Block Island Club Statement of Purpose
The Block Island Club exists for the benefit of the entire Island Community, including, but not limited to, full-time residents of Block Island, summer residents and visitors to Block Island. Its purpose is to promote the general welfare of the Island community through recreational and educational programs for children and adults, including, but not limited to, sailing and seamanship, swimming and water safety, tennis and arts and crafts. The Block Island Club further exists to promote an appreciation of the unique character of Block Island’s natural environment among children and adults in the community.
The Block Island Club was founded in 1963 by Dr. Edgar Frazelle, Mr. Lawrence “Bud” Pomeroy and Dr. DuPont Guerry. Initially, Pomeroy and Frazelle expressed an interest in starting a summer boat and tennis club and heard of a property that was for sale on the Great Salt Pond for $30,000. At the time, the property included about ten acres of land and two homes. During the ensuing weeks, they brought Guerry aboard to help with the initial investment and they purchased the property on which the clubhouse stands today. The additional two houses on the property included the Bayside (a former bed and breakfast) and the present O’Toole house; both were sold, however, to pay for a clubhouse.
The initial plan for the clubhouse was to purchase a Victorian-style lifesaving station that sat in town near Old Harbor. Pomeroy, Frazelle and Guerry sought to buy the station and have it moved to the Club property. When curators at Mystic Seaport learned of the historic life-saving station’s existence, they offered a replica of the building in exchange for the original. The original building was ferried by barge across Block Island Sound to Mystic, where it is part of the Mystic Seaport Museum. The Block Island Club clubhouse is a close copy of the original, with changes to accommodate the Club’s needs.
After purchasing the property and the clubhouse, Pomeroy, Frazelle and Guerry looked around for people to join. At the time, the cost was approximately $130 for the summer per family. They soon found plenty of eager families, and by the summer of 1965, the first couple moved into the clubhouse and the first staff arrived, eager to teach sailing, tennis and swimming. Since that time, the Club has hired students, teachers and other enthusiastic young people to work as Manager, as well as sailing, swimming, tennis and arts and crafts instructors. Some of the staff have always lived in the apartment on the third floor of the clubhouse and at one time, instructors also lived in the little red house (now owned by the Namenwirth family), which is still on the right hand side at the entrance to the driveway.
Throughout the 1970’s and the 1980’s, the Club flourished with many enthusiastic families. Existing programs grew stronger and additional programs such as aerobics, ballet and even rug making were added, providing a unique learning experience for both children and adults.
In the early 1990’s, with the generous help of members, the Club purchased a fleet of JY-15’s and JY trainers to revitalize the sailing program. The staff grew to accommodate more students, and the board introduced a staff intern program to train home-grown staff. The clubhouse basement was reconfigured and renovated to add a new office, workshop and furnace room. The bathrooms were improved and the spiral staircase (while missed) was replaced by a safer design. The staff apartment was also updated.
In the late 1990’s the Club gained formal recognition under the tax code as an educational not-for-profit. At that time, the Club also helped establish the after-school sailing program with the Block Island Maritime Institute (BIMI). Club members and staff take part in and run the Hal Madison boat race which has taken place for 25 summers running.
In recent years, members once again generously supported the capital needs of the Club by purchasing a new fleet of Optimists and Vanguard 420’s to replace the aging JY-15’s and trainers. Our clubhouse has received a new deck, roof and windows and an electrical upgrade. Our large boat dock has been completely refurbished and our many of our smaller finger docks have been replaced by less labor intensive plastic modular systems.
Approximately 175 families now join the Club each year. These families represent a healthy mix of year round Islanders and summer Cottagers. The Club continues to flourish and grow, with each new generation learning skills, forming friendships and creating lasting memories at the edge of the Great Salt Pond.
Club Operating Hours
The Club building and office are open daily from 9 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. during the summer months.
Building, Docks and Grounds
Members and their immediate families are welcome to use the Club building and facilities, as well as the docks and grounds during Club operating hours.
All personal property, including boats, sails, lifejackets, and other equipment stored on the Club premises are the owner’s responsibility. The Club is not liable for lost, damaged or stolen property.
Private Boats and Storage Privileges
Members may request and pay for summer storage of their boats on the lawn of the Club. The Club Manager has summer storage forms in the office. The Club is not responsible for the maintenance, condition, or policing of member-owned boats.
Use of Club Boats and Kayaks
Anyone wishing to use a Club boat or kayak must be a member of the Club or a qualified guest of a member (see rules concerning guests). Boats and crews must be signed in and out at the office according to check out procedures.
A person may not sail a Club boat unless they have been certified to sail that class of boat by the head sailing instructor or a designated assistant. In order to be certified to use a Club boat or kayak, a person must demonstrate the ability to competently rig, launch and safely land the boat, without the verbal or physical assistance of an instructor. The person must also pass the swimming test administered by the waterfront director or a designated assistant.
Those using a Club boat or kayak are responsible for rigging and unrigging the boat, returning the boat to its proper location on shore, and for returning boat equipment to its proper location. If the boat assigned is already rigged and on the beach or dock, the person is still responsible for de-rigging the boat, returning all equipment and hauling the boat to its proper location. Boats are not to be dragged. Club members and their guests are responsible for any equipment that is lost, damaged or destroyed due to their own negligence, carelessness, recklessness or poor seamanship.
Riggings, rudder/tiller assemblies, centerboards and sails are numbered. The numbered items are to be used only with the hull of the corresponding number. Borrowing of shackles, pins, lines, etc., from other boats on the premises is not permitted. If any item is missing from your assigned boat, please see a staff member.
The head sailing instructor and his/her designated assistants may, at their discretion, restrict sailing of club boats and kayaks in certain weather conditions. The Manager, Head Sailing Instructor or designated assistants may also at any time, based on their own expert opinion and experience, cancel all sailing for the day.
Failure to follow these rules may result in suspension of boating and kayaking privileges.
Sailing and Kayaking Safety
Life jackets must be worn at all times by adults and children, without exception. Boats are not to be sailed out of the Great Salt Pond and boats are not to be landed and left unattended on the shore of the Great Salt Pond.
Boats are not to be sailed unreasonably close to moored and anchored boats, moving boats, launches, docks or buoys. Boats are not to be sailed up onto the beach and boats are not to be purposefully capsized.
The Head Sailing Instructor and designated assistants may suspend the sailing/kayaking privileges of any member or their guests if they fail to obey these rules or otherwise pose a danger to themselves or others, or are a threat to Club property or the property of others.
Swimming at the Club is advised only during supervised lessons and at posted supervised times. All other swimming is at a member’s own risk.
Tennis Court Rules
All members are entitled to use the tennis courts, which are open daily from 8 a.m. until dark. Smooth, rubber soled tennis shoes are required on the courts at all times and there is no skateboarding, rollerblading or biking allowed. Food and alcoholic beverages are not permitted within the fenced in area.
Court availability can only be assured by a reservation which can be made at the front desk. Only same day or next day play is available for reservation. Reservations should be cancelled if the court cannot be used. Members are limited to two reserved hours per day and the courts must be turned over at the end of the reserved session, regardless of the status of the game or set.
Tennis guests are welcome; however, their name must appear on the sign-in sheet at the time of reservation.