Below is a history of the Narragansett Bay Star Fleet, as researched and written by Greg Gahlinger. If you have any history of the fleet to add, please feel free to contact the fleet.

1922: Where it all started

The original Narragansett Bay charter was made in 1922 when three skippers (without boats) formed a fleet.  Two of the original members were named Walter C. Wood and Charles S. Makepeace.  Both served in elected Star class positions in the 1920s.   The Star Class Yacht Racing Association (later the “International Star Class Yacht Racing Association“) granted 5 charters to fleets along Long Island Sound and the Narragansett Bay in January 1922.

The original members of the Narragansett Bay fleet bought 3 used Stars in 1922 from the Nahant Dory Club near Marblehead, MA.  The three boats were from a fleet of 11 boats built in 1911/1912 at the Green Company of Chelsea MA but they were called “Nahant Bugs” by the Dory Club members.  The bugs were Star class boats built to the same plans as the original 22 boats built on Long Island Sound in 1911.

1923-1926: Promising Growth

The original NB  fleet raced primarily out of the East Greenwich Yacht Club on the waters of Greenwich Bay and South of the Warwick Neck area.  The fleet grew with members from the Warwick Country Club, Rhode Island Yacht Club, Edgewood Yacht club, and the Washington Park Yacht Club (later destroyed in the 1938 hurricane).   Several local RI boat builders started production of Stars in 1923 to include the Fred Nock Shipyard in East Greenwich and the Baxter Boatyard in Pawtucket.  A gentleman by the name of Herb Salisbury built several boats in Pawtucket which later won the Star Class Internationals (now called the World Championships).  The 1923-1926 class championships were all hosted by the Western Long Island Sound fleet at different clubs but a boat from the NB fleet participated in all events.

1927: Local Champions

The 1926 championships were raced in Larchmont Yacht Club and won by Ben Comstock and Bill Gridley of NB on Star # 143 “RHODY” which was built by Salisbury shipyard. As was the tradition, the winning fleet hosted the next years championships so the 1927 “Internationals” were hosted by the Warwick Country Club with the daily racing being run successively by the other clubs of the NB fleet members.  There were 17 boats entered including one from Cuba and one from Manila so the race was named the Star Class “International” Championships for the first time in its 5 years of existence.   Comstock and Gridley placed 4th overall in “RHODY” but were beaten by a team from Newport Harbor, California racing a brand new boat called “TEMPE III” built by Herb Salisbury.  I had some time to kill at the URI library yesterday and was able to read all the daily articles about the 1927 race in the Providence Journal archives.  There are several front page photographs of the boats and sailors which I will get copied and scanned in to share with you.

1938-1950: Dormancy

The 1938 Hurricane did lots of damage to RI in general but hit the local yacht clubs pretty hard.  A 13 foot tidal surge on 21 Sept 1938 carried away most of the piers at the Warwick Country Club as well as Edgewood Yacht Club.  The Washington Park Yacht Club located at the mouth of the Providence River was completely washed away and did not rebuild.  East Greenwich and Rhode Island Yacht clubs survived but were heavily damaged.   During the WWII years, the Coast Guard and Navy prohibited recreational boating of all kinds on Narragansett bay as it was an important area for shipyards, naval training, as well as strategic anchorages for warships and cargo vessels moving between the US and Europe.  There was a big fear of sabotage by German agents as well as U-boat attacks so the NB fleet probably went fully inactive around this time.

1985: Resurfacing

The current Narragansett Bay fleet charter was re-issued in 1985.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s