The Young Brothers and crew keep Y-Y's mast afloat as assistance arrives

RETURN OF THE A’S ​ Part Six


In the November 1928 issue of Rudder magazine appeared an article by Lyman J. Seely of Hammondsport. It began with reminiscences of KYC’s Golden Age.

"About a generation ago train riding was the popular Sunday sport. Those of fabulous wealth went buggy riding, but the masses found their sport in Sunday excursions. For $1.25 you could go to Niagara Falls and return almost any Sunday during the summer from any city within two hundred miles of that diverting spot. If that was beyond your means, you could go to Charlotte, on Lake Ontario, for $.75 to $.90; and the grubstake required for a Sunday excursion from anywhere in western New York or northern Pennsylvania to Lake Keuka was something like half a dollar.

"Hundreds of thousands came to Lake Keuka. It was churned to a constant froth by the propellers of a large fleet of excursion boats, decorated with empty popcorn bags and floating pop bottles. The Keuka Yacht Club was a popular rendezvous for the idle rich, enjoying incomes of say $25 a week and up. It had a fleet of eight or ten Class A Sloops as well as many cabin cruisers, the fastest steam yacht in the world, and plenty of putt-putts."

There’s no holding the crest of a wave forever, and by 1920 the Keuka Yacht Club was again in a trough. The club building was sold to a genial couple, Frank and Maude Alley, who opened it as Alley’s Inn. The racers were welcomes there, but also sailed from the Ark and from Keuka Hotel, at the hearty invitation of Bessie Young. The A’s were being retired, and the schedule of competition was light. Continuing from Rudder:

"The automobile left it (Keuka) flatter than a frozen pond, for one thing the Finger Lakes region did not have was roads. Of a sudden people began motoring on Sundays. Railroad excursions ceased to be of interest, were suspended. Where the macadam roads were, there the people were. And that was nowhere near the Finger Lakes, where the roads were mostly of clay, deeply rutted ten months of the year. The yacht club withered and died. Even so thoroughly seasoned and enthusiastic a sailor as Commodore Wagener took to high speed motor cars...Glenn H. Curtiss, Dr.Alexander Graham Bell, and their aeronautical experiments combined with the champagne cellars to keep Hammondsport somewhat in the public prints for a decade, but the World War drew Curtiss away, and the Volsted Act ended the free distribution of gladsome bubbles.

"All in good time, the automobile which had robbed the Finger Lakes of the one-time popularity began to bring it back again. The isolated hill country was threaded with new concrete roads because the motorists wished to explore its beauty in comfort. Keuka was the last of the lakes to be made accessible. A new federal highway had been completed along its west shore and three men in a car were driving over the new concrete. What a waste of good material, that twenty mile stretch of beautiful water seemed! Not a boat in sight! At least, not on the water. But on the beach near Gibson’s landing rested the hull of an old, nearly flat-bottomed sloop.

"‘There’s a chance to have a lot of fun for very little money,’ said one of the travelers. ‘That old sailboat has been lying there for a couple of years. I hear some fellow had it all coppered up and then found it traveled so fast he couldn’t sail her.’

"‘What do you mean a little money?’ demanded a fellow passenger.

"‘I guess a hundred and fifty would do the trick.’

"‘I’ll go fifty smackers.’

"‘Count me in for a piece,’ said the third.

"The prospective crew of a fast racing sloop were Robert Howell of Hammondsport, who lived so near the head of the lake that the sight of water didn’t bother him, and who in his youth had done a good deal of sailing on Seneca Lake; Dr. W. C. Woodbury of Bath, who thought water a wonderful medium for removing records of horrid dental operations; and Deyo Putnam of Avoca, a potato country where the idea of water below the line of the jawbone gives the natives the shakes.

"The old scow was of the purple. In hr day she had been one of the star performers on Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and had been imported a generation back to clean up the ribbons in the regattas of the old KYC.

"Across the lake, Robert and Derb Young had resuscitated another veteran of bygone regattas, and when Commodore Wagener heard of the two purchases his heart stepped up fifty beats as he sped to the phone.

"‘That you Howell?’

"‘Yes, sir.’

"‘Sa-a-ay, why don’t you fellows bring your boats over to Youngs’ Hotel next Sunday and let’s have a boat race?’

"‘We don’t know if the old crock will hang together,’ objected Howell. ‘And if she does hang together, I’m not sure we can keep her on her feet. Give us a try-out and we’ll let you know.’

"Howell and Woodbury were inexperienced but at least of normal intelligence, so they quickly determined the necessity of a Putnam and another aboard to sail her in a 25-mile wind. Two reefs were taken in the main and they headed for the Bluff when the wind died. Putnam was elected to shake out the reefs. He had little difficulty with the knots until he reached the end of the boom, when a sudden gust swept him, clutching desperately to the leach of the sail, out over a couple hundred feet of cool Lake Keuka water.

"Putt lost everything but his manhood, and that he exercised in coarse and hoarse commands to be put ashore immediately. He was placed on terra firm at Bluff Point. If five hours times four miles an hour seems a long time for nonpedestrians for his return to the starting point, it is chicken feed compared to the eternity of a minute and a half Putt spent over the deep spot in the lake.

"That was the beginning of the new fleet. Howell spent days and nights ‘unlearning’ what he knew about sailing sneak-boxes, catboats, skip-jacks, and other imitations of racing craft. He licked the pants off the Young bothers’ Y-Y (Two Y’s or Too Wise) in the first race. The commodore unearthed other bashful skeletons of one-time racing boats. They tied on me a barge we called Flap Doodle because she was so rotten that whenever a puff heeled us over, the bottom boards flapped out of place and let in half the lake, but it did it so quietly it took us three or four weeks to discover we were not suffering from a leak, but were merely trying to sail a boat with no bottom in her. They stuck Greyton Taylor with the Dutch Slipper, which was eventually fixed to retain the water she shipped by pasting heavy canvas all over the hull. This made her so heavy a tug was required to tow her to the starting line."

By the fall of 1926 it had caught on. The wives in the gallery were calling for winning boats, so two or three of the boys slipped out to Oshkosh to look over the new boats, and each tried to cop a champion.



The name H. Allen Wagener was, for many years, synonymous with sailboat racing on Keuka Lake. The season opened and closed with his coming and going. Several boats were bankrolled by him or a syndicated headed by him. His palatial yachts were the committee boats, he the chief judge. He directed at meetings, entertained at banquets; with his enthusiasm and leisure donated to the Keuka Yacht Club, it is no wonder the sailors participated in a personality cult around Ally Wagener.

