History of the Power Squadron
Recreational yachting in the early 1900’s was largely confined to sailing craft and large steam yachts manned by professional crews. The gasoline-powered craft was coming into its own by 1909, but not with much enthusiasm on the part of the out and out sailors. Yachting was still for the sailors and the new breed of powerboat men found scant fun on club cruises and almost none in racing. Roger Upton was a sailing member of the Boston Yacht club in 1909, but, unlike so many other sailors, he was captivated by the newfangled powerboats. He owned a 50' ketch named "Nirvana" and often cruised up the coast of Maine with his 35' gasoline- powered motor launch to serve as a tender for the ketch and tow her when she was becalmed. The reliability of power appealed to him and he grew to love power boating.
In the summer of 1911, Upton presented his idea for a club-within-a-club to embrace a select group of "gasoliners", who would develop such forms of cruising and racing as the new type of yacht demanded. Upton was elected Rear Commodore of the Boston Yacht Club in 1912, and was placed in charge of the "unofficial" Power Boat Division of the fleet.
There was a need for education at this time, for the U.S. laws governing navigation, applied only to steam vessels. Upton and other USPS founders set out to protect the power yachts from the steamboat inspectors and to remove forever the stigma of ignorance and foolhardiness. On 14 October 1912, the Executive Committee of the Boston Yacht Club unanimously granted Upton’s petition to establish his Power Boat Division officially. At the annual meeting in 1913, the name was changed to Power Squadron, with its officers – Roger Upton Commander; C. N. Burnell, Lt/C; Nathanel L. Stebbins, Secretary – and rules printed in the 1913 Boston Yacht Club yearbook.
Assisted by a three-page photostory in "Yachting Magazine", news of the Boston outfit’s activities spread and other clubs began to plan along the same lines.
In June 1913 Charles F. Chapman associate editor of "Motor Boating Magazine", gave the idea a full–page display, and additional interest was generated. On 12 November 1913, the Boston Yacht Club called together 30 delegates, representing 70 clubs and associations of powerboat owners at the New York Yacht Club to consider the formation of Power Squadrons. Cdr Upton explain ed the reasons which led to his forming the Boston Yacht Club Power Squadron and told of what was being accomplished in instructing power yachtsmen on the rules of the road and handling of their boats. A second Conference Committee meeting was held on 2 February 1914 and the final work of organizing and launching United States Power Squadrons was accomplished.