THE HISTORY OF THE BREMERTON YACHT CLUB

Table of Contents

The Discovery of Phinney Bay

More about this railroad deal: The politicians in power felt that it was a godsend to the B.Y.C. that the railroad was coming through. The club site was not the most desirable spot in the world for a yacht club. It was certainly wide open to the exposure of the weather --especially in a north wind of any velocity. Also, the club needed to expand their already overtaxed facilities, but there was no way to do so at this location. In view of these facts, Commodore Thompson and crew were on the lookout for any desirable property that might be available for purchase. Several locations (scattered from Silverdale to- Brownsville) were carefully checked over, but in reality there was only one really desirable parcel of land -- in Phinney Bay. Practically every foot of Phinney Bay was carefully scanned with prospect of purchase. On a Saturday, Commodore Thompson received information of the availability of the present location from the owner, Mrs. Alice Fenton. On Sunday, Commodore Thompson and Vice Commodore Hart cruised down to this location and came back with full information, including soundings, etc. On the next night, Monday, (as taken from the minutes), Vice Commodore Hart moved that the club go on record as authorizing the Commodore to make a binding contract for option on the Phinney Bay property or to make a down payment or pay earnest money on the property. This was seconded by Past Commodore Tucker and was officially carried by the voting membership.

From here on the argument really started. It seems that a few of the members felt left out of the picture because they had not been notified of the pending purchase. This was kicked around a bit. Then there were those that definitely did not want to move at all. They preferred to stay right there and let the railroad come -- so what. However, all these petty quibbles were finally ironed out to everybody's satisfaction.

Incidentally, the club purchased a total of 475 feet of waterfront for $4,500 which was a bargain in anybody's language. Captains Werner and J. E. Adams were appointed to go to Olympia and look into the purchase of the tide lands (their agreement with Mrs. Fenton included the tide lands, which we were to purchase -- the amount paid to be deducted from the purchase price). Also, the seller was to put in the road leading to the property.

Notice to Vacate

The B.Y.C. received the official notice to vacate on July 4, 1944 -- and it was a 30 day notice. So things whizzed. The Board of Trustees took the burden of the moving project upon its shoulders and (had) the lot leveled off for parking. The 30 days passed and still no sign of a railroad at the old property, so the fellows took their time in moving. However, it is noticed that it was voted to locate a contractor to move the clubhouse as soon as possible.

The boys decided to have a Corn Roast this year as there had been no affair of this sort in the past 2 or 3 years. The natural place for such an event was the new club site at Phinney Bay. Of course, there was nothing there at that date (Sunday, September 3rd), but everybody looked around and generally enjoyed themselves. When they got tired of looking they could all gather and discuss the astronomical figures that the railroad was going to give them in cash for forcing them to vacate from Sinclair Inlet. Never a dull moment.

Here is a roster of the boats and Captains attending this Corn Roast: Commodore H. D. Thompson, Jimbo; Vice Commodore Ray Hart,' Donolie; Rear Commodore Hank Kuhlman, Blanche D.; R. L. Stevenson, Hypathia; Floyd Smith, Stubby; Dr. Ebling, Barbud; Bullard, Ricky Too; Libby, Tyng; McDonald, Opal; Mosher, Sapr; Chandler, Ho-Hum; Monroe, Sea Gal; T. Phillips, Sharon R; Sowers, 30G41; Rasmussen, Wing-Ding; Dr. Jacobsen, Jeep; Parker, Hama; Chrey, Ellen G; Smith, My Girl.

Things moved rapidly along in the fall months. A member (an old-timer) lent the club $10,000 at no interest to allow the move. This member was Dr. Ray Schutt. The club certainly owes Dr. Schutt a great deal for his consideration. We note that the retired Past Commodores VanderStaay, Floyd Phillips and Ed Werner were given life memberships in September, 1944.

Water was piped in to the new club site in September 1944. This was done by contract to a local firm. Cost plenty, too.

