The History of Northern Chesapeake Cruising Club, formerly Catalina 25, Fleet 8

By Lila O’Meara Judkins

In the Beginning…

In the mid-70’s we purchased a 18-20 foot O’Day which was my husband’s pride & joy. I did not share his enthusiasm! Occasionally, very reluctantly, and timidly, under pressure, I ventured out upon the waters with him.

At the time of the boat show in the winter of 1979, we were just getting ready to go down to see the Catalina 25 and Bill (my husband) had a stroke, and was rushed to St. Joe’s Hospital, where he remained for over a week. As an encouraging incentive and not to be deterred by a stroke, we spent the week at the hospital on the phone, ordering (sight unseen) a Catalina 25, and each day choosing our options, colors, etc.

By June/July (1980) we were down at Bowleys patiently awaiting the arrival of Blutchen by truck. It was 4 hours late in getting there (stress! stress!). When it finally arrived, the boat was listing pathetically atop the trailer. The driver explained that his tardiness was due to the fact that he was only able to go 15 MPH because of the tilting of the boat! This scene almost caused both of us to have a heart attack!!

Safely berthed, the summer was spent breaking in the new boat and trying to “break in” Lila. My claim to fame was sun bathing on the bow, crewing, and sun bathing on the bow.

By the end of the summer, Bill was anxious to become more adventuresome in seafaring exploits, but Lila was reluctant, and felt that we needed safety in numbers. That’s where Penn Lemonds came in. We met up with him, on thing led to another, and he agreed to fill out the requested paperwork and become the very first Fleet Captain. Since we had no cell phones or e-mails in those days, my job was to contact, recruit, and organize the troops.

Some of the first members were John and Betty Stinson of Scotch Mist, Dr. Alan Scott (I don’t remember his boat name), Earl & Janet Canapp (Sweet Sheets), Alan and Shirley Monshanson, whom I believe were an ex-priest and ex-nun aboard Bay Breeze. I don’t recall the names of the others. About half of the members were based at Bowleys Marina, and most of the others at Maryland Marina.

Independent of the fleet, we ventured on our own one day to Stillpoint, taking my sister along on her first cruise. For those of you who have been there, you know how beautiful it is. But… the channel by the Coast Guard Station is windy and unmarked. We got in just fine, but on the way out, Blutchen grounded within shouting distance of the Coast Guard Station (fixed keel and all).

A “helmsperson” I was not, but I could rev up a motor! We shifted all the weight to the bow and I was throwing up a mudscape like you’ve never seen before! This raised a barrage of invective to be hurled across the channel between the Coast Guard and me. I was upset because they were not offering to help me. They were upset because I would not heed their advice to reduce the power because I was risking ruining the engine. During the course of the barrage I must have let them know that I had a cardiac patient aboard. Finally, one of them came over in a boat. I was not in a receptive mood to discuss my engine with him.

He said, “Lady, you forgot your husband’s medicine”.

I told him in no uncertain terms that I did not.

He repeated. “Lady, you forgot your husband’s medicine”.

I assured him that I had not, shouting it to him.

In a much louder voice this time, he repeated: “Lady, you forgot your husband’s medicine.”

Then it dawned on me! The Coast Guard did not protect property, only lives. I ever so meekly said, “I forgot my husband’s medicine”.

He quickly gave us a nudge and Blutchen popped out of the mud and out of Stillpond Creek we went. My sister hasn’t been on a cruise since.

We were a small but happy bunch. We paid our $5 dues, did a little sailing together, and enjoyed many evenings together on each other’s boats swapping stories, having drinks, etc.

Penn was our first Fleet Captain, John the Treasurer, Betty the Secretary, and I kept everybody abreast of what was going on… no newsletter.

Alan was our second Fleet Captain. Then on February 7, 1982, we had the Change of Watch Dinner and Earl Canapp became the 3rd Fleet Captain. He was a funeral home director. After congratulating him and saluting him we left about 11:00 PM. Early the next morning, we had to call him for his professional services. Bill had suffered a massive heart attack and died. That’s why I am so positive about that date.

In the late spring I had to make a decision about the boat. Either sell it or do a little more than sun bathing. I had never been at the helm, but decided to go for it, and started scraping and painting the bottom with the aide of some friends who enjoyed sailing. By the end of the summer, I felt confident to go to the Inner Harbor and especially enjoyed a trip with the fleet to Georgetown.

That’s when I became a seasoned sailor. We were caught in the granddaddy of all thunderstorms and had to heave-to till it blew over. When I pulled into the slip at Bowleys it was a beautiful day; never a trace that nature was trying to kill us!

I retired from sailing and sold Blutchen in 1988, but retained my slip at Bowleys until 2004. That way I could go down and be by the water, walk the docks, see the boats, and go to the Bowleys meetings and see old friends.

It was a thrill to be awarded “Lifetime Member” status by the fleet. Though I don’t sail anymore, I still enjoy reading about the exploits of the next generation, and remember the good times that we had on the Bay.

Lila O’Meara Judkins remains a member of Fleet-8 to this day, and is, in fact, our first and only Life Member. Thanks to Lila for this early view of Fleet-8.

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