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History

From the early 20th century to the current day, Port Huron Yacht Club has had a lively history and continues an active role in the sailing community of the Great Lakes region.

Early Years to 1930

1906 The earliest printed word that could be found concerning Port Huron Yacht Club came from a copy of the 1906 City Directory. It lists Thomas Major as Commodore, Dr. Frank E. Sharp as secretary / treasurer and John V. O'Sullivan as corresponding secretary. The address shown for the Club at that time was 1 Butler Street. There are no documents available from this early time to indicate that the Club was officially organized.

boats-behind-phyc-on-st-cl-.jpg1923 On July 4 1923 a group of Port Huron boat owners got together for a race on the St. Clair River. After a wonderful afternoon of competition, followed by a banquet at the Harrington, it was decided that there was enough interest to form a yacht club in the city. Organizational meetings were held every two weeks at the Harrington through the end of the year. Captain E. W. Kiefer and Captain John Hodge were the chief organizers.

1924 In March, the first annual dinner dance was held at the Harrington. Officers were installed. They were Commodore, Henry Clough; Vice Commodore, Joseph Gannon; Rear Commodore Norman Cosgrove. The purpose of the Club was both nautical and social.

1924 A Ladies’ Auxiliary was formed with the purpose of raising money for the Club and especially to have funds to furnish a clubroom if and when a clubhouse was secured.

strohs-int-race-1935-copy.jpg1924 Official status began with membership in the Detroit River Yachting Association and the Inter-Lake Yachting Association. Membership in both associations has been continuous since that time.

1924 July, 4 Racing began immediately by hosting a regatta and inviting Edison Boat Club, Detroit Boat Club, and Bayview Yacht Club. To insure a good attendance, a fishing tug went to Detroit and towed the boats to Port Huron. Thirty boats participated in the event. The reception and awards banquet were held at the Harrington Hotel. The Commodore at PHYC at this time was Henry H. Clough. The 4th of July would become an annual event, sanctioned by the DRYA and ILYA.

Phyc-deheir-Skip-Lis-hurse-.jpg1924 Members from the PHYC take part in the Inter Lake Week at Put In Bay, Ontario.

1925 The first Port Huron to Mackinac race sponsored by the Bayview Yacht Club was hosted by the Port Huron Yacht Club.

power-boat-copy.jpg1926 The first recorded mooring area for P.H.Y.C. was at the foot of Dove Street in a space leased from the Port Huron Dry-dock Co. Well space was inside, what in it's early days, was the largest wooden floating dry-dock in the Great Lakes. At the time it was used by P.H.Y.C. for mooring, the dry dock was sitting on the bottom. At this time the Club had no building in which to hold meetings and the business of the Club was usually carried on in the home of the current Commodore. A fishing tug was hired to tow boats up to Lake Huron for the Sunday races.

1930 - 1950

number-2-squashed-boats.jpg1930 A large storage shed on the front lawn of Skip Liscomb’s house became the temporary clubhouse. Skip Liscomb’s home was immediately south of Pine Grove Park.

flat-calm-during-race-copy.jpg1934 In the middle 30's river front property was leased from the City of Port Huron north of Lincoln Avenue in Pine Grove Park. A dock was installed parallel to the shore with inside and outside moorings. Between the dock and the shore, a small two-story clubhouse was built on pilings. About a dozen boats moored there and winter boat storage was just south of the Water Works on their dock. This is the present home of the U.S. Coast Guard buoy tender 'Bramble'. Additional mooring was just to the south behind Skip Liscom's house on Michigan Street.

1935-1940 During the pre World War II years the P.H.Y.C. fleet was primarily involved in racing, with a fleet of five 26-foot dories and approximately seven Star Boats. At this time racing began on an international level with Sarnia. The Sarnia Clubhouse was directly across the river in line with the Grain Elevator on the north shore of the bay. The Star boat fleets combined totaled eleven boats. There were also a few cruising boats and two meter boats. Some of the early Commodores of this period were "Cap" Walker, Henry Clough and Rex Miller all of whom were active racing skippers.

1938 The Port Huron to Mackinac has a record number of participants with 32 yachts.

unknown-from-phyc-copy.jpgpreparing-sails-for-mac-cop.jpg1942 The United States is at WAR. Most of the skippers enlist.

1941-1945 Activity slowed during the World War II years. Many of the active sailors continued to race in centerboard boats off the beach. The group was known as the Edison Beach Boat Club.

1946 After the war, there was renewed activity in P.H.Y.C. The majority of the members of the Edison Beach Boat Club became members of P.H.Y.C. The racing fleet was mostly Lightnings and Star boats.

girl-with-club-house.jpg1948 It was during these early post war years when the PHYC acquired it fledging fleet of "Meter" boats. Fran Merritt and Bill Montgomery were the first with a 22Sq. Meter called "Diane". Later the acquisition of the 6 Meters and 30 Square Meters, namely; a 30 Sq. Meter "lil Singva" owned by Mel Hall, "Mairade" owned by Cap. Keifer, "Helldiver" owned by Fran Merritt, and a 6 Meter "Irene" owned by Ed Beebe completed the Meter fleets.

