Sailboat racing season underway at Charlestown retirement community

It's been 70 years. But Joe Diehlmann can still remember the mysterious, powerful attraction of the water that he felt as a youngster playing during visits to his family's summer spots along the Magothy River in Anne Arundel County.

When the Catonsville native retired 23 years ago, he gave himself a gift, a 30-foot sailboat. He has since donated it to the Living Classrooms Foundation in Baltimore.

But the Naval Academy graduate still takes a sailboat out on the water.

Now, it's a 30-inch, radio-controlled sailboat that the Charlestown retirement community resident races with his fellow members of the Black Swan Yacht Club.

May 1 marked the first in this year's series of weekly races on the huge lake that some at the retirement community don't realize exists on the Maiden Choice Lane campus.

A crowd of 53 was able to find it, however, and enjoyed the first Wednesday morning racing of the season, which runs through October.

Diehlmann was quick to credit Mary Hollenbaugh, the club's secretary, for the smooth and efficient manner in which the races were run and scores were kept.

After watching the boats race around three buoys on the 3-acre surface of Lake Charles, which is 7 feet deep, spectators also had an opportunity to pilot a boat themselves.

"I think we got some prospective new members," said Diehlmann, in his second year as commodore, or president, of the 10-year-old club.

Diehlmann said the club has 15 members, six or seven of whom are active sailors.

In addition to Diehlmann's craft, the boats of fellow Black Swan Club members Peg Norman, Rune Engblom, Bob Kraemer and Rod Waite also took part in the event.

"Everybody had a good time. But I had a better time than anybody else," said Diehlmann, his enthusiasm for the event still obvious two days later.

Diehlmann said he usually puts his boat in the water twice a week.

Two or three times a week, he said, he will make his way down to the lake to read a book or watch the geese.

And, he admitted, sometimes he will just spend a half-hour there, standing by the water.

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