The year was 1948, several local sailors wanted to make their loosely-organized yacht club official. They purchased a vacant waterfront building on Annable Point Road in Centerville. Soon thereafter, Wequaquet Lake Yacht Club, Inc., was formed, and the property was deeded to this new corporation.

The building, which the Yacht Club still occupies today, was built in 1903 to house a restaurant. The restaurant was named Camp Opechee, and was operated by the Starck family. Located on the shores of Wequaquet Lake, the restaurant was famous for its lobster and steamers, which were brought in from the ocean.

Today's Fire Side Room

Camp Opechee abt 1920

Today's Sunfish Lounge

Use of the building as a yacht club required very few changes. Today, it is very much the same as it was when it was Camp Opechee. The large room near the water's edge serves as a recreation room, function room, or dance hall. The lounge area contains one of the original field stone fireplaces. A second field stone fireplace is in the fire side room. The kitchen and bathrooms are renovated and updated, but the building still remains rustic. It is a relaxing place where members and their guests can unwind.

 Membership in the Yacht Club is limited to one hundred ten families or households. There are activities for all age groups: swimming and sailing lessons for the children, Sunfish races for all ages, pot-luck family suppers, dinner dances, and other social functions. Individual members own small sailboats like Sunfish and Optimists which they keep at the club.   In addition, the club owns six 420 sailboats and several Optimist Dinghies which are used by the racing team when competing against other yacht clubs. Many members also own powerboats, which they use for cruising and water skiing. In the earlier years of the Club, Lightnings, Blue Jays, and Sailfish competed. After Alcort developed the Sunfish, it became so popular for sailing and racing on the lake, the other classes disappeared. For more than sixty years Wequaquet Lake Yacht Club's Annual Sunfish Regatta has been very popular with sailors from all over the east coast, who race the Sunfish circuit. The lake has shifty and unpredictable winds which add to racing excitement. Not all members are interested in sailing, however, there is a wide variety of social functions which appeal to all!  Members are expected to take a turn running events. This is not a place to go and be waited on. The hard work of its members make it a success. In 2023, we celebrated our 75th anniversary and hosted our 60th Annual Sunfish Regatta!

Barnstable Patriot, Thursday, June 26, 1980

Wequaquet Yacht Club

by Gail Sleen?

Like a swarm of winged butterflies, the sunfish and sailfish dart around Wequaquet Lake. Every weekend in July and August, the red, blue, green and yellow sails spurt and glide along their course, according to the winds of the day. And we who watch from lakeside homes and shores enjoy the spectacle almost as much as the sailors enjoy their sport.

One of the first reported regattas on Wequaquet Lake took place in 1891 and was sponsored by Howard Marston. It was during this event that the largest lake in the town of Barnstable was officially named Wequaquet. Prior to that it was called Nine Mile Pond and/or Chequaquet Lake.

A few years later in 1903, the lake had grown so popular as a summer resort that Mr. & Mrs. Albert Stark started Camp Opeeche. This was the site of not only the Lake Colony of summer cottages but the splendid Opeeche Resturant. Feasts of lobster, chicken, clams and pies were devoured and then diner could go out on the wharf that ran off from the building  and they were able to tour the 11 mile perimeter of the lake on the Rambler, a steamer owned by Edward Jones. Jones use to come by horse and buggy from Barnstable on the Old Wood Road. His steamer was so popular that one summer back in the early 1900's, Walter Hallett remembers the entire Red Sox team coming down for dinner and a boat ride.

It was around 1939 that racing began on the lake. A loose organization developed with Mr. O'Hara as it's first commodore. The site of the meeting place for this rough first yacht club was near the Camp Opeeche side of the lake. It was described as a barn that was later converted into an ice house or garage.

Following O'Hara as commodore in the grassroot formation of the Wequaquet Yacht Club came Hayworth Backus, Robert Anderson, and Joseph Daggert. The small group had mongrel races with many after race discussions and good times taking place on Daggert's front yard.

During Daggert's term as commodore with 30 cents in treasury, word got around that Louie Rogell (then owner of Camp Opeeche) was going to sell his property. The yacht club members decided to try and purchase the Camp Opeeche buliding for a club house. Certificates were printed by Clarence W. Baiser that sold for $10 each and enough money was raised by about 20 families to buy the property.

Wequaquet Yacht Club, Inc., was incorporated in 1948 and what is the Cape's only fresh water yacht club was officially formed. That summer members set to enthusiastically repairing and beautifying the Camp Opeeche buliding. Men, women and children worked long and hard repainting, tearing down and building over again.

The first supper in the building was a triumphant affair. The club called it a "silver shower". Everyone attending was asked to bring a knife, fork and spoon and to leave them for future club use.

The first commodore, Frank H. Robart, was elected. Earnest Wilson was named vice president and chairman of the racing committee. Stephen Fuller became secretary and Robert Anderson was treasurer.

Social committees were formed by the women. Mrs. Ernest Wilson chaired the ways and means committee, Mrs. Joseph Daggert was in charge of suppers, Mr. H Connors chaired the dance committee, Mrs. Edwin Ofgant headed food sales and Mrs. William L. Baily chaired the bridge group.

In the years that followed hardly a Saturday in the summer went by that the yacht club did not have a dinner or some other social activity. There were ham and bean suppers, chicken and lobster salad suppers, orchestras, nights when the men cooked, and nights for the young members that featured weenie roasts and juke box dancing.

One of the most memorable events was when Earl Chapman showed up with a massive mahogany gold leaf decorated 19th century bar, which had survived prohibition in N.Y., was pain stakenly restored by Frank H. Robart and still remains in the clubhouse today.

But the real purpose of the yacht club was and is to race. The first class boat in the club was the Lightenings. There were about six boats in the class, one of which was Nelson Bearse's which had a #2 on the sail.

There was also a handicap class in the clubs beginning where Sloops, Cape Cod Knockabouts and Cat Boats competed.

It wasn't easy for the group to figure out  the what-alla and how-tos of a race committee. Mapping the race courses, setting up the bouys, determining the handicaps and getting the start right were all problems at first.

Mention of the old cannon that use to starts the races brings a chuckle as well as a shake of frustration from old time club members. "We had to tie the thing down," says Walt Hallett, "and sometimes it would go off and other times it wouldn't." "It use to make quite a noise," laughs Robert Anthont, Sr. "After awhile it was hard to get 10 gauge blanks for it," says Frank Robart, Jr.

However, in July 1951, the New England District Lightening Association held it's first regatta at Wequaquet Yacht Club. About 25 visiting boats took part in the race and the winner went on to race at the International Meet. The night of the regatta, 200 guests dined at the club, That regatta became the proving grounds for both the Wequaquet Lake Yacht Club racing committee and for the Wequaquet Lake waters.

After the Lightening class, the Blue Jays became the class boat and in the late 50s the sporty class of Sunfish and Sailfish began holding their regattas at Wequaquet.

Saturday night suppers have been replaced by Tuesday teen nights, the cannon has been replaced by a gun, and the large white canvas has been by smaller colorful sails.

But Wequaquet Yacht Club remains  a place devoted to sailboat racing; a launching site for nylon butterflies to play in the wind.

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