Dockwalk - Back in the Day with the IBNA Untitled Page

Back in the Day with the IBNA

Mar 11th 09
By Kelly Sanford

The last time yachting went through really volatile times, it was in the late ’80s and early ’90s. The stock market was in the crapper and new taxes were causing the yachting industry much pain and aggravation. Yet much like today, crew who worked in this industry for the love of working in this industry hunkered down, worked hard, played harder and stood strong in the face of adversity. Ask almost any old-school yachtie about the IBNA (International Boat Not-Gonna-Use-That-Word Association) and they will smile, stare off in the distance and say, “Good times.”

Members say, “When we were 20 years old and had a case of Heinekens in us, the name seemed appropriate. Looking back, it’s obvious we could have made a better choice.”

Their official motto was “In Us They Trust,” but what exactly was the IBNA? Evidently this is a complicatMinimizeed question. It was one part career bank, one part fraternal order of crew who shared the kinship of yachting, one part group therapy, one part charitable organization, one part ride-share resource and quite possibly the penultimate party network ever to grace the industry. Horatio, the man behind the curtain of, says, “I don’t think there was any ‘purpose’ as such; it was a loose affiliation of like-minded individuals…. If you ask different people on different continents what it meant to them – or indeed in different areas of the industry – then you’ll receive many different answers.”

“You never knew when you’d become a ‘member’, it just sort of happened,” says Horatio. “When you were accepted, you knew you’d completed your training program, had talent, a good work ethic and were generally considered socially acceptable. You normally had to have done some pretty outrageous things, too.”

“You don’t see [that rite of passage] among your peers anymore,” says sleeper member Andrew. “The industry is just so diluted. It went from being a small village where everyone knew one another and loved working on boats to a giant metropolis full of people who are in the industry for mysterious reasons, people you’ve never met before and may never see again.” Horatio elaborates, “[Those] were different times when yachting was escapism; the sea was still a place of freedom with no email and scarce contact with the outside world....”

In the ’70s, ’80s and early ’90s, everyone in the industry seemed to know and look after one another. Andrew says, “You might go separate ways from season to season, but every season began and ended with a barbeque and a blow-out.” Over the years, the network and party circuit evolved and members speculate that the IBNA reached its apex around 1985.

Legend has it that Hartley McCloskey hosted the first BN Ball around 1987; it was a tongue-in-cheek, black tie event that became a Newport tradition. In 1989, Norma Trease and Joni Dennis took over the planning of the BN Ball and incorporated charity fundraising. The Newport parties were epic and took place at landmarks like The Candy Store’s Boom Boom Room, the Armoury and Big Bob’s Boat (where the West Deck is now).

However, there was much more to the parties than mere frivolity. A majority of yachts did the “Milk Run,” a few went back and forth to the Med, but that was exceptional. Many grunt-level crew were left to make their own way north and south or across the Pond between the seasons, and the ball was a good place to find a ride. A lot of people would do deliveries just to get a ride and wouldn’t get paid at all. It was not unusual for deckies to work for $200 per month back then. Trease says, “If a chef/mate was making $200 a week, that was a big deal.”

“Fifteen-twenty years ago, a 125-foot yacht was a monster," Andrew says. "Everyone who came to yachting had to get down in the trenches and come up through the industry. And one of the best ways to do that was through BN connections.”

Due to a changing dynamic in the industry and an era of political correctness, the IBNA seemed to evaporate. However, one-time members insist they are lifetime members. “There’s no official IBNA,” says Horatio, “never will be; it would go against the grain of the loose affiliation of like-minded individuals’ ethos. I have the site to remind myself and others what we stood for…before yachting became an industry; when captains were employed because of their ability and reputation, when you were put forward for your first drive by your mentor captain or one of his mates.”

What is crystal clear is that the IBNA played an integral role in the rearing of many of today’s established captains, crew and industry leaders. There is buzz in the Forums (See “Famous People” and "You can stay, but you get no pay!”) that a turning tide might merit a comeback.

Horatio says, “…Is the IBNA ever going to live again? Not in the format it was before. Those of us who were a part of it [always will be], but perspectives and times change and the industry as it was, is no more…RIP.”

Should the IBNA be resuscitated or left to rest in peace? Let us know below.

See more about the IBNA in these Forums:

You can stay, but you get no pay!

