21 Apr 2016
The Mill Pond Model Yacht Club is gearing up for another sailing season. The club runs Class A model boats on the pond and bay from spring to fall, weather permitting. They have about 40 models of Class A boats that anyone who’s driven to Mill Pond on a warm day has seen sail. The club organizes races every weekend.
“This year, weather permitting, we plan to run on Thursday evening, Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning and afternoon,” Lengton said.
The club has around 25 members. Most members are local, but members also come from Manhattan and New Jersey.
The club has a long history in Port Washington. It was formed in 1898, according to club Commodore Perry Lengton. “One of the Dodges started the club,” Lengton said. “Charles Dodge, Fred Farmer, Harold McKee and John Erikson piloted their homemade wooden model ships on Mill Pond. The current clubhouse was originally a small store on the water’s edge and after the hurricane of 1938 it was moved to Smull Place and later to its current location at the head of Mill Pond.
Boats are housed in the club’s boathouse at the east end of Mill Pond. The structure is in poor condition and Lengton is working with the City to keep the current structure or to erect a new structure in its place.
City councilor Dina De Giorgio was instrumental in helping the club.
“The Mill Pond Model Yacht Club is a piece of port history and I am working with the club to help them find a way to replicate the original clubhouse,” said De Giorgio.
An ongoing problem for the club is the weed growth which is prolific at Mill Pond. “Weeds thrive on runoff from all over the harbor,” Lengton said. “The runoff drains into Mill Pond and Baxter Pond. Stormwater contains chemical fertilizers that people use on their lawns. The bottom of the pond becomes a sump. But there are certain bacteria that can fight pollution and the Town of North Hempstead has planted grasses in an attempt to alleviate the problem.
Part of the problem is the depth of the pond.
“The pond was deeper, over four feet. Now he’s less than three feet, ”Lengton said. “When the sun hits the bottom of the pond, there is a chemical reaction and weeds proliferate.”
The ship models are all handmade. “Perry did most of them,” said club member Kenny Ringgold. “Perry also made the carts. The boats sit on the carts and can be pushed into the water.
The club recently did their semi-annual pond clean-up. “As informal stewards of the pond, we believe it is in the best interest of the community to maintain this scenic and ecologically valuable natural resource,” Ringgold said.
The Mill Pond Model Yacht Club has been racing miniature yachts at Mill Pond in Port Washington for over 100 years. The club needs the support of the city to carry on the tradition of model sailing on Mill Pond. The club welcomes visitors to watch the boats sail and get involved.