Born in the old Wagener place on Bluff Point, the house built by his great-grandfather Abram Wagener in 1834, he attended Penn Yan schools until he was able to shift for himself. Working first as a mail clerk in Penn Yan, then on the railroad mail cars for several years, he settled back in Penn Yan to start a boot and shoe business with his brother in 1890.

Within ten years he had stores in Penn Yan and New York, and interest in stores in many large cities throughout New England. At the age of 31 he was the first Democrat and the youngest man ever elected Mayor of Penn Yan.

Selling others on his interest in sailing, he headed a syndicate of businessmen who purchased the first A Scow on the lake in 1905, the Tecumseh. In 1912 he bought another, the Skidoo. He was the man behind the $1000-a-heat race staged off Branchport in the early 1900’s to revive interest in sailing...which succeeded. Having served as Commodore of Keuka Yacht Club for most of the years in the first half of this century, he was the keystone of the sailing club around 1930.

Commodore Wagener served two clubs: wintering in the southern waters aboard his 75-foot yacht Renegaw, he was chief officer of the Halifax Yacht Club of Daytona, Florida, the largest yacht club south of New York on the Atlantic. The yachting season on Keuka could never be officially open until Commodore and Mrs. Wagener arrived north to take charge and direct activities. The Park Inn in Hammondsport was the scene of the 1928 opening banquet, with Ally Wagener toastmaster, Ally Wagener speaker, and Ally Wagener author of the published menu:



















A silver cup was offered for the old-time skippers to race, and Wagener was willing, but for the peril of arterial sclerosis, only those yachts could be used which were known to require little pumping.

As the season began with him, so a headline read, "Season Officially Closes as Sweetheart II is Housed for Winter." Driving his yacht onto a specially constructed car, running on rails into the water, he had her pulled out into a great steel winter home at Branchport until another season.

Forward


In the 1970's Bonnie (Hawk) Barney began to take an interest in the stories she was hearing from older members of the Keuka Yacht Club. She decided to investigate a number of these stories, since they seldom were the same story from different members. During the next few years, she discovered past members still holding onto photos, newspaper articles, notes, meeting minutes, trophies, and many other memorabilia. 

During this same period of time, Bonnie was editor and publisher of the Yacht Club's newsletter, The Bilge Pump. Each week, she would write another chapter for publication. It was by far the most anticipated publication members ever received. It was great departure from the typical race results and dinner menus. 

The following document is a reprint of these articles. Original photos were used to create this electronic copy. 

Many thanks to Bonnie Barney for allowing us to publish this. You can e-mail Bonnie at KYC Historian to comment or add to the archives. 




 Acquaintance with the Finger Lakes invariably spawns affection. During the American Revolution, General Sullivan spread the misery and destruction of his punitive warfare through the region, but not without reports of the blue lakes in deep valleys, the hilltop pines tall enough for a ship’s mast, Indian clearings where apple and peach trees were breaking down from weight of fruit. Writing fondly of the beauty here, Arch Merrill described Keuka as the "lady" of the lot.

While this "lady" stemmed from the same geologic changes which produced Seneca, Cayuga, and Canandaigua, Nature made her different. The downgrade glacial erosion of her south-flowing peneplain left the mark of two merging valleys, her "Y" shape. The dividing promontory, Bluff Point, rises seven hundred feet from the lake surface, and affords a view of dozens of lakes in seven counties, and Keuka’s sixty-mile shoreline.

To the Seneca Indians she was "canoe landing," and "crooked lake," their fishing paradise. The famous Indian philosopher, Otetiani, better known as Red Jacket, lived near Branchport, at the extremity of the western arm. Jemima Wilkinson, the Universal Friend, formed the first settlement in Genesee country here with her religious cult. At the end of the eastern arm the Pennsylvania Dutch and New England Yankees settled their sectional squabbles by changing the name of their community from Unionville to Penn Yan. From there to Hammondsport, at the south end, there was steamboat traffic rivaling any in the state, fostered not a little by Hammondsport’s wine industry, created in 1861.

In the setting of beauty and idyllity, mansions were constructed which complimented the surroundings: in 1833 Abraham Wagener, then first president of Penn Yan, built his mansion atop "Ogoyago," the promontory. It was constructed of stone at a cost of $6,000. A spring of clear cool water rose at this point from unknown depths. In 1838 John Nicholas Rose of Geneva built his Esperanza, Hope, overlooking the west branch. The huge hand-hewn beams of white pine were cut on the property; the finishing was Greek Revival. The Aisle of Pines, at Wayne, began her vigil overlooking the lake in 1860. On the water the most complete private yacht in the state, the sixty-five foot "Mascot," plied the west branch for the pleasure of George Weaver, Esq., of Albany. 

The lovely lady Keuka, a century ago, was courting many lovers. The increasing attention paid her had fostered ferries, cargo steamers, private yachts, and passenger steamers. In 1872 the new ship "Yates" was under construction at the foot of Liberty Street in Penn Yan, soon to join the Steuben II (formerly the George R. Youngs) and the Keuka II plying the waters. The Bath and Hammondsport Railroad was being constructed, to open in 1874, relieving the burden of cargo shipping through a crumbling "Crooked Canal" from Penn Yan to Dresden. The summer of 1872 had been a dry one, and the normal draught of 4 feet in the canal had been reduced to 2 feet clearance over the old mitre-sill of the first of her 27 locks. By 1875 the canal would realize $126.09 in tolls against $7,710.15 in necessary repairs.

In Penn Yan in 1869 fifteen interested sailors had joined themselves as the Keuka Yacht Club, paying $1.00 initiation fee and $.50 annual dues, then voting in 34 additional honorary members. Contests were being held for a Championship Cup, purchased for $43.00 plus $7.00 for engraving, among ten boats handicapped for their size, ranging from 13 feet to 20 feet in length. Minutes of those early meetings, recorded by Charles Elmendorf, secretary, (or a secretary pro-tem when proceedings lasted later than Mr. Elmendorf’s hour of customary retirement), are still extant. Back to top of page



Records of the Keuka Yacht Club meetings in Penn Yan circa 1870 are lengthy, detailed, and parliamentary----the "number of white male citizens" doubtless wore their collars buttoned and sat erect. Occasionally, however, one can detect the temper or mirth aroused in a gathering of competitive sailors. Written challenges for the Championship Cup were received; intricate, yet haphazard, handicaps were adopted, amended, and in stated cases excused. Courses were determined a week in advance, apparently without need to consider the winds. Judges, assistant judges, stake boats all were assigned.

