They called themselves the Pink Squid Yacht Club. They were a fun group of hardworking Vineyarders who liked to party and raise money for one worthy cause or another, but the PSYC has disbanded. Call it a sign of hard times. Call it a group of anglers and golf enthusiasts who have shifted their interests. The club is done.
The commodore, Glen Searle, of Edgartown, said: “I got tired. Everybody got tired.” Mr. Searle, 52, is an assistant manager at Your Market.
The club, which never had a piece of real estate but resided in the minds of a few for the benefit of many, will not hold their annual fishing tournament in June. The tournament used to raise thousands of dollars on a Saturday afternoon. The barbecue awards ceremony that filled the dock at North Wharf in Edgartown drew a crowd. Anglers came from the Cape. Their annual autumn golf tournament will not be held this year, either.
The club was formed to bring fun-loving fishermen together and raise money for the community. The final numbers on the club are a bit sketchy. Some members think the club raised $75,000, another put the number as high as $100,000 — and none of it went into the pockets of the organizers. Since it was formed in 1995, there is no doubt it contributed huge funds to Island nonprofits. There were annual scholarship contributions to regional high school seniors; in its heyday the club raised as much as $7,000 for scholarships in one year for seniors going on to college. The list of beneficiary nonprofits also included Sail Martha’s Vineyard, the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Martha’s Vineyard, the regional high school varsity football players and the Martha’s Vineyard Arena.
“We had a good run, a good time. And we gave away a lot of money,” said Lee Welch, an Edgartown electrical contractor. Mr. Welch, 63, calls himself an ex-commodore. He was among a small group of Edgartown fishermen who formed the group.
“It was fun while it lasted. In this day, people are too busy just trying to survive. It is not that people lost interest. It is not anyone’s fault. It is just far more important for people to take care of themselves,” said Scott Morgan, an Edgartown electrician who helped organize the fishing tournaments. “I know the club raised over $100,000. We did a lot.” There were T-shirts, a club burgee and even a signature hat.
In 2006, the club earned national attention for their 10th annual bluefish and striped bass fishing tournament. One group of fishing contestants brought back a surprise at the end of the day of fishing, an 800-pound mako shark, caught a few miles south of the Vineyard on Capt. Willy Hatch’s fishing boat. Peter O’Neil reeled the fish in. And though the fish didn’t qualify for any prizes, because it was neither a striped bass nor a bluefish, it raised the club’s notoriety.
The popularity of the club was raised not just because of the big fish, but because the anglers donated the fish to the participants. A lot of anglers ate fresh shark for days afterwards.
In just that one day of fishing, the club raised $6,000, slightly less than the year before.
Greg Orcutt was then a co-president of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Martha’s Vineyard. “They did a lot for the Big Brothers Big Sisters. Over three years they probably raised $7,000 to $8,000,” Mr. Orcutt said. They not only sent money to the organization, a few of the fishermen got involved in the Big Brothers and Big Sisters programs, mentoring young children. “The club inspired Bigs,” Mr. Orcutt said.
Mr. Orcutt said he liked to see all the anglers gather at the North Wharf for the awards ceremony. “It was nice seeing them all having a good time at North Wharf, instead of just passing through like so many people do,” Mr. Orcutt said. He works as a general manager for radio station WMVY.
In a letter to the editor in the June 9, 2006, Vineyard Gazette, Mr. Orcutt wrote an official thank you to the club as a leader of the Big Brothers Big Sisters. He said: “It is only through the generosity of businesses, and organizations like the Pink Squid Yacht Club, that our program can grow and continue its work.”
“I am so sorry to hear this,” Mr. Orcutt said of the club’s demise. “I still wear a Pink Squid hat whenever I go fishing. It is in the back of my truck right now.”
Cooper A. Gilkes 3rd, an avid angler and owner of an Edgartown tackle shop, said he never fished the contest but was looking forward to fishing it this year. In the past, there had always been a conflict for him. Mr. Gilkes is a co-organizer of the Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club’s flyfishing striped bass catch and release tournament. This year the catch and release tournament is being held earlier. “Oh man, I am going to miss it. They did a lot of good work. I can’t believe it,” Mr. Gilkes said.
Mr. Welch said he has fond memories of how the club began. “It started in 1995. I was at Mill Hill boatyard working on repowering my boat, Live Wire, with two new diesels. It was a 32-foot Black Fin. I now have a 35-foot Carolina Classic called Live Wire.
“We took a break after work. There was Scott Morgan, Scott Hitchings and Kenny Abbott. Somebody painted a pink squid on the bottom of my boat. We started thinking about organizing a yacht club. Maybe this calls for creating a yacht club. What better name than the Pink Squid Yacht Club?” Mr. Welch recalled.
“I went home and typed up a list of 50 names as prospective charter members. I was immediately appointed commodore. I remained commodore for eight years,” Mr. Welch said.
The first time they gave away money is among the memories. “We put $500 into a bag and gave it to a high school student going to college,” Mr. Welch. “Later we went into giving a thousand dollars.”
Besides the big fishing event and golf tournament, they held membership meetings at a local bar. They also had a Christmas party every year. Mr. Welch said in its time 150 people attended the holiday party. At worst, the attendance was 25.
“When money was getting low, I entered the Gravity Race up in Aquinnah, and we gathered $400 to supplement the scholarship program,” Mr. Welch said. “The main thing I want to say is we always appreciated the support we got from the Edgartown Golf Club, the Town of Edgartown and all the sponsors who donated money when it was needed.”
If there was a key reason for the club’s prior success, Mr. Welch points the finger at another person behind the scenes. “I think the big success of the club was due to the help of my wife, Cheryl. We had a lot of fun ideas, but she cracked the whip to make sure they got done.”