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Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Branford Yacht Club, Long Island Sound (1909). First commodore: Herbert Smith, of East Haven.



When the founders of what would be the Branford Yacht Club met on the porch of the Branford Point Hotel, their discussions systematically focused on plans to organize a club that would encourage the art of yachting and, more importantly, gather together Branford (and other Long Island northern shore) yachtsmen into a common interest association.

Herbert Smith, of East Haven, Homer H. Sheppard of New Haven, and Norman Gillette of Short Beach, Branford incorporated the Branford Yacht Club on June 24, 1909.

Herbert Smith, of East Haven, became the first commodore (1909-1910).

When the Branford Point Hotel was torn down, the club members naturally searched for a new home.

The yacht club meetings continued at a couple of different locations.

There was a time when the yacht club became dormant due to the Great War -- Europe wasn't dormant then!

When the yacht club was reactivated, it finally moved to the building at the town dock on beautiful Harbour Street -- where else?

As it happens, his owner, a Branford all-time resident, purchased the building and deeded it to the town of Branford.

On September 21, 1938, a hurricane destroyed a large part of the club house, but the membership rebuilt it without a lot of fanfare.

Then came WW II.

15% of our the yacht club's membership enlisted and those remaining provided 52,000 hours (count the minutes!) of service in US Coast Guard Flotilla #707.

Without pay, without acknowledgement and at their own expense, yacht club members patrolled the Long Island coast line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to support the war effort.

In October of 1945, the BYC moved to yet another property off Harbour Street -- which was better in that it was more secluded.

The club membership generously donated to the purchase of this property with some members endorsing the mortgage.

The title to the property was transferred to the yacht club on November 6, 1946 and our first meeting in the new clubhouse was held on March 11, 1947.

During the 1950s, the club's marina began to take the shape that we know it today.

Stationary docks were built, “B” Dock being the first. “A” Dock, also a fixed dock, was completed.

The remaining docks were built as floating docks.

Construction of the original wooden bulk heads was also accomplished during this period.

The 1960s brought changes to the club house.

Michaelson Hall was added to the building in 1963.

This addition gave us a facility that could proudly support our plan to provide a recreational home for area boaters and their families.

“B” Dock was made a floating dock.

The 1970s brought bulk head replacements fabricated of steel to some of the existing wooden bulk heads.

Showers were remodeled.

The dredging of the total basin was completed.

Fingers and piers were added on various docks.

There were a great number of social events year after year that many members and guests took part in.

This was a period in which much work was joyfully accomplished through friendship and camaraderie.

The 1980s brought the reconstruction of “C” Dock.

The bulkhead between “B” Dock and “C” was replaced with a steel bulk head.

 The upper parking lot was resurfaced.

The fuel tanks were replaced.

The electric service to the club house was increased to allow expansion in the future.

“A” Dock was completely rebuilt including a new electric service to each slip.

The 1990s also saw many changes.

Flower Pots were sponsored by boat owners to begin the beautification of the club grounds.

Flowers were added around the Anchor and Flag Poles.

A Crushed Stone Oval with the letters BYC in flowers located below the anchor now welcomes all boaters who enter the harbour.

New “D”, “E” and “Dingy” Docks were built, much of which was accomplished by members.

In the winter of 1997-1998, a massive renovation project was undertaken and completed.

The original club house was expanded to include  new bathrooms, a complete renovation of the kitchen, a new roof, vinyl siding, thermal windows, structural repairs, an electrical and mechanical upgrade, handicap accessibility, and a complete interior freshening.

The landscaping around the building completed the beautification of the club house and grounds with many flowering plants and grasses.

New exterior lights were added lighting the parking lots, docks and grounds.

The newsletter “On the Docket” was revived after 15 years of silence.

The “Lunch Bunch” was established and is still going strong today.

Dock Master Nick Krewsky retired and Jim Pickett came on board to replace him.

The flag Pole was moved from behind the club house to the hill in front of “A” Dock.

Two additional flag poles were added allowing our BYC burgee, the US Flag, and the Connecticut State Flag to each fly independently.

The 2000s continued the needed upgrades.

The bulk heads between the westerly end of the property to “B” Dock was replaced and the bulk head from “C” Dock to “E” Dock was also replaced.

“A” Dock was reconstructed as a floating dock. “B” Dock was replaced.

The wood burning fire pits in the cook shack were removed and new gas fired cooking grates were added.

The work shed was torn down and replaced.

On May 9, 2009, BYC celebrated its 100 year anniversary with a gala at Anthony’s Ocean View in New Haven (formerly East Haven, to commemorate the origin of the club's first president, Herbert Smith.

New Dinghy Racks were built in the spring of 2009.

The Marina was dredged in the winter of 2009.

A waterfront bocce court was constructed adjacent to the lower parking lot.

The year of 2010 was a quiet year for the club.

No major projects were taken on.

2011 brought a new dingy dock located between “A” and “B” docks.

This relieved the crowdedness on the existing dingy docks between “C”, “D” and “E” docks.

In 2012, the members erected a new pavilion which enables us to hold events even if the weather does not co-operate.

In 2013, the club purchased the Boyd property across the street from the club and adjacent to our spoils area.

This allows winter boat storage, approximately 300’ of river docks for approximately 25 new slips, a travel lift and much additional parking.

The BYC  is a jewel for all of its members to enjoy and  it has grown to be a respected port of call for mariners of all types as they navigate Long Island Sound

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