A field glass first prize and a silver goblet second prize were offered on the Fourth of July. (From the original minutes...) "At 3 o’clock P.M. the time appointed for the regatta to take place, the rain was falling pretty wet. At 3-40 P.M. the Shoo Fly, J.M.Smith skipper, Marguerita, J.L.Whaites skipper, and the Fly Away, Geo. Smith skipper, started for the Ark in the rain and the merest ghost of a zephyr only to fan their sails. In a few minutes after the wind freshened and blew very fierce. The Shoo Fly went ashore on the west side of the lake to reef her sail, and the Fly Away went ashore on the east side for the same purpose, but the Marguerita, with only her skipper for a crew all told, kept to business with her sail up. The Fly Away, after reefing, put out again and went but a short distance when her skipper fell overboard, and the boat was immediately turned upon its beams ends, but was soon brought ashore and put on her feet again and put on her course in the race. It was agreed among the skippers of these boats to sail around the course but once. The Shoo Fly arrived at 5-30 P.M., the Marguerita at 5-34 P.M., and the Fly Away at 5-45 P.M."

But withhold congratulations until after the meeting of July 7: "The president has been informed that dissatisfaction exists in some quarters charging him with chicanery in the regatta of the Fourth," and a discussion ensued with the judges and sponsors, at which time they "bore witness that the regatta was done regular and without trickery." The winners offered to resail the race, but this was not deemed necessary. Not to experience the chagrin, however, the element of discontent rallied when a picture was offered as a prize by the judges, on condition these sailors purchase the frame. They "took benefit of the bout, and didn’t offer a frame." Finally a hat was passed and $14 contributed.

Careful financial records were kept: John Johnson billed the club $.25 for setting the buoys each race. A $1.00 bill was submitted for the canvas on which the "donated" picture was to be painted. And "the fact of Thomas Harrison losing his spectacles while serving on the stake boat which was fouled by Comet prior to her capsizing in the third Championship Regatta was taken into consideration by the members, and being the season’s end, the remaining $2.50 in the treasury was spent for spectacles."

Today’s Keuka Yacht Club sailors will recognize so many of the current problems of weather, equipment, or logistics in this century-old record, but somehow they are so magnified as to seem charicatures. In the record of the Sixth Contest for the Cup, "it was undertaken to do this regatta on the 18th of August, but the affair was what might be called with appropriate figure, an abortion. The wind on this day blew quite fierce, and only two boats, the Shoo Fly and the Keuka Chief, started. The judges learning from one of these boats on its return that the upper buoy was not on the water, ordered the boat to come in and discontinue the race, but did not succeed in making the skipper hear or understand, and he sailed up the course and back again the second time before stopping. There was dispute as to whether the regatta could be considered regular or not, and the subject was brought up in two extra meetings and finally let fall." 


ANNUAL REGATTAS AT THE ARK Part 3





"One school picnic found more than 40 people aboard, and let anyone give a friendly wave from shore, then we put in or called for a party to row out to the boat. They came by launch, buggy, and trolley on pleasant Sundays. So many came on the cars that the Keuka Park and Branchport trolley company elected Gramp to a directorship, entitling some of our family to ride on passes. Most every car stopped at our cottage, and Gramp kept an eye on the porch rail to see if a red blanket were hung out. This would mean sailing to our dock where there would be eager folks waiting for their turn. Sometimes a few would drop off, but usually there would be seats for all, up to 35 adults.

"How the Skipper enjoyed reassuring the timid ones. He would explain the safety of sailing, and had the skittish ones soothed until they would come back many times, as did quite a percentage of the more than 8,000 people carried.

"Starting from scratch, Juno could out-point and out-foot any of the racing shells, the Class A Scows. This was by virtue of her higher rig. The peak of the gaff was 50 feet above the water, and Juno’s jib alone (the one that cost $10.50 from the sailmaker) lacked only 80 square feet of the total area of the scows’ mainsail . The later Marconi rigged scows might have outpointed Juno, but there were only gaff rigged boats among her contemporaries.

"Juno measured 41 feet 8 inches overall, with an 8-foot bowsprit and a boom that extended 5 feet beyond the transom. With the coming of aerodynamics, it was determined that height of sails made for better speed, rather than fore and aft dimension. But the early experimenters had no wind tunnel to guide them, and anyway a tall mast was hard to stay until the radio towers came in with the upper parts stayed against the lower part of the mast, otherwise it would take even more beam than Juno’s 11 feet 6 inches to get the proper bearing of stays.

"Racing rules handicapped boats on a formula of length of boat on the waterline, and sail area. Thus the Juno was a half hour late in starting and the fleet would make nearly a lap before the nod came to start her. At that, many finishes were close, and Gramp won several cups which have long since dropped out of sight.

"There were never dull times aboard. Some of the regulars who sailed were wits and clowns. On a calm day Juno drifted to the sound of singing, and knot tying was interesting.

"In a west wind, Juno could keep ahead of the steamer Mary Bell and Harry Morse would lean from the pilot house and shout, "There is an unlucky number aboard, skipper." So Gramp would yell for someone to jump overboard, at which two of the crew who had dressed for it would drop over the side, while Skipper sailed on without a backward glance. There would be "Oooh’s" and "Aah’s" a-plenty from those on board the Mary Bell.

"My own specialty in entertainment was to toss a decoy duck overboard slyly, and while seeming to soak my feet from the stern deck, I would jog the weighted line. The bird looked rather lifelike astern, and Gramp would spin a yarn about how the duck always tried but could never quite catch up with us.

"Juno could spin on a dime with the long fore and aft sail arrangement. This led to some tricky sailing when Skipper gave my dad on the jib a high sign. We would bear down on a party in a rowboat, with everyone asked to ignore the people in it. Skipper would apparently look away from the rowers right in our path, and as their efforts grew frantic to get out of the way, Juno would gradually change course to intercept. At the last second, Dad would spill the jib, and our bow wave would wash the little boat. Such simple little tricks, but they provided all the merriment needed in those days.

"Gramp had great timing, so that when he had a favorite trick he could count on the regulars. Three cushions were tossed overboard and Juno tacked back and ran them down to leeward. Three men about ten feet apart took them up: the bow man let 2 go by, then the others took their cushion in turn. It never failed to please the folks aboard.

"Gramp wasn’t averse to showing off his grandkids. Brother Sid and I when ten or twelve would get orders to "Climee uppa da mast, lika da monk!" At this we would each take a turn climbing on the mast hoops (long before sail tracks) as far as the jaws of the gaff. Gramp had spent many hours training us to like sailing, and overcoming fear of the water. So it is, after many years, life aboard the Juno is one of my fondest memories, and one that I relive often.

