An Outline History of the U.S. Brotherhood of the Coast

During November of 1959, John Pflieger established the first United States Table in New York City. His friend, Gordon McCloskey, Honorary Secretary of the Slocum Society, published an article in “The Rudder” in 1958 describing the Chilean Brotherhood and suggesting that Tables be created in the U.S. Chile made McCloskey an Honorary Member of the Chilean Hermandad.

John Pflieger was Commodore of the Slocum Society Sailing Club of New York, and in October 1959 he and fourteen members of the Club met in Whyte’s Restaurant in New York and voted to ask Santiago for permission to create a U.S. Table in New York.

Dr. Oscar Hammer agreed, and on November 20, 1959, our first meeting was held in the St. Germain Restaurant. McCloskey was made Honorary Captain of the U.S. Brotherhood of the Coast and Co-Founder of the Table of New York. John Pflieger was Co-Founder and Captain.

John Pflieger, as a true romantic, loved the Brotherhood, but he was not a stickler for details, so his letters, invitations, etc. never mentioned the year and his statements made great use of “poetic license”. He reinvented the Brotherhood without regard for the Chilean instructions. His letterheads were more declarations of intentions rather than factual information, making it difficult to establish historically exact dates in our history of the World Hermandad. But he is our founding father and he gathered many Brothers in our Table, receiving famous sailors at our Zafarranchos and kept the Table going in great gusto and fun until 1966, when he was lost at sea during a voyage from New York to St. Martin in his twenty-six foot gaff-rigged sloop.

John Pflieger was succeeded by Jean Lacombe, a French single-hander whose first trans-Atlantic voyage was on board an eighteen foot home built sloop. Lacombe was a regular participant in the original OSTAR (single-handed trans-Atlantic) races. His largest boat was a twenty four footer, again home built. He made countless trans-Atlantic and other long voyages. Due to his long absences, the New York Table suffered during his leadership. He eventually took up residence on the Island of Martinique and died in 1996.

During the early 1980’s Jean Lacombe was succeeded by René Fiechter, under whose leadership the New York Table prospered and saw the birth of a Table in Texas. In 1986 he organized the first International Zafarrancho and about 300 Brothers from Europe, South America and the U.S.A. attended. This meeting successfully marked the first effort to consolidate the international organization of the Brotherhood and to promote lines of communication and fellowship among all of our far-flung Tables.

At that first International Zafarrancho, it was decided to hold a similar event every four years in different countries. 1990 found us in Belgium, 1994 in Chile, 1998 in Italy, 2002 in Portsmouth, 2006 in Argentina and 2010 we will be in Australia. After New York, Tables have been created in Charleston, three in Texas, three in Florida, Michigan, Pacific Northwest, Savannah, Chesapeake, Potomac, San Juan, Orange Beach and the Solomon Islands. Today, three of those Tables have been lost – Charleston, Michigan and Pacific Northwest.

We believe that Rene Fiechter wrote the original text. “Rascal” adjusted it to fit the2004 50th Anniversary celebration in NYC.