The Panama Canal Review . . . August 1, 1952
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The Balboa Yacht Club of some 125 members is founded on the near-universal appeal of fishing and faraway places and the feeling for skippering your own good boat to your choice of destinations.  On the Isthmus of Panama, nearly surrounded with water and busy with seagoing business, it is not surprising the general fascination of boats has fostered several such organizations.

Home port for the Balboa Club extends from Navy Pier 2, reaching out toward the Panama Canal channel from Fort Amador, to the wartime mine dock just inside the anchorage for ships entering the Canal from the Pacific. There, in the Club's moorings on the east side of the channel, the members' 75-odd boats lie at anchor, using only about half of the waters assigned for their use by the Panama Canal Marine Bureau. Biggest of the boats that bob up and down as the big ships stir the waters in the channel is the Tondelayo, a 46-foot sailing ketch owned by a Navy employee, Walter E. (Wally) Pearson. The Tondelayo raced to first place in the Club's 1952 racing season and was flagship last year when her owner was the Club's Commodore.


The flagship now is the Waif, a 16-foot sailing sloop owned by a Balboa High School instructor, Charles R. (Bob) Bowen, who is now Commodore. The former Navy officers' Club at Fort Amador has served as clubhouse for the Yacht Club since 1946, when it was transferred by the navy to the yacht Club and the Pacific Sailfish Club. Now the building is occupied jointly with the American Legion, whose members fish off the Yacht Club pier and receive other small friendly considerations in return for which Yacht Club members use some American Legion facilities.

Smallest of the sailboats in the Yacht Club fleet are the centerboard sloops from about 18-25 feet long.  The power boats start at about that size -- those with little inboard motors -- and go up to the cabin cruisers, topped in size among the Yacht Club boats by Kyle G. Bishop's 42-foot twin-screw cruiser, Martha.

In between, craft of many shapes and sizes add their individualities to the Yacht Club's boat collection. Big or little, trim or tub-like, one or more owners love them -- or at least look on them with mixed parental feelings for the cost, care and time they consume.

Although most Yacht Club boats usually stay close to home, the members get the feel of faraway places from yachts from all parts of the world that put into their hospitable pier. Some visitors like the place so well -- like Lee and Ann Gregg off the ketch Novia, and "Buzz" and June Champion of the ketch Little Bear all of whom came from San Diego -- that they come ashore and go to work and stay in the Canal Zone.

It sometimes works the other way. Yacht Club members catch the fever of faraway places and take their own boats or join the crew of a visiting yacht bound for a far-off atoll in the Pacific. For instance, Mr. and Mrs. John W, Litton and their small daughter left recently in the ketch Calypso for the Society Islands to visit the Kin Powells (Mrs. Powell and Mrs. Litton are sisters), former Yacht Club members who now make their home in Tahiti.


The Balboa yacht Club enjoys full recognition by other such clubs throughout the world and is listed in Lloyd's. It is also a member of the North American Yacht Racing Union, and the International Game Fishing Association.

Among the visitors who use the club's facilities on a reciprocal basis are members of the Panama Canal Yacht Club of Cristobal and the Pedro Miguel and Gamboa Boat clubs, who visit most often during the red snapper and corbina season when they come to try their luck in Panama Bay. Fishing members of the Balboa Yacht Club receive timely tips in a bulletin issued monthly by the Club's Fishing Committee, whose chairman is Sam R. Moody. For instance, this month the committee advises that sailfish and marlin come into the inner bay in August and that marlin are best baited with whole bonita.

When the dry season winds blow strong and steady, the Racing Committee goes into action,scheduling races and cruising picnics (luaus) and an annual treasure hunt on Taboga or Taboguilla Island. Bill Clark is Chairman of the Sail Yacht Racing Committee.


In the last racing season, the Tondelayo placed first; Bill Blark's Kelpie, second; Lee Gregg's Novia, third; and Bill Wymer's Kon Hiro, fourth.

The Balboa Yacht Club burgee has flown in several ocean races off the United States' coasts. Tucker McClure's ketch Chiriqui, with his local manager, George Bobbitt aboard, last year won the Class "B" trophy, and was second on corrected time for the Time Prize in the Los Angeles-Honolulu Yacht Race.

Ed McIntosh's Starcrest has also competed in winter races around Florida, the most notable being the St. Petersburg-Havana Ocean Race in 1950, in which Starcrest placed third in Class "C".

The Balboa Yacht Club was organized in 1946 from the remaining interested members of the former Balboa Boat Club, which operated before the war from the present home base of the Yacht Club and the Panama Bay Yacht Club, which operated in Panama during the war.

Presented by CZBrats
November 24, 1998

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