(Updated & Revised from Past Jib Sheets by Becky Craig)
(Current Revisions by Rick Banning)
Berlin Reservoir was filled up for the first time in the spring of 1943. Interest in sailing grew around Berlin as formal and informal races were organized. On October 10, 1950 an organizational meeting was held at the Gin Mill in Salem by 12 men: Willard Albertsen, George Brotherly (Manager of Berlin Reservoir), Dave Cope, Troy Cope, Oland Dilworth, Fitch, Ford Howell, Elmer Kerr, Harry Moffett, Joe Pidgeon, Albert Sen, and Curtis Vaughan. The name “Berlin Yacht Club” was agreed upon. The Club was incorporated on November 22, 1950.
By the second meeting 12 men had grown to 17 men. By the third meeting officers had been elected, dues had been set at $20, and it had been decided that the majority of club members must be sailboat owners and that all trustees must own sailboats.
The Club had borrowed $2,000 and purchased four lots of land where the Club is now located by the spring of 1951. Construction of a large dock was begun to meet the need of the racing Snipes and Y-Flyers. At the sixth meeting, which was held in February 1952 a clubhouse was being discussed. In less than 18 months the Club had borrowed money purchased land, built a dock, and started thinking about a clubhouse. The Ladies’ Auxiliary was also organized.
In May 1953, at the ninth meeting Elmer Schneider presented the Club with a beautiful cannon to use for race starts. It was at this meeting that the Club decided to purchase the land at the anchorage. They also drove to Alliance to inspect some surplus buildings, which the city was selling. That same month the trustees authorized the purchase of an old surplus building for $1400 plus $700 to have it moved to its present site.
June 1, l953: “The biggest news of the season, so far, is that we have actually laid down some dollars for the new building that will be our Yacht Club’s home … the concrete slab and foundation will be started shortly … the 20’ x 48’ metal building formerly a U.S. Army housing quarters, is something less than glamorous … Commodore Dilworth advises that pottery bisque will be available for the hauling this weekend to repair the sad road to the Clubhouse.” (The members turned out in good numbers with shovels and worked through a steady downpour putting in the foundation for the road.)
July 1, 1953: “The big news of June was that the outhouses were completed. Those who don’t remember can only imagine what it was like before we had ‘em. The hospitality of Dick and Max Zuber saved many a desperate situation.”
Also that summer the trustees decided that all applications for membership would be posted on the bulletin board for 30 days prior to taking a vote. By the fall of 1954 the construction of the Clubhouse was pretty well completed, but the roof leaked, the porch was not cemented, , and there were no chimneys. The 1954 Jib Sheet notes very substantial contributions to furnishings from the wives’ rummage sales. That year’s roster showed 52 members and each member was assessed hours work or dollars in equal amounts. We were worth a dollar an hour in those days.
By 1955 the dues had been raised to $30 per year with an initiation fee of $10. By the fall of that year the Club was turmoil. Some of the members wanted a fireplace because it got pretty cold during some social events. Some members wanted to drill a well for running water. Other members wanted to modernize the outhouses.
By the fall of 1956 the trustees were talking about building a kitchen installing running water and building locker rooms. The commodore was pushing the membership to push the trustees to get something done. The Ladies’ Auxiliary started buying equipment like new chairs and tables and donating them to the Club. Discussions began concerning BYC holding an invitational regatta. There was no big dock that year because the old dock was being replaced. It was not completed until late summer; however, so it was decided not to put it in the water until the following spring. The trustees had never approved the cement steps leading down to the dock and some of them were quite surprised and very upset to see them.
A strong Lightning fleet developed in the Club followed shortly by Thistle and Highlander fleets. BYC was soon participating in regattas and placing with the winners. In our early years, most of our boats were moved to buoys in the cove. Taxi prams were a necessity and were usually over loaded. More than once the occupants took an unexpected dip. In 1956 to insure safe passage through the cove, the Army Engineers asked us to dock or dry sail. The anchorage has consequently grown.
1957 was a very big year for Berlin Yacht Club. The Club now had 48 members. The footer for the kitchen and rest rooms had been poured and the Club was planning for its first invitational regatta, which was held for the first time in 1958. But there was no parking lot and when it rained everyone got stuck. About this time, the Commodore’s Labor Day Series was initiated, which still gives boats from all fleets a chance to compete against each other on a handicap basis. As time passed, Flying Scots, Windmills, Finns, Lasers, El Toros, and Sunfish have been racing fleets at the Club.
By 1960 the walls had been paneled, the ceiling insulated, lights installed, and the floor tiled.
In 1967 discussions began concerning the purchase of a float boat or “crash boat” as it was called then. Nothing in the Club was as well discussed as the float boat. Some wanted it very much, while others saw nothing but problems. By fall authority had been granted for the “crash boat” purchase.
Through the efforts of Bob Murphy and others, the ramp at the anchorage was built in 1968. The discussions concerning the float boat continued even though it had already been approved the year before. In 1969 the float boat discussion continued. And into 1970 the float boat was still being discussed. By this time new trustees had been elected and no one remembered that the decision to purchase a float boat had been made three years earlier. Now they were trying to decide it all over again.
