1 – Introduction
2 – Cruising Clubs
3 – Yacht Clubs & Sailing Clubs
3.1 – Description
3.2 – Traditions
3.2.1 – Racing & Sailing Activities
3.2.2 – Club Burgee
3.2.3 – Organization
3.2.4 – Reciprocating Clubs
4 – Boat Owner Associations
4.1 – Associations by Marque (Brand / Model)
4.2 – Associations by Genre
5 – Educational Boating Organizations
6 – Governmental Auxiliaries
7 – Other Boating Organizations
NOTE: Page still under Development, but we’re getting there!
- Bluewater Cruising Association (Vancouver)
- Cruising Club of America – Canada, U.S., Bermuda (85 yrs)
- Great Loop Cruisers’ Association – St. Lawrence, L. Champlain, NYS Canal, Intracoastal Wtwy, Okeechobee Wtwy, Gulf of Mexico, Tombigbee Wtwy, Mississippi R., Great Lakes.
- Ocean Cruising Club (OCC)
- Seven Seas Cruising Association
- World Cruising Club
Yacht Clubs & Sailing Clubs
A yacht club is a sports club specifically related to yachting. Yacht Clubs are mostly located by the sea, although there are some that have been established at a lake or riverside locations. Yacht or sailing clubs have either a marina or a delimited section of the beach or shoreline with buoys marking the areas off-limits for swimmers as well as safe offshore anchorages. On shore they also include a perimeter reserved for the exclusive use of the members of the club as well as a clubhouse with attached bar, café or restaurant where members socialize in a pleasant and informal setting.
Although the terms Yacht Club and Sailing Club tend to be synonymous, some general differences regarding the recreational use of boats can be broadly outlined. Historically a Yacht Club tended to focus on a membership composed of yacht owners, including motorboats. This type of club often was extremely exclusive, attracting the aristocracy or the high class and leaving small boat owners out of the circle. On the other hand, a Sailing Club tended to focus on a membership composed exclusively of owners of sailboats, including smaller boats such as dinghies. These became very popular towards the end of the 19th century when small boats began to be produced on an industrial scale. Now days, many Yacht Clubs offer the same sailing opportunities to their members as Sailing clubs.
Yacht clubs are often known by their initials (e.g. New York Yacht Club abbreviated as NYYC and Kamini Yacht Club abbreviated as KYC). Many well known yacht clubs, including the Yacht Club de France and the Royal Yacht Squadron, have been established under royal patronage or have been granted the title at some point in their history.
Organized and run by the membership, Yacht Clubs became a place to promote the sport of sailboat racing and cruising, as well as provide a meeting place for the particular social community. The membership is a mixture of people with specific recreational affinities. Generally, the members include those who sail as crew for cruising or racing, as well as boat owners. Also it is up to the members decide on the objectives of the club to satisfy the membership and to attract other like-minded individuals. For example, some clubs include owners of powerboats, while others specifically exclude them. In order to overcome difficulties concerning the affinities of their members one particular club may have two sections, a sailing section and a powerboat section.
Members Clubs often have paid staff for catering, bar duty, boat yard duty, accounts, office etc. Control and organization of the club is done for the membership via members elected by the membership into roles such as Sailing Secretary, Commodore, Cruising Captain, Racing Captain etc. Smaller clubs typically have a condition of membership which requires active participation of the membership in activities such as maintenance of club facilities and equipment.
Unlike the classical clubs where the membership is the focus, certain clubs are run on a commercial basis. They may be owned by individuals or a company to provide a service and generate a profit. Often they are associated with a particular marina or port. Objectives are usually very similar to members clubs but the social side maybe more dominant.
There is a long historical tradition behind yacht clubs. According to the date of establishment, the Neva Yacht Club, founded in 1718 in Russia, is the oldest yacht club. However, since this Russian Yacht Club was established by a decree of Tsar Peter the Great, it does not fully qualify as a proper club in the modern sense, understood as a voluntary association of members who organize and run the club. Therefore, the Royal Cork Yacht Club founded in Ireland in 1720 is also widely acknowledged as the oldest yacht club in the world, despite having gone through periods of dormancy and undergone name changes in its long history, much in the same manner as the Neva Yacht Club. It was only in 1846 that the first yacht club in Russia to adopt British-style Members Club regulations was established. Using this Western understanding of what a club or society is, the Royal Swedish Yacht Club, KSSS, founded 1830, becomes the oldest European yacht club outside the British Isles, and the fifth oldest in the world.
