Catboats & Clubs…

Commodore Steve Harris, August 2018

Catboats moored at Watkins Island c. 1910

Recently, I came across the following article, published by P/C Whitey Limes in the July, 1981 issue of the Log, celebrating our 75th Anniversary. Unfortunately, Commodore Limes did not reference the source, but I presume from the writing, that it was originally published in 1910. It appears to be part of a larger work discussing the lake. This excerpt speaks highly of our Club, details the sailboats which were raced here in that time, and also mentions a number of other private clubs around the lake ─ over a dozen! Today, only BLYC remains.

Principal Pleasure Clubs

Bordering the lake on all sides are to be found many clubhouses, representing Columbus, Newark, Zanesville, Circleville, Lancaster and many other cities. Of theses the largest and most noted is the Buckeye Lake Yacht Club, composed of about 200 members, being live business men, principally from Columbus and Newark. Their handsome and commodious club and boat house is located on Watkins Island, along the North Bank, a short distance west of the Park.

The motto of this club is “The Promotion of Yachting – The Improvement of Buckeye Lake for Boating Purposes,” and to this should also be added, for purposes of fishing, sport, summer living, good health, good cheer, good friends, a wholesome place for the little ones, and a broader spirit of good fellowship.

Members of the club own about 50 power boats and 30 sail boats, of which fifteen are cat boats, which will be place on the lake in the spring of 1911. These designs were furnished by C.D. Mower of New York City, one of the most expert designers in the world of this line of craft, and were built by Messrs. Pack, May & Co., of Toledo, Ohio, who are looked upon as one of the best building concerns on the Great Lakes. Specifications call for these boats to be of the best possible workmanship and material throughout. This was the largest order for individual yachts of high class design and construction that has ever been placed in the history of yachting in this country and possibly in the world. For the benefit of the uninitiated it may be explained that a cat boat is a boat having a certain kind of rig called a cat-rig. This consists of a single upright mast stepped well forward near the bow, on which is carried the canvas consisting of a single “fore-and-aft,” supported on a “gaff” and the head and handled or “trimmed” by a rope called the “main sheet” attached to the “boom” at the foot of the sail. By means of the main sheet the boom is hauled in-board or let out to “trim the sail,” and thus hold the canvas in proper position to most effectively propel the boat. For windward work, the cat rig is superior to all others.

Next in importance is the Camera Fishing Club, located on the north shore, a few hundred feet west of the Yacht Club island. It has but 15 members, all of Columbus, who are extremely active and enthusiastic in the welfare of the lake. Just west of the Waste Weir Gates are located the club houses of both the Ohio Fishing Club and the Pirate Club. Also, along the north bank, are situated the Big Eight Club, the Silver Star Club, and the Ogwehia Club. At the extreme west end, some distance west of Lakeside, is to be found the Magnolia Club. At the extreme southwest end of the lake, at the entrance to the canal, is to be seen the beautiful club houses of the Sunfish Club. Along the south shore, also near the west end, are the Bonehead Club, the Columbus Club, the Isaak Walton Club, the Lancaster Club, and the Bismarck Club. Further east on the south shore and across from Buckeye Lake Park are the Jollity Club, the Fishing and Hunting Club, and the Buckeye Boat Club. The Gibson Club and Beach Island Clubs occupy sites on islands by the same name.

Catboats racing on Buckeye Lake c. 1910

In his book, An Appreciation of Buckeye Lake, Commodore Kyle Armstrong mentions several other Clubs that were on the lake in the early years ─ the Allegro and Black Diamond Fishing & Hunting Clubs, both located at Black Diamond Bend, the Magnolia Club south of Lakeside, and the Osceola Club on Miller Bay. It would be interesting to find what happened to these early Clubs and what stands in their locations today.

If anyone has sources that may help, please feel free to share.

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