while Ted rebuilt the Penguin "My Wife's Klanker" for Ella, or Helen Roberts rebuilt her Penguin "Bilge Sisters." Whole families got involved and were drawn by the harmony of the setting.

     GSA sponsored the Eastern Shore Racetrack for Delta in 1953, a race sanctioned by CBYRA. Although the race is still held, the start is now located off Fairlee Creek instead of Worton Creek as it was then. How times have changed. Now we race to Fairlee after an anchored start. Then it was the opposite, with the race back from an anchored start at Worton. With an appropriation of twenty-five dollars, John Kratzer held "Happy Hour" on his first "Jollie", a thirty-seven foot yawl, the day before the race back.

     One of the most dedicated and active members of GSA was Captain Olsson, who lived aboard his forty-five foot ketch "Phyllis" at Riley's. Many times the "Phyllis" laid at anchor all day with the race committee flag flying while a maze of white sails soared back and forth about her. She was always ready to receive guests or help someone with a problem. Ken Rotan can remember one occasion when the "Phyllis" was a welcome sight after a freak wind blast made a shambles of the racing fleet during his very first race. (It is noteworthy to point out that ninety boats were knocked over simultaneously on this particular day.) Many a top was popped during the impromptu parties aboard "Phyllis" with Helen's admonition "You've had enough Oley" being frequently heard.

     Even with all the boat building and racing activities getting on, Ted Helen, Marx Moller and Charlie Strausburg found time to start a junior sailing program. The years that have followed have shown their worth and value fof the effort.

     Glenmar has always been geared for fun. With the membership between thirty and forty, there was no trouble knowing everyone. Most members sailed out of Dutch Frank's (before it became Stansbury Yacht Basin), Riley's and BYC. They often met at the yards to help each other on maintenance work or to sail together. Many moonlit nights were spent sailing in Middle River between Stansbury, the Sea Gull Inn and Riley's.

     Someone was always inventing new ways to have fun around the water. The fall rendezvous-picnic-dances started in the mid-50's. The race started and finished in front of Wilson Point Men's Club, so that participants could be cheered and jeered by the spectators. After the race a picnic was held, and later that evening the Ship-Wreck Dance.

     On Thanksgiving mornings some members met at Riley's to race their dinghies. Anything went, and usually did. Bud Cochran once used an umbrella for downwind work. The time he tried it, someone tied a bucket to his skeg. On one leg of one of the races, the distance was shortened considerably by going under the pier. Jack Kraft unstepped his mast, pushed himself under the pier, restepped and sailed on. The trophy of the day frequently was a wild goose that Olssen had caught (?) that morning.

Chapter III

     Bob Greenfield served his apprenticeship true to the times. His first acquaintance with sailing was with an old girl thoroughly unsafe; an untrustworthy homemade craft that would not only sink at the dock, it would also capsize before doing so. Jilting her, his next romance was with an M.C. (Middle Class of course), a vastly improved craft (it took a whole week to sink), which was made seaworthy by using fiberglass in the right places.

     Bob sailed out of Stansbury Yacht Basin which was known as Dutch Franks. Frank and Florence, his wife, were as colorful a pair as one could hope to meet. He had been quite a waterman in his time, but was now old and on the beach. When asked how he was Dutch, would answer (in a heavy Dutch accent) "I got de dropsy, de shingles and every otter Goddam ting." A $3.00 per month slip fee the yard fit the bill, however.

     Looking for a sassy girl to have a fling with, Bob was off to Philadelphia for a new Penguin named "Lisette" with which he started his racing career. After having read books on racing, and crewing a few times, he felt bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for his first race. What a disaster that turned out to be. He soon learned that a Penguin was not his cup of tea. Her wild tipping motion caused Bob and his crew to hurl themselves to the windward rail at the slightest puff. Finally back at the dock after what seemed like hours, Ted Leighten-Hermann waited to greet him with the scornful remark, "and you said you could sail a boat!"

     Outgrowing the old shacks that had been used for a boat shop and meeting place, Glenmar Sailing Association moved to Riley's Marina where meetings were held in the Rathskeller. The temperature was no problem, but every time the beer compressor started up people could not hear themselves think. The board meetings and trophy banquet were also held at Riley's. One night the basement was being used by another group, so someone bought a six-pack and the board meeting was held in a car on the parking lot.

     By then, the Martin Company was donating only $100.00 to the club and required only two officers to be Martin employees. Some of the early commodores were Bud Cochran, Charlie Strausburg and Wayne Burgemeister.

     Although most of the sailing was done during races, some weekends found GSA boats moored to the club's permanent mooring on Worton Creek. Cruise weeks were in small groups with no formal itinerary. One group was made up of John Klopp, John Kratzer and Niles Olsson.