In July 1971, the trustees moved that the Club purchase a float boat. Finally in the fall of l971 BYC had a float boat.
In 1972 races as they had been run in the past at BYC came to an end. The float boat was used to start races into the wind. All finishes, however, were still recorded at the main dock. It is also important to note that most of the races were run by those members who backed buying the float boat. By 1973 it was decided that everyone should have float boat duty just like kitchen duty. And the ruckus started all over again caused particularly by social members who didn’t sail. Kitchen duty was okay because they did eat, but they didn’t race so why should they have to learn how to run the boat and start races.
The next expansion involved the Club’s sixth loan of $10,000 to buy the property across from the Club.
1984 brought a vote to improve the facilities. A loan of $28,000 was approved by the trustees and underwritten by the members to permit replacement of the overtaxed sewage system and build a major addition to the building. Construction started in the fall of 1984 and lasted throughout the winter. By the time the Club opened for the 1985 season, Dale Bradshaw, Marty Haraburda, Bill Kobel, and their team of Eskimos had survived the winter and had added two new rest rooms (complete with showers, double sinks, ad modern partitions), a new bar room, a sizeable storage area, new windows on the lake side, and new paneling inside the clubhouse.
Through the years, the Club has been host to several Thistle and Flying Scot District Regattas and in 1991 hosted the National Flying Scot Husband/Wife Regatta.
The main dock was completely rebuilt in 1992 with new frames, new floatation, and most noticeably, new aluminum beam supports. In 1994 the clubhouse was re-roofed.
To better insure the safety of our members during races in 1995 another crash boat (a Carolina Skiff) was purchased.
A small building was erected in 1996 in memory of Bill Smith. It is used to store spars, boards, and sails for the growing number of Sunfish and Lasers now sailed at BYC. The very successful Junior Sailing Camps held in recent years brought on the growth of these fleets.
The fall of 1997 saw the rebricking of the launch ramp, with the old bricks and purchased riprap being put on the shore in front of the clubhouse to slow erosion.
A very comfortable bench was added and new decking applied to the main dock for the 1998 sailing season.
The first sailing season of the new millennium in 2000 found new ceiling tile and up-graded plumbing in the clubhouse. BYC hosted the Highlander class National Regatta.
2001 found more changes in the house and grounds. The fireplace at the west end of the building was removed and a picture window was installed in its place. Playground equipment was installed in memory of Sue Gold. BYC hosted the Flying Scot National Wife/Husband Championship as well as the Thistle Districts. Reflecting a changing society, a website for Berlin Yacht Club was created.
The following year, 2002, storage racks were built for the Sunfish and Lasers. A new main dock was built as well. Taking advantage of the Route 224 bridge repair, at least one race was completed that required going through the bridge area and to the north of Route 224.
Activity continued in 2003 with the purchase and installation of Metal Craft docks at the anchorage. A trophy display case, first-aid cabinet, and baby changing tables were installed. Benches outside the clubhouse were up-graded in memory of John Utti. BYC joined the ILYA allowing our Juniors to participate in Bay Week.
Clubhouse wiring was up-dated in 2004 and the ladies’ restroom was repainted. Junior sailors participated in Bay Week for the first time.
In 2010 Flying Scot Districts were held during our Club Regatta. 2012 was notable for new kitchen flooring and countertops being installed with funds donated by our Ladies Auxiliary.
A revision of the Constitution was completed and accepted by the membership during the 2013 year. The revision changed a Trustee’s obligation from 7 years to one of either 3 or 4 years. The three-year track includes the Secretary and two At-Large Members. The four-year track includes Rear Commodore, Vice Commodore, Commodore, and Past Commodore. This change was made with the hope that more members would consider taking a leadership position in the Berlin Yacht Club.
The 2015 season saw the introduction of Tuesday evening Singlehanded Racing. Starting on a Tuesday in July four sailors, 2 Force 5's and 2 Laser's held a series of 3 short races using the Portsmouth Handicapping System for scoring. Numbers grew throughout the summer and by the following season, Tuesday evening Singlehanded racing was established and drawing an average of 10 boats in a mixed fleet of Lasers, Force 5's, Sunfish.
In the summer of 2018 a new Singlehanded event was held that attracted 17 club members on a Tuesday evening for a team racing type activity named "The Berlympics". The event has grown to become an annual event attracting over 20 Singlehanded sailed boats racing as country teams for Gold, Silver and Bronze metals.
Through the years good times have been had not only with races for all fleets on Sunday afternoons and Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, but with the special Crew races, Wife/Husband races, Mystery Sail, China Cup races, and Ladies’ Sailing Camps. Special dances, dinners, square dances Halloween parties, Boodle Busks, Las Vegas Nights, Saturday night cook-outs Sauerkraut & Kielbasa dinners, Lobster/Steak bakes and Pig Roasts have been arranged by a strong social committee through the passing years.
We have indeed been fortunate to have 70 years of participating members who have given generously of their time and talents, without special recognition, to the many projects and activities of the Club. We enjoy the fruits of earlier dreams, the planning, and the hard work of days long gone and now we dream, plan, and labor for future years of fun and adventure at Berlin Yacht Club.