When our founders met on the porch of the Branford Point Hotel, their discussions often focused on plans to organize a club that would encourage the art of navigation, the advancement of aquatic sports, and gather together yachtsmen into a common interest association.
Herbert Smith of East Haven, Homer H. Sheppard of New Haven, and Norman Gillette of Short Beach incorporated the Branford Yacht Club on June 24, 1909. Herbert Smith became the first Commodore (1909-1910).
When the Branford Point Hotel was torn down, club members searched for a new home. Club meetings continued at a couple of different locations. There was a time when the club became dormant due to WW1. When the club was reactivated, they finally moved to the building at the town dock on Harbor Street. A local family in Branford purchased the building and deeded it to the town. On September 21, 1938, a hurricane destroyed a large part of the clubhouse, but our membership rebuilt it without a lot of fanfare.
Then came WW II. Fifteen percent of our total membership enlisted and those remaining provided approximately fifty-two thousand hours of service in US Coast Guard Flotilla #707. Without pay, without acknowledgement and at their own expense, members patrolled our coast line twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, to support the war effort.
In October of 1945, the BYC moved to the property that originally belonged to the Farnum Girls Camp-the site we now call home. Our membership generously donated to the purchase of this property with some members endorsing the mortgage. The Title to the property was transferred to the club on November 6, 1946 and our first meeting in the new clubhouse was held on March 11, 1947.
During the 1950’s, our 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 bulkheads was also accomplished during this period.
The 1960’s brought changes to the clubhouse. 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 1970’s brought bulkhead replacements fabricated of steel to some of the existing wooden bulkheads. 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 1980’s brought the reconstruction of “C” Dock. The bulkhead between “B” Dock and “C” was replaced with a steel bulkhead. The upper parking lot was resurfaced. The fuel tanks were replaced. The electric service to the clubhouse was increased to allow expansion in the future. “A” Dock was completely rebuilt including a new electric service to each slip.
The 1990’s 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 harbor. 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 clubhouse 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 clubhouse 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 our new Dock Master Jim Pickett came on board. The flag Pole was moved from behind the clubhouse 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 2000’s continued the needed upgrades. The Bulkheads between the Westerly end of the property to “B” Dock was replaced and the Bulkhead 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 membership voted “Yes” to Women becoming members. The BYC Website was set up and is in use now. In 2008, the website had over 300,000 hits. The Newsletter is being sent via email and Wi-Fi was installed on the docks. 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. 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 cooperate.
In 2013, we purchased the Boyd property across the street from the club and adjacent to our spoils area. This will allow winter boat storage, approximately 300’ of river docks for approximately 25 new slips, a travel lift and much additional parking.
There is no doubt that 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 the coastal waters of Connecticut.
This brief presentation of where the BYC has come from to where it is now has only skimmed the surface. Our 100 Year Celebration was possible due to the fortitude and hard work of all of its members past and present. Thank you to our founders and forefathers for their insight and idea’s. If it wasn’t for their dream, our BYC would not be!