W. R. (Bob) Whitfield

May 1973

San Diego, California"

This fond reminiscence is but one of many which Bob Whitfield shared with me since 1972 when I first contacted him in my search for KYC lore. Fortunately for my endeavor, Bob had been a saver: he sent a manila envelope about each fourth month with notes, clippings, photos. He visited us, we visited him. He started my children collecting stamps, so they, too, anticipated his packets. He built a model of the "America" which he sent east to be displayed, "so a part of me will be there should my grandkids happen by some day." Bob died in December 1978; his ashes were cast on San Diego Bay where his love of flight and sailing converge.

Y-Y, Juno II, Dutch Slipper, Faith at the start.

The renewed energy of the Keuka Yacht in the "twenties" brought to mind her Golden Age a generation before. With 100 members going into the 1928 season, plans were discussed for doubling the membership that one year. Having sailed for two years from the Keuka Hotel dock, they were seeking a permanent home for the KYC. The Elmira Club (in a building 3 miles south of Keuka, also at times housing the Keuka Lake Club and the Corning Club) would welcome the sailors into its membership. Paul Garrett offered at a nominal fee the rental of a stone building not far from the foot of his new road on Bluff Point on condition that the lease could be canceled at will. Of most serious interest to the planners was a pledge fund of $35,000 for the establishment of a residential club at Hammondsport, to utilize the old Wadsworth Hotel property.

The yachters of KYC were putting Keuka Lake on the map. Governor Alfred Smith, entertained aboard Commodore Wagener’s yacht, ran sailing and motor boat races off the Bluff, donating two silver trophies to be known as the Governor’s Cups, and to be up for perpetual challenge. While officiating at races in Florida, during his winter south, Commodore Wagener interested several 151 Class boats, such as the 60-miler Miss California, to come to Keuka for a three-day race over July 4, 1928, sanctioned by the Mississippi Racing Association. Locally great interest centered on the Baby Gars, Gar Wood Specials, Hacker Sedans, and Penn Yan Boat Company Super Baby Buzz Boat. Crowds always assembled to watch the twin Baby Gars of Messrs. Joe Eberle and Paul Garrett...displacement boats put out by American motorboat champion Gar Wood of Detroit, which had greater speed (50-60 mph) than the hydroplanes of former days.

One hot summer’s afternoon more than a score of these spectators were stranded on the outer platform of Alley’s Inn dock when the stringers collapsed under their weight. Evacuation was hampered by the many cars parked blocking the way, necessitating the summons of State Police for prompt handling of the situation. It appeared that day that Joe Eberle in his boat "Joe Junior" had won the race: he crossed the finish line a full minute ahead of the next boat. The judges announced, however, that Joe wasn’t registered to race; he’d been engaged to follow the boats around the course.

The local sailors of A’s, confident that their racing sloops were the fastest boats made, issued a defy to any sailors of the U. S. or Canada to race them. A solid gold trophy or purse of $500 was offered. Sailors on Seneca displayed some interest, but were discouraged by the necessary portage from Dresden to Penn Yan. Commodore Wagener assured them that if they took up the challenge, our sailors would go to their lake to race, it being of little effort due to ownership of wheel-mounted cradles for drawing boats. Their excuse gone, their confidence followed.

Owasco Lake sailors were luke-warm in their effort, too. From the Hammonds-port Herald: "Strange about these sailors over on Owasco Lake. They have had challenges addressed to them by Commodore Wagener of the KYC on more than one occasion without deigning to reply, but when they decide to start something, their challenge to Keuka comes through the columns of the press and addressed to no one in particular. That is a detail one may overlook, the more difficult matter is that they say nothing about the type of craft that they are accustomed to sailing. Keuka’s sailing craft are racing shells, probably the fastest small sailboats in the world. Their masts and booms are about as rugged as split-bamboo fishing rods, and in any sort of breeze they are as tranquil as a kitten chasing a piece of cork." The trophy, "one made of real gold and without tricky perforations around the edge," could be purchased "for a mere thousand smackers, a hundred each for ten plutocrats of the region." The challenge was never met, and the gold cup never procured. The $35,000 pledged building fund wasn’t invested, either. During the season the feeling was to gain boats, to better the fleet, rather than acquire an expensive clubhouse and so-called "pink-tea sailing". "Put the money in the sport," they said, as sailing itself continued to be the raison d’être for KYC.

A match race between Privateer (8) and Deltox (40).

Top: Officers and gentlemen of the Keuka Yacht Club posed on the clubhouse

steps in 1910. They list two hundred thirteen (male) members.


Right: Compare the size of Juno to an A-Scow, Mercia, here in 1906. Juno scarcely tips while Mercia lists a bit. Bob Whitfield wrote of this day, "Skipper rounded us up for crew but couldn't race. We boys were too small to set the spinnaker with its 35' boom. But I seem to recall we beat the A to the North buoy, keeping weel.

Fleets

SHE’LL NEVER SAIL !! Part Seven

Our Lady Keuka Part One

The ark photo at left is as it appeared in 1873 after extensive remodeling. It was owned by  Fred U. Swarts (with his family to the right) in the 1890's. This building lasted until 1904 when it was torn down. In 1910 Clinton Struble acquired the property and changed its name to Bimini Springs for its sulphur spa, but locals retained its former handle, The Ark.

A race held at the Penn Yan Country Club in 1929, with the South buoy at Alley's Inn (a public hotel then). Juno II is leading Deltox in a July calm.

THE STORY OF JUNO Part Four

1891-1913


Hoover’s D’Oovers

Envers        Pickled Grubby          Umquats Stuffed Scroggins          Cumfish

Soup

Puree of Newts with Schoogles

Fish

Fresh Snidles         Pomasa Sauce

Entree

Fillets of Brummet with Creamed Soummels

Meats

Fricasseed Floggs         Orseel Sauce         Broiled Breast of Gump          Sivel Dressing

Roast Prime Socket with Westom Pudding and Eddycurrent SaladHearts of Spillage with Hardboiled Grumbles

Desserts

Slithy Shortcake with Whipped SnawIced Mumsies         Grypes

In the Lake Country of New York State, there was one craft which stood out: Skipper Whitfield’s Juno was evolved over the years from a deep vee configuration, to shallow vee, and finally to the then-modern conception of racing hulls, the "skimmer" which was such a novel design that old-timers vowed she could float on a heavy dew.

