HISTORY OF THE HALIFAX RIVER YACHT CLUB
The Halifax River Yacht Club, incorporated as a private club on 19 May 1896, is believed to be the oldest yacht club on the eastern seacoast still on its original site. In the Daytona Beach area, it is known to be the one private organization in continuous operation from 1896 to the present — spanning three centuries.
An author once wrote, eulogizing the Club: “The Queen of the River, she balances on her spindly legs in the brackish water of the Halifax River, as though she had just tip toed from the shore. She is old and shows her age, but has withstood lightning, hurricanes, and floods, all these years. She is the Halifax River Yacht Club, one of Daytona’s earliest landmarks.” She also has been called affectionately, “Heaven on the Halifax”.
With the Club’s founding in 1896, five men drafted the Constitution and Bylaws. These documents, though faded, are preserved and seen in the Club’s Historical Cabinet. The Club’s first meeting was held on 8 January 1896, attended by 13 prominent townsmen who were its founding fathers. All were avid sailors with a common sport, racing their gaff-rigged catboats on the Halifax River. Victor Vuillaume was elected the first Commodore with five members to the Board of Trustees.
Thirty-one members were elected to membership in February and committees were appointed. Treasurer E. G. Harris was instructed to collect a $10 initiation fee and 50 cents dues per month (about $500 and $25 today). Among these early members were R. S. Maley, Parker Wilder, Chas. E. Burgoyne, Charles Ballough, James N. Gamble, and Carl Knapp, many of whose names are well remembered by longtime residents. All worked to make the Yacht Club a reality that has prospered to this day.
During the first year, members met in the large Atlantic Building across the street where balls also were held. In March 1896, Laurence Thompson, a founding father of Daytona and one of the original 13 members, gave permission to construct a wharf from his premises on Beach Street, including the “riparian rights”. It was built 8 feet wide and ran out 150 feet with a T-structure at the end for a cost of $225. In February 1897 the original clubhouse, about 25 by 40 feet in size with porches on the south and east sides, was built by S. H. Gove for $1,367 — about $65,000 in 2003 dollars. This first building is now called the “West Room” and contains the Historical Cabinet with pictures and stories of the Club’s history. Chas. Burgoyne became our 4th Commodore in 1899 and initiated dredging a 4.5’ deep channel from the Club’s dock into the natural river channel, sharing the cost, and generously helping in other ways.
In 1902 Mr. Gove built a 30-foot addition to the east end of the clubhouse that included our landmark square cupola.
In 1906 a second story addition was made to the clubhouse, including today’s “Bridge” with a porch on the east end. A tall flagpole stood at the southeast corner with the Club’s burgee flying from a shorter pole atop the square cupola. This configuration, without significant change, stood proudly for more than half a century!
The first HRYC regatta in 1896 was held on Washington’s Birthday and was continued in later years, often followed by a grand ball. During those early years, regattas for yachts, sailboats and launches were held on New Year’s Day, the 4th of July, and other holidays — with lesser races in between. Cruises were also organized to nearby points of interest on the waterway.
Just as the automobile replaced the horse and carriage on shore soon after the start of the 20th century, so did powerboats come to greatly outnumber sailboats at the Club. In 1905, Commodore Allen gave the HRYC the Commodore Allen Trophy for long distance motor races. This large and beautiful trophy cup, adorned with Spanish coins from the Spanish American War, stands proudly in the trophy case. By the 1920s sailboats almost disappeared at the Club docks as powerboats dominated. Many northern members brought their large motor yachts down for the season. Powerboat races on the Halifax became more popular, reaching a peak in the late 1930s before World War II.
Florida experienced a second boom after the War, and the Yacht Club grew with it. The membership increased to twice its prewar number within the decade. In late 1945 the Club hired its first general manager. In 1950, Steward Earnest “Brownie” Brown was hired, serving faithfully until 1982 and still well remembered by many members. The new Municipal Yacht Basin was completed in 1951, and the following year the Yacht Club made a major effort to relocate to a proposed new clubhouse on leased City property
Many improvements were made to the clubhouse during the 1950s, culminating in 1960 with the addition of a closed-in porch with glass-paneled sliding doors and a walk-around deck built at the east end where finger piers had previously provided dockage for several boats. It was called the River Room, and later became today’s Flag Room.
Two events of 1960 are most noteworthy. First, a group of ladies known informally as the “Ways and Means Committee” because of their valuable assistance in many ways, was re-christened as the “First Mates”. Today we know them as the “Commodears.” Second, Commodore Ellenwood established The Binnacle as the official Club publication.
The decade of the 1960s was remarkable for several achievements. Clear title to the Club’s real property with riparian rights was acquired with quitclaim deeds from the descendants of Laurence Thompson — and was thought to be final. Air conditioning was provided in the clubhouse. The first dining room tables and chairs were acquired for food service other than at the bar. A Long-Range Planning Committee was formed. Under Commodore Stuart Lee the Daytona Beach Chapter of the International Order of the Blue Gavel was organized at the Yacht Club with Lee as its first president. Its name was soon changed to the Halifax River Yacht Club Chapter of the Blue Gavel, and it has been of great assistance over the years. Commodore Lee also started the Yearbooks that provide so much useful information for members. Of course, there were also fishing tournaments, cruises to various other clubs, as well as just sailing and the dinners, parties, and social events at the Club.
Most important, the decision was made to bulkhead and fill the parking lot as recommended by the Long-Range Planning Committee in early 1966. At a cost equivalent to about $194,000 in today’s money, the area on both sides of the entrance pier from the present bulkhead on the east and south to the fire station property on the north was bulk headed, filled, and paved for a parking lot. This was a monumental improvement that brought much opportunity. For the first time the clubhouse could be entered from the west end, the docks could be rebuilt, and additional office space could be added. Lack of sufficient parking had been a major problem.
As the 1970s began, the Bylaws were amended to limit the number of Active members to 500 persons. The interior of the clubhouse was renovated and computerized accounting was implemented. In 1974 the Commodears were organized, evolving from the First Mates — these ladies continue to assist the Club in numerous ways. That year the bar was moved from the west end to the east end of the clubhouse. In 1975 a large addition was made to the north side of the clubhouse, and the kitchen was moved down from the second deck. This marked the end of a rebuilding program and expansion.
Most notable during the 1970s was the rebirth of ocean racing. Sailing yachts all but disappeared before the Second World War, but made a comeback afterward and soon were numerous again, perhaps an equal number of powerboats and sailboats being seen. In 1972, the Club sponsored the HRYC Invitational Race, running from Ponce Inlet to Cape Canaveral, with trophies provided and pre- and post-race festivities. In 1975, Don Shaw, energetic chairman of the Racing Committee, began to promote ocean racing. The climax of that very successful racing season came at the Awards Banquet at which Dave Russell was the overall winner with four firsts. He earned the distinction of being the first person ever to win the Club’s 70-year-old perpetual trophy, the Commodore Cup that was given in 1905 by Commodore Allen originally for motorboat racing. In 1976 came the introduction of the Lady Helmsman Race and the first running of the Daytona Challenge Race. Other races were in conjunction with the East Coast Cruising Association. Promoted by Shaw, these races were meant to be family affairs with a variety of craft competing for the fun and joy of racing and the chance to learn. The boats were handicapped to give each a fair chance, and soon different classes evolved.
The great event of the 1970s was the first Daytona to Bermuda race that came to be known as the TransAt. It was co-sponsored by the St. George’s Dinghy and Sports Club of Bermuda and would continue so in future years. Conceived in 1977 and well planned, this first race left Ponce Inlet on 27 May 1978 for a run of about 860 nautical miles to Bermuda. The TransAt put the HRYC on the map, nautically speaking. It was the first time a sailboat race to Bermuda had originated from a southern port, the first time a major ocean contest had started at Daytona, and the first time a local yacht club had sponsored such an event. It was a great success!
During 1977, under Commodore Roy Kinsey, the Yacht Club purchased the lot across Beach Street that is today’s overflow parking lot. It was purchased both for additional parking and as a potential site for a future clubhouse should anything happen to the old one. Known as “Kinsey’s lot,” the purchase was recorded in December 1977 and by March 1978 an existing building was removed and the lot cleared.