A number of the world’s most renowned Yacht Clubs are located in the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Canada, and the United States. The first yacht club in North America was the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron, located on the Northwest Arm in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada established in July 1837. The most prestigious of them are organized within the International Council of Yacht Clubs.
The Kieler Yacht-Club in Northern Germany organizes the yearly Kiel Week, the biggest sailing event in the world, that is celebrated since 1882.
Racing and Sailing Activities
Most clubs, regardless of the size of their craft, have a well defined racing program. Clubs may host regattas ranging from informal local events to national championships. Often clubs have a regular weekday evening racing schedule or a weekend racing schedule organized by the membership. Many yacht clubs field teams to compete against other clubs in team racing. There are also some specific boat models and lengths which have their own club. These boat ownership clubs often hold single design races for their members; the Islander 36 association is such a club. With the growth of sailing at secondary schools and universities many yacht clubs host Interscholastic Sailing Association or Intercollegiate Sailing Association regattas. Additionally, a number of yacht clubs enter into agreements with schools to provide dock space and practice facilities for the school teams year-round.
Clubs with active adult sailing programs most often feature junior sailing programs as well. Most often these programs enroll children from ages 8 to 16. Children most often learn to sail in the optimist (dinghy) and then progress to a larger single handed dinghy such as starling or laser dinghy or two handed such as 420 (dinghy). These junior sailing programs often also teach children rowing, kayaking, general seamanship and navigation. Children are also taught how to race competitively from an early age and most clubs host junior sailing regattas each season.
Members belonging to a yacht club or sailing organization may fly their club’s unique flag (usually triangular), called a burgee, both while under way and at anchor (however, not while racing). Traditionally, the burgee was flown from the main masthead, however it may also be flown from a small pole on the bow pulpit, or even the starboard rigging beneath the lowest starboard spreader on a flag halyard. Some traditional clubs have also been granted the right to fly a special yacht ensign at the stern.
At traditional clubs the burgee and the ensign is hoisted at 08:00 each morning and lowered each evening at sunset. This ceremony is called colours. Traditionally, the first time a member of one club visits another, there is an exchange of burgees. Exchanged burgees are often displayed on the premises of clubs, such as at their clubhouse or bar.
Yacht clubs are organized like any other club or organisation with committees, chairman, directors, etc. Due to the connection with the sea and hence the navy, the various posts use naval terminology. For example, the chairman/CEO is the Commodore. Usually, under the Commodore there are also the Vice Commodore (in charge of land-based activities) and the Rear Commodore (in charge of water-based activities); for clubs in the United States they might in turn be assisted by thePort Captain and the Fleet Captain respectively. In a few clubs in the United Kingdom the Admiral, which is one rank above the Commodore, is the senior officer. Each of these ranks has specific responsibilities to ensure the smooth running of the club.
Reciprocal Agreements between clubs allow members of one club to use the facilities of a reciprocating club at no cost or at a nominal fee such as for electricity. This allows club members to cruise to many destinations without incurring the higher cost of marina moorage, etc.
Boat Owner Associations
Associations by Marque (Brand / Model)
Associations by Genre
Community Boating Center (Bellingham)
Green Lake Small Craft Center
Mt. Baker Rowing and Sailing Center
Sail Sand Point
Sea Scouts of Seattle
Seattle Canoe and Kayak Club
Washington Kayak Club
Center For Wooden Boats
Classic Yacht Association
Schooner Adventuress/Sound Experience
Northwest Multihull Association
Columbia River Gorge Racing Association
Pacific Northwest Model Yacht Club
Port Townsend Sailing Association
South Sound Sailing Society
Puget Sound Cruising Club
More from www.nwyachting.com/clubs
Educational Boating Organizations
Center for Wooden Boats
US Power Squadrons
^ Bellingham Sail and Power Squadron – http://boatingisfun.org/
Other Boating Organizations
Chief Seattle Council Sea Scouts – www.seattlebsa.org/Main-Website-Content/Sea-Scouts
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