1950 - 1975

mac-race-start-copy.jpgracing.jpg1953 High water in the Great Lakes caused the membership of P.H.Y.C. to begin looking for a new home. It became uncomfortable to stand ankle deep in water on the first floor of the Clubhouse. Skippers and crews had to step up to the decks of their boats and a good south wind would submerge the dock.

1954 Newspaper Article1954 A building and property on the Black River was leased from a Mrs. Clements. The building had been used to re-refine used motor oil. Needless to say the building was in a sorry state. This was the beginning of the modern P.H.Y.C. and the Clubs' "Do it yourself" attitude. A new concrete floor was poured over the original 'oily' one. Walls, partitions and rest room facilities were constructed that first year.

1954 Along the river 16 moorings were installed. Two or three additional moorings were used in what had been the turning basin for the Port Huron to Sarnia Ferries. This 'non-official’-mooring place was affectionately known as the 'Snake-Pit'. The members accomplished the move from Pine Grove Park and probably the most memorable move was that of the piano. It was loaded cross-wise on the bow of the 6 Meter 'Irene', motored down the St. Clair River, up the Black River, and there unloaded and put into the clubhouse. To any who may disbelieve this story, the piano in the clubhouse at this time is the very same one that made the voyage aboard 'Irene'.

1957 Port Huron Yacht Club's new home seemed destined to be taken from the Club after all the hard work that had gone into it. The City, after a three year legal battle, succeeded in the condemnation proceedings against the Club, to make way for the new 1st. Ward Urban Renewal Project.

1961 Due to a lack of funds in the city coffers the Club was allowed to stay with the provision that we would raze the existing building. A temporary lease agreement was worked out with the City to allow us to use the moorings, until such time as the City decided what use they would put the property to.

1967 The Club made a proposal to the City for a long-term lease on the property. Included in it’s proposal were our plans for the mooring basin, redoing the out front moorings, etc. The City commission at that time looked upon our proposal favorably and after about a year of negotiations in which the Club agreed to certain conditions as to making the building and grounds compatible with the City's plan, we signed a thirty-year lease, which contained an option to buy after the prescribed conditions were met.

1969 Under the helm of Commodore Bob Visger and with the help of member Martin Tweedie the negotiations with the city of Port Huron allowed the members to purchase the Quay Street property! Members backed the loan from the bank with a promise to pay.

1970 In 1970 the basin was constructed. We were fortunate in that we were able to buy the sheet piling at cost. Ken Marx, owner of K.G. Marx Construction Co. furnished the shovel, with the Club paying the operator. Pengra Oil Co provided fuel for the shovel. Members did all of the 'Bull' work. All of the pilings for moorings were driven that winter with the men working on the ice. All of this was done with donated equipment and volunteer labor. The new basin gave us 36 wells.

1974 The exterior of the building remodeled, the basin complete with all the concrete work. The grounds cleaned up and we felt the time had come to take our option to buy. By this time the basin was almost paid for and we had no trouble getting a mortgage to buy the property. The mortgage dwindled rapidly and the Club was on sound financial footing. Membership is up to the limit set by the Board of Directors and we have a waiting list.

1975 - 2000

1975 The screened in porch was added and the bar area was extended to include a lounge.

1978 The club adopts a new octagon racecourse farther out in the lake and away from the shipping channel. Each leg is 1.5 miles long. The new long course is 14 miles with the finish between the red channel buoy and the entrance to the Sarnia Yacht Club.

1980 As interest and demand for membership increased, it became apparent that the 36 wells the Club had were unable to meet the needs of the an expanding membership (150). For the next few years, various committees worked on proposals to expand the Club.

1983 The membership voted to accept a proposal of the engineering and planning committee to expand the Clubs dockage space with the purchase of 248.5 feet of Black River frontage. The property was located on the west side of the foot of 13th. Street and had been part of 'Captain Jack's Marine Service' operation. At the time of purchase, the property contained five docks and allowed nine additional wells to be pressed into service. The following spring work began in earnest to improve the property by clearing and landscaping. The biggest problem facing the project was a sunken 90ft. wooden barge that lay parallel to the shore. Members contributing their time, talents, and construction equipment, managed to remove about 3/4 of the barge and in the process salvaged a 500lb. bollard that is now located at the entrance to the 13th. Street property.

1987 The mortgage for the Quay street property was paid off and a mortgage burning party was held at the Club and was attended by the general membership.

1988 By the spring of 1988 the 13ht Street property had been landscaped, sewers installed, parking lot graveled and graded, river banks shored, finger docks installed and pilings driven to yield a marina boasting 20 additional docks. As was done for Quay street property, the mortgage for the 13ht Street Property was paid off early.

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1988 An additional piece of property became available adjacent to it on the east side of 13th. Street. The membership again voted on its acquisition and on May 17 1988 the Club bought it. This new piece of property contained a bay and an 82ft. long metal building but was separated from our adjacent property by the end of 13th street. The combined 13th street properties gave us space for 45 wells in addition to the 36 at Quay street and also provided us with winter storage for 55 boats outside and a half dozen boats and trailers inside the metal building.