Although the Daytona to Bermuda race, or TransAt, was originally planned as a biennial event, the race was sponsored again in 1979 in order to make the race a biennial event in the off year from the traditional Newport-Bermuda race. The 1979 race schedule for the Club included 15 races with 92 boats registered, 79 from the local area. At the Awards Banquet, 48 of 108 trophies went to Club members. Once again, the main event was the 2nd TransAt that departed on 26 May. And again the Governor of Bermuda welcomed all competitors, noting that last year’s event had been a great success. The Minister of Tourism noted the tremendous amount of goodwill generated by the yachtsmen and their families who came to Bermuda for this regatta. Nineteen yachts in three classes and ranging in size from 30 to 67 feet were registered, with 14 starting and all but one reaching Bermuda.
During this period, three small Kingfisher class sailboats were kept at the Club for the use of members or their guests. These had been acquired four years earlier and provided members and their children the enjoyment of both rigging and sailing the craft. In 1987, by then little used, these small boats were given to the Sailing Center just down the river that encouraged sailing in the area.
The decade of the 1980s would be another one noted for its ocean racing with a dozen or more races each season and these provided the most excitement. Of course, the TransAt was raced in odd numbered years. In 1981 the name “Trans-At” was first suggested and formally adopted as indicating a blue-water race from the east coast, comparable to the Trans-Pac from the west coast to Hawaii. That year the Commodears Cup was awarded to the female skipper whose boat had the best overall corrected time. Thirty boats entered and finished that race. Dr. Bob Keyes was the first Commodore to sail the TransAt.
During 1982 the clubhouse underwent much needed renovation and the parking lot across Beach Street was paved. In 1983 a fire protection sprinkler system was installed. The TransAt was said to be the best ever. In 1984 the Club reached an Active membership of 500 with 146 Associate members, thereafter operating under a cap of 500 Active members. Many cosmetic improvements were made thanks to the Commodears. In 1984 the initiation fee was raised and an assistant manager position created. The TransAt brought a record number of entrants with international attention. All of this activity and a full social schedule continued through the years.
During 1986 the new Administrative Offices were completed and the kitchen was expanded and modernized. That year the old Flag Room was completely removed, new pilings driven, and a new Flag Room built to provide greater usability and comfort below and an upper deck for activities above. The highpoint of the year was a Recommissioning Party in November to display the new bar and furnishings and new burgees for the 33 yacht clubs of the Florida Council. All of that was combined with a racing season extending from May through October.
Improvements continued in 1987 with a new canopy and a display case for historical memorabilia, and new outdoor furnishings for the Patio Deck. A highpoint of the year was a hilarious skit, “In The Beginning,” put on by various members and depicting the founding of the Yacht Club and the character of the men involved. A similar skit was provided the following year, covering a later period of Club activities.
In 1988 Commodore Frank Zimmerman, with his First Lady, “Peg,” oversaw the introduction of a new “in-house” computer system, the erection of a new decorative wall by the west end of the clubhouse, landscaping, and the introduction of Sunday evening dances. New lunch and dinner menus truly revitalized the Club, a “touch of class” being added. As the decade ended, the Bridge Room was refurbished, the office area was revamped, and the rest rooms expanded for visiting boaters.
The Yacht Club has had a number of good general managers over the years, two of whom deserve special notice because they both served for 15 or more years. Arthur L. “Bud” Chappell was hired in 1956 and served admirably until 1971. He is well remembered by some of our older members. Robert G. “Bob” Ginn was hired in 1972 and served until retiring in 1988. Bob Ginn served during a period of great excitement and improvements, giving his all to the activities and functions of the Club, and he is well remembered by many members today.
Commodore Zimmerman also responded aggressively to a decision by the Florida Department of Natural Resources (FDNR) that the Club did not possess clear title to the formerly submerged state land that became our parking lot. This led to compliance with a number of imposed conditions that would allow the Club to purchase said property from the state, but that effort took several years to accomplish.
In 1989, under Commodore John Moran with First Lady, “Betty,” the Bridge Room was refurbished and the office area revamped to include a workshop and expanded restrooms for visiting boaters. A word processor and database system were installed to enhance the Club’s secretarial functions and computerize member accounts. The 1989 TransAt was a huge sailing and social success. The Club also did well financially. It was a very productive and harmonious year.
1990: Commodore Robert Clarke, with First Lady, Jeanette, took the helm in 1990 and brought a final resolution of the state’s challenge of our deed to previously submerged land that came in 1988. For its first 94 years there was a question about the Club’s “riparian rights,” a situation that made planning most difficult. Commodore Clarke with staff and legal consultants managed to secure from the Florida DNR a “deed” that granted to the Club ownership of the filled-in state land that constituted our parking lot. As a result of good financial preparation, the cost of purchase (about $160,000 in 2003 dollars) was possible from the Club’s accumulated funds. The value of this achievement is obvious today as we enjoy our new clubhouse. There were the usual enjoyable social events, and the year ended with more than 200 on the waiting list to become members — clearly indicating that much was done well and the Club was highly regarded in the community.
1991: The year 1991 was unusual in that the Club had two Commodores and two Treasurers. Commodore Robert Van Newkirk with First Lady, Wanda, took the helm early. But half way through his term he suffered a severe heart attack and died, being replaced by Vice Commodore Robert Lauer with his First Lady, Rose. Both Commodores dealt with a realignment of the Finance Committee with appointment of a second Treasurer, P/C Richard Harris, who led the Committee to investigate and overhaul every aspect of the Club’s finances. The result was a monumental report, the essence of which was that the Club was quite secure but must maintain its legacy of keeping a strong cash reserve.
Again in 1991 the TransAt was a great success. Some 24 social events enjoyed maximum attendance and stretched the facility to its limits.
1992: Commodore Frank Zimmerman was re-elected to serve again in 1992 as he had in 1988 with First Lady, Peg. A major change came this year when the Club amended its Bylaws to eliminate gender as a measure of status, thus providing that women could become full voting members and could aspire to becoming flag officers and even Commodore. That year the Club hired Guido Levetto, a man of exceptional talents, as manager. Yolanda Speidel, who had served admirably while a manager was being selected, continued as Assistant Manager.
1993: Although with an ageing clubhouse difficult to maintain, the Club continued vibrant in 1993 under the leadership of Commodore Arthur Wilson and his First Lady “Jerry”. Sailing and boating activities appeared to grow, and social functions were many and well attended. It was a good year in all respects and ended with finances well on the positive side.
1994: In 1994 John Baker, Jr. became Commodore and his Marilyn became First Lady. Under their leadership everyone enjoyed the Club and its camaraderie to the fullest, and new things were tried. Among these were a monthly “birthday party” for members who were born that month, which has come to include those with wedding anniversaries, and a “bingo night” — both continue as very popular events. With dances and parties ashore, sailing continued apace offshore and many trophies were awarded at their annual banquet. The amended Bylaws of the previous year invited women to become full voting members.
1995: In its 99th year in 1995, Commodore Thomas McQuoid and his First Lady, Betsy, stepped up to lead the Club in its continued festivities and nautical activities afloat. Sailing and social events were many and well attended. Vice Commodore Sunny Fussell with wife, Suzi, led the way at sea, taking his crew and Halleluja to victory in the TransAt to Bermuda this year. All went smoothly, including the finances, with good management and a cooperative spirit. The Club’s 1st century ended with years of happy camaraderie on land and sea. As the end of its first century approached, the old clubhouse built above the water of the river was held together by diligent efforts but kept looking regal. Even so, some wondered what we would do if the old clubhouse could not be kept up and a move to a new site and clubhouse became necessary.
1996: In continuous and vibrant operation since 1896, the Halifax River Yacht Club celebrated its Centennial Year in 1996, having grown and prospered on the same site longer than any other yacht club on the east coast. Commodore Sonny Fussell, winner in the last TransAt to Bermuda, was uniquely qualified to lead the Club as it had begun with 13 avid sailors a century earlier. His First Lady, Suzi, was herself an experienced sailor. Boat parades, regattas, parties, dances, historical reminiscing, and good cheer marked the year. Vince Clarida, of the nearby Halifax Historical Society, prepared a brief history of the Club’s first century, made available to all members and others. He came to the Centennial Ball dressed as Commodore Burgoyne with his wife as Mrs. Burgoyne. Indeed, there was much to be proud of, and much to which the membership might look forward. Among the year’s more lasting accomplishments was acquisition of property north of the clubhouse that was vital to our land title. A waiting list of over 200 showed that the Club was much admired in the community and attractive to many.