Famous People


Rating  Average 4.5 out of 5

  • Here is a link to an old logo -
    Posted by Capt Ross 11/07/2011 00:28:10

  • Be very careful with your tee shirts. Bn's are iconoclastic, you make up a pile of tee shirts for sale in the marine store and proud BN's will hide out to leeward and continue their relentless beat to windward.
    Posted by junior_1 15/03/2009 14:00:21

  • I remember attending a huge IBNA party in Newport back in 1981 !! Next to the old Newport Offshore off of Thames Street. There was a big Shed and it was packed with about 200-300 members from all over the world.. The old logo as I recall was a winch handle and a mop crossed with the ubiquitous motto that will always stand the test of time ... " In us they trust" It was the best group. No pretense. No attitude. Just a shared love and a common purpose.Sail hard Party hard.
    Posted by MJPD345 14/03/2009 20:35:56

  • If anyone has the logo or t-shirt that they can scan into the computer and send my way I will gladly replace the photo we've chosen for this hot topic. :)
    Posted by DWAssocEd 13/03/2009 13:19:48

  • Euphoria II. Sorry
    Posted by anonymous_7 13/03/2009 00:59:02

  • I agree-no yacht in the logo. I have a tee shirt from the 1979 BN Fall Ball with a logo of a crossed scrub brush and oar, surrounded with the circular legend "In Us They Trust". That workout was held in early October in one of the sheds at Newport Offshore. Kenny, one of the yard workers had a band and they rocked. Jimmy Buffet, whose Euphoris II was in the yard for a ton of work, I think, organized the shirts. He played after Kenny. It was a wonderful night. Great music, plain old fun. Saw Peter Bowker soon after. We'll always be here. We'll know us when we see us. The beauty was no organization. That was the ethic-do the job and help all.
    Posted by anonymous_7 13/03/2009 00:52:00

  • Well Celia, Could be fun to resurrect IBNA events and meet the new generation. Remember, one of the reasons they died was because the events morphed from a celebration of life among mates to some kinda yachty event with black ties and tuxedos. A BN is a fast moving, traveling light type with no tux.
    They dont mix well and they dont stand out.. A BN considers it a slur to be referred to as yacht captain. Yacht captains pour gin and tonics and fix broken yachts with their mobile phones.. I know 50 year old BN's that have never been a " captain " . They come from a world in which Dennis Conners was the captain and they are the BN. The word yacht captain does not exist. Follow the Volvo Ocean race and tell me who the yacht captains are. BN's know because we see Pepe Ribas on film hanging over the side chopping Telefonicas broken daggerboard free with a rigging knife. Bn's are all around us.
    You must simply coax them out from the dark during their seasonal migrations with free rum. Try organizing a little drink before the regatta in St Tropez. Cowes, Antigua, Sydney, I sight many in Palma.
    Posted by junior_1 12/03/2009 22:29:05

  • A big YES to the return of IBNA! The beauty of calling yourself a BN is the fact that it transcends creed, race and nationality. It explains with utter sarcasm the gritty side of yachting, and the people who are the force behind it. A BN is a hard working seafarer with a fabulous sense of humor, and real nautical knowledge to boot. BNs do not whine about an economic downturn. If they cannot uniformly coil lines and drink the bosses’ wine on a nice ship, they will pick a grinder, slap glass, and fix a hole in the bottom of 50 footer for a case of cheap beer. And do a great job at it!!! A BN can be a yachtsman, a yachtsman never a BN. Although the IBNA was created in the 70’and 80’s by a group of witty sailors with serious jobs, and yachting has changed considerably since, the core of seafaring has not. Sail fast, sail safe, and do not hit anything hard. BNs are best at it, and in us, they still trust!
    Note: Call it International Boat Naturals Association or whatever; just do not loose the motto!
    Posted by celia_2 12/03/2009 19:22:24

  • The IBNA carries no graphics of any yacht on their logo.
    BN's are not yacht crew they are indomitable, multipurpose seaman. One month they may be hustling 10 euro an hour labour, the next month they are surfing a yacht across the Atlantic at 10 grand a month.
    No person anoints a BN, they are grown. They are only evident in economicaly troubling times when the yachties are all beached and bloated.
    The two Frenchman cracking jokes and peeling a carbon skin off the catamaran next to me are BN's. Their epoxy stained work jackets carry the name MERIT.
    When you meet one you will know.
    Posted by junior_1 12/03/2009 16:47:30

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