PAST AND PRESENT
Trident Yacht Club was founded in 1964 by Captain L. A. Winfield (Chip) Chapin, U.S.N.V.R. The Clubhouse stands on Trident Point about three quarters of the distance from Kingston to Gananoque.
The Club was created to foster “yachting, sailing, aquatic sports, et al.” in a unique way. Captain Chapin had a lifelong association with both the United States Naval Reserve Association and with general staff officers of the Canadian Armed Forces. A native of Syracuse, New York, he had known the St. Lawrence and the islands since his childhood and was also a staunch believer in U.S. – Canada friendship, understanding and co-operation.
The Club’s early membership and lifestyle was a reflection of its millionaire sailor founder. It was a coterie of general staff officers of both countries (Air Vice Marshal Godfrey of Gananoque among them) and of distinguished jurists, public servants and businessmen from both sides of the River. Its harbour provided spaces for only 32 yachts, but they were spaces proportionate to the sumptuous power yachts of members and guests.
By the mid-seventies, however, other preoccupations led Captain Chapin to begin to withdraw from the Club. Without his financial resources (rumour has it that the Captain routinely wrote personal cheques to cover Trident deficits that one year, at least, ran as high as $75,000) the Club went into financial decline. Without his leadership, members and their large power yachts drifted away, and the Club’s facilities began to decay.
By 1980 only 12 boats were left at the Club. The West Harbour seawall was collapsing, its backfill having leached back into the River. The floating docks were rotting and their ground tackle incapable of standing up to a windstorm (one of which drove a Contessa 26 onto Trident Point and sank it). The East Harbor was silted in so badly that sailboats were largely restricted to the outer South Dock, and both North and South Docks (there was no Centre Dock) were only kept erect by annual patchwork welding. At the bank we were chronically overdrawn – bankruptcy was a real prospect.
“Chip” was convinced that once members adjusted to his departure, a new leadership would emerge. He followed our progress closely, sending his aide de camp, Ezra Bell, to reconnoitre when he couldn’t make an annual visit himself. By the time he passed away, on July 27, 1988, he had abundant reason for pride in what Trident Yacht Club has become.