GBH 50th Anniversary Celebration & Change of Watch

Saturday, May 4

Founded in 1969, Great Blue Hill Sail & Power Squadron looks forward to its second 50 years with a gala celebration packed with remembrances, vintage and recent photos, videos and accolades from national and regional representatives of the United States Power Squadrons® — America’s Boating Club®. USPS’s next commander, Executive Officer Mary Paige Abbott, SN-IN, arrives from Florida to underscore GBH’s role in strengthening safe recreational boating. District 12 Commander Donald E. Stone, AP, will represent fellow boaters in eastern Massachusetts.

The Change of Watch (COW) will install newly elected GBH officers for the 50 ANNIVERSARY YEAR 2019-2020. A highlight is the Flag Ceremony, which marks the passing of leadership to new command. A GBH tradition, it is led by GBH Past Commander Robert L. Black, SN, who introduced the ceremony to GBH and was chair of the squadron’s 25th Anniversary activities.

Following the COW, guest speaker Michael J. Tougias will present a dramatic visual presentation detailing the Rescue of the Bounty. The tall ship Bounty, featured in the Marlon Brando movie Mutiny on the Bounty, sank during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The captain and a crewmember perished in the accident, but the Coast Guard performed harrowing helicopter rescues to save the other fourteen sailors. Tougias will use slides of the storm, the survivors and the rescue to make this “an edge-of-your seat” visual program.

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V/C Mary Paige Abbott, SN-IN, joined the USPS National Bridge in 2016. Abbott previously held the positions of R/C for the National Marketing Committee (2015) and the National Membership Committee (2012-2015). A member of the Sanibel-Captiva Sail & Power Squadron since 2000, Abbott co-founded the Sanibel School safe boating education class in which all sixth-graders participate. She became Sanibel-Captiva’s Commander in 2006. She currently teaches Partners in Command and Cruise Planning. 

V/C Abbott began boating (paddle, sail, and power) as a youth with her family when living in Michigan. Her father served on the Michigan State Waterways Commission, which was then working oncollaborative boating education & training for recreational boaters as well as enforcement agencies. She became an advocate of recreational boating safety when a swim team friend was struck and killed by a speedboat during a summer lake party.

During college Abbott crewed on observation boats during the 1977 America’s Cup Trials off Marblehead, Mass. Sailors Ted Hood, Ted Turner, and Dennis Conner reignited her love of on-the-water boating activities. She and her husband, Steve, purchased their first sailboat, Corsair, a Sabre 38. They became avid weekend sailors on Lake Michigan. Retiring to Florida in 1999, the couple made the switch to powerboating in 2000. The Abbotts boated to nearly all eighteen D22 squadron changes of watch via AusSea, their 52’ Maritimo motoryacht. 

A graduate of the University of Massachusetts in marketing communications, Abbott retired as the Marketing Communications Manager for Essex International, Inc., which followed stints with banking, Junior Achievement and the City of Fort Wayne. She has served on community boards, was Fleet Captain of the St. Charles Yacht Club, is a member of DAR and continues to play golf.

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Michael J. Tougias is a NY Times Bestselling author and co-author of 29 books. A versatile writer, he has been published in almost every category including history, young adult, humor, nature and historical fiction. He is best known for his seven survival at sea books such as A Storm Too SoonRescue of the Bounty, Fatal Forecast and The Finest Hours, which was made into a major motion picture by Disney starring Casey Affleck and Chris Pine. Tougias’s first maritime book, Ten Hours Until Dawn, a true story of heroism off the coast of Massachusetts during the Blizzard of 1978, was selected by the American Library Association as one of the “Top Books of the Year” and described as “a white-knuckle read, the best book of its kind.”

The story begins on October 25, 2012, when Captain Robin Walbridge made the fateful decision to sail the HMS Bounty from New London, Connecticut to St. Petersburg, Florida. Walbridge was well aware that a hurricane was forecast to come up the Eastern seaboard. He explained to his crew of 15 that the ship would fare better at sea than at port and that he thought he could sail “around the hurricane.” He told the crew that anyone who did not want to come on the voyage could leave the ship and there would be no hard feelings. No one took the captain up on his offer. This decision would have fatal consequences.

Four days into the voyage Superstorm Sandy made an almost direct hit on the Bounty. The captain issued a Mayday explaining that the vessel’s pumps could not keep up with the incoming water. A few hours later, in the dark of night, the vessel suddenly heeled over, sending the crew tumbling into an ocean filled with crashing thirty foot waves. Some were swept far from the ship, others found themselves tangled in the rigging, while others were trapped below the surface by the masts and spreaders.

“I enjoy doing these programs,” says Tougias, “because I like to transport the audience into the heart of the storm so that they ask themselves ‘what would I have done.’ It’s like watching a movie with the author giving behind the scene details.” Tougias says that besides focusing on the voyage and the disaster, he will recount the heroic rescue attempts by Coast Guard rescue swimmers and pilots. A book signing will follow the program, and the presentation is suitable for all ages.

Tougias, known for his fast paced writing style and character-driven stories, has written several true survival thrillers, including Above & Beyond: John F. Kennedy and America’s Most Dangerous Spy Mission and other sea sagas. On a lighter note, the author penned the award-winning memoir There’s A Porcupine In My Outhouse: Misadventures of a Mountain-man Wannabe. His latest two books are a World War II survival story titled So Close To Home and a book about the Cuban Missile Crisis titled Above & Beyond.


Contact Joseph F. Frawley, XO, directly to inquire about availability of seats.

Invitation (PDF)


Date: Saturday, May 4, 2019
Time: 7:00 – 11:00 PM
Event: 50th Anniversary Celebration. Includes COW, guest speaker and dinner
Evening program: GBH at 50, with V/C Mary Paige Abbott, SN-IN • Rescue of the Bounty, with Michael J. Tougias
Location: Brookmeadow Country Club
100 Everendon Road
Canton, MA 02021
Google Map
Cost: $65.00  • Includes dinner
R.S.V.P.: by Thursday, April 18, 2019
Reservations: Contact
Lt/C Joseph F. Frawley, XO