Shilshole Bay Yacht Club was formed in September 1961 as a Washington State Corporation, a recreation-oriented boating organization with emphasis on member participation and informality. The principal founder and first commodore was A.W. (Monty) Morton. In those early days, meetings were held in the Port Authority Administration Building at Shilshole Bay. However, the Club soon outgrew those quarters, so local restaurants in the area were used as meeting locations.
A permanent meeting place was acquired in 1965 through the purchase of the Chimicum, a retired freighter-ferry (64′ LOA) built in 1928 and last used on the Port Orchard to Oyster Bay run. For several years, theChimicum was moored on “J” dock at Shilshole Bay Marina. By the mid-1970s, however, the maintenance, moorage, and keep-afloat costs became too expensive and, since only half of the increasing membership could comfortably attend a dinner meeting, its continued use could not be justified. In 1977, the boat was sold for one dollar to an entrepreneur who towed it to LaConnor.
Following the sale of the Chimicum, the Club moved into a large meeting room in Shilshole Bay Marina’s administration building. The members enthusiastically decorated the room in a nautical theme, but by the late ’70s increasing membership forced us to move the dinner meetings to another banquet room in the Port’s building. In 1979, SBYC placed a trophy case on the second floor in the main upstairs entrance of the Port building.
During the early 1980s as the Club’s racing enthusiasts increased to nearly half of the members, the Club published its first official Race Book and established a Tuesday Night Race Series, the Jack-‘n-Jill, and the Snowbird Series. In 1982, the Club sponsored its first Trans-Puget Classic open race for PHRF boats.
A junior program was established in 1981, and over the next four years the juniors won two seconds and a first place trophy for decorated theme boats in Seattle Yacht Club’s annual Opening Day parade. The cruising program was expanded also, with a cruise virtually every month of the year. The Club marked several milestones in the late 1980s, including installing Peggy Willis as its first woman Commodore. That same year, the Trans-Puget race was recognized as a qualifying event for Seattle Yacht Club’s prestigious Grand Prix.
During the early 1990s, the Club weathered a sagging economy and a host of crippling new boat taxes. In late 1993, after a restaurant change in the Port building, the Club moved to Anthony’s Home Port.
The late 1990s saw much success on the racing circuits. In 1995, Club boats made a complete sweep of the Swiftsure Classic. Several Club boats made it into the “top 10 boats of the year” awards, while others were successful in the Vic-Maui race; John Guzzwell completed the Single-handed Transpac on Endangered Species.
By the late 1990s, several members were flying the Club burgee worldwide as they enjoyed extended offshore cruising.
The new millennium saw several changes at SBYC. After seven years at Anthony’s, the Club moved its dinner meetings to the Yankee Grill in Ballard and kicked off a major new race series, the Ballard Cup, in cooperation with the Sloop Tavern.
The success of this series was immediate. In 2002, we joined with the Seattle Singles Yacht Club to make our annual Trans-Puget race a benefit for Northwest Harvest, Sound Experience and Footloose Disabled Sailing. Club cruises, as always, are popular events with record numbers of members and friends enjoying the ever-popular June Dinner Dance, Mission Ridge Ski Cruise and the October Salmon Bake at Blake Island.
Members have cruised north to Alaska, or cut their moorings, opting for the world-cruising life. Racing continues to be popular and we’ve been respectably and well-represented in the Vic-Maui race, the Swiftsure Classic and Whidbey Island Race Week.
As we hit the half decade year, Club members were still enjoying the many social and racing events and we ranked number 2 in numbers of racers in the area. We partnered again with the Footloose Disabled Sailing Association for our Trans-Puget Race, raising money to help bring the experience and love of sailing to many people with physical challenges.
2006 was another year of change for the Club as the Yankee Grill suddenly closed its doors and the dinner meetings were moved back to Anthony’s. We were well-represented in the racing circuit, with Antares competing for the second time in Vic-Maui; five Club boats raced in Swiftsure, and others at Whidbey Island Race Week and the usual Puget Sound series.
Another year—2007—came to a close with many pleasurable events and great stories. We ran some well-attended and successful races and cruises and upheld our goal of enjoying camaraderie wherever we gathered. In addition to our Ballard Cup and Snow Bird races, we had good participation in Swiftsure. Best of all, our associations with Sound Experience and Trans-Puget brought out the best the club has to offer others in the sailing world. AND, we welcomed great new members, racers and cruisers to the membership.
2008 was a great year for sailing in the PNW. It marked the inaugural National Offshore One Design (NOOD) Regatta in the area. The Sperry Topsider/Sailing World NOOD Regattas are high profile, national events. Over 200 area boats participated in the three-day event. SBYC was well represented by Kowloon, Last Tango, Panic, and Usawi.
2009, the end of the first decade of the new millennium was another banner year as we welcomed a great new group of members. Summer started early and continued well into September giving us a wonderful cruising season. A group of boats headed to Vancouver Island and rendezvoused in Genoa Bay for a fun weekend of boat hopping, hiking and, of course, the usual merry making. The club tradition of great racing continued with a large SBYC turn out for the various Sound races and continued with a record-setting Ballard Cup. The year’s TransPuget also had a record attendance and welcomed the Adventuress which took members out to watch the race. Even with the sagging economy, participants dug deep and Sound Experience received its largest donation to date.
By 2010, volunteer efforts had brought the club into the modern computer age with an exciting and vibrant web site, a web-based reservation and payment system, an on-line club store, with SBYC merchandise, and a Facebook page.
In 2011 we lost two dear members and flag officers; John Rawlings (past commodore, 2002) and Kevin Bruce (active commodore, 2011). John and Kevin will be dearly missed and we are very pleased to have their spouses continue to be active in the club. 2011 also marked the club’s 50th anniversary celebrated throughout the year with a big club turnout at Seattle Yacht Club’s opening day and a dinner celebration in September attended by 17 past commodores as well as over 80 members and past members reconnecting with friends. We added ten new memberships and the board nominated Mike and Penny Dorsey as Life Members for their significant contributions to the club over the years.
2012 marked another year of increased membership highlighted with SBYC’s participation in the first annual cross-yacht club membership drive at Shilshole marina in May. The summer highlights were the June dinner dance at Kingston featuring a fantastic new band this year and the summer rendezvous at Stuart Island. Dear and longtime club member Don Foss passed away this year and he will be missed.