Rotarians are sociable people, but not all of their fellowship takes place at club meetings, parties or special events. Much of it happens in Rotary Fellowships – groups made up of club members and others who share a common interest in recreational activities, hobbies, professions or cultural identity.
These groups help expand skills, foster vocational development and enhance the Rotary experience by exploring interests while having fun. More than 70 Fellowships are now officially registered with Rotary International. One closest to home is the Rotary Yacht Squadron of Chesapeake Bay, part of the International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians begun in 1947 and now counting some 3,700 members across 44 countries throughout the world.
Columbia-Patuxent Rotary member Charlie McCabe is Commodore of the Chesapeake Squadron, while past commodore John May is Fleet Captain. The squadron was founded in Annapolis in 1954 and has about 30 active members, with about half that number of boats. Its members hail from home ports all over Chesapeake Bay and represent Rotary clubs in Maryland, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia.
John said Chesapeake members “have fellowship, we talk about the service projects that our own home club is involved in. We offer not only advice but ideas among the members about how they can go back to their home clubs and conduct fundraising, source projects and the like.” The Fellowship operates much like a Rotary club.
“Our officers are called the Commodore, the Vice Commodore, the Rear Commodore and the Fleet Captain,” John explained. “We also have directors. We have the same Rotary traditions and ceremonies that clubs do. We have Paul Harris presentations and guest speakers at our events.” Fellowship activities include a seasonal kickoff dinner in May, followed by a three-day weekend cruise (or rendezvous) in June, July, August and September, and ending in a change of watch formal dinner and ceremony in October.
“Any Rotarian with an active interest in boating or just being on and protecting the earth’s waters can be a member,” Charlie said. “Ownership of a boat is not required.” He added: “The International Yachting Fellowship is the oldest and largest of all Rotary Fellowships. Whatever you're interested in, there's probably a Rotary Fellowship for it. I would recommend you look into it if you have a particular interest.”