by Bill Batson
Nyack Boat Club Commodore Kieran Quinn will preside over his final Close of Season ceremony on October 27. His two-year term at the helm of the club, that concludes at year’s end, included leading the effort to repair the wreckage wrought by Hurricane Sandy. In a recent interview, Quinn, who served a shift of similar length as Mayor of Nyack from 1987 through 1990, reflects on issues that impact the club, the village and the Hudson River and his fondness for “messing around in boats.”
When did you start boating?
As a child, I loved the water and boated a bit but my wife, Robin Brown, was much more of a boater than I. One of the reasons we moved to Nyack was to be near the Hudson. When we moved here in 1978, I learned to sail so Robin and I could sail together.
When did you join the Nyack Boat Club?
Robin and I joined Nyack Boat Club in 1980. As young marrieds, sailing was low-cost recreation. After we got home from work, we’d pack a sandwich, wedge our infant son’s car seat into our little boat, and sail around the Tappan Zee.
Why is it a boat club and not a yacht club?
Nyack Boat Club was originally formed as a “do-it-yourself” boat club where members built and maintained the facilities to keep the cost of membership affordable. Being a “do-it-yourself” club continues to be an important part of our identity. We think we’re the best sailing club on the Hudson but we’re resolutely a “boat club” not a “yacht club”.
In addition to the “do-it-yourself” ethos, the members see that their fellow members get the support they need to sail well and maintain their boats effectively. Additionally, we have an exceptionally strong sailing program for children.
How did Hurricane Sandy impact the club?
The winds, surge, storm-driven waves, and battering by storm-driven debris damaged the clubhouse, floating docks, piers, pilings, bulkheads, a fixed crane, hoisting machinery, electrical distribution equipment, club boats, pavement, and outdoor stairs and rails. We have restored most of the damaged facilities – making them more storm resistant when practical.
Additionally, members lost boats at the Club and at boatyards where they had stored their boats for the winter. The physical repair is almost completed and we’re on our way back financially. Some members have left, creating opportunities for others to join.
History and Mission
The Nyack Boat Club was founded on September 10, 1909. The original clubhouse was destroyed by fire on August 6, 1916. The current clubhouse on Gedney Street, depicted in this week’s sketch, was acquired on September 16, 1916.
The mission of the club is to encourage and support yachting and yacht racing on the Hudson River and surrounding waters, good seamanship and navigation, and to provide for the recreation and enjoyment of its members.
Summer Sailing Camp
The Nyack Boat Club has a very successful junior sailing program that is primarily for family and friends of Nyack Boat Club members, but is also open to the public. There are two four-week sessions over the summer, generally beginning the last week of June and the last week of July.
Registration begins in January. Space is limited so register early.
All hands on deck
During racing season, many boats seek crew members. Racing experience is useful, but the uninitiated, who want to learn more about sailing, can also be accommodated.
To learn more about sailing camp or crewing visit nyackboatclub.org
What is the work of the club in the winter?
Activities at the Club definitely slow in the winter but we have about 40 educational or social programs November through February. Additionally we use the hiatus to repaint and freshen the interior of the Clubhouse.
What are some of the issues relating to the Hudson River that are a concern to the club?
Enjoyable boating depends upon clean water. Fortunately, the water quality has improved greatly in the last half-century. The Club must ensure that we follow best practices to keep the river clean.
How will the bridge construction affect the club?
The Coast Guard has declared a stand-off zone around the construction. We respect that and don’t expect much impact outside of that zone. The New NY Bridge staff has been consistently positive and open to input.
Are there any improvements that the village could make to better accommodate the boating public?
There’s excellent access for boaters in Nyack: the Village marina, boat launching ramp, a strong summer program for young sailors at Nyack Boat Club, and two boat clubs which provide low cost boating opportunities.
Transient boaters visiting Nyack currently have significant economic impact and great potential for growth. Each year Nyack Boat Club welcomes hundreds of visiting boaters, who frequent our stores and restaurants. If the Village of Nyack could take advantage of Clean Vessel Act (CVA) to pump out and reduce the overboard sewage, the number of visits by transient boaters would explode.
What benefits accrue to the Village from more recreational boating?
Currently, the village and surrounding area enjoys positive economic impact from the many who come to Nyack to boat. For example, recently 300 people from across the country and Canada participated in a three day regatta at Nyack Boat Club. This was only one of more than a dozen events in Nyack this summer. But the biggest economic impact comes from the people who use the marina, boat ramp, and clubs week in and week out.
I understand this is your final year as Commodore. What is your fondest memory of your term in office?
I’ve enjoyed watching the young sailors learning responsibility, confidence, and independence through sailing, setting goals, and working to achieve them. It’s gratifying to see families having fun together and to see our older sailors competing effectively against athletes one third their age.
To quote The Wind in the Willows, “Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING–absolute nothing–half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”
Special thanks to Curtis Koster, Editor-in-Chief of the Nyack Boat Club Centennial Book and Nyack Boat Club member David e. Bell for lending me his copy of the impressive historic document.
Junior Sailors Under Tow photo: David e. Bell
My sketch of the clubhouse was based on a photo by past Commodore Elaine Hinsch.