Join The Club

Yacht Clubs of the Great Lakes

May 2021 Feature Heather Magda Serrano

Do you love boating? Do you love the Great Lakes? Do you love boating [on] the Great Lakes? How about hanging out with other people who share these same passions?

Well, then…join the club!

Being a member of a yacht club offers a myriad of benefits for Great Lakes boaters and it’s a wonderful way to get together with other people who share a similar passion for boating. If you’re not already a member of a club or you’re thinking of joining one but aren’t quite sure where to start, check out these excellent yacht clubs on the Great Lakes. It’s high time you discover what you’ve been missing.

Apostle Islands Yacht Club

In 1955, three friends named Oscar Sweeny, Dr. John Pierpont, and Bill Peet created a club on the shores of Lake Superior in Bayfield, Wis., in order to promote sailing and racing on the lake. Ever since then, Apostle Islands Yacht Club (AIYC) has remained a family club and many members have belonged to it for generations.

Originally called the “Bayfield Yachts,” the club gradually grew to be large enough to purchase the point of land named Dock 8 which had originally been a lumber mill and fish cleaning station for the local commercial fishing fleet. Over the years, AIYC has had many upgrades, such as the seawall that was built in 2009 and the recent completion of the clubhouse that they rebuilt in 2017.  

AIYC offers 30 secure and protected slips with 30 amp power, water and internet access, and you can park your car directly at your slip. The club’s bathhouse features private showers that can be reached within 50 yards of all slips.

The newly rebuilt clubhouse boasts a fireplace and a full kitchen. You’ll also find outdoor patios, decks and spaces for sitting, campfires and grilling. Then the “Herring Shed” provides members with tools and a workbench for sails, equipment and ice. Additionally, you’ll find dinghy racks and shared bicycles for members.

Plus, if you’re a fan of the outdoors and hiking, the AIYC rests in a prime location, right in the town of Bayfield. This places it adjacent from the Brownstone Trail for hiking and biking, so you’ll never be too far from your boat or a scenic walk.

As a private club owned and operated by its members, AIYC is not a public marina. One of their goals at the club is to keep the organization simple and affordable which requires all members to help manage, repair and improve the club and its facilities.

With a mission to promote sailing and racing on Lake Superior, AIYC makes a fantastic club. If you want to be a member, be sure to apply sooner rather than later because they currently have a waiting list to join. (www.aiyc.net)

Bay City Yacht Club

The Bay City Yacht Club (BCYC) is located in Bay City, Mich., near the mouth of the Saginaw River, just a short distance to the Saginaw Bay and beautiful Lake Huron. The club is member-managed, member-owned and is open to both power boaters and sailors alike. The clubhouse is also available to members for private events, and they offer different levels of membership from social to voting, with competitive pricing.

The BCYC is a club comprised of power and sail boating enthusiasts who love enjoying the bounty of the Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron. If you too are a boating enthusiast who loves to be out on the water, rest assured you’ll fit right in. The club prides itself on being family-friendly and respectful towards each other, and accommodates boaters at all skill levels. So whether you’re new to boating or you’re a seasoned veteran, BCYC will grant you the perfect experience.

The club offers an active sailing program with “beer can” races on Wednesdays, as well as weekend racing and regattas. In addition, anglers have access to a newly-built fish-cleaning station. Many amenities are available, including a clubhouse with a seasonal restaurant and full bar, a private launch ramp, shower/bath facilities, ample parking for guests, a gin-pole, pump-out facilities, wireless internet access, and secure gated access to facilities.

BYCY has 264 slips ranging from 26 to 50 feet situated in two basins. The South Basin is deep-draft with nominal 9-foot depths and the North Basin is shallow draft with depths maintained to 6 feet.

Being a member of this yacht club allows you to spend more time on the lake and less time getting to it. You’ll also be sure to enjoy the park-like setting with its expansive and well-maintained grassy areas and mature shade trees. Basically, it’s the perfect location for hanging out after a day on the water.

When you get hungry, you can mosey on over to the waterfront restaurant with its phenomenal view of the bay and full bar. You can keep the good times rolling both on the lake and on the land, thanks to the BCYC. Members also receive reciprocity benefits for transient dockage and discounts at over 700 Yachting Club of America registered clubs. So even when you want to explore, the BCYC has got your back. (www.baycityyachtclub.com)

Madeline Island Yacht Club

Nestled on the largest of the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior rests Madeline Island Yacht Club (MIYC). It first came to be in 1977 when a group of passionate boaters organized the club after deciding they wanted a gorgeous and peaceful marina to serve as their yachting home.

Now MIYC serves as a private, non-stock yacht club that operates on a non-profit basis, benefiting its 140 voting members. These members collectively own the club and facilities, and they direct its operation through its elected board of directors.

MIYC offers a full-service marina with transient and seasonal dockage. Since it’s in a prime location, you’ll also find yourself within walking distance of shops and restaurants. Open year-round, the club is also home to the largest ship store in the area.

Even though MIYC offers its services to the general public, its primary mission is to support and serve its members who enjoy special benefits. Some of these benefits include preferred slip spaces and keyed access to the private member’s lounge and shower/bathroom facilities. You’ll also get Wi-Fi access and substantial discounts on dockage, launch, haul-out, storage and shop repair fees and fuel.

Once the full cost of your membership has been paid, you’ll receive your Certificate of Membership and member voting rights. Not to mention that you’ll also get to participate in club-sponsored social events and you’ll start receiving the club newsletter along with exciting industry updates. Plus, you get reciprocal docking privileges at other clubs that are also members of the Yachting Club of America.

Becoming a bona fide member of the MIYC is easy and definitely worth it. All you need is a “Letter of Introduction” and a completed application with signatures of two sponsoring members, or two letters of recommendation from sponsoring members. You then submit these materials to the board of directors through the MIYC business office.