1997: Joseph Ottenstein became Commodore in 1997 with his First Lady, Audrey. The year was most active socially, with another successful TransAt setting the pace at sea. The entire first floor and Bridge were refurbished after a delay of many years. Less noticeable was replacement of the supporting pilings beneath the clubhouse, leaving it structurally sound. P/C Heesacker had worked unselfishly to acquire the legal and contractual rights from the Government to keep the clubhouse in its location above water. The clubhouse structure was thus more secure physically and legally, but a yearly stipend would have to be paid for this waterfront property. During the year, two efforts by the Board to increase the membership and dues were voted down by the membership, perhaps suggesting that less growth was desired.
As the century neared its end, renewed effort was directed to answer the question, “What should we do with our century old, historically unique Yacht Club building?” The alternatives were to build on a new site or repair and maintain the historic clubhouse, and cost was a big factor.
1998: In 1998, Paul Adamek was elected Commodore with Carol as his First Lady. The persistent question of “What to do with our century old, historically unique Yacht Club building?” demanded an answer, and Commodore Adamek gave it serious study. He looked for new sites for a new clubhouse, investigated the cost of replacing the old building with a new clubhouse, plus the possibility of repairing and maintaining the old structure. These alternatives were still being considered at the end of the year.
The GulfStreamer sailing race, another “first” for the Club, was begun in 1998. This was a 225-mile race from Daytona Beach to Charleston, SC, ending at their yacht club. It would be a biennial event held on even years to alternate with the TransAt held on odd years. A great send-off was held at the Club, making this another top social event in those years.
1999: Commodore Richard Vaughn took the helm in 1999 with First Lady, Laura. It was a year for several important changes. The dues were reluctantly raised to meet the increased cost of operations. After 103 years, the Club elected its first female director. The Commodears — the ladies’ organization that gives its time, money, and much effort for the betterment of the Club — celebrated its 25th Anniversary. To bring in new members with the cap of 500 on Active members, the rules were changed to allow Active members with 25 years of service to voluntarily change to Emeritus Membership, which offered them the full use of the Club at lesser dues and without monthly minimum, but with no voting privilege. Almost all who qualified opted to accept the new membership category, thus opening up space for new Active members. There were many social and sailing events, highlighted by the TransAt to Bermuda. But the 20th century closed with the final racing of the TransAt. It had become increasingly difficult for the crews to obtain sufficient time off from their work, and the costs were also quite high. Having begun in the 19th century, and having flourished during the 20th, the Halifax River Yacht Club now looked forward to the 21st.
2000: The new century and a new millennium saw Commodore Jack Young, with his First Lady, Jackie, step up to lead the Club in 2000. With revenues approaching $1,200,000 the first initiative was to identify and install a state-of-the-art integrated computer system to improve operations and accounting. Social activities and regattas continued as before, but the focus was increasingly upon the future and what to do to accommodate an increasing membership and an aging clubhouse. The alternatives were explored again, but a change came when the City of Daytona Beach informed the Yacht Club that they wanted the Club’s property for enlargement and modernization of the North Basin of the Halifax Harbor Marina in exchange for which they would provide a piece of property of comparable value east of the clubhouse on the marina peninsula.
As negotiations continued, the social life of the Club remained vibrant and the sailing was highlighted by the 2nd Gulf Streamer race to Charleston, with festivities at both ends of the course.
This year the Club elected its first female Flag Officer, Martha G. Halling, who had also served as Treasurer and Secretary. Although creation of the Emeritus Membership category the previous year had reduced the number of people on the waiting list for Active membership, the wait time was still about one year.
2001: In 2001, under the leadership of Commodore Robert Schamay, the City and the Club settled on a proposed plan to relocate the HRYC to a site directly across the water from the present Flag Room, an advantageous site on the entrance channel and closer to the Halifax River. The new facility would include a much larger clubhouse, convenient docks and parking, plus amenities such as tennis courts and a swimming pool. Preliminary architectural sketches were provided for the consideration of the members.
The initiation fee was raised to $2,500 and other fees in proportion. The Board decided on a “pay as you go plan” to finance the new clubhouse construction and thus avoid a large assessment.
With First Lady Diane to assist, Commodore Schamay led an active social and sailing season. The Entertainment Committee, Commodears, and Ladies of the Blue Gavel gave outstanding support to various festivities. Notable along this line was recognition of the Daytona Sailing Center Association at a special Grillin’ n’ Chillin’ party in November.
In 1987 the Club had given the Sailing Center three Kingfisher class sailing boats together with a check for $750 to help support their efforts, and the Club’s own, to encourage sailing in our community. The Board then voted to provide a yearly stipend and for 2001 it had become $1,000. This year saw the departure of manager Guido Levetto after nine years of outstanding service. Ms. Cyndie Humphries was promoted to replace him.
2002: Commodore Daniel Redner took the helm in 2002 with his First Lady, Louise. Rear Commodore Martha Halling became Vice Commodore, the first woman ever to hold that position.
As the year began, negotiations were still ongoing and much remained to be decided. The promise was good for a new clubhouse, better able to accommodate a larger membership and that might stand for yet another century as a landmark on the Halifax and in our community. However, by year’s end little progress had been made.
An active social and sailing season continued, but the 3rd biennial Gulf Streamer race had to be postponed a week because of heavy weather, then experienced heavy weather at the start followed by very light winds so that only three boats arrived under sail at Charleston.
Among physical improvements was the installation of a new metal flagpole with gaff in the south parking lot. It was designed for easy removal and reinstallation at the new clubhouse site.
“Sunset dinners” with lesser prices and smaller portions were introduced two days a week.
2003: This third year of the 21st century ended with the election of Martha G. Halling as the Yacht Club’s first female Commodore, to serve in 2003. It held much promise.
Commodore Halling took the helm with enthusiasm. The Boat Parade and Change of Watch ceremony in January came on a cool, bright day, and after dinner Commodore Halling accepted a 4-foot model of a 50-foot racing sloop presented to the Club by Wanda Van Newkirk and Daisey Davis in honor of their late P/C husbands.
Among many physical improvements to the clubhouse was a new blue awning over the deck by the Bridge to provide protection from the sun and rain as well as a bit of elegance and flexibility.
During the summer the Club parted with Manager Cyndie Humphries who had made many improvements. Cyndie was replaced by Mr. Cecil Rohrberger, Jr. who came with 25 years of club experience, some of it at two yacht clubs.
A history of the Yacht Club’s 107 years on the same site on pilings above the river was published. The Board of Directors voted to construct the new clubhouse on the Club’s own parking lot.
2004: In the year 2004 under the guidance of Commodore Robert Ford and his first lady Carole, the Board of Directors and Flag Officers finalized the building plans for the new clubhouse. Construction of the new club was scheduled to begin early in 2005. The new club facility consists of two stories, and will be over 17,000 sq. ft. By keeping the club where it is, our club can continue to claim that we are the oldest yacht club in continuous operation in its same location on the East coast of the U.S. Thanks to the consistent efforts of the Commodore, members gifted and loaned over one third of the cost of our new facility.
Under Fleet Captain Jim Goergen, 48 different HRYC vessels participated in 20 events this year. Cruisers took part in Change of watch 2005, Blessing of the Fleet and the Christmas Parade, and several cruises were made to St. Augustine, Palm Coast, Eau Gallie and Smyrna Yacht Club. The Gulf Streamer Race, which was chaired by Commodore Ford and P/C Jack Moran, was a big success with the largest number of sailboats to date.
There were many successful social affairs planned by the members of the Ladies of the Blue Gavel including the Commodore’s Ball and the Sweetheart’s First Lady’s Dance. Two outstanding fashion shows were co-chaired by Maria DuVal and Trudy Malik. The 30th Anniversary of the Commodears was celebrated with a delectable luncheon.
