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THE BEGINNING OF PSA   as  told by founding member, S. Vannort Chapman


There was a hint of chill in the air and a touch of rust on the leaves as the sun sank early into the West, tinting the tops of the wavelets with its red gold glow and casting deep purple shadows along the far shores of Rock Creek. September was forcing itself upon the summer sailing season and had penetrated to a depth of eighteen days. It had been a good summer, and the sailing experiences of 1938 were now a happy page in the logbook.


Five Chesapeake sailors sat on John Roger's porch drinking in the calm and color of the fading day and sipping their favorite elixir of Rye and Water. Their sailboats swung listlessly on moorings in Wall Cove. The aged and rotting deck of the Old Bay Steamer "Kitty Knight" were hardly visible in the darkening shadows beyond the sand spit, while the tide rose gently over the disintegrating washboard of an abandoned log canoe drawn upon the beach among the marsh grasses. Johns' derrick pointed inaccurately in the direction of the evening star.


The conversations of these sailors were punctuated with the typical exclamation, - "Do you remember when?" followed by an enthusiastic narration of what had happened during the past summer, "when" their boats had sailed out past the White rocks at the mouth of Rock Creek and returned at the end of each weekend. It makes little difference now which one of the five first voiced the suggestion, for it had been in the mind of each for some time...the idea of a True Sailing Association, for skippers only, was spontaneously accepted. Plans for a "club" without a "rocking chair fleet" and free from the pressures and control of "bar politicians" were discussed and then postponed for a future meeting.


Martin Alvey, Norty Chapman, Marsh Duer, Hall Harris and Otts Tiedeman walked to their cars in the deepening twilight with the mutual agreement that each would discuss the formation of a "Sailing Association" with the owners of the other sailboats then moored in Wall Cove, and with a call to all those interested in a meeting as soon as possible.


Superstition was ineffective and the disregard for an old omen has now proved to have been good fortune rather than an evil foreboding, when on October 10, 1938, thirteen men signed the Articles of Association in Marsh Duer's third floor front apartment at 1033 N. Calvert Street. Our Sailing Association was born...the baker's dozen that signed the Articles were: Carl Ackerman, John Marchant, Martin S. Alvey,  Thomas Nelson, Edward L. Brewster, Harry Nield,  Vannort Chapman, Wayne Nield,  T. Marshall Duer Jr., F.M. Stevenson Sr., William W. Eareckson, Otts Tiedeman W. Hall Harris, III


The name of the new Association proceeded along the usual course, with many suggestions, until we became aware that the root or derivation of the name of the river that splashed against the pile of rocks at the mouth of Rock Creek, came from an Indian word "Potapskut", meaning "at the jutting out of the white rocks". Every weekend we sailed by those white rocks and found our way back, by the navigation light on them, as darkness closed over the Creek. We, as a new Association of sailors, were jutting out into the racing and cruising activities of the bay, eventually to make a name for ourselves. Thus "Potapskut Sailing Association" seemed a most fitting name for our new organization.


With the name selected, the next acquisition was a burgee. Many designs were offered, including arrows, Indian heads, initials and various symbols with different color combinations. Jess Mason became our Mary Pickersgill, designing a blue pennant with a white sloop upon it. Since this depicted an all-sailboat organization, it was readily and enthusiastically accepted and the F.M. Stevenson Company became our Flag House to sew up these proud new flags that would fly from our mastheads, announcing our presence and purpose on the Chesapeake and its tributaries.




Historical Photo Gallery

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