History: The Founding of the CCA

The Cruising Club of America was launched in the winter of 1921-1922 by a handful of experienced offshore sailors interested in cruising and the development of the cruising type of yacht. It was felt that this branch of the sport never had attained the position it deserves in a country so rich in seagoing tradition and whose natural advantages are so peculiarly favorable to cruising, possibly because of the fact that there never had been any concerted action by cruising enthusiasts.

The yacht clubs of the country had made racing a large part of their activities and there were several inter-club associations devoted to the advancement of this branch of yachting, but there never had been in this country an organization comparable, for example, to the Royal Cruising Club, which, in the forty years preceding the formation of our Cruising Club, had done so much toward making cruising a national institution in Great Britain.

ElsieTwo yachts from Baddeck, Cape Breton played a role in the founding of the Cruising Club of America — Elsie (photo at left), built in 1917 by Dr. Alexander Graham Bell at his Beinn Bhreagh laboratory as a gift to his son-in-law, Gilbert H. Grosvenor, and Typhoon (photo at right below), built in 1920 at that laboratory for William Washburn Nutting, our first Commodore.

In 1919, aboard Elsie on a cruise to Boulaceet Harbour (currently known as Maskell's Harbour), Nutting, F.W.(Casey) Baldwin and Grosvenor discussed the concept of forming a cruising club. The next year Nutting, Baldwin and Jim Dorsett sailed Typhoon to England where they were welcomed by officers of the Royal Cruising Club and became even more enthusiastic over forming a similar organization in America.

On returning home, Nutting, using the Royal Cruising Club as a prototype, persuaded a group of yachtsmen to launch The Cruising Club of America. Shortly thereafter, Henry A. Wise Wood, a charter member, was requested to formulate ideas on the objectives and scope of the activities of our Club. The following are excerpts from his report:

Typhoon"We have chosen the title, Cruising Club of America. In choosing this title did we mean to imply that we are the Cruising Club of the United States? or of the United States and Canada? or of all the Americas? As those to the north of us are our intimate friends, of our own sea-loving stock, it would seem to be too narrow a view of our field did we rate ourselves only a national organization. As we are an offshore club, composed of blue-water men whose playground lies well beyond the Volstead line, I suggest that we use in our title the work 'America' in its geographical and not in its political sense. To do this should result in drawing into close relationship all the deep-water amateur sailormen of our hemisphere. This, I assume, is what we wish to do.

"By gathering into a group all who are fond of offshore work, we sow the wilderness of the sea with a host of acquaintances, for whose house flags we shall always be expectantly watching. And we convert the winter into a season of sport, wherein those who have been afloat swap their summer experiences with each other, and share them with their unfortunate shorebound clubfellows.

"Let us refuse stoutly to accumulate an on-shore contingent; let membership in the Club be a mark of achievement. This policy will give us standing at home and abroad such as no American yacht club ever has had. Besides, it will make of the Club burgee a bit of bunting that all afloat will respect, and that sea lovers everywhere will strive to possess. Thus we shall become an active force influencing others to make adventurous use of the sea."