The “Grand Old Lady” survived all four hurricanes: Charlie, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. Many of the members’ homes on the waterfront were extensively damaged. Fortunately, the club only flooded once.
We are eagerly anticipating the completion of the new clubhouse. “Experience is a dear school”, wrote Shakespeare, “There is nothing quite like it to test, verify, negate, deepen or enhance our convictions about life, people or ourselves.”
2005: Commodore Jim O'Shaughnessy took the helm in 2005 along with his First Lady Ellen and promised that it would be an incredibly exciting year. After many years of discussions and planning, construction of our new clubhouse started with the Ceremonial Ground Breaking on January 8 at the Change of Watch Ceremony.
Under the watchful eye of our contractor, longtime member Mike Underwood, and P/C Paul Adamek, our Owner's Representative, construction began in February with the removal of the front of the Club and the construction of a covered walkway into our new entrance.
Our architect, member Larry Robinson, designed a building that generated considerable enthusiasm, as was evident by the membership who made pledges and gifts to the Building Fund for more than $1 million.
With that kind of membership support Treasurer Karen Hale had no trouble in finding financial support from local banks, finally recommending to the Board that we secure a mortgage in the amount of $3.2 million from Harbor Federal, which was signed on March 9. The loan was interest only on the funds used during the construction period. The mortgage will be amortized over 20 years a rate of interest fixed for the first 10 years at 6.52%.
WM. B. Dodson was selected as the interior designer based on a recommendation of the 18-member Building Committee chaired by P/C Dick Vaughan. As with any construction project there are always unforeseen problems that slow things down. Our project was no different. Three fuel storage tanks were found under our old parking lot, one of which was full and had started leeching into the soil. These tanks and the contaminated soil had to be removed and disposed of in accordance with EPA regulations. Electrical wires had to be moved, the plumbing and the main water shut-off had to be reconfigured and the anchors holding the seawall called deadmen (which are huge concrete blocks under the parking lot that support the seawall using steel and concrete arms), had to be moved as they were located where the pilings that would support our clubhouse were to be drilled.
Once the construction of the new deadmen were completed the seawall was raised a couple of feet followed by the addition of fill dirt over the entire site to raise the building site three feet.
A test piling was drilled on June 10 but the test could not be completed as the test equipment was in use at another site. Finally, on June 22 the test was completed and the remainder of the 165 pilings were drilled and poured at a rate of 20-30 pilings per day. The building outline started taking shape on October 21 with the pouring of the foundation and slab for the first floor. After this was accomplished the first-floor walls were erected. Once the walls were up the scaffolding supports and forms were erected awaiting the "Big Pour" for the second floor of our club house after the first of the year.
Not only was it an exciting year but also a dynamic year for the Club. In January, membership had declined to 383 active members with a total membership of 598. Ten months later, in October, Membership Chairman Judy Eberhardt, along with Credentials Chairman P/C Bob Schamay, announced that our membership had reached 500 active members and the total membership had climbed to 738, and there was a waiting list of 106. This was attributed to the hard work of our members recruiting new members, the new clubhouse being built and the raising of initiation fee from $2500 to $4000 on October 1st.
At the October General Meeting, Bylaws Committee Chairman P/C Martha Halling presented to the membership a historic ballot containing 40 Bylaw changes, which passed, including the raising of the Active Membership cap to 600. The increases in Active Membership from 500 to 600 members would take place in increments as recommended by the House Committee and approved by the Board of Directors.
In December the Board approved a mandatory orientation session for all new members. This program, under the guidance of the Blue Gavel, would cover club history, member responsibility, protocol and billing procedures, and would begin in January 2006.
Socially, each one of the scheduled parties were well attended thanks to the efforts of our Entertainment Chair, Bev Hanson, who did a wonderful job of scheduling these functions and selecting party chairs. The Ladies of the Blue Gavel Auxiliary continued overseeing the Commodore’s Ball, the First Lady’s Ball and the Club's Anniversary Celebration while the Commodears continued hosting the monthly Birthday and Anniversary parties.
Fleet Captain Jim Goergen continued doing an outstanding job in organizing outings for our boaters, in addition to leading the fleet past the Club during the Change of Watch Parade and the Blessing of the Fleet. He was assisted by P/C Paul Adamek and Dave Winkler. Our sailboat group was led by Fleet Captain Rob Mundell, who organized the race to St. Augustine and the Commodores Cup Race series. Norm Church was the winner in the Spinnaker Division and P/C Bob Ford won the non-Spinnaker Division.
In April the Sponsorship and Gifting Committee was established. Fortunately, Board Member David Winkler accepted the chairmanship of this committee. The committee established a new endowment program allowing members to contribute to the new clubhouse.
After years of discussion the HRYC Wine Club became a reality. The first meeting was held in September with over 90 members attending and monthly meetings are continuing.
2005 was the year that we saw Don Gaby step down as historian to be replaced by John McSwain. Phylicia Doig and Dorothy Douglas began initiating audio/visual interviews of longtime members for historical records, which will become a permanent part of our new Club Library.
2006: One hundred fifty-four members and friends attended the final Change of Watch that was held on the Bridge of the Grand Old Lady when Commodore Richard Coughlin and his First Lady, Frieda, took the helm on a cold January 7th. Commodore Coughlin promised that 2006 was going to be an extremely exciting year as the new club house was scheduled to be completed in the fall. His first command issued to the squadron that day was, “Have fun in 2006.”
Also taking the oath to watch over the club were V/C Chris Brown, R/C Bennett Ford, Secretary Lynn McCoy and Treasurer Karen Hale, along with Board Members-elect Mike Alekson, Ed Shaw and Harold Ulisnik.
HRYC continued to be blessed with longevity as 12 former HRYC Commodores and four Past Commodores of other clubs, now members of HRYC, joined Commodore Coughlin at the Commodore’s Ball. First lady, Frieda Coughlin, paid tribute to 16 former first ladies by presenting them with the traditional rose at February’s First Lady’s Ball.
February also saw the first of 22 New Member Orientation sessions presented by P/C Dan Redner and P/C Tom McNally.
Fleet Captains Mike Alekson, Rob Mundell and Dave Winkler, continued to build on the success of 2005, planning numerous boating events and the 5th Bi-Annual GulfStreamer Race from Daytona Beach to Charleston, South Carolina. All told, 19 boats participated in this event with HRYC’s own Toki, Twilight and Last Mangas dominating the non-spinnaker class.
In July V/C Chris Brown undertook the project of rebuilding our south dock with members of the club and the financial support of long-time club member Dick Avery. Approximately 30,000 lbs. of lumber were used to complete the project.
With each passing month our new clubhouse began taking shape under the watchful eye of our architect Larry Robinson, P/C Dick Vaughan, Chairman of the Building Committee and P/C Paul Adamek, our Owner’s Representative.
In July we hosted the historic 71’ long WWII Motor Torpedo Boat, PT728, at our north dock for 7 days. This boat was making its last journey up the intracoastal to Kingston, NY, where it would be the focal point in the Wooden Boat show sponsored by the History Channel, and then on to its final resting place in a museum. Many of our members enjoyed the tours on the boat as well as the rides given twice a day.
Tragedy struck the Board on July 31st when Board Member Harold Ulisnik passed away after a strong fight with brain cancer. Scott Gutauckis was appointed to fulfill Harold’s term.
How appropriate it was that the Grand Old Lady hosted her last party on November 18 with the Harvest Ball. She gave all she could during her tenure. One week later, our new clubhouse was open for business, only 27 days later than the projected opening, a tribute to the dedication of Mike Underwood Construction. In conjunction with this opening, our new website was launched under the direction of Scott Gutauckis.
With each passing day manager Cecil Rohrberger and his staff had their hands full serving our membership and the many parties that were held as our members wanted to show off the new club.
A combination Grand Opening and Annual Meeting dinner was held on December 13 where it was reported that the Sponsorship Program chaired by Board Member Dave Winkler had raised a total of $514,000 from gifts and donations from our members.