Nominations and election time again. On November 6th, 1944, at the annual election of officers for the ensuing year, Ray Hart, Jr. was elected to head the club with Hank Kuhlman as Vice and R. L. Stevenson as Rear. Clarence Lund was elected Secretary and Tom Whiteley re-elected Treasurer.

On November 6th, 1944, the War Department officially approved the plan presented for driving pile at the new club site.

At the meeting on November 20th, Captain Lund resigned as Secretary-Elect and Captain Chandler was elected instead. Captain Chandler also finished out the last three weeks of Captain Michaelsen's term as Secretary.

Moving the Clubhouse

The clubhouse was moved by contract in November, 1944. The caretaker, Mrs. Leach, was given a leave of absence during this time. Captain Vextor (retired) volunteered to stay with the house during the caretaker's absence. The meeting of November 20, 1944 was held at the City Hall. The reason for this was that the clubhouse was on a 45 degree angle --half on the bank and half on the mover's barge. However, the meeting of December 4th, 1944, was held in the B.Y.C. clubhouse at the new property.

Commodore-Elect Hart and his brother elect officers volunteered to put on the annual Christmas dinner this year. A marvelous turkey dinner was cooked and served by the Skipperettes at the I.O.O.F. Hall in Charleston. After the meal entertainment was afforded --magician, singer, musician, etc. About 120 people were served and declared it to be the best ever. That covers a lot of territory.

Here is the picture of the conditions as the night of January 8th(?), 1945 rolled around and the Captains and Skipperettes came to the new club for the joint installation.

Of course, the war was still going strong, materials were hard to get and everybody was working every day in the Navy Yard. This is stated because it gives the reader an idea of the conditions that beset the members at that time. The road was in to the club property -- but what a road! No gravel, no oil, no nuthin'. That was also the situation on the parking lot. Just a lot of mud. No outside lights of any sort -- although the club was lighted inside. The lot contained several dozen good sized stumps and logs. Of course, there were no floats or boats, as they were still located at the old club site. No flagpole. While the porch had been added to the house, it was not sealed in and there were no steps to get up on the porch anyway. You walked the plank, and you had better make it the first time, brother, or you'd fall in the big "moat" that completely surrounded the foundation of the house and was filled with nice muddy water. While the basement was there it didn't mean anything because there was no way of entering anyway. Mrs. Leach returned to this sorry mess in time for the installation on January 8th. She almost caught the next bus back to Snohomish. These facts give an accurate picture, but it probably wasn't any worse than the old Charleston Dock and "Dog Pound" that the city fathers so kindly lent to our founders who aren't in Heaven.

A goodly crowd was attracted to the installation on this night. An article of note is that Mrs. Ray Hart was installed as president of the Skipperettes at the same time that her husband took office as Commodore. This was the first time that this had ever happened. Past Commodore Tegstrom was the installing officer for the Skippers. After being installed, Commodore Hart immediately launched into a lengthy prepared speech outlining an ambitious calendar of boating and social events for the year. He must have forgotten about the war too. Anyway, it was refreshing to think about, as no events of this sort had been held for so long that the Skippers had forgotten about them. The calendar called for a House-Warming Party in January and the resumption of such well known annual events as the Heavy Weather Cruise, Commodore's Ball, etc. The Commodore then appointed his standing committees. It certainly wasn1t his fault if any member was left off of a committee, because he had plenty of them.

Among the various appointees were the following: Fleet Captain, Art Mosher; Regatta Committee, Marx Libby; Fleet Surgeon, Dr. Ray Schutt; Steward, Art Shelly; Entertainment, Eddie Adams; Publicity, Floyd Phillips; Membership, R. L. Stevenson; Newspaper Editor, Hank Kuhlman; House, L. A. Tucker; Sea Scouts, L. Morris.

Captain Eddie Adams didn‘t like the obligation that was read to each new member and to which each new member subscribed and signed his name. So he wrote out a new one which explained in a little more detail just what the Bremerton Yacht Club expected of each member. This obligation was read for the first time by Commodore Hart on January 8th(?), to R. S. Hammond, a new member.