After petitioning the city of Port Huron and a referendum vote by the people of Port Huron, the 77ft of the end of 13th. Street was abandoned and deeded to P.H.Y.C. This act allowed the two West properties to be incorporated as a contiguous entity and added 4 slips for a total of 49. Both the main Club and 13th. Street experience continual upkeep and improvement programs devised by the grounds committees associated with each property.

1989 Both the Quay Street and 13th Street properties were dredged due to the low lake levels. A new bubbler system was installed at the main Club to try to prevent the ice from moving the slip pilings. This was part of a 10,000-dollar property improvement fund approved by the membership. The Clubhouse (Quay Street) under went extensive redecorating. The members are privately contributing time and money at 13th street to build two shower stalls. A new gin pole is being constructed at the 13th. Street property which when completed will be able to pull the tallest of masts.

1989 With the Clubs main thrust of competitive sailing, it is appropriate to discuss upgrades in our racing program. In 1985 a computer was installed at the Sarnia Yacht Club race shack to usher our unique International Racing Program into the modern age. In 1989 PHYC bought its first computer for the race program and linked it up via a phone modem with the one at SYC. Our race results are now posted at P.H.Y.C. soon after the last boat crosses the finish line. Allowed by the expansion of Club facilities, we now boast a registered fleet of 140 boats and field as many as 87 boats for some of our many racing events.

1990 The Club took over the sponsorship of the Port Huron to Alpena race, which was previously sponsored by MORC Station 11 in Detroit. The race not only had more participation than usual but was ruled a major success by participants and spectators alike.

The Club now has three 'One Design' fleets. The newest is the 'Cal 25' fleet. It was organized in 1990 and is ten boats strong. Our '6 Meter' fleet has now increased to ten boats and is the largest active 6 Meter fleet in the world. The third fleet is our '30 Square Meter' fleet, which has six boats and is the only 30 Square Meter fleet in North America.

Our 'Cruising Fleet' has grown so much that it had to be divided into three groups, Cruising A, B, and C. At race time the 'Cruising C' fleet had to be started with a smaller fleet because there were so many boats in Cruising A and B.

The field of race boats is divided into thirteen fleets with nine starts at race time. the boats range in size from twenty feet to fifty feet in length.

1991 Spring: At this time, six more boat slips are being prepared at the 13th. Street property which when completed will give us 91 boat wells. As always, members are doing the work and this makes for a strong fiscally sound, socially close-knit yacht club.

ON GOING All Club projects are manned by Club members volunteering their time, talents, and labor. This type of participation not only contributes to the fiscal soundness of the Club but also develops interpersonal relationships and pride in our properties. At the present time (05/09/91) our membership numbers 267 active, 19 inactive, 10 junior, and 4 students.

1994 With the Club financially sound and PHYC West completed it was time to put into motion plans for a new Clubhouse. The seed was planted in 1987 by PC Kevin Sullivan who set up a building committee and a building fund. PC Chuck Williams and present Commodore Ed Schwanz were part of that committee and in 1994 formed a new building committee consisting of PC Chuck Williams (Chairman & Engineer), Bill Vogan (Architect), PC Ed Schwanz (Design Coordinator), PC Ed Beebe (Project Superintendent), PC Bill White (Finance & Structural Steel), Ken Forgiel (Mechanical & Electrical Engineer), and PC Pete Irland (Project Assistant). Building plans & projected cost were approved by the membership in November.

1995 On March 11th the membership voted to demolish the Clubhouse and construct a new building. Presenting our plans & visions to the City of Port Huron paved the way for future expansion of the new harbor & leads the way in the development of downtown and along the Black River.

Club Members Katie and Debbie Pettibone sailed as part of the America 3 team for the America’s Cup challenge and gave a slide presentation of that experience to the club.

Our club hosted the CAL 25 and the Tartan 10 Class National Regattas.

We also hosted the first Leukemia Cup Regatta to take place in Michigan with Gary Jobson attending. The Club held our traditional “pot luck supper” and farewell party prior to the old Clubhouse being razed following the Labor Day weekend Regatta.

Work started by moving the clubs possession to 13th street & Tomlin’s warehouse and final demolition took less than 2 hours the morning of Sept. 21st by Torrelo Construction with many members looking on. The foundation was excavated and poured with a can of Stroh’s in each corner. Structural steel was set by Ferguson Steel (PC Bill White) and the rough plumbing was installed by John Mackay and Ray Kelly with Pete Irland excavating. Work parties continued under the supervision of Ed and George Beebe, with our members finishing the 1st floor grade and Brock Borden compacting sand. The floor was poured Nov. 6th and the laying of block walls began Nov. 16th. Fergusson Steel and the block layers continued to work on the structure thru the month of Dec. and by Xmas we’re installing trusses for the roof. At the same time members are framing and installing windows.

Board meetings and the elections of officers and Board Members were held at Victoria’s Studio. Friday night gatherings continued at various locations including the construction trailer, which was stocked with Strohs.

