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History of the San Juan Island Yacht Club


“It was a sunny day on the first Sunday in May 1964 that the San Juan Island Yacht Club was conceived. A group of new boat owners were working on their boats Saturday down at Jensen’s Shipyard, and while they stopped for a rest and visited, someone suggested a picnic cruise to one of the other islands the next day. They agreed on Sucia... So it was.... a flotilla of seven boats that set out the next morning.” While the group enjoyed a picnic around the bonfire, one man suggested that they try to start a new yacht club to have many more such trips. They all decided then and there to begin organizing the next day.

On Monday morning May 7, 1964 the group met and started the specific arrangements and, within the month, the San Juan Island Yacht Club was registered as a nonprofit corporation with 102 charter memberships.  The Club burgee was adopted on July 16, 1964. By the end of July there were 203 memberships. During that and the following months, the Club cruising and meeting programs were developed.  In 1970 the Club began sponsoring the, now classic, Shaw Island Classic sailboat race.

For the first 20 years the club rented space at the Friday Harbor Grange Hall until, in November 1984 came the decisive commitment to build a clubhouse. The new clubhouse overlooking the harbor was inaugurated on January 22, 1987.  In 1998, there was a major facelift with numerous model ships, classic pictures of America’s Cup sailboats, trophies reflecting Club events, and several Yacht Clubs’ pennants and burgees installed to carry out a nautical motif.  In 2016 a beautiful “infinity deck” was installed to allow members to enjoy each other’s company outside overlooking the port of Friday Harbor.

From the late sixties the Club also has been an active cruising organization welcoming sail and powerboats alike. The Club has cruised to Sucia, Prevost Harbor, Reid Harbor, Fisherman’s Bay, Blakely, Rosario, Deer Harbor, Oak Harbor, Penn Cove, Cornet Bay, Bellingham, Seattle, Olympia, La Conner, Poulsbo, Jones Island, Bedwell Harbor, Maple Bay, Victoria, Ladysmith, Sidney, Montague Harbor, Telegraph Harbor, Fulford Harbor, Ganges, Port Browning, Saanich Inlet, and Long Harbor. There have also been extended cruises to Edgemont, Princess Louisa, down Puget Sound and the Broughtons.  Club cruises are often well-attended with over 20 boats and 50 members and guests participating in fun social activities on the docks and beyond.

The Club welcomes new members of diverse interests and backgrounds and has become a great place to socialize with others committed to support the local community.  The Club partners with the Port of Friday Harbor each year to sponsor Opening Day festivities in early May with up to 40 boats and nearly as many community organizations participating in this “4th of July on the water” celebration.  The Club increasingly collaborates with other boating organizations such as the Power Squadron in joint events and educational programs to improve safety and enjoyment on the water.