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 Charleston Sail and Power Squadron

Our burgee  

A Brief Chronological History of the
Charleston Power Squadron

Compiled by P/D/C Leonard C. Ripley, AP (unknown date)
Condensed by Fran Carson (unknown date)
OCR’ed from a PDF document PDF file by Bill Quick (February, 2014)

A group of local boat owners was called together at the Charleston Municipal Yacht Basin in late 1945 by Mr. Ian L. McKenzie, N, of the Staten Island Squadron, to discuss forming a power squadron. Under the tutelage of Mr. McKenzie, a class of l8 successfully completed the piloting course and a charter was awarded to the Charleston Power Squadron on 6 March 1946. Charter members who are still active squadronites are W. W. Muckenfuss, Archie Myers, Wilton 0. Poulnot, Leonard C. Ripley, and Emil M. Sodke. After the first full year of the squadron's existence the membership numbered 26.

In 1947 several short cruises were made to nearby inlets, and in 1948 the first annual Labor Day weekend cruise proceeded up the Cooper River, through the locks, and into Lake Moultrie. A delightful Catfish Stew and Fish Fry was held outdoors at Rachley's Fishing Camp.

The District to which the Charleston Power Squadron was attached, known as "Unattached,“ was changed to District 30 in June 1949. It was a three-squadron District consisting of Charleston, Canal Zone, and Hawaii.

P/C Fred Johnson initiated the special project in 1954 to post signs showing the clearance under bridges eliminating unnecessary opening. As is known, this is the first major public service project of the Charleston Power Squadron.

The first Predicted Log Race was held 21-22 August 1954 to Rockville and was won by Commander Alfred O. Halsey in his ketch "May" much to the dismay of the power boatmen. The following year, again to the amazement of the power boaters the second Predicted Log Race was won by Commander Halsey and his faithful "May." Lamenting power boaters only comment was, “Woe is me,“ when a sailboat beats the power boats at their own game two in a row.

By the end of the first ten years, squadronites numbered 45. In that period of time a total of 108 merit marks had been earned which indicated active participation during the early years of the Charleston Power Squadron.

District 17 was formed from five squadrons in District 30 in the southeastern United States. These were Atlanta, Cape Fear, Charleston, Chattachoochie, and St. Simon Island. At the first Change of Watch of District l7 in 1955, held in Atlanta, P/C Leonard C. Ripley was elected Staff Captain. The first District l7 Change of Watch to be held outside Atlanta was held in Charleston 27-28 April 1957. Attendance of the Chief Commander, William C. Wolfmuller, along with two Rear Commanders made this District Change of Watch a memorable occasion.

The squadron pennant was designed by squadronites P/C Fred Smith and John A. Cummings and was approved by USPS on l5 June 1955. The burgee was designed on a white background with a palmetto tree within a ship's wheel on the hoist and five blue stripes on the fly. The palmetto tree represents the coastal region of South Carolina where the palmetto is most prevalent, the ship's wheel represents boats, boating, and boatmen. The five blue stripes represents the five squadrons that made up District l7 at that time.

After considerable coordination with a group in Savannah, Georgia, the Charleston Squadron sponsored instruction to 25 people, and ultimately the Savannah (Tybee Light) squadron was chartered 7 August 1957. Again in 1957 along with Cape Fear, the Charleston Squadron fathered the founding of the Myrtle Beach (Long Bay) Squadron.

At the District l7 Change of Watch, in Augusta, Georgia, Charleston's own P/C Leonard C. Ripley was elected District Commander, the first such distinction for the Charleston Squadron. He was again elected as District Commander the following year.

History was made in 1958 in the field of education. Two piloting classes were held, one in North Charleston, and one in Monck's Corner and assisted one in Myrtle Beach. Classes were held in Seamanship and Engine Maintenance. Seventeen men and one lady, Jane Diaz, graduated from EM. The question was, "Who is to be in command of the engine room on Dick's boat?"

With the USPS growing at a rapid rate, District l7 was again divided at the Change of Watch in Savannah in 1960 with Charleston becoming a part of District 26. There was one other division of districts in 1963 at Charlotte, when North Carolina squadrons became District 27. On 30 July 1960 one of the squadron‘s most active members and enthusiastic boaters, John N. Hornik, passed away. He bequeathed to the squadron one thousand dollars; five hundred dollars to be used for acquiring training aids and educational materials and the remaining five hundred dollars used for the purchase of alcoholic beverages to be served at squadron social functions. The first one-day cruise each year is dedicated to the memory of John Hornik.

Again in 1960 the Charleston Squadron provided instruction to people at Beaufort with 12 men completing the course and joining the Charleston Squadron, and in 1961 the Beaufort Squadron received its charter.

A very successful educational year was 1961 with many attending advanced courses and another piloting class conducted at Monck's Corner. P/S/C Luther Hynie was elected as District Commander with Change of Watch at Myrtle Beach. An ambitious cruise schedule was enjoyed this year with a few memorable occasions such as George Fernau taking a Beaufort, N. C. boat in tow, and a frantic search for George Brown and crew after an unexpected squall while he was safely tied up at the Esso Dock on the Cooper River.