Even more than a pride in technical skill, the Skipper took joy in sharing the beauty of sailing. He gave many a young sailor the skills to race, and coached every crew in boat handling. Unassuming and quiet mannered, yet capable of leaving a lasting stamp on the yacht club, he carried his friends and neighbors, cottagers and strangers for cruising around the lake. In the words of his grandson:

At first a rather miscellaneous congregation of sailing craft participated in the racing, ranging from Allie Wagener’s "39" Lawley-built defender Recruit, the largest hull and largest sail area ever on the lake, down to fragile little batwinged canoes. A landmark in future direction of yacht racing at the club occurred in 1905 when the first Class A Sow appeared on the lake. Purchased by a syndicate of Penn Yan businessmen, and raced by H. Allen Wagener, the Tecumseh aroused great interest due to its speed and ease in handling. Additional A’s were brought on until nine were racing in the teens. W. J. Tylee, Penn Yan trolley company manager, had Clahosa, which he sold to the Shoemaker brothers of Elmira in 1913. He replaced it with No-No, which likewise went to the Shoemakers a few years later. Dr. Cox of Penn Yan had Heledia, the Short brothers of the Penn Yan Ice Company had Mercia, Allie Wagener bought Skidoo, and the Tecumseh was sailed by Potter and Decker of Penn Yan.

The Tecumseh caused a few misgivings as it was unloaded from its flatcar, brought from Oshkosh, Wisconsin. How frail, with half inch cedar planking, deck scarcely three-eighths thick, and with hollow spars! The centerboard was substantial, of 3/8 inch boiler plate, and the single rudder was a steel plate instead of the thick iron-bound wood construction of the fleet. But Tecumseh proved to be very fast, and was favored in the handicapping system over Juno.

Excitement ran high in the village when a challenge for a match race was received from Cayuga Lake. They had a sloop of 2 tons burden, yet very fast by virtue of a tall mast, named Old Glory. This craft being patently too bulky to bring to Keuka Lake, the yachting buffs at KYC called upon Owen Hoban, Jr. to determine if a portage by long wagon was practical for Tecumseh. Enthusiasm was worked up, and an acceptance of the challenge was written.

While details were worked out, Skipper Whitfield made and installed a universal joint to hold the spinnaker boom forward of the mast. With the swiveling motion, the pole had complete swing through 180 degrees, and could be lowered quickly by a crewman who also carried the sail out on a separate out-haul, while the man on the halyard ran the canvas up.

A cradle was improvised for the wagon with a long reach, and the half ton boat was safely trundled to Dresden, with rooters and handlers following along by carriage and Walter Towner’s new Maxwell. Launching into Seneca was done mostly by manpower, the mast stepped and rigged. The sail to Geneva was uneventful and the next day the craft was stripped down and worked through the locks of the canal. Sway lines at bow and stern on both sides were manned by four men as the craft slid through without a scratch. Then it was tow-path and sculling oar until they reached Cayuga Lake.

Once on Cayuga, Tecumseh was sailed south to Kidders Ferry in Seneca County were the course was laid out. Here the yachtsmen assembled on the weekend to compete in the best two out of three series: H. Allen Wagener, Roger Chapman, Fred Snow, N. Winton Palmer, and Ollie Nelson. Alternates included Wm. J. Tylee, Morris Tracey, Sid and Henry Short; Skipper Whitfield was judge and timekeeper.

In the first race a moderate wind prevailed, and the Tecumseh outpointed the huge Old Glory, yet the larger craft closed the gap on the broad reaches due to her spread of canvas. After the first lap the outcome was not in doubt, and the happy tars from Penn Yan celebrated that Saturday night at a local pub.

Overnight the wind freshened into one of those Finger Lakes blows which come from the south and get a long sweep to kick up quite a sea. This was a test for the big canoe which the natives called the "Cumps". With mainsail reefed and a storm jib, the frail craft set out. The spray soaked the boat and crew, and there was no windward bilge board to hold crewmen for ballast. The acrobatic crew kept the boat on her feet, and pumped out the spray which washed over. As they Rounded the windward mark on the last lap the wind had stiffened to a half gale and the backstay was taut as a fiddle string with the mast straining. With a lead of a half mile, the skippers (sailing by committee to let everyone join in the fun) swung into the wind, lowered mainsail, and stationed Ollie Nelson ahead of the mast while the rest of the crew sat away aft. Ollie held up a small triangle of the jib to aid steering, while Tecumseh roared down to the finish line.

And so the first inter-lake regatta ended with rejoicing in Penn Yan. Entire families turned out at the new club house to cheer the sailors. Although Yates County had not yet voted for temperance, liquor was banned at the club, but the large private dining room was reserved for a party.

In 1906 the Keuka Yacht Club was incorporated, and H. Allen Wagener began his long stint as commodore. This perennial winner of racing silver can be credited with keeping the yacht club together during the ensuing troubled war years.

THE JUNO 1891-1913 On a cruise to Hammondsport July 1913--Part of Freys, Champlains, and other wine tycons, also Curtis flier Lansing Callan

A recurring problem plagued the Keuka Yacht Club at the turn of the century: how to revive interest in competitive sailing as the former generation of racers waned. It’s no wonder that their plan did the trick...several prominent businessmen from Penn Yan, whose hearts were with sailing, staked a competition off Branchport for $1000 a heat! The old club became again a very active organization, purchasing the former Keuka Sanitorium (a Keely Cure sight). The Holmeses, who later ran Holmes Inn, were installed as stewards, serving up meals of fine reputation and obliging members who took any of the 19 rooms by the season, $35 to $50 the summer.

Additional cars were put on the Penn Yan-Keuka Park-Branchport Electric Railway for the run out to the club to accommodate the dinner business, and to allow the Holmeses to make quick runs to the butcher as dinner orders were placed. There wasn’t adequate refrigeration to keep meat stocked, so the delay of an hour to shop for your dinner was necessary. Membership mounted to a high of 675, including almost every cottager on the lake. This was the club’s Golden Age.

1927 - The Juno II being taken over by pirates. She was bought by the Whitfields from the Young brothers when their newer Y-Y arrived.

Juno in the outlet at Penn Yan. A slot in the boathouse roof at right allowed storage of the boat fully rigged.

JUNO OF 1903 - Picnic lunch while drifting. William H. Whitfield "Skipper" at right

Few lakes outside the state of Wisconsin have been privileged to sport a racing fleet of A Scows. Fewer still maintain a single A today. What happened to the Keuka A fleet? A combination of events drew the lifeblood of the KYC fleet, a fleet which had twice flourished, in the first and third decades of this century. Two young skippers died: Robert Young of Keuka, and Charles Garrett of Bluff Point, to whom the Little Chapel on the Mount was dedicated in 1930. The resignation of Commodore Wagener, who for three decades promoted and organized the sailing activities, was accepted with regret. The small boat fleets were growing, but a tragic multiple drowning accident during squalls in 1933 was an event which shook the KYC racers deeply.

