Charmed by the Sea: One Hundred Fifty Years and more of Yachting on Buzzards Bay

 Exhibition Date: 2011

Charmed by the Sea: One Hundred Fifty Years and more of Yachting on Buzzards Bay opened on September 25, 2010 during a major weekend rendezvous of the Cruising Club of America, the Beverly Yacht Club, and the New Bedford Yacht Club in New Bedford Harbor.

    Schooner Flying Cloud III, photo Morris
    Rosenfeld, #1980.56.9

The exhibition’s title, taken from an inscription written by Captain Joshua Slocum in a copy of his classic narrative Sailing Alone around the World, speaks of the sea in its most seductive and welcoming moods – as a refuge or escape from the cares and pressures and woes of life on land. Generations of artists, writers, photographers, yacht designers, and yacht builders, as well as recreational sailors, have fallen under the spell of Buzzards Bay, its islands, harbors, beaches, and seamarks.

Charmed by the Sea celebrated not simply the power of the sea, but the complex and exciting relationship that exists between fine arts and the traditional arts of the mariner. Even before the fleet of the New York Yacht Club first came to New Bedford Harbor in August 1856, Buzzards Bay had become a favored cruising ground for visiting yachtsman. And while sailing for pleasure was still a novelty for most residents along the Massachusetts South Coast, the bay’s reliable afternoon sou’westers, its snug and picturesque anchorages, and its temperate waters had already begun to work their magic on those with the money and summertime leisure to enjoy them.

By the time the New Bedford Yacht Club was organized in 1877, Buzzards Bay, under James W. Allen, sloop Puritan in Fairhaven, 1886 the leadership of members of the Beverly Yacht Club, was already a thriving center for small-boat racing. In the period 1885-1887, yachtsmen with deep ties to the bay came to national – indeed, international – prominence as defenders of the America’s Cup. Buzzards Bay has been an important American yachting center ever since.

Last modified: March 3, 2017