1996 By Jan. 28th (4 months), the club is closed in and we’re beginning to work inside. The block interior wall partition are going up, rough plumbing and electrical is being installed as the ORFS work continuously during the week and the rest of the membership on the weekends. The cooperation and efforts of our membership was a sight to be seen. Contributions to the Building Fund were coming in with major donations from PC Bill Montgomery and George & Glad Lyons, which provided us funds to enhance the interior. Different crews were formed to handle each facet of construction under the guidance of Ed Beebe, Jim Butlin, Ed Schwanz, Don Dupuie, Jeff Smith, John Mackay and Doug Treadgold. Meanwhile, PC Andy Connolly was busy fabricating the spiral stairway to the widow’s watch, Paul Levin is Building the Bar and the Ladies Auxiliary never let us go hungry. It was a well-choreographed project with an amazing amount of members (70-100) working together for a common goal.

May 23 (8 months) the last of the concrete on the upper and lower decks were poured. May 24 the Club hosted a Dedication Party with members and local dignitaries ran by PC Tim Harmer and officially opened the bar. The 1st floor was complete with the exception of kitchen cabinets & counters. The 2nd floor and above still needed a lot of work. Meanwhile the boats are in & the race schedule has begun. Projects to be completed were painting & staining upstairs. Painted and installing the deck railing system, cabinets and counters and finishing the trim work.

By July, 91/2 months into the project, we are ready for Mackinac week and to show off our new Club. Our trophies and pictures are in place and the Club is decorated beautifully. There are so many members that made this possible and you know who you are. We have become the envy of all the yacht clubs around because of our membership’s ability and generosity to get things done for the good of the Club.

1997 The Club celebrates its 75th Anniversary with special meeting and celebration. Commemorative shirts, caps and sweaters were produced for this occasion. The celebration banquet featured memorabilia from past times and yarns from old timers.

1998 As early as 1998, committees were formed to establish talks with the city of Port Huron to acquire the Coast Guard property.

We installed the dedication blocks in the front of the new building and held an unveiling ceremony after the Lake Huron Championship Regatta. The Commodore’s Ball this year was held in our own building for the first the very first time.

1999 Without a doubt the most memorable event this year was the acquisition of the Coast Guard property and the Mobile gas dock. Not only did we have to develop a feasibility plan and present it to our membership for approval, we had to sell it to the city council but even more critical to the people of Port Huron all of which was done in about 6 months. All these pieces had to come together in order for the voters of Port Huron to approve the acquisition.

2000 - Present Day

2000 In March, Gary Jobson again visited the Club and made a presentation on sailing.In May, the Club closed on the new property and in November, the ‘New Marina’ application was mailed the Corp. of Engineers and the Department of Natural Resources.

Ground Breaking2001 Prior to haul out, mast racks and the shed are being moved to the north fence line at the east property, to allow room for the dredging and for tiebacks necessary to support the new sea wall. A General Membership meeting was held on October 14th to approve the financing for continuation of the Marina Project. The official Ground Breaking took place on December 9th at 2 P.M. The first sheet piling delivery was on December 27th and digging began on December 29th.

Marina Project

Overall2002 The construction of the seawall and excavation of soil from the marina site has continued six (6) days a week. The newly formed “Forestry Division” cleared the land from our East property line to the St. Clair River allowing a clear view of river traffic. Saturday work parties at West have completed the finger docks minus the decking. P/C Ed Beebe served as the Construction Superintendent until the last piece of sheeting completed the seawall on March 21, 2002. The excavation and trucking of soil continued and the pump was removed on April 15th followed by the flooding of the basin. Floating docks were assembled and installed during work parties. The members held work parties on weekends during the winter and every Tuesday after launch. Meals were prepared and provided by our first female Commodore and other volunteers. The concrete along the East and South sides of the basin was completed prior to Mackinac. And special permission was granted to allow the basin to be filled with boats for that weekend. Dick DenUyl, Don Dupuie and Rich Pond were tireless to complete the electrical, sidewalk and water. The basin was available for regular use in time for the CAL 25 Nationals in mid August. The sale of brick pavers generated additional funds for the project and the initial order was laid as the walkway to the basin. The donor plaques on the landing to 2nd floor were updated. The former city marina office was relocated to be our Race Committee building and additional restrooms. The decision was made to refurbish the original basin with floating docks and new power pedestals. Late in the year, the construction loan was converted into our mortgage. Other events included a rules seminar by Ted Everingham, historical seminar by Nathaniel Herrshoff III, I-68’s available on special evenings, boat inspections by the Coast Guard Auxiliary, Mariner Breakfast and Service at Grace Church, the Blessing of the Fleet, an Antique Boat rendezvous, additional trophy cases in the Club House, and the tall ship, Highlander Sea, winter stored in our basin.

2003 Began as 2002 ended with our harbor “Under Construction”. Electrical work continued through the winter as well as the renovation of the old harbor. As spring arrived the renovation of the old harbor was completed and landscaping began. By May a celebration was held in honor of 80 years of club history and a Grand Opening of the harbor. Work continued through the summer as we completed projects from the west end of our property working our way east. Our Mackinac event was held on the entire property this year. By fall we were down to the east end of our property. Sidewalks, electrical, water and a pump out were completed. The gin pole/crane has been delivered and the foundation installed with plans to be completed by spring. In December the harbor committee met for the last time declaring the project completed. This was a year where the members made it happen.