2007: At 0001, on January 1, 2007, Commodore Chris Brown, one of the youngest Commodores in our Club’s history, took over the helm. Six days later, on a cool and rainy afternoon, Fleet Captain Mike Alekson assembled a fleet of 25 boats to pass in review prior to the Change of Watch Ceremony. As the Change of Watch Ceremony was the very first Change of Watch held at our new Clubhouse, a special Color Guard from Embry Riddle Naval ROTC was on hand to strike the old American Flag that had been flown over the Grand Old Lady. It was replaced with a new Ceremonial flag which had been flown over our Country’s Capital in Washington, D.C., on November 27, the day our new clubhouse was opened. The old flag was placed in the Hall of History.
Also taking the oath were V/C Bennett Ford, R/C Lynn McCoy, Secretary Scott Gutauckis, Treasurer Karen Hale and Board Members Judith Eberhardt, Harvey Morse Patty Underwood and David Winkler (2-yr. turn)
Socially, the Entertainment Committee planned 23 special events in addition to the monthly Birthday and Anniversary sponsored by the Commodears. The Baby Grand Piano which was purchased by the Commodears in November of 2006 with monies raised at a garage sale, from items donated by Club Members, was dedicated on January 14 at “Music Maestro Please”.
Marion Pipes stayed on as Chairman of the Commodears along with Vice Chairman Bev Hanson, Secretary P/C Martha Halling and Treasurer Carol Adamek.
Demolition of the Grand Old Lady was completed by mid-January. She was taken apart board by board because of the lack of access with the new yacht club in place. Under the direction of Chris Brown, work parties were organized to salvage as much lumber as possible for future projects such as the center dock. Many of the pilings from the Grand Old Lady were left in place to rebuild the new center dock. Once again, long time member Dick Every provided financial support for the decking boards. Some 40,000 cubic yards of debris was removed to allow deep enough water for boats to use the docks. The surrounding harbor was also dredged with the cost being covered by the city.
In the beginning of March, the Commodears sponsored their first Cruise, Bike Week Getaway 2007. Forty-three people set sail on Costa’s Mediterranea to the Caribbean occupying 22 cabins.
Our Tiki Bar opened with great fanfare on April 1. Fans and heaters were added later in the year through the generosity of our members so it could stay open when the weather cooled.
Finishing off the month of April was the always popular Blessing of the Fleet. The boats assembled on the ICW, and then passed by our south dock with each boat receiving a special Blessing by Father Peter Quinn.
At the May Birthday and Anniversary Night party the Commodears presented a mystery play called “Bedlam in Cabin B.” Over 175 members and their friends were in attendance as the HRYC Players outdid themselves with their stellar performance.
2007’s BIG sailboat race over the Memorial Day weekend was named “The Triangle Race, a New Beginning to an Old Tradition”. The boats started the race in extremely rough seas at the Ponce Inlet Buoy, racing to the Main Street Pier, then turning towards a marker 40 miles ENE of St. Augustine and then back to Ponce Inlet Buoy for a total of 121 miles with Dennis Gorden and his boat “Toki” finishing first.
The Florida Council of Yacht Clubs held their July Meeting in our new Clubhouse. By that time Beverly Wichmann had completed painting all the murals in the Tiki Bar area. There were numerous wonderful comments about the design of the building, the furnishings, the layout of the rooms and of course, the magnificent view.
In October, the Executive Board signed a document giving the City of Daytona Beach a small corner of our parking lot so that a pedestrian light could be installed across Beach Street.
In November, the Commodears decided that it would be nice to have a player piano. The Baby Grand Piano was converted to a player piano. At that time it was discovered that the piano they had bought last November was built in 1919 and had been refurbished in 1977.
The Annual Christmas Boat Parade was by far the best in its 8-year history. The brightly decorated boats of our members as well as those of the public cruised down the Halifax River as the public watched from the shores and the bridges.
2008: January 5, 2008, Bennett Ford took the helm as the new Commodore. The weather was beautiful and the Change of Watch was well attended. Claudia Smalbein was his First Lady. Patty Underwood took over as our Treasurer, Chris Minnich took over as Power Boat Captain and Rich Schaufert stayed on as our Sail Captain. Our new Board Members for 2008 were Pat Adsit, Mike Clower and Wayne Stewart. Bill Masters moved from Grievance Chair to Secretary. Harvey Morse resigned as Board Member in later 2008.
Fuel prices were high which kept our Power Fleet close by. The Gulf Streamer Race was won by “Twilight,” captained by Mac Smith, followed by “Last Mangas,” captained by P/C Bob Ford. P/C Ford also won the sprint to the pier.
Under the House Committee a new youth program was started by Mike and Sheri McQuarrie called the Voyagers. The year was filled with fun activities for young and old, such as movie night, circus night, cruises on the water, arts & crafts, and ornament making to name a few!
Our Club also hosted the District 8 State of Florida International Order of the Blue Gavel banquet. Thanks to the Ladies of the Blue Gavel and our Entertainment Directors Maria DuVal and Trudy Malik, some new events for the year were the Daytona 500 Party and the Boaters Open House. Board Member Harvey Morse and Marcia Goldstein sponsored the Tree of Life that memorializes past members. Each leaf cost $150.00 with the funds going to the betterment of our Club.
Smoking in the Club had already been prohibited. The no smoking policy was extended to include the Tiki Bar also. However, our Tiki Bar remained very popular throughout the year.
The House Committee and the Board of Directors wrote a new Employee Handbook to improve operations internally. It was a difficult year with many employee problems which resulted in some personnel changes. Assistant Manager Cathy Rohrberger and Chef John Liebman took their leave and Manager Cecil Rohrberger was replaced. A Search Committee was formed and they hired Louis Sellers as the new General Manager. HRYC joined the Daytona Beach Chamber of Commerce.
To encourage under-40 folks to join, a new Bylaw was passed that the Intermediate initiation fee will be increased from $800 to $1000 in 2010, but they get a credit of 5% toward their initiation fee for each calendar year after they join.
The old Ship Clock from 1901 was sent back to the original manufacturer to be refurbished and is mounted in the Flag Room. It belonged to Commodore Allen. Members continue to enjoy the beautiful original oil painting of a sailboat from the collection of Ernest Murphy Jr., which hangs in the Commodores Room.
Tom Kowalski and Janet Marnane were the winners in the first HRYC golf tournament held in 2007 at the River Bend Golf Course. P/C Jim O’Shaughnessy was our 2008 champion.
The year ended with one of the biggest and most festive Christmas Boat Parades to date. Many of our slips were empty as Club member participation brought the total Parade fleet to 22 boats of all sizes. They were brightly lit with Santa’s porpoises, palm trees and other imaginative themes. The captains and crews received over $5000 in prizes. The Sail Division was won by “Accolade,” captained by Steve Caron and crewed by Halifax Youth Sail. “Summer Wind” captained by Leonard Hartman was the winning power boat.
2009: In 2009, Commodore Lynn McCoy relieved IP/C Bennett Ford under the dressed out flag pole in front of the Grand New Lady. V/C Scott Gutauckis, R/C Bill Masters, Secretary Wayne Stewart, Treasurer Patty Underwood and new Board Members Dave Klokow, Les Levy, and Mike McQuarrie also took the oath of office.
Throughout the year, our social events were very well attended as evidenced by our Easter Brunch, which was attended by nearly 400 guests.
Sailing was front and center throughout the year. We had our first adult sailing class sponsored by the Commodears. The inaugural “Battle of the Yacht Clubs” fishing tourney attracted over twenty boats and most importantly, HRYC won. Audrey Ottenstein began her “Barefoot Cruises” aboard the “Miss Aud,” inviting members new and old for an evening cocktail cruise. P/C’s Adamek, Ford, and Coughlin won first place in the “Mother tub” competition in the Abacos. In addition to the Commodores Cup series, we held our first Voyagers inshore fishing tourney.
Our Office Manager departed and was replaced by a new accountant Marie Maclaren to keep our finances straight. Under the guidance of our Manager Louis Sellers, we had a grievance-free workforce and organized our Grand New Lady for the Future. We decided to close
the club on Mondays to allow for heavy maintenance and give the furnishings a breather.
Our third annual Poker Run, organized by Mike Alekson and Dave Chesebro, was a huge success attracting over 25 vehicles, new and seasoned.
