By George Sheller
My brother, Deke, was one of the founding members of the Eastern Shore Sailing Association (ESSA) in 1974 (and the last one alive!). Deke served as commodore three times: 1982, 2003, and 2019.
I gave my brother our AYC burgee about 17 years ago, and he finally sent me his in August of this year! The saying, “better late than never” certainly applies in this scenario.
The boat on the ESSA burgee includes a skipjack boat. According to Wikipedia, “The skipjack is a traditional fishing boat used on the Chesapeake Bay for oyster dredging. It is a sailboat which succeeded the bugeye as the chief oystering boat on the bay, and it remains in service due to laws restricting the use of powerboats in the Maryland state oyster fishery.” Oysters may only be harvested without motors. Some of the skipjack boats are 100 or more years old.
ESSA does not have a clubhouse but has two fleets; the Choptank Fleet in Cambridge, MD and the Tangier Fleet in Bivalve Harbor near Tyaskin, MD. They also had a fleet in Ocean City for a while.
ESSA is not a yacht club, per say, but sailors of all ages passionate about sailing: racing, cruising, or day sailing. The two fleets sponsor weeknight buoy racing during the summer, special event racing over longer courses, day sails and picnics, and organized cruises to destinations around the Bay and beyond.
ESSA History (from their website)
“As with any successful organization, ESSA’s notable progress in its first years of existence was due to the efforts of many dedicated individuals. It has indeed been fortunate that so many members have contributed their time and energy to creating a club that enhances the leisure time of sailing enthusiasts all over the Eastern Shore. 1974 saw the birth of the organization with 76 charter members and the drafting of the by-laws. It offered an ambitious schedule of weekend cruising and racing for both the Tangier and Choptank sailors. In 2024, ESSA will have been a club promoting sailing for 50 years!”
A little late, but another one for the AYC string!