Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Waucoma Yacht Club, New Haven’s oldest Quinnipiac River establishment

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Aclement breeze sails off the Quinnipiac River, lifting Natalie Coe’s pink hair. On the back porch of the Waucoma Yacht Club, New Haven’s oldest Quinnipiac River establishment, a few of the club’s longtime members are enjoying the summer afternoon. Several others are hunkered down inside at the air-conditioned bar. Coe is the only woman present for now, about to start her volunteer shift at the bar. She’s also the club’s treasurer, though she’s only been a member for a few years. And she doesn’t even own a boat.
“I joined for camaraderie,” Coe says. “I lived across the street, and I would see them having parties, I’d see the bar, and I thought, ‘This looks great!’ And I finally became a member.” Anyone can, as long as they’re willing to pay a one-time $300 application fee—though the club sometimes runs special offers; annual membership dues and a social fee, together costing $245; plus $5 per foot of boat length.
Owning a boat does seem almost beside the point here at Waucoma. There’s the bar and the breeze and the view of Fair Haven Heights, where old oystermen’s houses line the bank and a church steeple rises like a beacon. Inside the clubhouse, the furniture is mismatched and the galley kitchen is a tight squeeze, but that’s beside the point, too. What seems to matter most is just being together. A dozen people are milling around late in the afternoon, catching up with one another. The TV is on, and at a table off to the side, Coe’s son is playing on his computer. Member Scott Carr is busy opening the mail and passing bills to Coe. “We’re a crazy, dysfunctional family,” Coe jokes.
It’s a family that knows how to have fun. The club hosts celebrations for St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween, Christmas and the June opening and October closing of the boating season. There’s an annual fishing tournament for members’ kids and their guests. (Every kid goes home with a new fishing rod.) A tri-club bluefish tournament brings together members of Waucoma and two other local yacht clubs: Pequonnock and City Point. And as many as 60 people take a cruise together every two years. Click here to continue reading.
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