We note that the Commodore issued honorary memberships to several prominent citizens in and about Bremerton and also presented Past Commodore H. D. Thompson a plaque for being a very valuable man in the past year.

The Birth of the "Towline"

The newspaper was a new innovation. Commodore Hart had apparently decided that a monthly report covering the business transactions, gossip, etc., mailed out to the entire membership each month was much more vital than the standard annual -- so the newspaper was born. Vice Commodore Kuhlman was appointed the first editor. This newspaper was run off on the mimeograph for this entire year. It was a big job, but was well worth the effort expended. Hank Kuhlman had an awful time figuring out a name for the new paper, but he decided to call it the "Towline" -- a name which has stuck ever since.

Also, the Club Steward, Captain Shelly, must have been on his toes. He put out a meal at every meeting; coffee, donuts, ice cream, oyster stew, chili, etc. This one thing possibly more than anything else built up the attendance at every meeting. One thing is certain, the attendance immediately picked up and huge crowds thronged towards the clubhouse on meeting nights. Work parties were thick and fast around the club in those days. Every Sunday the gang would get down bright and early -- pullout the stumps and burn them, etc. After work, in the early evening, the wives would bring food and drink and the whole gang would sit down to a sumptuous pot-luck.

The pile for the dock and floats was driven in January, 1945. From then on there was never a dull moment. The dock was built entirely by the membership on Sundays. Road signs, the mail box and everything else necessary was hurriedly installed. We also note that the club donated an honorary membership (life) to Captain Vextor for his duties in connection with staying with the house while it was being moved.

Moving of the Floats to Phinney Bay

February 11, 1945, was a big day in the life of the B.Y.C. In that one day the floats were moved away from the old location and put in place at Phinney Bay. What a job that was! A big gang worked most of the night before getting the piling sawed down, the water pipes broken and the lights disconnected. On the next morning every boat in the club started the long tow. This was a wonderful success. That evening everything was in place at the new site. On February 19th, the club asked for more money from the members themselves in the way of loans without interest so that the building program could continue unhindered.

The annual Heavy Weather Cruise was renewed in 1945 for the first time in several years. Of course, gasoline was still rationed, but a short race from the B.Y.C. to Brownsville and return was scheduled. Thirteen boats entered and finished this race with great enthusiasm. Fleet Captain Mosher walked off with this one followed by Vice Commodore Kuhlman and Captain Klieves. This event marked the renewal of boating events by the B.Y.C. and although it could - not be an interclub event as of yore, due to wartime restrictions, the spirit was certainly in the right place.

In March of 1945, Commodore Hart took an extended tour of the South Pacific Army and Navy bases through the courtesy of USO-Camp Shows. That left everything in the lap of the Vice Commodore, Hank Kuhlman. Here is the picture: The basement steps were installed, the dock about half completed, the floats in place with old ricketty approach floats leading to shore, a very hay-wire method of electricity distribution to floats, no water, etc. Not exactly a rosy picture. Improvements had been started --but not completed by a long shot.


H.W.Kuhlman

With Vice Commodore Kuhlman at the head of the class, he immediately appointed our friend Floyd Phillips to take over the job as editor.

We see that in the spring of 1945 the initiation fees were raised to $25 and reinstatement set at $10. A Shake-Down Cruise (overnight) was held at Fletcher Bay in May. On May 21st, the club accepted Commodore Hart's resignation and declared him to be a past Commodore. We note that Captain Tegstrom resigned from the Board about this time and Captain Klieves was appointed to fill the vacancy.

Work parties were gradually fading out --due possibly to warmer weather coming on. All this time rumors as to the settlement from the railroad for the old property kept cropping up.

On July 28th, a special election was held for the purpose of replacing Hart who was still away. The results were as follows: Commodore, Kuhlman; Vice Commodore Stevenson; Rear Commodore, Klieves. Captains Milt Benson and Art Skelly were elected to the Board.


