LHS Jan. 18 program looks back to Lewes Yacht Club founding

Kathy O’Hanlon and Nick Carter trace origins through sailing
January 8, 2013
This is a 1935 shot looking northeast that shows the original Lewes Yacht Club building.

Eighty years ago, Lewes Beach was considered as faraway a place as perhaps the Jersey shore. A number of locals who lived in Lewes or in Sussex County had summer homes on Lewes Beach. They spent entire summers there until the temperatures became too cool to stay in the unheated vacation homes. Some of these beach folks enjoyed sailing and boating on the bay, and one day a few of them got together and started a small sailing association that planted the seed for what is today’s Lewes Yacht Club.

The Friday, Jan. 18 program of the Lewes Historical Society will cover how the yacht club came to be and its evolution over the past 80 years. Kathy O’Hanlon and Nick Carter will trace the origins of this prestigious member of the Lewes community with a presentation called “Lewes Yacht Club 80 Years Later.” The program begins at 7:30 p.m. at Lewes Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall on Kings Highway, Lewes.        

O’Hanlon, a member of the club’s board, said she spent several months researching the history of the LYC in an effort to publish a commemorative historical overview of the club. Along the way, she discovered many familiar Lewes names who share the legacy of the club’s beginnings.

“The club started as a sailing club," she said. "There was a wide variety of small sailboats for Sunday racing. In the early 1950s, maybe 70 to 100 boats would be out there racing. Looking back over the notes and interviewing some longtime members gave me an inside view of who were the movers and the shakers back then. Knapp, Chambers, Virden and Carter were prominent names involved as charter members in the early development of the organization. These were Lewes residents, many of whom had their summer homes and sailed their small boats right here on Lewes Beach.”

Carter, a Lewes native whose grandfather Frank was among those charter members, is the club’s current commodore. He said,  “The early dues to join the LYC were only $3 a year. And with only 17 members, that didn’t go very far, but somehow the club grew and prospered to today, when we have more than 1,000 people holding LYC membership. Sailing is still part of the club’s roots, but we share a much broader outreach to members and the community as well.” Carter said a number of historic artifacts, photos, trophies and the like will be on display at the Friday presentation.

Carter and O’Hanlon will discuss anecdotes about the people who were involved in the origin and growth of the club, and will use a host of archival and historic photographs to tell their story.

The public is cordially invited to attend this program. Light refreshments will be served following the presentation. For more information on the Lewes Yacht Club go to