It was July 23, 1933, at Gibson’s Landing. From the newspaper account: "After a day’s racing with comparatively light wind, many of the boats had either given up and come in or had seen the storm approaching and had dropped sail to be towed in to the landing. Few were out on the lake at the time that the storm struck. Several of the boats towed in had been tied in line ready for the usual tow back to Hammondsport. Among those in the line were Greyton Taylor’s Caprice, Robert Howell’s Privateer, Champlin Howell’s Tippy Up, Arthur Conley’s Lark, C. W. Maltby’s Martini, and a boat owned by Jack Olsen of Bath. Among those still on the lake were Robert Cole and Lawrence Woodside in the Chanticleer, and Jack Hassett, Elmira, in a Star class boat.

"Boats Capsize

"Charles Mummert, 18, son of Harvey Mummert, aviator, of Hammondsport, was piloting the small motorboat used to tow the fleet. The group had hardly left the anchorage in front of Charles Herman’s cottage when the storm lashed up the lake with terrifying velocity. The fleet of boats with sails down were caught broadside by the twister and virtually lifted out of the lake and flopped over on their sides. Connelly and Gleason were on the Privateer, William Fry, Hammondsport, was on the Caprice, and Floyd Pilgrim, Hammondsport, was in the Martini. All were thrown into the water. Pilgrim and Fry managed to reach their boats and hung on during the blow. Dr. Gleason and Connelly were lost overboard and were not seen again.

"In the meantime Robert Cole and "Larry" Woodside were having trouble in the Chanticleer. The boat was blown over and both were thrown into the water. The craft sank within a few minutes. Jack Hassett in a Star boat was having a hard time of it right at the finish buoy at the dock and the mast of his boat finally snapped before the main sheet could be dropped.

"Look for Woodside

"Attention was centered upon the fate of Cole and Woodside who had just rounded the last buoy and were boating in to the finish for a sure victory. They were five or six hundred yards from the dock but only a short distance from Bluff Point. Charles Mummert, with the tow boat, immediately cast off and started out to aid Cole and Woodside. He found Cole in an exhausted condition, too weak to pull himself into the boat, and managed to drag him in. He undoubtedly would have sunk to the bottom but for Mummert’s timely rescue. The lake was dangeropusly rough. Cole was suffering from submersion. Woodside was nowhere to be seen. The Wagener-owned Renegaw and Mrs. W. D. Fox’s Galeata, a cruiser and large motor boat, put out to search for Woodside, but to no avail.

"When the rain squall struck following the wind, the large crowd on the dock lost sight of all boats. Visibility was very poor at best. The entire fleet of boats in the tow, tipped over by the first blast, drifted past just off the end of the dock unseen. The towline had broken leaving the boats at the mercy of the wind. William Fry and Floyd Pilgrim after being blown off their boats managed to return and clung on as the upturned fleet drifted rapidly north on the lake.

"The capsized fleet was caught at a cove north of Gibson and returned to the anchorage. It was probably 30 minutes after the tragedy before Gleason and Connelly were found missing.

"Paul Henstridge was the last skipper to come in and he barely made it before the storm broke. His dinghy was tied to the boat lift at the dock and when the squall struck the boat was lifted out of the lake to straighten out like a flag some distance up from the water.

"The rain and wind beat with such fierceness that good swimmers were helpless. Hail accompanied the rain. In the short space of time events happened too fast for human beings to perceive. Heroic acts were committed before the eyes of the horrified crowd on the dock and probably many heroic incidents took place unseen by the group. Part of the story will never be told."

As to the A boats’ demise...the first to go were those refurbished in the 20’s after long neglect: the Y-Y, belonging to the Young brothers, broke loose in a storm July 28, 1929, and was battered beyond repair. The Skidoo was declared out of commission and put up for sale by the Champlins in 1928. Flapdoodle, (you remember she had received her name from her habit of flapping loose her floorboards when tacking, allowing the lake to enter), was sailed only in 1926. Greyton Taylor had attempted to keep Dutch Slipper from sinking in 1927 by upholstering her hull with canvas, so it’s no surprise that she was not of competitive calibre when he sold her to Sackett and Canfield the next year. The Whitfield brothers of Penn Yan converted their Juno to marconi rig in 1927, but found their chances of winning were greater when skippering the Garretts’ Vagabond for Paul Garrett after his son’s death. Four others remained: Spink Taylor’s Caprice, the Penn Yan syndicate’s Mystery, the Champlin brothers’ Deltox, and Bob Howell’s trophy-laden Privateer.

An abbreviated racing schedule continued for some years, but the emphasis shifted. Fleets of smaller boats were no longer considered "junior" sailors, but they became the core of competitive racing. In 1941 the Vagabond was temporarily out of commission after a wreck near Branchport. Its ultimate fate was sinking in the channel to Penn Yan harbor. Deltox was sold, last seen in a barn at Waneta Lake.Mystery’s final owners were several optimists who each kicked in $15 on the hopes of floating her. The hopes were ill-founded, and she instead received last rites in a blazing funeral pyre, her remains sinking off the Bluff. The Caprice, alone among Keuka’s A’s as a pointed end hull, now the conventional design, was planted with flowers at Kenyon’s store on the west side of the Penn Yan branch. Her boom hung for years in Rose’s Restaurant at Keuka. Last to sail under the Keuka burgee was Privateer, skippered by Art Wilder and Bob Snyder until the mid-sixties. Sold to Dr. Thomas Gray of Alfred, she awaited repairs for many years until a new roadbed bisected her barn, and both she and the barn fell to bulldozers.