     Commodore Bergemeister and Fleet Captain Greenfield cooked up the idea of having an overnight race. What a collection of boats that showed up for that first race. Bob Shipley was there in his Amethyst (a Polish built boat, was at that time the queen of the fleet). I had the "Little Lady," a very traditional boat on which the boom stuck out at least five feet beyond the transom. Paul Dowen was there in his Crosby Tern, Ted Leighten-Hermann in his Thunderbird, Light Johnson in "Kraaken (a Folkboat), Marx Moller in "spook" (a 210), and God knows what else showed up.

     That race always seemed to have its share of rain. In those days, it didn't finish until 5:00 a.m. During many a meeting at Riley's, we fought the whole evening about lights not being lit during the overnight race. It seems that most of the boats still had oil lights and were they hell to keep lit when the boat had any motion at all. The newer members had electric lights and couldn't understand why the old guys were content to sail in the dark.

     Then came the battles over sails, especially since some had bought spinnakers. Because some members and some didn't, you can see why the fire flew. When you don't have the canvas to spread and the other boat does, you are sure going to try to rule that damned thing out. The result of the battle was a new rule that penalized for using the spinnaker and no penalty if it stayed in the bag.

     The war had brought about new understanding of aero-nautical design, new glues and a whole pocketful of tricks and construction that the boating fraternity soon made use of. The hottest machines to come out of this were Kings Cruisers, Hilidays, Thunderbirds and finally Tuperware (fiberglass) was on the scene. As these boats were introduced to the market, Glenmar had its share in the Club.

     In the first overnight race, all of the boats were wood. Most were open and had seen many years of service. To the best of my knowledge, Ed Buddemeyer had the first fiberglass cruising boat in the Club. Next, I guess, was Paul Dowen with his Sailmaster 22, and Wayne Burgemeister with an O'Day after his Comet. With fiberglass came a whole new way of sailing and Glenmar moved into it as fast as any other Club on the Bay. Doc Elihu had bought one of the first fiberglass Cheoy Lee.


Chapter IV

     Every vessel needs a navigation system to keep her on a straight and well informed course, so John Coffin started the first "CourseBoard" newsletter in '69. Since then many editors, like Grete Andersen, Bob and Lucy Atkinsun, Barbara Dawson and Dorothy and Ken Rotan, have been like strong magnets keeping the needle true. Reading old issues tells how Bob Greenfield, Hank Borchardt, Mike Lynch, Marty Waine, and others attended CBYRA, MORC, Delta and Upper Bay meetings to help organize and keep Glenmar informed. Stories of Marshal Eck going to Chicago in '69 for "Yachting Magazine's" One-of-a-Kind Regatta (he was then Kestrol National Champion). The first Glenmar cruise in '68, run by Ted Leighton-Herrman, is still being carried on today. John Coffin starting the Night Hawk series and chairing the first meeting with Upper Bay clubs, the first job was to start the inter-club race off Worton Point. July of '76 brought the beginning of the GSA Hotline and the first Inner Harbor Race that Bob Shipley started.

     Fast boats then were "Night Train" - Hank Borchardt, "Mugwump" - Marty Waine, "Scarab" - Noel Acton, "Scrambler" - Dick Guth, and the talk of the bay, "Blue Phrog" - Ben Fowke. Hey! Remember how the bay froze over in '77 so Ben Fowke went out and won the DN Maryland Championship for ice boating (I wonder if that counts for Glenmar, hard water!)

     While the rest of the country was fighting about women's rights, Glenmar never noticed the difference. Women have always been part of the fabric with no distinction between warp or weft. From the very beginning, women have built, maintained and sailed as wives, dates or outright boat owners. Helen Roberts, Jane Smith, Jerry Hoffmeister, Ruth Moller, Lucy Atkinsun, Grete Andersen, Barbara Dawson, Flornel Shipley, then Zonia Nichols and Ann Rae might be found under a boat, at the helm or on the foredeck in the heat of battle in a close race. These sailors have held jobs in Glenmar and can hold their own on any nautical subject. Hell, I had to call my own wife on the ship-to-shore to tell her she was a grandmother. She and the girls had taken off for the week on the Glenmar Cruise while I stayed home to make the bread. Imagine my grandson in "Show and Tell," saying "Here is a picture of my grandmother; she is a rag lady."

     Race committees were always on a volunteer basis until so many races were run that the Club had to have a drawn by lot system. Seeing the trouble with this, Harold Kloczewski took over the Wednesday night races every week. Harold did this for a couple of years, then when the gas prices and time made it hard, thanks went to Bruce Baty for carrying on and improving race policy.

