More than fifty years ago, when many Chesapeake Bay marinas would not let black boaters gas up at their piers and yacht clubs were closed to black captains, a group of working-class black men banded together in the face of discrimination and founded the Seafarers Yacht Club. They initially met in members’ homes, and later in a rented one-room storefront in Annapolis. In 1967, members purchased an abandoned schoolhouse at Third Street and Chester Avenue. This historic building, built in 1918, was the first elementary school for black children in the Eastport community of Annapolis. The building was thoroughly renovated by the Seafarers Yacht Club, Inc. with the addition of a swimming pool, and a deck overlooking Back Creek. Today the Seafarers Yacht Club is comprised of forty members and is well known for seamanship and community service. Members have made noteworthy voyages along the Atlantic Coast to Florida, the Caribbean Islands, several of the Great Lakes, and the Erie and Delaware Canals. Many members of the Seafarers Yacht Club, Inc. belong to the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 24-09 (formerly Flotilla 75) that was organized in 1970 at the Seafarers’ Clubhouse.

Always aware of community, since its inception, the Seafarers Yacht Club provided swimming lessons for neighborhood children, and exposed children of Annapolis and Baltimore to recreational boating, highlighted by cruises on the Chesapeake Bay. In 2003, a formal one-week Summer Youth Program was established for at-risk children between the ages of 8 and 12 years from Anne Arundel and Prince George’s Counties. This annual program, now under the direction of the Seafarers Foundation, founded in 2009, is designed to provide instructions and practical experiences in first aid and life saving measures, water safety, swimming, fishing, boating, the science of navigation, math and reading skills, etiquette, information on career opportunities in the marine environment, and other matters pertaining to everyday life. The program has been an overwhelming success. It has brought much acclaim to the Club and Foundation, and provided program participants with an awareness and interest that would otherwise be difficult to attain.

The year 2009 marked the 50th Year of continuous operations of the Seafarers Yacht Club. Special activities to honor the Seafarers’ legacy and celebrate this historical occasion included a Health Fair for the local community; worship service at a local church prior to the Flag Raising Ceremony, which officially opens the boating season; a 50th Anniversary Cruise to Baltimore Inner Harbor with greeting and a Key to the City from the Mayor; a 50th Anniversary Gala; and a Thanksgiving Dinner for Senior Citizens. In addition, the Club was featured in the May issue of Southern Living Magazine and the May 12th edition of The Capital, the most widely circulated newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland.

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