2004 Began with a short rest, before we started with the first refreshing of the Club since it was built in ’95. The second level was painted and the boardroom trimmed in oak with wall coverings. On the first floor and bar area new wall covering was installed as well as the trim painted. When spring arrived work was resumed at finishing putting in the last of the irrigation system and the laying of sod on the east end of the new marina. The RC building became fully functional for the RC committee and the rest rooms operable. The Flagpole was installed with the yardarm attached and our burgee once again flew proudly over PHYC for Mackinac. In late summer our new Gin Pole was erected and made functional for fall dismasting, which allows for all our boats to use supplying adequate height as well as depth of water. In the fall the board of directors gave permission to the computer committee to purchase a new computer for the club to expand our web site and the needed space for our club business as PHYC continues to grow. We are currently carrying a membership of 400, which has allowed PHYC to put on successful events including Mackinac week. All this allowed the treasurer to be able to pay an additional $50,000 on our mortgage for a second year in a row at the end of the year.

2005 It was unusual in 2005 not to have a major construction project going on at the club. The preceding years had seen the opening of the new east marina and improvements to the original east basin. This year was focused on finishing touches to the new marina and improving the landscaping at east. The new jin pole is now operational at east and is a much needed improvement for boats with larger masts. The lifting crane portion of the crane has been specified and will be have a 10,000 lb capacity. The crane will be fully operational in 2006. It was recognized that we have an erosion problem at our west facility; the seawall is being eroded away under the concrete pathway. A plan to address the erosion was formulated and the permitting process has begun. Actual work on reinforcing the seawall will probably begin in the summer of 2006.

2005 was a good racing year at the club thanks to a warm sailing season. The Lake Huron International Regatta, a.k.a. PH-100, I believe was the first race on the Great Lakes to offer an IRC class. IRC was introduced this year as a requirement for certain boats participating in the Bayview Y.C. annual race to Mackinac Island. The PH-100 race preceded the Bayview race. The Bayview Mackinac race was quite challenging this year with heavy winds, large waves, and torrential rain. The PHYC sailboat Big Fun lost her rig during the race offshore of Bois Blanc Island. Many boats finished the race in record time on the Sunday evening or early Monday. Water levels were up slightly over the past couple of years which was appreciated by some of the big boat owners. The clubs major fund raising race event was again a great financial success. The race raises funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Approximately $60,000 was raised. The Memorial race was this year named in honor of past member George Lyon.

Membership at the club remained above four hundred for the year. PHYC continues to do well in this regard compared to many other clubs. Nationally, many yachts continue to loose membership. The poor economy in Michigan in 2005 has been a hardship for many area yacht clubs. Several decorating projects happened at the club this year including new wallpaper in the bar, the boardroom, and new paint in the upstairs main room. The PHYC Women’s Auxiliary arranged a unique event at the club in October called “Art on the Quay”. It was a fine arts fair featuring local artists some of whom are club members. PHYC WA Commodore Lisa Jones and her ladies used the event to raise money for local area charities. The auxiliary also published a fine recipe/cook book this year.

Every year the Commodore has two significant awards to make recognizing the work and dedication of two very special members, this year it was my pleasure to award to Carol Cataldo the “Woman of the Year” award and to award Mickey Sax the “Man of the Year” award.

Our club is in fine shape both physically and financially. We have a great volunteer spirit at PHYC that hopefully will continue for many years.

2006 It was a very eventful year with PHYC becoming a non-smoking building. The issue was bantered back and forth at the board level until a petition forced the issue to a vote of the full membership. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of non-smoking. After much discussion on design, a canvas with windows was installed in February of 2007 for smokers along with a gas heater.

With the many hours of hard work, by volunteers, the hoist in the east basin became operational and was used to haul boats this fall along with the power washing equipment that was purchased by the club. The east basin received a fine facelift with all of the well posts being covered with white PVC.

Membership was maintained at a steady level but the race program continued to grow. This year’s PH 100 supported the St. Clair County United Way with a fund raising project and the Labor Day weekend regatta continues to be a great success.

The web site was given a considerable face-lift by a very enthusiastic group of members that have an extensive computer background and the club received many compliments on its website from other clubs in the DRYA. The website will become the major asset and form of communication in the future.

After a many years of clean-up down at 13th Street, the results of those efforts have really begun to show with the final project of the year being the painting of the building. A final decision on shore protection at 13th Street continues to linger due to the continued dropping of the lake water level. The club is realizing that an expensive dredging project may be in the near future.

Friday night feeds and euchre continue to bring members to the clubhouse during the non-sailing months and Fiddler’s Green continues to be the place to be.

2007 The major event in 2007 was a lower lake water level that necessitated dredging the older harbor next to the clubhouse and some areas on the west property. The lake levels continued to drop during the year and the Lexington overnight race was cancelled because the water level in the harbor was too low for many of the fleet to enter. Other projects included a summer outside Tiki bar and wireless web access on the first floor of the clubhouse; and tying a portion of the dock firmly to the shore and making the electric hoist operational at the west property. Membership grew by several members and participation in the sailing and social functions were strong.