2010: Commodore Scott Gutauckis took the helm with Pam his First Lady.
The question on everyone’s mind at the 2010 Change of Watch was: is this REALLY the Halifax River Yacht Club in Daytona Beach? The day began with below freezing temperatures and gusty winds greeting the attendees. For safety reasons, rather than a fleet pass in review, the Commodore and IP/C passed in review on the aft deck of the Fleet Captain’s Boat. The official ceremony was held in the Commodores Room of the Club.
In addition to Commodore Gutauckis, V/C Bill Masters, R/C Wayne Stewart, Secretary Mike McQuarrie, Treasurer Jim Richards, new Board members Todd Stebleton and Bill Stevens took the oath of office. We hired Frank Amendolia as our new Comptroller replacing our accountant who had recently departed.
Our inaugural Junior Sailing Camp was a big success and laid the groundwork for even more growth in the future.
Under the guidance of Commodore Gutauckis our Web Site matured into a useful management tool for members and staff alike.
First Lady Pam Gutauckis used her capable organizational skills to assist in refining business procedures in the office and in the food and beverage operation.
Fleet Captains Mark Webb and Dave Klokow organized several new and interesting power boat excursions including one to the scheduled final launch of the Space Shuttle.
Our relationship with our Morgan 33, Halifax Lady, began in earnest as we donated sweat equity to spruce her up.
Attendance at regular and protocol events remained at a high level with one Birthday and Anniversary Night topping 200 guests.
2011: With Commodore Bill Master and First Lady Grace. The 2011 Change of Watch was held on a bright, sunny Central Florida day with a flyover, courtesy of the Spruce Creek Gaggle, adding to the festivity of the occasion. Commodore Bill Masters took the helm from IP/C Scott Gutauckis. Vice Commodore Wayne Stewart, Rear Commodore Mike McQuarrie, Secretary Dave Klokow, Treasurer Jim Richards, along with new Board Members Gary Briggs, Mike Underwood, Mark Webb, Joe Hopkins and Rick Brown also took the oath of leadership.
Throughout the year, the national and local economies continued a downward pressure on membership, but under the adept tutelage of Membership Chair Rusty Culler, we kept our membership on an even keel throughout the year.
Jill Stephens, our energetic and able Entertainment Chair, directed a very eclectic entertainment schedule including several new and different events to ensure a good time for every taste.
After years of talk and not much action, Commodore Masters, who spearheaded the buying process through several local hurdles, saw the culmination of a dream as we closed on the property across the street. As the year ended, the office building was fully functional and in use for various activities. The “pink house” was demolished and landscaped and the carriage house was well on its way to a new life as a boathouse and workshop.
Another major milestone was our designation as a Florida “Clean Marina.” R/C McQuarrie and Dockmaster Brian Fitzpatrick completed all the requirements after persevering for nearly six years. The Florida DEP sent representatives to the club for a ceremony appropriate to the occasion. A 25% discount on our submerged land lease is one of the many benefits of our designation.
2011 also brought the establishment of an HRYC Chapter of the Florida Commodores Association. The association of Past Commodores and serving Flag Officers and Spouses acts as a resource for yacht club leadership providing education and promoting traditions and courtesies. The Charter now hangs in the Wardroom along with P/C Chris Brown’s recognition as the first FCA “Four Star Commodore”
Our sailing program highlights included an expanded junior sailing camp, a record number of entrants in the St. Augustine Dash, and nearly one hundred attendees at the annual Sailing Awards Banquet with Chris Herbster at the helm. The Halifax Lady, our club owned and sponsored Morgan 33, was nearly ready for Champagne at year’s end.
We parted ways with our General Manager, but were extremely fortunate to have longtime staff member Neal Dobson step up and guide us through the Holiday Season.
Perhaps the highlight of Commodore Masters’ year was his loaning us his lovely First Lady, Grace, whose presence demonstrated time and again the true definition of class.
2012: The New Year’s Eve Party of 2012 welcomed Wayne Stewart as the 101st Commodore to take the helm of HRYC with our new First Lady, Eloise Stewart. The Change of Watch Ceremony followed six days later and along with Wayne as Commodore, V/C Mike McQuarrie, R/C Bill Stevens, IP/C Bill Masters, Secretary Margaret Yaeger and Treasurer Jim Richards were sworn into office. Also sworn in were Board Members Gary Briggs, Mike Underwood, Glen Wagner, Joan Baber, Jay Bond, Bert Meine, Rick Brown, Todd Stebleton and Joe Hopkins. A flyover by the Spruce Creek Gang, the review of nineteen boats from the Halifax Fleet by Commodore Stewart and IP/C Masters, and the christening of the Halifax Lady by First Lady Eloise, celebrated the occasion.
2012 began with trying times in regards to club management. The year started with no General Manager, no Chef and a large carry over expense due to severance paid to the previous manager. Commodore Stewart, with Board approval, agreed to assume additional duties to assist in the management of the Club. R/C Bill Stevens agreed to chair a chef search committee. In May the committee selected John Suppan as our new Chef. V/C Mike McQuarrie agreed to chair a search committee for the General Manager position and in August selected John Connors to fill that vacancy.
The year was filled with entertainment that gave everyone a reason to come out and enjoy the club. Mrs. Rusty Culler, Entertainment Chairperson, discovered and brought to the club some great entertainers, some that had even performed on Broadway. Fifty-three events were on the calendar for the year.
A new club within our club was formed with Past Commodore Paul Adamek spearheading its inception. Through donations from members Dave Huff and Bruce Stevens and purchases the Club obtained five Kayaks for member use and pleasure.
The work on the 342 and 346 properties continued with Commodore Stewart organizing a member work party to clear, haul trash away and manicure the grounds. With the help of Don Chester and Mike Underwood, the Boathouse, (342) received a new roof and work on the new outside stairs began.
Due to damage sustained during the installation of the new retention wall south of the property, the pool was closed from March to October. Permitting delays were part of the problem and the delays severely restricted the revenue of the Tiki Bar.
The Halifax Fleet came out in force for the Blessing of the Fleet in April with the Reverend Calvin Gittner conducting the Blessing. As is tradition, a Memorial Service is held on this day to honor members of the Club who passed away during the year. Commodore Stewart introduced a new ceremony that was held on the floating dock. With a strike of a bell, a rose was cast on the waters as the names of the 24 deceased were read. Past Commodore Jack Young (2000), Past Commodore Martha Halling, (2011, the Club’s first female Commodore), and Past First Lady Elsie Card-Impson (1958) were among those honored. Elsie was married to Past Commodore Cliff Card.
Fleet activities included The Battle of the Yacht Clubs fishing tournament in May, and the biennial GulfStreamer race from Daytona to Charleston. A Low Country Boil and awards ceremony was held Saturday evening in Charleston. Fleet Captain Ted Yeager and Club Measurer Vince Marzello put together the St. Augustine Dash which proved to be a great event. Several club members met as guests at the St. Augustine Yacht Club for the awards dinner at the conclusion of the race.
Commodore Stewart signed a contract with Jonas Software for a Club Management package that is capable of networking with our Jonas accounting system. It will serve the club for years to come.
A jam-packed calendar of events culminated the year during the holiday season. An Elegant Evening, the Harvest Ball, Sailing Awards Dinner, the Florida State University and the University of Florida Tailgate Party, Birthday/Anniversary and Veterans Appreciation Night along with the Thanksgiving Feast filled the Club in November.
Then in December there was the Tree Trimming Party, the Christmas Ball, the New Year’s Eve Party and the Christmas Boat Parade. Two private parties, the Ho Ho Party and the Ooh Rah Party, sponsored by ladies and gentlemen of HRYC, loaded the club with toys for needy children on both occasions.
As per protocol, Commodore Wayne Stewart and First Lady Eloise Stewart, gave the Club a gift of a mounted Blue Marlin which hangs over the entrance to the Commodore’s Room. What a memorable way for the Halifax River Yacht Club to complete 116 years of operation. (Full report appears online at HRYC.com)
2013: Following a well-attended Change of Watch ceremony and banquet, Commodore Mike McQuarrie vowed to bring the Halifax River Yacht Club “back to the water.” He and First Lady Sheri along with their daughters Bailey and Chelsea, all sailors, did just that.