P/C Hart

In the minutes of the meeting on September 17th, we note that Past Commodore Hart was back from his trip and that the nominations for officers for 1946 were opened. The elections were held on October 1st and again Hart was elected to the post of Commodore, followed by R. L. Stevenson and C. L. Klieves respectively. Captain M. L. Benson went in as Secretary and Tom Whiteley as Treasurer. New Board members were H. F. Parker and H. Huston. I Things in general rolled along pretty well in the fall of 1945. The dock was finally completed enough to use -- rails and a coat of paint included. The gangway and access floats were installed. Temporary gas and water lines and electricity systems were installed and working. A big improvement in the "set up" of the club was the concession committee. This committee took over the small stores department and put in a full stock of concession items including gas and oil. This committee, under Captain Milt Benson, built the glassed in porch around the front of the clubhouse.

A Christmas party was held as per usual. This time, due to limited space in the clubhouse, it was held at Haddon Hall in Westpark. Huge success, too. Eats, entertainment and dancing.

The installation of officers for 1946 took place at the clubhouse on January 7th, 1946 and was probably the most elaborate ceremony of its sort ever held around the old club. A huge crowd gathered to see the double installation of the Skippers and Skipperettes. The President of the Skipperettes appointed Mrs. Ida Bailey to be installing officer for the ladies. She then installed Mrs. George Braendlein as President, Gladys Stevenson as Vice-President, Dorothy Klieves as Secretary and Mrs. Art Mosher as Treasurer.

President Braendlein then made a pleasing speech and turned the chair back to the Skippers. Commodore Kuhlman made a short and to the point address and then discharged his committees with thanks and turned the chair over to Past Commodore H. D. Thompson, who acted as installing officer for the B.Y.C. This incidentally, marked the first time in the club history that the members of the Board of Trustees partook of the installation ceremonies. Captains Parker and Huston were installed as new Board members.

After the installation ceremonies were completed, the new Commodore Hart again (for the second straight year) outlined a very comprehensive program for the year of 1946. There were boating events galore, social events that were to make the clubhouse bulge at the seams, and construction plans that were to take the pocket book down a few notches.

Commodore Hart then appointed his various standing committees for the year, including Captain Eddie Adams as Fleet Captain, Captain Howard Huston as Regatta Committee Chairman, Dr. Ray Schutt as Fleet Surgeon, Dr. R. R. Crees as Club Steward, Captain Art Shelly as head of the Concession Committee, Captain Earl Gullickson (a newcomer) as Editor of the Towline assisted by Captain Stuart Hammond as Advertising Manager, the Rear Commodore C. L. Klieves as Membership Committee, the Vice Commodore R. L. Stevenson in charge of a Comprehensive Boating and Educational Program, Captain Harry Parker as head of the important Float Committee, the Junior Past Commodore H. W. Kuhlman in charge of Good and Welfare, Captain L. Morris of the Sea-Scouts, Secretary Milt Benson head of a Planning Committee (repairs and new construction) and a host of minor appointments.

The above list of appointments is notable in one thing more than any other -- and that is the great degree of success with which most of them operated their respective offices in 1946. More about that later.

The rest of the installation was spent in settling some important business, namely paying the bills and going through the huge list of new applications for membership. Also, as a by-play of the evening, the very honorable King Neptune paid his first annual visit to the club and enrolled several new "Hell-Divers" in his unique organization.

In proceeding through the year, we note a "Sealed Orders" Race on January 27th, won by the Vice Commodore Stevenson in his boat the "Zephyr". Also, about this time, the Past Commodore's Club presented the B.Y.C. with a perpetual trophy. This is the winner's cup for a regular Past Commodore's cup Race to be held every year.

Incidentally, the Honorary members of the B.Y.C. for 1946 were as follows: Mayor Hum Kean, Commandant of the Naval Base Rear Admiral Christie, County Commissioner Pruitt, Attorneys Marion Garland Sr. and Jr., and Sheriff Vetters. The first of the annual social events, a Hard-Times Dance was held on January 26th at the clubhouse.


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