The Origin and History of:

and Santa Clara Power Squadron, Inc


Recreational yachting in the early 1900’s was largely confined to sailing craft and large steam yachts manned by professional crews. The gasoline-powered craft was coming into its own by 1909, but not with much enthusiasm on the part of the out-and-out sailors. Yachting was still for the sailors and the new breed of powerboat men found scant fun on club cruises and almost none in racing. Roger Upton was a sailing member of the Boston Yacht club in 1909, but, unlike so many other sailors, he was captivated by the newfangled powerboats. He owned a 50' ketch named "Nirvana" and often cruised up the coast of Maine with his 35' gasoline- powered motor launch to serve as a tender for the ketch and tow her when she was becalmed. The reliability of power appealed to him and he grew to love power boating.

In the summer of 1911, Upton presented his idea for a club-within-a-club to embrace a select group of "gasoliners", who would develop such forms of cruising and racing as the new type of yacht demanded. Upton was elected Rear Commodore of the Boston Yacht Club in 1912, and was placed in charge of the "unofficial" Power Boat Division of the fleet.

There was a need for education at this time, for the U.S. laws governing navigation, applied only to steam vessels. Upton and other USPS founders set out to protect the power yachts from the steamboat inspectors and to remove forever the stigma of ignorance and foolhardiness. On 14 October 1912, the Executive Committee of the Boston Yacht Club unanimously granted Upton’s petition to establish his Power Boat Division officially. At the annual meeting in 1913, the name was changed to Power Squadron, with its officers – Roger Upton Commander; C. N. Burnell, Lt/C; Nathanel L. Stebbins, Secretary – and rules printed in the 1913 Boston Yacht Club yearbook.

Assisted by a three-page photo-story in "Yachting Magazine", news of the Boston outfit’s activities spread and other clubs began to plan along the same lines. In June 1913 Charles F. Chapman associate editor of "Motor Boating Magazine", gave the idea a full–page display, and additional interest was generated. On 12 November 1913, the Boston Yacht Club called together 30 delegates, representing 70 clubs and associations of powerboat owners at the New York Yacht Club to consider the formation of Power Squadrons. Cdr Upton explained the reasons which led to his forming the Boston Yacht Club Power Squadron and told of what was being accomplished in instructing power yachtsmen on the rules of the road and handling of their boats. A second Conference Committee meeting was held on 2 February 1914 and the final work of organizing and launching United States Power Squadrons was accomplished.

Then on the 29th of November 1962 the first Santa Clara Power Squadron organizational meeting was held for the purpose of forming a local squadron.  The members present were, in the most part, drawn from another local squadron, the Sequoia Power Squadron.  Santa Clara squadron was fortunate in having the services of National Vice Commander Hugh Hutchings; Sequoia Commander Fred Adams; and Sequoia Executive Officer William Malloy Jr. to help with the original organizational meeting.

A slate of officers was proposed and elected unanimously and the design of the squadron pennant was approved.  The pennant design consisting of a white bell on a solid blue field was chosen to represent an old mission bell since Santa Clara, California is known as the Mission City.  This design was also chosen because members felt the bell was symbolic of El Camino Real, the main highway through the area served by the new squadron, and a route traveled by members to attend meetings or classes.  It was also decided that the official squadron publication would be called The Bell.

The next meeting was held on the 24th of January 1963 with 36 members present.  The squadron moved forward rapidly with their educational program by announcing that Piloting, Seamanship, and Advanced Piloting classes would begin in February.  Additional officers and committees were elected and appointed at this meeting, and it was noted that Santa Clara Squadron had been chosen to assist with duty at the February 1963 Boat Show.

On the 21st of March 1963 the Squadron held a general membership meeting.  At this meeting, it was announced that the Charter for the squadron had been approved and District Commander Leroy McKissick presented the charter to Squadron Commander Francis Hite.  During 1963 almost every general meeting was attended by over thirty members.  Raffles and rendezvous were planned, as were other events.  In June, the squadron held its first rendezvous at Lost Isle in the Delta with twenty-five boats in attendance.

The year ended on an upbeat note with an increase in membership of forty-two percent, a full schedule of educational and safety programs in place, and with the distinction of having many members attend the National Governing Board Meeting held that year in San Francisco.

An excellent start for a great squadron which is still going strong.