Port Huron Yacht Club’s two oldest Past Commodores, P.C. Willie Smith and P.C. Ed Beebe sailed away this year. Willie was the first sailing member of the Port Huron Sports Hall of Fame when he was inducted in 1989. He won 27 of the last 28 E. W. Kiefer Trophies with his 30 Square Meter yacht, awarded for overall first place in the fleet. Ed sailed his 6 Meter yacht, Irene for many years and was always available willing to assist on PHYC projects. Ed played a major role in the refurbishment of the old clubhouse and the construction of the new clubhouse at the present location of this building.

2008 PHYC, during 2008, really concentrated on fulfilling our mission statement of supporting and promoting the sport of sailboat racing, as there were no major building projects undertaken this year. In addition to our normal race schedule, PHYC hosted several major racing events including the Lake Huron Double-Handed Challenge that occurred in late June and then in early July the Lake Huron International Regatta for the benefit of the United Way of St. Clair County took place, which is growing in popularity each year. Later in July for the first time in club history the 2008 Port Huron to Mackinaw Race was officially co-sponsored by PHYC with more of our members entering the race than ever before. The month of August was eventful as PHYC hosted two national championship events. The Catalina 30 Nationals featuring 3 divisions with PHYC member’s boats scoring in the top 3 in two of the divisions including a national championship for the first time in PHYC history. The Cal 25 Nationals were also hosted in August by PHYC with great participation from club boats and crews coming from as far away as California. In September the Labor Day Regatta featuring the Leukemia Cup in its 14th year was again a great success. Later in September, the PHYC Women’s Auxiliary sponsored the inaugural Ladies Race-Sail for the Cure with ten boats of all women crews from PHYC and SYC competing in two classes. Despite an all day rain, the competition was great and the competitors came away with smiles on their faces and pride in their hearts. Let’s all hope that these events will continue to grow and be with us long into the future.

The membership of PHYC in 2008 grew to its highest level in the history of the club at 412 members. Many of our newest members mooring at the West Harbor took an active role and along with some of our distinguished vested members did an excellent job of giving our building and grounds at West a well needed overhaul that included installing a flagpole complete with a flag raising dedication.

This year PHYC, along with Acheson Ventures began a new group called the Mariners Coalition. This group consists of members of the boating community, the Customs and Border Protection Agency and the Sheriff’s Marine Division. This partnership was formed to provide accurate information to boaters and to facilitate border crossing for all recreational boaters in our community. Hopefully, through these efforts boating in the Blue Water area will be more enjoyable and make Port Huron a destination that boating visitors will want to come to, enhancing our community.

Finally, it is important to acknowledge that the tireless efforts of our membership have made PHYC the great club that it is today. Lady Susan and I have contributed to this tradition by fostering a cooperative spirit at the club with the hopes that the club will continue to grow and prosper in the future.

2009 Port Huron Yacht Club took another giant step forward in fulfilling our mission statement and living up to our Club motto! The promotion of sailboat racing occurred all season long with impressive Club racing throughout the summer. The addition of the IRC Great Lakes Championships and the Super Mac launched our Club to new heights in the world of competitive sailboat racing. The Super Mac which started in Chicago and finished at Vantage Point was collaboration between Chicago, Bayview and Port Huron Yacht Clubs. Over fifty PHYC members stood watch at Vantage Point to give all 17 finishing vessels a warm welcome to our city and our Club. Fleet Captain Nick Ward continued to guide special events to our area by securing the first ever IRC Great Lakes Championship. The two day event provided amazing competition between a good collection of boats. The event was considered such a success by the US-IRC organization that it will be hosted by PHYC again in 2010. The Lake Huron International Regatta, the Lake Huron Yachting Association Championships Regatta, The Women’s Race and the Friendship Race / Leukemia Cup (Labor Day Weekend) were all again successfully hosted by our Club.

A series of goals were also accomplished throughout the year with that amazing PHYC battle cry… “Where members make it happen!” A new sign was constructed near the south east end of the property to welcome visiting yachts to our Club. Mark DenUyl, Don Dupuie and PC Jim Paulus led this effort. The Board Rules that accompany this booklet were reorganized and simplified for easier understanding. New frames for Class Champions were added to Fiddlers Green by PC Ed Schwanz and Mike Stevens so all champions can now be recognized. The PHYC website was given a stylish update with the hard work of Reid Stromberg, Jerome Peariso, Jeremy Thompson and the Computer Committee. Committees were formed to make improvements at the 13th St. Property in the 2010 season and to research “Scenic Point” to our Clubs east.

The passion for the Port Huron Yacht Club from its 410 members is strong and the future is very bright.

2010  With the help of both Canada and US border protection we resolved the starting of our races in Canadian waters.  We raised the maintenance budget at 13th Street and among others things new bathrooms were installed, of course with all volunteer labor.  And thanks to the continued support and progress of the computer committee we were able to watch the US win the Americas Cup back, as this event was not shown on Cable, we were able to watch it though on the TV’s in the bar through the internet.  We successfully handled/dealt with the City hired promoter/organizer for the new boat week format.  We formed a committee to investigate the purchasing of the corner property/Black River Point.  This committee spent much time and effort to lay the ground work for any future progress towards the purchase of this property.  We submitted a preliminary proposal to the receiver of Black River Point for the purchase of said property, with no response back on our offer.  We were true to our mission: “The promotion of and participation in competitive sailboat racing!”  It was our third year as host of the Huron Challenge, sponsored by the Double handed Sailing Association.  We hosted the second annual IRC – Great Lakes Championship as well as a very competitive Lake Huron International Regatta.  Our membership remains strong at 411 members.