The small boat fleets came into their own. In 1939 there were 14 Star boats, five boats sailed in the National One Design class, which grew as members built them from plans published in a 1937Ruddermagazine. Fifteen other boats, sloops, dinghys, knockabouts, Comets, Snipes, Larks, etc., raced in a handicapped fleet. Racing had for many years centered off Keuka Hotel, compliments of Bessie Young, and Alley’s Inn, welcomed by Frank and Maude Alley. In the late thirties the Inn was sold into strangers’ hands, who no longers welcomed the sailors as of old. Racing then was run from the boat house at Gibson’s Landing, leased by the club, with occasional visits to Keuka Hotel, Switzerland Inn, and Penn Yan. In 1941 the club leased the Helvetia House from Karl Schmoker at Keuka, and despite limited space and launching facilities, hosted the Central New York Yacht Racing Association’s 123 boat regatta. 
( To be continued ) 

Silver Cup Challenges Part 2

THE GOLDEN AGE Part Five

WHAT BLEW THE A’S AWAY? Part Eleven

KEUKA YACHT CLUB

12890 WEST LAKE RD

HAMMONDSPORT, NY 14840

(607)868-5000 (SUMMER ONLY)


MAILING ADDRESS:

PO BOX 334, BATH, NY 14810


INFO@KEUKAYACHTCLUB.COM

FOURTH NEW HULL DESIGN TAKING SHAPE - only parts of keel and transom were carried over from 3rd hull. First truly flat bottom. Juno planed on flare of her bilges.

COMMODORE H. ALLEN WAGENER Part Nine

In 1882, before the start at the Ark, 2 sloops and 10 cat boats.

Industry, transportation, and social life were riding on the crest of a wave in Penn Yan and all points whose focus was Keuka Lake a century ago. Whether these demands drew sailors away, or it was the dissension concerning a fraudulent and wrong judges’ decision awarding the Championship Cup the G. F. Gibson (despite consideration of the fact that he failed to round one of the stakes), the reason in any case a matter of speculation, the last chosen president of Keuka Yacht Club, J. H. Smith, was unable to secure a quorum for a meeting in 1873. He presided over a slight rallying of activity the next year, at which point the minutes end. A call for the annual meeting in 1877, noted in a scrapbook, kept by the late H. Allen Wagener, again failed to produce a quorum.

​Keuka Yacht Club

In 1883, in the foreground Dido, skippered by  WH Whitfield, TOM (21) skippered by TF Tuthill, and the cat boat Wild Rose with James Meade.

From the number of rigging failures, upsets, and general breaking up of boats and races documented in newspaper accounts of the A Scow races of the late twenties, one would believe the storms blew more fiercely and frequently then. Old-timers tell me, "No", so we can conclude the skippers were then less the seamen than sail Keuka today, and the boats were marginally rigged with less efficient metals, attachments, and adjustments. The summer of 1927 had already seen three promising new Marconi rigged boats disabled when the July 4th races were sailed.

"A stiff gale was blowing, but no one thought it necessary to take a reef in the mainsail. As they were nearing the south buoy, Spink Taylor’s Dutch Slipper put about and headed for the Keuka (Hotel) dock, nearly half full of water. She was followed almost immediately by Bob Howell’s Faith, who had broken a lee board. In a few minutes Bob Whitfield’s Juno was seen running for home for the purpose of taking a reef in the mainsail. In the meantime, Bob Young in the Y-Y had rounded the west buoy, near Gibson’s, and was racing before the wind. Hey had thrown out a spinnaker and all sails were full. A heavy gust caught them, twisted the mast around and snapped it off short, which finished the sloop race before the first lap had been completed."

A couple weeks later two heavy gales converged on the competitors. The race had started around an imaginary buoy. The real one having floated off. "The first blow coming out of the west, just as the four boats, closely grouped, were rounding the home buoy, struck at the end of the first lap. The Young brothers’Y-Y, handicapped by the use of a small jib as hers was torn clear across by a hard slant of wind five minutes before the start, gave the crowd a scare when it upset right in front of the dock. Bob Whitfield’s Juno snapped a peak hoist and caused the Penn Yan crew some difficulty before they could make her moorings. Bob Howell’s Faith, with the mainsail reefed and flying a storm jib, weathered the storm, but was unable to make the buoy. Spink Taylor’s Dutch Slipper heeled over on a hair-raising angle but soon righted herself. She came about and ran before the wind, trying to make the Keuka dock, but the velocity of the wind was so great that landing was out of the question. After noticing the Faithcontinuing on her course, the Slipper put out again after the lead boat. It was surprising to see the speed with which the Slipper closed the gap. Rounding the south buoy, in front of Marilena Point, the Faithwas leading by only a few yeard. Half way between the buoy and the Bluff, the second and heavier storm struck. Both sloops headed for Garretts’. With their masts creaking and groaning and the sails straining under the force of rough squalls. The last glimpse the spectators at Keuka had of the sloops was of both boats heeling heavily and literally flying for Penn Yan."

Evelyn Garrett’s Vagabond returned to competition with a new mast August 14th, but Evelyn didn’t skipper until a month later. Herself a novice, she carried a crew of less experienced relatives. The "spanking wind" at the start increased, as Bob Howell did the same to his lead. Taylor’s Slipper had tried hard to upset in an attempt to catch Faith, and the Garrett boat came so close to capsizing that three times Commodore Wagener had headed his cruiser her way to attempt a rescue. In a bad last position, buffeted by the winds, Miss Garrett appeared to abandon the race and head for home. As the lead boat rounded a mark ready for the home run, a strong easterly puff backed his mainsail and forced him to tack into the lake. Skidoo and Slipper found the same confused air and also began a long tack out into the lake, when the Garrett boat finally passed the mark and found the wind had switched back into the north and all the other boats were way off course. Resuming the competition, Vagabondointed herself for the finish line. Nip and tuck for five minutes, the boats out in the lake tried to catch her before making the line. All boats finished within a 12-second interval, Evelyn Garrett winning her first race!

The Juno was always gay with flags

The once-proud Skidoo, which H. Allen Wagener brought to Lake Keuka in 1912, was the craft which Bob Howell, Dr. Woodbury, and Deyo Putnam resurrected in 1926. While great doubts were expressed on her being sea-worthy, she succeeded in rekindling the spark of competition around the lake. Not only were there three of the old A Scows raced, but four speed boats turned out on short notice to travel the triangular course. The largest crowd in racing history of the Keuka Yacht Club was assembled on shore to witness the old Skidoo beat the Ypung boys’ Y-Y (Too Wise) and L. D Seeley’s Flapdoodle.

This was a generation of family participation. From their fifty-acre summer home ob the Bluff came the Garretts: Paul Garrett, owner of the Virginia Dare Wine label, his son Charles and daughter Evelyn, raced their A Scow and their speed boats. Bob and Derb Young, from the Keuka Hotel, where activity centered, tuned their A. The Champlins from Hammondsport, Charles and Malburn, raced an A. Robert Whitfield of Penn Yan, from a family veteran to A competition a decade before, returned. The Seeleys, the Taylors, Bob Howell, Clarence Andrews of Penn Yan, Charles Jones of Carenaught, and of course Commodore Ally Wagener pumped renewed energy into the KYC competition.