The Club took home the prestigious Lipton Cup Challenge trophy, garnering valuable publicity in the local press. The Commodore personally participated in this yearly sailing contest sponsored by the Smyrna Yacht Club. Thanks to Norm Church and the crew of the sailing yacht Obsession for making our Club shine. Commodore and First Lady McQuarrie in their Catalina 30 won the Lady Helmsman Regatta.
The yacht, named “Voyager,” was named after HRYC’s youth group that Commodore McQuarrie and First Lady Sheri founded in 2007 for the betterment of the Club’s youth. The Voyagers proved to be a very successful program for many years and attracted a crop of new families to our membership ranks.
With the closing of Sunset Harbor Yacht Club in 2012, the Battle of the Yacht Clubs Annual Fishing Tournament, also founded by Commodore McQuarrie, morphed into the Offshore Invitational Tournament in conjunction with the Halifax Sport Fishing Club. HRYC hosted the event, holding both the Captains Meeting and Weigh-in parties at the Club docks and grounds. Continuing the victory sweep, HRYC took the overall Club award for catching the most fish at the end of the day. Proceeds of the tournament went to assist the HRYC Youth Sailing Program and HSFC’s Special Needs Fishing Program.
Along with the traditional “sail-aways” to local ports of interest, Fleet Captain Brad Riggle introduced a well-received and highly popular sail and power excursion to the Bahamas. The Kayak Club, formed under the direction of P/C Paul Adamek, flourished with more members learning skills and even taking moonlight cruises.
Financially, the Club ended the year in the black for the first time in several years and even bought in continued revenue during the slower summer months. With the help of Fifth Third Bank, and thanks to member Joe Disanti and lower mortgage rates, the Club refinanced the existing mortgage, reducing the monthly payments by over $5,000 per month!
Parties were well attended under the able direction of Entertainment Chair Brenda Iannarelli, who with First Lady Sheri, designed party themes “outside the box” of our usual party events. The traditional protocol events honoring the incoming Officers and Directors, the First Lady and Past Commodores were managed successfully by members of the FCA Associates. The Treasure Chest raffle at the spectacular Pirate Party on the docks and Tiki Bar brought in needed revenue for the Club and was a great success. A Scotch, Rum and Cigar Tasting held on the Commodore’s Birthday was a big hit with the ladies as well as the gentlemen. First Lady Sheri was crowned Champion of the inaugural “Sharks in the Water” poker tournament, which raised money for the Youth Sailing Program. A Piano Night, featuring keyboard sing-along artists, started this year. It included a wide variety of tapas dishes, a first for the Club, and its popularity ensures it will continue as a Club favorite. This innovation joins the Club’s long-standing Birthday/ Anniversary Nights, Seafood Buffet and Grillin’ n’ Chillin’ events.
After a 10-year wait, the Commodore and Board engaged a professional agency to take photos of all members and families for a new Photo Directory and to assist in staff identification of members.
An HRYC website was launched under the direction of the Commodore and First Lady and will be managed by longtime staff member Karen Mowrey. Past Commodore Bill Masters along with Director Joan Baber were appointed to evaluate the structure and performance of the Club using the DACUM model. This evaluation will prove invaluable to future leaders.
Finally, during the December Board meeting, Commodore McQuarrie instituted and awarded the ‘Volunteer of the Year Award’ to Mary Douglas to reward her for her many hours of volunteer service to the Club. Hopefully, this becomes a tradition each year that recognizes those who devote so much time and energy to make HRYC a better place.
2014: It was a bright but cool day, January 4, 2014, as Commodore Bill Stevens, Vice Commodore Margaret Yaeger, Rear Commodore Glen Wagner, Treasurer Jim Richards and Secretary Pam Ford repeated their oaths of office. Also, directors Joan Baber, Jay Bond, Bert Meine, Michelle Bilach, Ralph Hersey, Patty Underwood, Michael Becker, Jill Stephens, and Dave Winkler assumed their leadership roles for 2014. The Change of Watch was followed by a flag lowering
Sundowner Ceremony conducted by the HRYC Chapter of the Florida Commodores Association.
In early January a board orientation was conducted with presentations by P/C John Slattery - customs and traditions, Pam Ford - conduct of meetings, P/C Bill Masters – leadership, Joan and Garry Briggs – legal issues, Treasurer Jim Richards – financial responsibility and Linda Lampman – membership development. Entertainment Chair Nancy Hersey presented her calendar of events which were full of fun and diverse activities.
In an effort to boost the pace of new member recruitment the Board of Directors revised the initiation schedule. Prior to July 1st Active $1,000, Intermediate $200 and Non-Resident $500. From July 1st Active $1,500, Intermediate $500 and Non-Resident $500. Also, Future Member Happy Hours were held on selected Fridays to introduce potential members, in a social setting, to the club, some members and amenities.
A jukebox was procured for use, primarily, in the Tiki Bar to enhance and expand the music available in our most casual venue.
New member orientations were re-initiated to welcome and educate regarding yacht club events, amenities, history, customs and traditions. P/Cs Chris Brown and Bill Masters led the first lively presentation and discussion.
GulfStreamer 2014. Fleet Captain Mike Alekson, Sail Fleet Captain Dave Huff and GulfStreamer Chair Ash Dovel enthusiastically directed efforts resulting in a well-executed and exciting race from Ponce inlet to Charleston, NC. Elaine Kershaw organized a four-day bus trip to Charleston to welcome our sailors at the end of the race. During the race Captain Mac Smith called the Coast Guard as Twilight was taking on too much water in rough seas. His quick thinking and ingenuity saved the day, as the CG helicopter hovered overhead briefly, and Twilight and crew safely finished the race.
With the growing interest in the club’s new sport of Pickleball, $2,000 in capital improvement funds were allocated by the board for expansion to two courts, if member donations matched. Club members’ donations exceeded the requirement and the courts were expanded and resurfaced.
R/C Glen Wagner supervised the painting of the exterior of the entire club and the maintenance dredging of slips.
Jerry Janaro’s leadership during the summer led to another very successful Youth Sailing Camp with nearly 180 participants.
Nancy Hersey pursued the Glenn Miller Orchestra for a November performance at HRYC resulting in the most exciting evening of the year. Nearly 250 members and guests enjoyed the 19-piece orchestra’s swinging performance along with an elegant dinner expertly prepared and served by our staff.
Mary Douglas spearheaded the effort of the Docks Committee to refurbish all the dining room chairs featuring the club logo artfully presented on the back of each chair.
Commodore Bill and First Lady Darcy Stevens presented the club with a set of aluminum bleachers installed by the Pickleball courts as their gift of thanks to all the club members for their support and encouragement during the year.
HRYC is financially sound and finished 2014 in the black.
2015: At 12 a.m. on January 1, 2015, Margaret Yaeger took the helm of Halifax River Yacht Club as the 104th Commodore, only the second female in the Club’s 119-year history to have the honor. On January 3, 2015, she was formally installed at the Change of Watch ceremony that also installed V/C Glen Wagner, R/C Michael Becker, I/PC Bill Stevens, Secretary Joan Baber, Treasurer Jim Richards and Directors: Mike Alekson, Michelle Bilach, Davis Hamilton, Dave Huff, Jerry Janaro, P/C Bill Masters, Jill Stephens, Patty Underwood and Dave Winkler.
The 2015 theme Commodore Yaeger chose was: “Member Satisfaction is Job 1”.
The Entertainment Committee under the capable leadership of Jill Stephens planned and executed a spectacular array of parties and special events for the enjoyment of the membership. The Membership Committee sponsored “Future Member Happy Hours” on the first Friday of each month.
The Ambassadors, led by Juanita and Harry Ohanian, sponsored several Sunday Brunches, New Member Receptions, Mix & Mingle events, Progressive Dinners, Sunset Dinner and Patriotic Concert in July and the annual bus trip.
Chef Joseph Eppley showed off his culinary skills at the Chef’s Showcase in January.
February brought “Mix and Mingle,” Valentine’s Dinner Dance, Mardi Gras, and Chinese New Year. On Feb. 28, the very First Laddie, Ted Yaeger, was honored by a party with the theme “Return to Brigadoon.”