The Charleston Squadron hosted the District Change of Watch in March 1962 at the Fort Sumter Hotel. At that meeting P/D/C Ripley was appointed to the National Admissions Committee. An aggressive cruise schedule proved successful in 1962 with cruises to Pimlico, Kiawah where Tom Welch hosted a memorable shrimp dinner on the beach, Capers Inlet with a treasure hunt, pirate-style, under the direction of George Brown, and Labor Day to Pimlico with over 20 boats. Exciting moments were experienced by Luther Haynie's "South Wind" high and dry in a rice field, and fuelless tanks on Paul Gelegotis' "Lady Eve." Again the squadron enjoyed a successful educational program. Bob Middaugh was awarded the squadron's first "Sail" certificate.

A big year to squadronites was 1963, when through the efforts of P/C Cuttino and his committee, the squadron was afforded the use of a city-owned building at the Municipal Marina. The "squadron headquarters“ was furnished by gifts from members and from the John Hornik Educational Aid Fund. Educational achievements continued and the newly acquired facilities made the Educational Committee's job easier with a classroom "of our own.“

On 1 February 1964, the squadron celebrated Founder's Day at the Holiday Inn; the USPS was 50 years old. The squadron educational program, that year, enjoyed its most successful year to that date. Bob Middaugh again achieved a "first" with the award of JN.

The squadron made history again in 1965 enrolling a total of 153 in piloting classes. The efforts of the Commander, Henry Rhea; Educational Officer, Bernard Thomson; and PRO, Fred Taylor, can be attributed to this momentous achievement. Advanced courses were not neglected with a record number attending. Added this year was presentation of awards to ladies whose service to the squadron was noteworthy. Those receiving the first certificates of "Merit Award" were Fran Carson, Brace Johnson, Louise Rhea, and Martha Rhea.

The twentieth year in the history of the Charleston Squadron was especially productive under the leadership of Tom Welch. Piloting students enrolled this year were 160 and 34 members achieved advanced and elective grades; the total membership at year end totaled 134. In the squadron's first twenty years, 477 merit marks were awarded for outstanding service to the squadron. Training aids were received, as gifts, from Hallman Buick Company, P/D/C Baynie, P/C Rhea, and P/C Diaz. A new masthead, in color, appeared on our newsletter, "The Palmetto Log." Designer was P/C George Brown. The District Change of Watch was held at Charleston Inn, 25-26 March, hosted by the Charleston squadron.

Commander Earl "Kit" Carson was installed by D/C John Wegener during the Change of Watch at the Sandbar Restaurant on l7 February 1967. The squadron headquarters at the Marina was improved and the supply room revamped. The squadron held one piloting class and inducted 14 new members making total membership in 1967, T45, the largest ever. Advanced grades and elective courses were completed by 20 members. P/C Gene Canfield achieved JN and Bob Middaugh successfully completed all courses offered with the exception of N which he is currently pursuing. The social affairs of the squadron were not neglected; there were seven cruises, three covered dish dinners, a chili supper, and a Christmas Party hosted by Jim and Nell Gordon that will not be forgotten for "many a year.“ There were 45 well-earned merit marks awarded to squadron members and five ladies merit awards presented for outstanding service to the squadron in 1967. The squadron was saddened by the death of Past Commander Emil Sodke and a monetary gift was presented to the National Memorial Foundation in his memory. P/D/C Ripley presented the compass from his 25-ft sloop “Tacie“ to the squadron as a training aid.

To start the year 1968, Commander Dowse B. Rustin was installed as Commander at the Charleston Inn on 24 February 1968. A record number of 92 squadronites and guests witnessed the “hoisting of colors" to welcome the new bridge to their positions. A record number of 111 students are enrolled in the current piloting class which began l6 January 1968. The squadron headquarters area has been remodeled and painted under the able leadership of Lt. Cmdr. Rhea. We look with great pleasure and expectations to a successful year of educational achievements and cruising.

Charleston Squadron commenced what we hope will be a very successful year, as the past one has been, by electing and installing the officers for the year 1969. The ceremonies took place at the Squadron Headquarters at the Charleston Municipal Marina on January 8. They were Charles H. Rhea, AP., Commander; Grayson S. Carter, III, S, Executive Officer; Louis M. Andrews, S., Administrative Officer; Guy M. Leonard, Jr., S, Secretary; and Wallace C. Till, AP., Treasurer. The officers were publically installed at the Change of Watch Party on February 7, 1969.

The first order of business, which is really our only business, EDUCATION.

Our Squadron Educational Officer, P/C Robert K. Demarest, started the year with several classes well organized and progressing when he resigned because of removal from the city. Frederick N. Taylor, AP was appointed to the office and made a wonderful beginning.

At an Indoctrination Ceremony, held on 8 January 20 of the 80 graduates of the 1968 Piloting class were presented their certificate of membership together with two women and one apprentice.

