In 1929 Floyd H. Phillips, who worked at the Bremerton Post Office, had a boat that often dragged anchor and ended up on somebody's beach. Though Bremerton was a small town, it was home to several pleasure craft, and Floyd arranged a meeting on May 25, 1929 to discuss founding a yacht club.
On June 17 Floyd was elected the first commodore of the Bremerton Yacht Club. Ten men signed on as charter members. The city commissioners offered the old Charleston ferry dock as a meeting place. Though the structure had been condemned, the members were not discouraged. Work parties appeared immediately to repair the place. At the first meeting on the site, held on June 25, 1929, members agreed to an initiation fee of $5 per charter member, a fee that would rise to $10 after July 1. Dues were fixed at 50 cents a month in advance. At the next meeting, bylaws were approved. Members built a landing float, but boats had to anchor out in the bay. The first official BYC event was a family cruise to Brownsville.
In March 1930, when Bob Haven was commodore, the ladies' auxiliary was formed by wives of members. Mrs. George Braendlein was chosen as their first president.
Members continued to seek a permanent site for the club, but the minuscule ($60) treasury remained a problem.
In 1934 Bremerton boats for the first time entered the Capital-to-Capital Race to Nanaimo.
The "Big Blow of 1934" is well remembered. A gale struck on Oct. 21, 1934, battering a dozen boats at the Charleston moorage; only two weathered the storm. The floats were swept away and were not retrieved by the Coast Guard for several days. That storm ended BYC's interest at the Charleston dock.
Captain Braendlein served as commodore in 1935, the year the club stowed its properties in a rented garage and scheduled meetings in homes of members and in downtown offices. In March 1935 the club agreed to make time payments on property near the Navy Yard Highway on Sinclair Inlet. Work parties installed new floats at the property, which were financed by a $10-per-member assessment. New piling was driven. The first woman member- Avadana Cochrane, a credit bureau manager, joined the club in the fall of 1935. That year the club incorporated and a past-commodores' club was formed.
While Elmer Brooks was commodore in 1938 a clubhouse was built under contract at the Sinclair Inlet site. The meeting of March 7 was the first in the new facility.
Washington State decided to build a new highway through BYC property in 1940. In return for the right-of-way, they paid the club $400, and filled and graded the parking lot.
C. J. Richie took over as commodore in 1941. The last official cruise until after World War II took members to Fletcher Bay on Sept. 7, 1941, for the annual Corn Roast. After the December 7 attack on Pearl Harbor, many yachtsmen secured their boats for the duration. Twenty four others joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary. During the war, no night running was allowed, many areas were off limits, and gasoline was scarce.
In 1944 BYC Commodore H. D. Thompson heard that a railroad might be built through club property on Sinclair Inlet. A potential new site was found on Phinney Bay, where 475 feet of waterfront was purchased for $4,500 -- a bargain even then. On July, 4, 1944 the club was ordered to vacate its premises within 30 days so railroad construction could begin. Trustees had a basement excavated on the Phinney Bay lots and space leveled for parking. Pilings were driven in November, and the old clubhouse was moved to the new site. On Washington's birthday 1946, BYC hosted every yacht club on the sound - at a Heavy Weather Cruise and Dance that attracted 40 yachts and 250 visitors.
While W. G. "Woody" Woodard was commodore in 1967, plans for a new clubhouse were presented by Ed Day and Stan Wardin. Authorization to spend $150,000 was secured, but in the end Ted Morneau presented a plan to have only the framing contracted out. Members finished the work at a total cost of $40,000. The club had a fine new home, comfortable caretaker's quarters, and no mortgage.
Over the decades since those early days, Bremerton Yacht Club has continued to thrive, building on the firm foundation established back in 1929.
More BYC history is available to members only in the online Documents Library.