 

2011..The yacht club was in excellent shape to begin the year 2011.  The membership continues to be constant in its numbers and support of the board of directors.  As a part of our review, the board of directors identified that our insurance coverage needed to be updated.  The Baxter Agency provided us with a clear overview of our coverage and we have upgraded our coverage for the flag officers and the board of directors as well as coverage for the bar activities.  While we have better coverage, our costs have been decreased.  

In April I had the privilege of representing Port Huron Yacht Club at the first U.S. Sailing Summit in Chicago.  I was proud to share with the attendants our spirit of volunteerism in the rebuilding of our club.  

Job descriptions for each of the board committees and for the flag officers were written as guidelines for the board.

We added a new board rule to prohibit the use of medical marijuana on club property.

We had a wonderful sailing season although I believe that Rear Commodore Bremer had a record number of protests.  We continue to support The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with our Leukemia Cup Regatta.  The regatta this year in honor of Ken Peck was very successful.

Despite the economy, the record heat during Mackinac week, and other financial challenges; Vice Commodore Collins had a successful year in the bar.  

Throughout the year our focus remained keenly on the property at 75 Quay Street.  Both Past Commodore Tyson Connolly and Past Commodore Patrick Hoy had discussions with the Sheldon Trust exploring the purchase of this property during their years.  Discussions with the membership about the financial impact of the property purchase took place in October.  A vote of the membership in November supported spending up to $480,000 for the purchase of the property.  After some negotiations we entered into a land contract with the Sheldon Trust to purchase 75 Quay Street, 3.3 acres of additional property, on December 8, 2011.  With the assistance of attorney and Past Commodore Michael West, we began the process of negotiating a new mortgage with the Bank of America and completing the application process for the removal of the Pere Marquette Black River Railroad Bridge.  While the mortgage and the bridge removal remain to be completed, the successful purchase of the property provides the opportunity for growth and development for future generations of sailors at Port Huron Yacht Club.  

 

2012  In May the club’s current bank loan with Bank America was reestablished to incorporate all PHYC properties including the newly purchased 3.3 acres at 75 Quay Street for 15 years at 4.28% fixed and a five year balloon. The club’s monthly mortgage payment dropped by $2,150. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on June 23rd to celebrate the purchase of the 75 Quay Street property. City of Port Huron Mayor Pauline Repp was guest speaker. The mayor commented that PHYC was a vital component of downtown Port Huron. She was pleased to see that progress had already been made in cleaning up the property making it much more presentable. The club continued its efforts throughout 2012 to obtain a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to remove the railroad bridge structure on the new property. As 2012 ended, a permit still had not been received from the Corps.

 

Rear Commodore Jones had a very successful racing program this year. The Memorial Race was named in honor of PC Bob Visger. The club’s effort in supporting the Leukemia Cup Regatta remains outstanding. Past Commodore Dorothy Latham and Susan Vigrass have played a significant part for many years in the success of the club’s efforts. At the annual recognition meeting of Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Regatta volunteers, Port Huron Yacht Club and PC Dorothy Latham were honored recipients of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Chairman’s Citation. The Chairman’s Citation is presented to those who are “recognized for their significant dedication and commitment to the work of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS).” PHYC also received a physical award representing these same merits. Port Huron Yacht Club members have raised over $1.1 million dollars for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

 

Vice Commodore Bremer ran a very successful bar year with the St. Patrick’s Day celebration seeing record high temperatures and participants. Boat Night continues to be an “All Hands on Deck” event for the club and the cocktail party a special hour.

 

Membership Chairman PC Bob Moak held two new member meetings this year. Membership at PHYC continues to be strong. PC Bob Bert and Don Rutkofske completed four member focus groups concentrating on the club’s senior membership dues structure. Their report with recommendations was presented to the Board of Directors in December for review. 

 

PHYC continues to support the local Blue Water Squadron of the Sea Scouts as our Learn to Sail Program. As part of the 100th Anniversary of Sea Scouting, the Sea Scouts participated in returning several Mackinac race boats back from Mackinac Island. This activity was declared a Centennial Sea Scout Event in 2012 and earned them acclaim and National Recognition by the Boy Scouts of America.

 

The Commodore’s Ball in October was a grand event for the Commodore and his Lady. The music played by Brian Leslie on his bagpipes will be especially remembered.

 

Senior PC George Mosher celebrated his 90th Birthday this year!

 

2013 was the 90th anniversary of the founding of PHYC and this milestone was celebrated by meeting our 1923 Commodore’s family.  On August 3rd 2013, the Flag Officers, the Board of Directors and several Past Commodores met with the family of PHYC’s inaugural Commodore Henry H. Clough (pronounced “cluff”). Bill Stanley of Grand Rapids, Henry’s grandson along with 25 members of Henry’s extended family, was among the group.  Past Commodore Clough was 23 years old when he was Commodore, a roofing contractor here in Port Huron, a fellow Scotsman and an avid sailboat racer.  After hearing about the many sailing and community accomplishments of PHYC over the past 90 years, Henry’s family made a generous donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in Henry’s name.