The enrollment for the Spring Piloting class was 50. A Seamanship started in March had nine members and one woman to pass the examination. Five members passed the Instructor Training examination given on 23 January. Two passed the Advanced Piloting examination on 23 January. The Fall Piloting class resulted in 11 new members and one woman certificate holder. During the year, classes were organized in Sail and Engine maintenance.

The really outstanding event of the year was the District 26 Spring Conference, presided over by D/C. Ben W. Covington, Jr. JN which was held at the Sheraton-Fort Sumter Hotel on the waterfront l8 April. It is seldom that any District has both the Commander in Chief and the Director of Education to attend the same conference. C/C Emery E. Ellis, JN, and V/C Herbert Talboys, N, were our most distinguished guests. We were happy to have R/C H. Warren Crawford, JN, Auxiliary Advisor; P/V/C Frank J. Keller, N, Secretary-Treasurer of the USPS Memorial and Gifts Foundation for Education; and Area P/R/0 William Bennett, AP to be with us.

The conference was welcomed to Charleston by Mayor J. Palmer Gaillard who presented keys to the city to our honored guests. This was C/C Ellis‘ third visit to D/26. P/V/C Keller says he cannot remember how many visits he has made to Charleston Squadron and D/26.

During the year, cruises were made to Stono Inlet, Kiawah Island, Horlbeck Creek, Capers Inlet, Edisto Island, Dewees Inlet, Pimlico, Rockville and the annual cruise passed the Navy Yard to view the Christmas decorations on the Navy ships. This last cruise was preceded by a covered dish party at our headquarters. All of these cruises were well attended and enjoyed.

Also enjoyed was a covered dish supper at the Isle of Palms Exchange Club Building, a fish-fry at the home of P/C "Buck" Morris on John's Island.

Our Headquarters building really got a face lifting when a "work party“ was held and many of our members participated in cleaning and painting.

The annual Christmas Party was held this year at the Hobcaw Yacht Club building with 94 in attendance.

We now have l47 members but are hard-pressed by Tybee Light Squardon which has 146. Anyone wishing to make contributions to the history about events, achievements, or individuals, please contact P/D/C Ripley.


A new year in the history of Charleston Squadron commenced at the Annual Meeting for the year 1970 held at the Squadron Headquarters on Jan. 8, 1970.

There being no opposition, [the] slate of officers proposed by the Nominating Committee, the Committee’s slate was elected and installed. Grayson S. Carter,III,S, as Commander; Frederick W.Taylor, Jr. AP as Executive Officer; Charles A. Tay1or,s, as Administrative Officer; Sumter B. Browder, Jr,S, as Secretary; and Wallace B. Till, AP, as Treasurer.

On 21 February a most delightful Change of Watch Party was held at the Exchange Club Building on the Isle of Palms. There is an old saying that alcohol and salt water do not mix, so everyone stayed away from the salt water and nearly all from the fresh as well except for the rain. We were honored by the presence of several of the District 26 Bridge Officers who added immeasurably to the enjoyment of the evening.

Our new bridge was installed by D/C E. Albert Rachal, N.

Our first order of business -EDUCATION- has not been neglected. Classes started last Fall have been completed and examination forwarded to National. New classes formed in the Spring were carried to successful conclusions. Our perennial do-it-yourself student, BOB MIDDAUGH, has not only completed the “N” successfully but also has found time and energy to organize and instruct a “JN“ class while some of our older members can’t seem to be able to take any advanced courses. Bob has also passed all the courses offered by the USPS.

Harry Ginhart,AP, has held a successful class in “S” and “Bud” Stimson, AP, did an excellent job of handling classes in AP. The IT class, though small, not lack enthusiasm under the tutelage of Ralph Rustin, S. Classes ware also held in Engine Maintenance under Wallace Till, AP; Marine Electronic under Frederick Taylor, AP; and Sail under Fred Wichmann, AP. All these instructors and their assistants really deserve the thanks of the Squadron in addition to the coveted Merit Mark, for their Time, energy and patience. Of course the large classes in Elementary Piloting, the life blood of the USPS, without which we could not exist let alone progress, had excellent results under the leadership of Charles W Kibbe, S.

Our nautical education was enhanced and for greatly increased by a program of cruises arranged by Louis G. Missel, S, and his most efficient committees. Stono Inlet, Kiawah Island, Botany Island, DeWees Islet, Palmetto Bay, Pimlico and Lake Moultrie ware all visited by groups of boats and people. Who says an inland lake can’t get rough? Ask any of the approximately 15 boatmen that had to cast-off and seek shelter from the waves on Lama Moultrie when the Annual Labor Day Cruise was held at "Bud” Stimsons place.

A fish-fry and several covered-dish suppers rounded out the social events held during the year. The year’s activities came to a successful end with the Annual Cruise up Cooper River to view the gaily lighted vessels at the Navy Yard and the Christmas Party at the Sand Dunes Club house on Sullivans Island.

We now have [blank in original] members

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