New boats were brought in from the West. Bob Howell purchased Faith, a former Great Lakes champion; the Champlins had Deltox, Greyton "Spink" Taylor bought Caprice, Evelyn Garrett sailed onVagabond, Bob Whitfield brought down Juno II. Yet unproven on this lake, these new boats aroused skepticism---they were all Marconi rigged, while all Keuka’s A Scows had heretofore been gaff rigged. The added height of the slender mast appeared too fragile, the sail unmanageable. Spectators rallied to bet on disaster.

A July 1, 1927, editorial in the Hammondsport paper sketched it graphically: "How one regrets at times the loss of boyish optimism. When Bill appeared Saturday in white sailor pants and announced himself as one of the experimental crew of Robert Howell’s new Class A Sloop with Marconi rig, I regretted my lost youth, but took a careful seat on a wet log near the bathing beach at the head of Lake Keuka to see what help might be needed. There was a fierce gusty wind and my bets were that with the taller stick of the Marconi rigger boat they would be upset twice before they crossed the lake once. I lost. They got across the first time right side up, after having thrown the main sheet overboard twice with all hands perched on the lea fin. On the final leg of the second round an optimistic skipper, unaccustomed to bath in 43 degree water, took two hands (deck hands) from the aforementioned fin and sent them forward to experiment with the spinnaker! He came up last and coughed up ice water for several minutes. Since two of the new boats have upset, another had her mast snapped off, and one of the first two was beaten last Saturday in an official race at Keuka by one of the gaff-rigged boats, the Marconi rigging has still to prove itself."

It did indeed seem a failure. Bob Young upset on his first trip out, the Garretts’ mast was snapped off, and Bob Howell tipped over in a gale, lost his spinnaker, and the mast was broken as he drifted ashore. Back to the dry-docks for repairs and reconnoitering, for Howell had Faith, and he was destined to be the fleet champion for several years.

SCOWS AND SQUALLS Part Eight

A TIME OF BUILDING Part Ten

William J. Tylee & Charles Herman (President of Penn Yan Boat Company)

The decade of the 80’s witnessed a more permanent establishment of KYC activity on the lake. With a new slate of officers headed by Commodore O. C. Knapp (recorded in a second "the original minutes of KYC" book July 18, 1880) annual regattas of some size and prestige were held. The first regatta, Friday August 20, 1880, at the Ark in Penn Yan, offered prizes of $25 to $3 for the five winning places. By 1884, for the fifth annual regatta, 20 yachts were registered for 2:00 PM races on Thursdays, July 17, 24, and 3. (Quite a gentlemanly time to race...perhaps they were all doctors?) 

The sixth annual regatta, 1885, was expanded to five Thursdays in July and August. A rowing competition was added with prizes ranging from $10 down to $3 for four paces. The purse for the sailing competition was extended to ten places, totaling $109. O. C. Knapp served as Commodore during this time, and William Whitfield, forebear of a later KYC Commodore Robert Whitfield, was secretary.

The location of these regattas, known as the Ark, has served as the base for many of KYC’s races during its hundred-plus years. Just beyond the outskirts of Penn Yan, about midway between Red Jacket Park and the golf course, the Ark is noted on all the hand-sketched maps of old. There are two versions of its naming. Alderman Gleason told that it was a very practical matter, as with the naming of Arkport: formerly a boatyard was established on that location, and from that enterprise the reference to arks remained. William Reed Gordon, in "Keuka Lake Memories," proposes a second story. The Crooked Lake Steamboat Company in 1835 launched the first steamboat to ply Keuka’s waters, The Keuka. She was a tunnel-hull boat, 80 feet overall, constructed at Hammondsport. Her wood-fired boilers turned a paddle wheel between the two hulls and attained an eight knot speed in favorable conditions. The Keuka was unfortunately put out of commission after about a decade’s service by an intoxicated pilot driving her aground near the foot of the lake. She was subsequently towed to Penn Yan and dismantled. The pilot house was purchased by Calvin Carpenter for $25 and used by him as the nucleus for a summer resort. This resort, attracting many generations of young people for picnics and courting, became known as the Ark by the presence of The Keuka’s salvaged pilot house.

In any case, the Ark was something of a spa, with its everflowing sulphur water. A rustic booth was built over the gusher, with seats alongside. Many visitors drank the waters for a variety of ills; the fumes carried for a hundred yards downwind.

Also referred to as Bimini Springs, the Ark was a steamboat landing. Prior to 1897, in times of the Penn Yan harbor being iced over, this was their northernmost terminus. With the opening of the Penn Yan-Keuka Park-Branchport Electric Railway in 1897, however, the west side landing was favored for the transportation connections, and the Ark was used only when a signal was raised at the pier.

The Ark reached its peak of popularity around the turn of the century when a dance floor and many stalls for concessions catered to the summer trade. In time the structure over the water disintegrated and the land was sold for the use of a well-built cottage on the premises. Today a large old house with fieldstone fireplaces stands on this location.

Interest in establishing a permanent home for KYC was fostered by William H. Whitfield, known as "Skipper". William’s devotion to sailing stemmed from his boyhood when at 12 he and his younger brother haunted the dock at the Roosevelt summer home on Skaneateles Lake. When Nicholas Roosevelt’s tall-masted yacht, The Julia, sailed in, Captain Freeman let the eager lads sail her to her anchorage, making every possible tack to prolong their pleasure. In return, they were to make all secure, furling sails and placing covers, before rowing ashore.

William arrived in Penn Yan in 1866 with carpetbag and aspirations. Heading west, he was taken by the beauty of Keuka and stopped off. He established the forerunner of the Coach and Equipment Company, offering the first fringe benefits in the area: he reduced the 60 hour work week to 55, with pay for Saturday afternoons off. John N. Willys, when in Penn Yan to sell parts to the shop, warned Whitfield that the automobile might be here to stay, but Skipper doubted this salesman whose vision would produce the Jeep. Another associate, William C. Durant, later founder of General Motors, advised him to go into gas buggies.

More than carriages were built in Whitfield’s shop. During off-season, an original shallow-draught boat of Skipper’s design was annually rebuilt. In communication with originators in Canada and the Midwest, Whitfield swapped designs for an ideal skimming dish hull. A "Paul Bunyan" figure in his shop, Ben Reno, helped with this construction when not fishing for lake trout for local restaurants, raising barns, or building his own design fishing boats. This skimming dish, The Juno, was the largest and fastest sail boat on Keuka. Although Skipper’s design was never reproduced, as was the A-Scow which his western colleagues developed, over 8000 guests signed her log attesting to her success over the years.