The mission of the Windjammers Sailing Club is to promote the joy of sailing with like-minded people, to stimulate interest in sailing and the art of seamanship, and to promote a fraternal spirit among its members and with other yachtsmen and sailing clubs.
The Windjammers Sailing Club welcomes you aboard!
Announcing open registration for anyone with an interest in sailing. Whether you sail up and down Barnegat Bay or around the world, we encourage sailors of all skill levels to join us for cruising, racing, and camaraderie.
Download the membership form for more information.
The Windjammers Sailing Club started in the 1960s at Rocknak’s Yacht Basin, on the south bank of Cedar Creek in Lanoka Harbor, New Jersey. Rocknak’s had been selling and storing wooden motorboats for some time, but when they started dealing in fiberglass sailboats, which were just starting to come onto the market in larger numbers, it didn’t take long before the marina was almost all sailboats. Amid the warm family atmosphere at Rocknak’s, these sailors began to informally race each other and throw parties, which eventually grew to the point that they started to require some organization.
In 1969, Gordon Stables was elected as the first commodore of the Windjammers Sailing Club. He oversaw two events that are still held to this day: a pig roast and a winter dinner. The annual pig roast was an early signature event, which is really more of a carnival than simply a dinner. Winching contests, tests of rope throwing skills, and a blindfolded dinghy race accompanied the food and fellowship. Over the years, other annual events became the norm: the Ladies’ Helm Race, the Tall Oaks Yacht Club Challenge Race, a Memorial Day weekend cruise to Beach Haven, and a cruise to Cattus Island in October for their Fall Festival. The Junior Windjammers Club also held numerous activities for the young members. Another early event was a get-together outside of sailing season, which was a chance to reunite with sailing friends during the long winter. In those days the dinner was held in January or February, usually somewhere well west of the shore—often at the Forsgate Country Club in Monroe Township, NJ, which was more centrally located considering the club’s relatively large number of members from Pennsylvania. During the dinner, elections would be held for the officers and committee chairs, and over time, this has split into the fall dinner and winter planning meeting.
In 1986, Rocknak’s Yacht Basin was sold and the Windjammers were told that they would have to find a new home. Also displaced were Al Stork and Dominic Crowe, power boaters who owned the aptly-named Bird Construction Company. Just upstream on the north side of Cedar Creek was the realtively rundown Cedar Creek Marina for small powerboats. Val Bernhardt (a former Windjammers commodore) and Bob Laureigh (the marina manager at Rocknak’s) approached Al Stork and proposed that if Bird Construction purchased the marina and renovated it to accept sailboats, the Windjammers would guarantee that at least 25 boats would rent slips there. They agreed, and work began on what would become the new home of the Windjammers.
Bird Construction handled the major tasks, such as the bulkheading and the removal of the old railway system for moving boats. They also used their barge with a crane and bucket to dig out a channel to handle the deeper draft of the sailboats. The Windjammers themselves lent their skills to the installation of electrical lines, plumbing, and decking. The old Pine Beach train station building had previously been moved to the site, and when the club renovated it to turn it into a clubhouse, they added sailboat-themed trim that can still be seen today on what is the current marina’s paint shed. Many parties were held in the clubhouse, often with 30 or more people crammed into the small space.
Tom Wright had been hanging around the area since about 1958, when his grandfather kept his boat there, and in the mid 1980s Tom had a boat at the adjacent Up the Creek Marina. He had been working with the owners of both marinas, hauling boats with a forklift that he had purchased and customized. A chance encounter with Val Bernhardt in 1985 led to Tom and Val becoming a formidable racing team, and Tom joined the Windjammers. Tom went on to manage the marina, and then he and his business partner Liz Barto purchased Cedar Creek Marina from Bird Construction in 1990, adding the current store and clubhouse and bringing his mechanical and boating expertise to what is now known as the Cedar Creek Sailing Center and Marina, the current home of the Windjammers. On April 6, 1988, The Windjammers Sailing Club, Inc. became incorporated as a 501(c)7 non-profit social club.
Through all of the changes over the years, the Windjammers have remained committed to what brought them together in the first place: a shared love of sailing and fun.
Content for this history was primarily derived from by an interview conducted by Chip Hitchens on September 29, 2012 with Val Bernhardt (Commodore, 1976, 1988) and Ron Minchin (Commodore, 2000). Additional content was provided by Bill Jarvis (Commodore, 1987), Olwen Jarvis (Commodore, 1994), Kathy Minchin, and Tom Wright. This is meant to be a living document, and the Windjammers welcome corrections and additions. Please contact the webmaster with questions or comments.
The Windjammers recognize the achievements (and, ahem, “creative” sailing) of club members with a series of annual awards, which are presented at the fall dinner.
Walt Spratford Award
The Walt Spratford Award is a silver bowl that is awarded to the club member who best exemplifies the ideals of the club through his or her devotion of time and energy. Walt was a big man who was well liked. He had the only powerboat at Rocknak’s Marina, a 30’ Maine Lobster Boat named Greenstamps. Walt was always available to help people, especially those who were aground, and one of his favorite activities was officiating Windjammers races.
Charles and Ruth Rocknak Award
The Rocknak Award recognizes the club members who have done the most to advance in sailing skill and seamanship, either for themselves or among other members in the club. The plaque, which is kept in the clubhouse, was donated by Charles Rocknak, Jr. in memory of his parents.
Dillon Dock Meter Award
The Dillon Dock Meter is a wooden box, containing a bell on a short chain. The legend is that it is awarded to the club member who hits the dock with enough force to cause the bell to ring. Luke Dillon was both the inventor of the concept and the award’s first recipient:
An older couple next to Luke had moved up from a Sunfish to an Endeavor without taking any sailing lessons. Their standard docking procedure was to simply run the boat into the dock, have the raked bow ride up onto the planks, and then tie some dock lines on after it had slid back down. Luke connected a bell to the dock that would ring whenever their boat hit it.
Later, Luke’s good friend Bruce Hurd made up a portable version of the bell in a box and awarded it to Luke after he rammed his own Endeavor, Sweet Talker, into the dock.
Running Aground Award
In the thin waters of Barnegat Bay, they say that if you haven’t been aground, you haven’t been around. Still some groundings are better than others, and the most spectacular grounding is recognized with the Running Aground Award. The award is a flag with a sailboat lying on her side, which was designed and made by Val Bernhardt.
Also created by Val Bernhardt, the Windjammers’ Turkey Award is literally made of turkey: it’s a turkey breastbone, oriented to resemble a sailboat, complete with a mylar sail. This award goes to the most humorous sailing faux pas of the year that doesn’t fall under The Dillon Dock Meter or Running Aground awards. The first recipient was Bill Jarvis, although the exact event that warranted it has either been forgotten or expunged from the record.
There are numerous sailing awards for events like the Lady’s Helm Race, the Frostbite Race, and the Tall Oaks Challenge.
Information on the Windjammers Awards was primarily taken from a document created by Pat Zagaria. Additional information was provided by Val Bernhardt and Ron Minchin. Please contact the webmaster with questions or comments.