     Glenmar has had her share of coverage in the local and Washington papers. Reporter Aubrey Graves wrote under the heading of "Boat Hooks and Baggywinkle" for the "Washington Post." He sailed with Midge and Werner Janssen on their 55 foot sloop "Panacea" to Glenmar events at Worton and Fairlee, giving full coverage. You should see the crowd in those pictures. Malcolm Allen ran a half page article in the "Sun" when Johnny Kratzer and Bob Shipley launched their Temple 38s. Robert A. Meara of the "Sun" ran an article on Glenmar's achievements, Greenfield winning the Constellation Perpetual Trophy for high point and Kratzer becoming the first winner of the Harvard Trophy for his many years as a skipper, measurer and rating expert and fostering the interests of others in the sport.

     The song of sirens or the lure of blue water has been in many a Glenmar heart. Elihu Allinson first sailed around the Delmarva Peninsula, then in '69 took on the Annapolis-Newport Race. Feeling seasoned, he then entered the Bermuda Race, probably the first Glenmar boat to land on foreign soil. Bob and Grete Andersen sailed their Rocket to New York for the first Tall Ship Program. The Caribbean lured Johnny Klopp for nine months only to be followed by Mary and Andy Brizzolara. On June 11, 1971, "Hamilton Bermuda Paper" ran an article about the stargazing navigators that sailed a 28-foot Columbia - the "Mariah," from Chesapeake Bay because of a friendly argument on the merits of celestial navigation. After buying "Dissertation" and bringing her from Connecticut, Bob and Cheri Wittman decided to return to New England to see ports so often read about.

     While in the Caribbean, Johnny Klopp decided he needed a larger boat than his Tahiti ketch for charter service so he turned the chart over and drew the lines for his Carib ketch. What more romantic than for a vessel to be conceived upon a chart from the salt of the sea and rocked by the motion of an ocean Wave.

     Sailing as often and as far as Glenmar boats do, disaster is bound to happen. Dismasting from rigging failure has happened in racing and cruising, but in '76 on the Labor Day Cruise, "Irish Mist" was port tacked and as the Hinckley's bow came aboard, Bob Murphy saw his mast carried away.

     On the overnight race, Bob Shipley lost his rudder around the area of Craighill Light. Sheeting main, jib and mizzen in unison, he sailed "Tipsy" rudderless all the way home to Middle River and into her slip. Sus Goodhand's Thunderbird was reaching along on one of those wild and windy Fairlee Race-Backs; hauling the tiller to weather as a large sea lifted the stern, Sus heard the gut terror sound of the tiller shearing off. Instantly the weather helm took over rounding the boat up and sending number one son over the lee bow, letting sheets fly the boat hove to in the trough with sails luffing to leeward. Seeing number two son go to the aid of number one son, Sus frantically went through cockpit lockers coming up with a large screwdriver. Using the screwdriver as a tiller Sus now hauled the tiller to weather, sheeted in as the bow fell off to leeward, number one son was brought aboard. Again, a large sea lifted the stern as sails filled snapping the foredeck out from under number two son and sending him off the weather bow. Helm down, sheets let go, the bow shot around to weather, number two son was washed against the weather rail and was picked up by number one son. Hauling to weather on the tiller (the screwdriver) and sheeting in, the bow fell off and they were back in the race.

     Eighty-five knot winds and fifty foot jagged topped North Atlantic waves is no place for a 38' ketch. "Seneca", a Crocker-built, which had just been purchased in Marblehead by Bud Cochran was now on a passage south to the Chesapeake. Bud's wife Jean, Niles Olssen, Johnny Klopp and Leight Johnson, long-time members of Glenmar had signed aboard as crew. All night, Ollie had been at the wheel under shortened sail of only a jib, in hurricane force winds. With seas getting steeper and figuring they were getting closer and closer to the Jersey shore, power was used to dodge around the most dangerous seas, all the time trying to work offshore and south. To save fuel, they cut the engine and were under full-reefed main and jib, without the needed drive steerage was lost and a large sea fetched up under the port quarter rolling her to starboard. Olssen clung fast to the wheel knowing he was now under the boat, Cochran was washed over the mizzen boom and free of the boat, saved only by his harness. Johnson came closer than he would liked to being swept clear. Being battered by flying gear below, Jean and John Klopp were thrown about like misplaced ditty bags.

     She had gone through a 360 degree bottom up capsizing, not just down on her beam ends, coming through without loss of spars or crew and only giving up a hatch cover, anchor and several other bits of gear. The one inch wheel shaft which cut and battered Olssen's wrist took three men to straighten. Below, the dipstick had dropped from the engine, batteries fell from snug housings, fireplace shield slid from vertical track and foot prints on the overhead - all proof enough of her turning turtle.

     After encountering squalls, rough water and harassment by big freighters on the Delaware Bay, the stout Glenmar crew were looking forward to a fine season of cruising on the Chesapeake for the Summer of '61.

     Well, we're in the time of the '80's, the bottle is empty and the sun is rising on a new season.

- Jay Irwin -

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