Cotuit Mosquito Yacht Club
The lightweight and maneuverable Optimist Prams have provided decades of sailing acumen and summer memories to scores of local children at the Cotuit Mosquito Yacht Club.
After Caitlin’s account, about a dozen other club members offered up their memories and oral histories, but according to former commodore and club champion Christopher Jackson, who emceed the event, “Caitlin’s story was truly the highlight.” This is because she’s correct—her experience had been “normal” for Cotuit; adventures similar to the Cumming Cup in Nantucket abound in the lore of the CMYC, and it seems that every generation has some variation of a coming-of-age moment in which the kids realize how special this place is and has been since its founding in 1906. From showing up at formal dances in bare feet to flying a spinnaker sideways in another Cumming Cup regatta to the near-sinking of The Little Wheel committee boat at a Hyannis Regatta, this youth-run organization has defied many a stereotype of preppies and their yacht clubs. Along the way it has created a community in which, as Cotuit icon Anna Murray put it when addressing the Historical Society of Santuit and Cotuit in 1961: “We sprinkle our own salt.”
In her speech, Murray stated that: “Six years after the twentieth century crossed the starting line on its tempestuous windward leg, the Cotuit Mosquito Yacht Club slid down the ways. Until some other yacht club challenges our claim, we shall blatantly boast of three unique features: 1) As no member was over twenty-one, we think we were the first junior yacht club; 2) Twelve of the original fifteen members were girls so that writers describing us can throw out that hackneyed phrase ‘founding fathers’; 3) The CMYC was more than twelve years ahead of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution, for not only could the distaff side vote, it could also hold office… they elected Alice Channing commodore and Anna Woodman treasurer.” The new club owned no land or safety boats—it operated from the pier of Dr. Walter Woodman—and it began to grow rapidly. Murray wrote: “Parents of racers were admitted for the privilege of paying dues, but a motion in 1926 reads ‘that those who are lucky enough not to be married at the age of twenty-four or under are eligible voters. Those people who are married or who are twenty-five or more years old can never vote or be voted to office.’” Dues were set at 50 cents a year. To this day, youthful commodores strictly enforce the voting age restrictions, and inflation has driven annual dues up to a whopping $10 per person or $20 per family; there has never been a joining fee.
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