 

This year there were several improvements to our club including upgrades to our website, as well as adding Yacht Scoring and PayPal through the efforts of Reid Stromberg and the Computer Committee, Jeremy Thompson, Terry Vigrass and Nick Ward.  In addition, this year for the first time new members were allowed to join year round instead of once a year as was the previous custom. A new member orientation was planned for early 2014 and was changed to make it more of a “show you how we make it happen” experience.  Also, through the efforts of focus groups two initiatives regarding membership were completed this year.  Committee Chairmen, PC Bob Bert and Don Rutkofske carried out a senior dues referendum that addressed the ever burgeoning percentage of members becoming eligible for this discount.  A young adult/associate membership was considered as well and over 25% of our membership responded to a survey that included many unique ideas that will be used to improve the club in the future.

 

2013 saw a great deal of behind the scenes activity with regard to the Scenic Pointe property and specifically the fate of the Pere Marquette Railroad Bridge.  Our application to proceed with several plans for the property featured negotiations with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, the State Historical Preservation Office, the Federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation plus other interested parties.  Although this has been a protracted process, I believe our effort will pay off as we laid the foundation for future development of the Scenic Pointe property.  

 

Sailboat racing was affected by near record low water levels for the Great Lakes Basin early in the year requiring some modifications to our race program. In addition to our established race schedule, the 6th annual Women’s Regatta, the Lake Huron International Regatta and the Law Enforcement Regatta were also held in the summer of 2013.  In February well-known sailor Gary Jobson visited PHYC to present a preview of the 2013 America’s Cup in support of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  This year’s LLS Memorial Race weekend, held in honor of long time member Jean Webb, saw PHYC contributions topping 1.2 million dollars raised over the past 20 years.  

 

The 2013 PHYC individual service awards this year honored two very deserving members. The Sally Montgomery Woman of the Year award went to Val Williams.  The Commodore’s Man of the Year award went to Dave Knupp.

 

Overall, 2013 showed great support from members for our race program, social events and Fiddler’s Green due to the outstanding efforts of Vice Commodore Scott Jones, Rear Commodore Steve Jones, WA Commodore Laura Eastwood and the very capable 2013 Board of Directors.  Lady Sally and I were honored to serve with this exceptional group of members continuing the traditions that our first Commodore and the founders of our club started 90 years ago!

 

2014 brought the club a new challenge.  Our lender decided to drop our current mortgage, with little or no real explanation.  With a tight dead line to attain a new mortgage, PC Terry Vigrass and his finance committee, made up of past commodores and members in good standing, along with the Board of Directors, pursued a new mortgage provider and developed a plan which was delivered to the membership. Discussion was had, questions were answered and a vote was held and passed.  I feel confident the new changes have put us on solid ground with our new lender and will allow us a chance to build a fund to help maintain the clubs properties. Also in a commitment to attaining club solvency, the Board of Directors voted to raise club dues, something that hadn’t occurred in several years.

Scenic Pointe and the fate of the Pere Marquette Bridge is still in the hands of the Army Corp of Engineers.  Plans are in the works to attain grants to make improvements to the property and the shore line with very little cost to the club. After some sprucing up of the Pointe, the Board of Directors voted to allow members to use the property. Members enjoyed it at “Wine & Shines” throughout the year, during the international Off Shore power boat racing, as well as at the first annual PC Rich Pond Labor Day Weekend Camp -Out!  The property also came in handy for short term boat storage.

Racing this year was outstanding! Besides our regular racing program, Port Huron Yacht Club hosted two National Regattas; the Cal 25 National Regatta and the Force 5 National Regatta.  Both events brought in guests who expressed the friendliness and camaraderie of PHYC.  Rear Commodore Burda kicked off the racing season with a visit from guest speaker, Gary Jobson, who gave a presentation on the exciting America’s Cup Race, as well as sharing his close connection with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.   As in years past, the Friendship Race and Leukemia Regatta, held over the Labor Day weekend, was a successful event, thanks to the efforts of many club members. This Year’s Memorial Race was in honor of PC Albert Jones, my dad, which made the event so special for my family. 

Our club’s biggest fundraiser, “MACK WEEK”, was a huge success, with many upgrades and changes made by Vice Commodore Steve Jones, along with the help of PC Jim Paulus and committee. These changes will help keep this great event growing for years to come.  Throughout the year, Fiddlers Green was full of social events and activities, with the VC always looking at ways to make money for the club as well as have fun!

At Change of Watch, I had the pleasure of announcing the recipient of the the Sally Montgomery Woman of the Year Award. A very surprised and well-deserving, Gwen Rutkofske, accepted graciously. The Commodore’s Man of the Year Award went to long time member and very involved club-mate, Past Commodore Daniel Collins. 

2014 should be remembered for all the positive changes the club made, from upgrades to the building, new safety procedures at Haul out and Launch, Boat Week, our new mortgage and to the beginning of some very exciting things to come to Scenic Pointe.  As with anything, struggle can be part of change, but with the motto our club upholds; “where members make it happen”, I know Port Huron Yacht Club will persevere and continue to move forward.