In March, members enjoyed the popular “Biker Bash” and St. Patrick’s Day parties. Sail Fleet Captain, Dave Huff, organized the Commodore’s Cup series of races.
In April 5 families enjoyed an Easter Brunch and Parade with the Easter Bunny and an egg hunt on the 346 property. Later in the month, the Blessing of the Fleet took place along with a memorial service and a picnic BBQ at the Tiki Bar.
May flowered with entertaining events commencing with “Derby Day” and ending with the “Bootleggers Ball”. In between, we celebrated the 119th Anniversary of this wonderful Club on May 16.
On June 8, our Junior Sailing Camp began classes for youths ranging from 8 to 16 years of age. Two scholarships were presented in memory of Beverly Hanson, a long-time member of HRYC and sailing enthusiast.
Black and White and “Old Hollywood” was the attire for the “Rat Pack Party” in June. Later in June, we boogied the night away at “Disco Night” featuring our own John Travolta, V/C Glen Wagner.
July got off to a “bang up” start with the 4th of July celebration. Later in the month, all enjoyed a Low Country Boil.
On July 19, HRYC hosted a Pickleball Tournament between HRYC and Smyrna Yacht Club and took first place in three divisions.
In August, we enjoyed a Toga Party, “Five o’Clock Somewhere” and a “Back to School” Party.
In September, HRYC hosted the General Meeting of the Florida Council of Yacht Clubs and later in the month enjoyed a little bit of Africa at the Safari Party.
The Florida Commodores Association held its Change of Watch at the Club on Oct. 23-25. P/C Wayne Stewart (2012) was installed as the Commodore of the Association. An impressive sundowner’s ceremony retiring the U.S. flag for the night was presented after the Change of Watch.
At the October Board Meeting, a proposal from Club Specialists International to conduct a comprehensive strategic club assessment was approved. The Board also approved Conflict of Interest, Document Retention and Destruction, and Whistleblower Protection policies. “Biketoberfest” and a Halloween costume ball were the social events for the month.
Members honored those who served in the armed forces at a Nov. 11 Veterans’ Day celebration. An outstanding fashion show called “Cruisin’ on the Catwalk” and a fun; casual “Harvest Hoedown” rounded out the November social calendar.
Before we knew it, December arrived. V/C Glen and Kelly Wagner organized a fantastic Christmas Boat Parade with 32 boats dressed in various Christmas themes. Santa and Mrs. Claus entertained children and adults at the “Santa Comes to Town” party. On Dec. 19, the club was filled with the Christmas Spirit as members enjoyed a “Christmas Wonderland.”
Club Manager Jim Griffin resigned and Interim General Manager Phillip LaBrecque filled in until a new General Manager could be hired. On Dec. 29, consultants Club Specialists International, reported on their assessment of the Club.
On New Year’s Eve, at the stroke of midnight, Commodore Yaeger presented the gavel and three gold stars signifying the office of Commodore to the 2016 Commodore, Glen Wagner.
2016: Commodore Glen Wagner took the helm in 2016 along with First Lady Kelly. Having just completed an extensive study of our club operations by our consultant Jim Risignio, Kelly and I knew 2016 would be a pivotal year.
We began the year with interim Club General Manager, Phillip LeBreque. With Phillip’s help, we had soon hired a full time General Manger, Brian Smith and Membership Director, Julia Borre’. At the advice of our consultant, Brian and Julie implemented the Member Partnership Program, which was a huge success. After many years of declining membership, we had finally turned the corner and membership numbers skyrocketed. By the end of 2016 Julie, Brian and Membership chairman Jerry Janaro had completely reorganized our membership program and brought over 160 new members into our club.
Thanks to First Lady Kelly, Entertainment Chair Pat Alekson, all the quarter chairs and everyone else who devoted so much time and effort, entertainment year was a tremendous success. Kris Carmichael captured our amazing events and moments in our Commodore’s Yearbook—Commodore’s Ball, First Lady’s Gala, Chinese New Year, Biker Bash, St. Patrick’s Day, Tommy Dorsey, Blessing of the Fleet, our 120th Anniversary Celebration, HRYC Open House, and so many more. There is one event that stands out just a little more for me.
On February 18th HRYC hosted Jeff Gordon’s Daytona 500 Kickoff Celebration presented by Fox Sports. Fox Sports transformed our club into the setting for a star-studded celebrity party in honor of Jeff Gordon.
Pickleball continued to gain momentum and popularity and HRYC hosted the “Rivalry on the River” with New Smyrna Beach Yacht Club.
2016 was also a year for unforeseen mechanical challenges. In 2016 our air conditioning chiller became quite a challenge. First half of the unit developed a freon leak, then the other half had a compressor self-destruct. Florida is not a place to be without air conditioning. Thanks to the heroic work of Past Commodore Chris Brown, who was able to replace the downed compressor with one from the other side of the unit, air conditioning was restored until a new unit could be purchased and installed.
2016 was a great year to be Commodore at HRYC. Kelly and I want to thank members and staff alike for making 2016 a year to remember.
2017: Commodore Michael Becker took the helm as Commodore with his First Lady Becky in January 2017 on one of the coldest days for the change of watch this yacht club has seen in recent years.
Commodore Becker ‘s entertainment committee was chaired by Brenda Iannarelli. One notable event showcased some of our very own HRYC member talent.
HRYC also had the impact of hurricane Irma which did minor damage. There were several vessels with light damage. winds approached over 50 knots.
HRYC had several different membership directors, membership was sliding.
2018: Commodore David H, Jr. addressed the membership on a bright and beautiful January day, joined by Vice Commodore Chris Brown and Rear Commodore Mike Underwood. He declared that 2018 would be a “Renaissance Year” for HRYC, and indeed it was!
In early January we began to search for a more viable financing source for our building mortgage, and by April, with the help of member Bruce Page, we had secured a new lender with excellent terms and recovered almost $200,000 from our old mortgage holder in the process. It was a great start but as always there was more work to be done. Member Tim Lariviere made a substantial donation to replace our aging Tiki Bar screens with modern electric roll ups, enabling more usage of our beloved Tiki during the colder months.
Commodore Huff held a well-attended “Town Hall” style meeting April 12 to bring the membership up to date on club finances and plans for the year.
In May, as this was a GulfStreamer Race year, the club held the infamous Rum Party to kick off the race to Charleston. Commodore Huff was too busy to race his own boat, but did manage to race on a St. Augustine boat and finished second in class.
Speaking of the parties, they were once again great thanks to the leadership of First Lady and Entertainment Co-Chairperson JacQ'uie Richardson, helped out by Co-Chair Julie Borre' and with the enthusiastic support from many of the club's ladies. There were many notable events, but the ones that stood out the most after the protocol events were the Biker Bash, Kentucky Derby, GulfStreamer Rum party, Crab and Shrimp Boil, Small Boat Poker Run, and the Tribute to Elvis Party.
For several years Commodore Huff had pushed the kitchen to do a “Comfort Food” night at HRYC based on many requests for it from the members. With support from Chef Bryan and GM Smith, it was finally started, and several years later is still successful. Wine lockers were ordered for the Commodore's Room and were an instant sellout. At the mid-year point the automatic service charge on food and beverage was raised to 20% from 18%, making staff and servers happy.
A reciprocal agreement between HRYC and the Riviera Country Club was established, allowing our members to enjoy golf at a discounted rate and allowing the Riviera members access to our dining rooms. The summer highlight was certainly the wedding of Vice Commodore Chris Brown and Julie Borre'. The once-a-month Sunday Brunches gained in popularity all year, the Junior Sail camp was a resounding success, and a Fall Sailing Program was put in place.
Members came together to perform needed hurricane repairs across the street on the 346 property, and a Commemorative Brick Program was established to fund the Tiki expansion.
The Florida Commodore's Association gave us a grant for our Youth Sailing, and slip holders at HRYC donated money for needed dock repairs. HRYC hosted the Florida Council of Yacht Clubs meeting in September, showing all Florida Club Officers our beautiful facility; and finally, new Dockmaster Scott Schamay was hired in late fall.
2019-2020 Commodore Chris Brown
To be added soon