Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Random Moth Boating Photos From the Mid-1930s and Early 1940s.

Charlie Miller, an old Moth Boat racer called me up the other day and said that Herb Davenport, from down in Elizabeth City had found some old pictures in a drawer and passed them along.  I'm a sucker for old photos if there's a Moth Boat connection.  Here we see young Sir Charles, aged 13.  As indicated, this picture was exposed in the year 1939.  You can do the math and figure out how old Charlie is today.  I'm not going to bother.  Instead I'm digging those pin-striped trousers and rakish grin.  The venue is Elizabeth City, no doubt at a Moth Boat regatta.

Charlie was apparently quite popular with the young ladies.  Donnie Wescoat, standing behind Charlie in this picture, told me they used to call him "lovie-duck"!  The girl with the dark glasses is Madeline Kammerman.  The girl to the extreme left of the group is Aleta Van Sant.  The young lady to the extreme right is unknown.  The venue in this instance is Clam Creek, the home of the old Evening Star YC of Atlantic City.  The kids are sitting on the front fender of Dorr Willey's Dodge.  The south end of Brigantine can be seen across Absecon Inset in the background.  Note what appears to be an early Ventnor or perhaps a Red Spot design Moth on the roof of the adjacent car.
Enjoying a "Co-Cola" and a smoke.  Madeline Kammerman with two unknown young lads.  The Atlantic City Coast Guard base can be seen in the left hand background.  Gunnar B. identifies the car with the tear drop head lamps as a '38 Ford 2-door Vickie. 
Great Bear, Moth Nr 123 with Joel Van Sant's son Jimmy in the cockpit.  Charlie borrowed this boat and won the New Jersey State Championship Regatta with Isabel Brear as crew.  Why Charlie needed a pretty young girl as a crew in a Moth Boat is anyone's guess.
More Evening Star action.  Many of the members owned the small houses which lined Clam Creek just down the street from the YC clubhouse, which survives today as the home of Kammerman's Marina, and launched off their own bulkheads.  Some of these homes still survive along Carson Avenue, although last year's hurricane did them no favors.  From left to right we see Peggy Kammerman, the 1937 women's World Champion (kneeling) , her sister Madeline and Aleta Van Sant.
The white Moth behind the three sailors on the dock is Joel Van Sant's Gretchen, Nr 606.  When racing resumed, after the end of WW II hostilities, Captain Joel won the 1946 Nationals in this boat.  Left to right, Aleta, Peggy, unknown man.
All dressed up for the Regatta Ball.  Note the A-model Ford peeking out from behind the houses.
A race, starting on Clam Creek in front of the ESYC's dock.  The Evening Star club hosted Moth fleet Nr 1.  Note that  all the boats have crews even though it appears to be a light air day!  Maybe those guys knew something we don't...

The scene shifts to Elizabeth City and the Pasquotank River Yacht Club, which had Moth fleet Nr 2.  Left to right: unknown, Doug Alexander (aka "dog"), Chuck Higgins, Eddie Gasch and Charlie Miller.

A blurry photograph of Herb Davenport sailing Blackbeard, built by Ernest Sanders.

Doug Alexander sailing Dopey, an early Dorr Willey-built Moth.

Here we see Chuck Higgins in Small Fry.  Opinions are divided as to whether or not this is a Dorr Willey Moth.  If so she carries an atypical rounded cockpit combing.  All the surviving Willey-built Moths have combings which are sharply peaked at the forward end.

Billy O'Neal died shortly after this photo was taken.  He picked up a splinter while diving off a piling and developed lockjaw.  Vaccinations for tetanus were relatively new in those days, and so many individuals were at risk.  When did you have your last booster shot?  If you can't remember it's probably time to get one.  The vaccination is good for about ten years.

Finally, included with the photos of Moths and sailors was this photograph of three women standing in front of a small beach house probably on the Carolina outer banks.  The significance here is that the Mrs. Willey in this picture is thought to be the mother of Dorr Willey, the well known Moth Boat builder.  Can anyone looking at these photos confirm this notion?  The woman in the striped dress is probably Herb Davenport Sr.'s mother since these pictures were found by Herb Jr. while sorting through family scrapbooks.  Mildred is unknown but perhaps another Davenport relative.


  1. All I can say right now is, Wow. Let me read again.

    1. Take your time--those pix aren't going anywhere. Enjoy!

  2. if they had to sail with 2 people there is hope for me. LOL

  3. But then you'd have to take a crew as well...

  4. I took a crew for the first few years I raced a moth starting when I was 8 years old. I weighed in at about 100 lbs when I was 12 and got to a whopping 137 by senior year of college. When not needed for ballast, crews were for good for bailing and getting the dagger board unstuck in the mud, or for conversation.

  5. I think old "lovie-duck" had other things in mind when he selected crews.

  6. Thank you for sharing these pics and the history. Wonderful.

  7. Hi Panda: Glad you enjoyed them. It's interesting how such old photos speak to people even if they've never raced a Moth. The old hair and clothing styles, the old cars and background references are universally interesting.

  8. Hi, thank you for those lovely pictures and wonderful memories From the Mid-1930s and Early 1940s. So wonderful to have 'gone back' there again. Thanks again for sharing with us this wonderful history... New York Sailing

  9. William: Glad you enjoyed the trip down memory lane. Did sails Moths in that era?

  10. My mom Rosemary "Skip" Walker raced against Peggy Kammerman when she was 14 and almost won

  11. Interesting. I assume that she and perhaps you lived in the south Jersey area during the years Peggy was racing. Do you recall, or better yet have photos of your mother and the boat?

  12. George, My name is Stacey Kammerman. We live on Carson Ave in AC and own Kammeman's Marina and what was the Evening Star Yacht Club. I love these pictures you have of Peggy and Madeleine. Is there a way to get a copy of them?

  13. Hi Stacey: I borrowed the photos from Charlie Miller back in 2013 just long enough to scan them. I'll look to see if I still have them on a thumb drive.

  14. PS: Someone in the Kammerman tribe should get Peggy's Southern Cross out of that garage and come race at BYC's annual Moth Boat Regatta.