In your letter be sure to include an introduction for you and your family members so they can get to know you. Also include why you wish to join the club, a description of your boating experience, and the details of the boat you own. You will also need to submit a $500 non-refundable deposit with your application which will then be credited to your membership purchase fee once you’ve been approved.

Once you’re an official member of the MIYC, your enjoyment of the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior will be enhanced substantially with all the benefits and privileges your club membership offers. (www.miyc.net)

Muskegon Yacht Club

Established in 1934, Muskegon Yacht Club (MYC) is a premier Great Lakes yachting destination located on the southwest shore of beautiful Muskegon Lake. Just one mile from the channel, their unique location offers MYC members and their guests easy access to Lake Michigan for either day-sailing or cruising. They’re also only 35 minutes from Grand Rapids, Holland, and Grand Haven in case you’re in the mood for an on-land exploration.

MYC features a clubhouse with plentiful amenities which include a dining room, cocktail lounge, multiple big-screen televisions, and a covered patio, all alongside stunning views of the marina and Muskegon Lake. The clubhouse offers the perfect place to kick back and relax after a full day of boating on the lake.

Other amenities of the club include an 85-slip marina, a swimming pool with lifeguards, showers, and a spacious deck. But it doesn’t end there. You’ll also find a restaurant and bar, lounge, patio, grills and picnic tables, games for kids, and a spacious front lawn that makes MYC a truly unique year-round spot for endless fun. They also offer a full range of event space and catering. They can have you covered on everything from birthday parties to family gatherings to weddings.

However, the true heart and soul of MYC is their sailing program. They’ve hosted many regional and national regattas over their 85-year history and they proudly offer organized racing for all ages, adult and youth sailing lessons, crewing opportunities, an exceptional junior program, and a certified, expert race committee. 

Additionally, MYC offers many other opportunities for you to gather together and socialize with other boaters, thanks to a dynamic social calendar. You can expect to enjoy festive holiday parties, monthly wine dinners, an annual commodore’s ball, and much more. The good times are always rolling at MYC. (www.muskegonyachtclub.org)

National Yacht Club

Since 1890, National Yacht Club has offered an active, inclusive boating community located near the foot of Bathurst Street, right in the heart of downtown Toronto on the shores of Lake Ontario. With more than 180 docks plus a swing mooring field, you’ll find everything you need, along with in-house water taxi service, dry sail and winter storage.

There’s never a dull moment at this club since it operates year-round, and members enjoy club life with an active social community, racing and cruising, events and educational programs. Members also get to enjoy on-site showers and laundry facilities. Plus, the club offers a sailing and racing school for kids and adults seasonally as well.

The National Yacht Club also features comfortable dining and a spectacular patio with free on-site member parking—an exceptionally rare find for downtown! The club gives you safe dockage for your boat while boasting a beautiful setting for social events and leisure. This prime location allows you to be on Lake Ontario in minutes and then back in the city just as quickly when you’re done boating.

The club’s active dry sail fleet, three nights of club racing, organized cruises and community of enthusiastic power boaters will be sure to sate your hunger for boating. Plus, you’re pretty much guaranteed to make plenty of new friends with like-minded boating enthusiasts.

Once you’re absolutely famished at the end of a day of on the water, you can head over to the club’s restaurant for some quality dining. Quality and variety are two focal points on the menus created by their executive chef. National’s elegant clubhouse with licensed dining room and terrace give you stunning views of on-water activities, the air show, some of the most romantic sunsets over the water and Toronto’s city skyline.

At National Yacht Club, it doesn’t matter if you’re a novice or a seasoned old salt because there’s truly something for everyone. Whether you want to cruise, learn to sail, or test your abilities through club and regatta racing, you’re sure to find a club program to satisfy your inclinations.

Being a member of the club gives you some exclusive benefits you won’t want to miss out on such as the aforementioned free parking, your choice of serviced docks or swing moorings for sail and power boats, limited on-site winter boat storage, a very active racing/cruising program, and much more. (www.thenyc.com)

Sandusky Yacht Club

Sandusky Yacht Club (SYC) is located in the heart of downtown Sandusky, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie and is open year-round, serving its 700 members and their guests. With 125 years of history, the club has given its members shelter and comfort when the outside weather is not as inviting as a warm fireplace and friendly company.

The floating population sits attractively in Sandusky’s beautiful land-locked harbor and features a 180-slip marina resort-style property that has multiple food and beverage outlets, a pool, a fitness center and plenty of family programs. Summers bring the club to life with sunsets, bonfires, live music and good friendship.

The club is also a scene of activity for 12 months out of the year. SYC’s facilities offer a full-staffed clubhouse, a 24-hour fitness center, wellness activities, a heated pool, and, most importantly, plenty of opportunities for club member to engage and socialize together.

Not only that, but through reciprocal agreements with the Interlake Yachting Association and the Yachting Club of America, members can dock and visit hundreds of yacht clubs on the Great Lakes and the east, west, and Gulf coasts. So even when you’re out exploring, SYC will still have you covered.

Then when you get hungry after a full day of boating on Lake Erie, you can head back to the club and enjoy its formal dining areas that offer a full menu for all tastes alongside beautiful views of the lake. However, if you’re after a more casual dining experience, SYC offers that as well in a more relaxed atmosphere that enjoys the same delicious menu.

Sandusky Yacht Club has more than 210 docks, all constructed with a state-of-the-art floating pier system, and equipped with city water hook-up, electricity and Wi-Fi. Since a marina staff is on-site 24-7, you can count on always being welcomed back home to the club with a smile. (www.sanduskyyachtclub.com)

Vermilion Yacht Club

Nestled in Vermilion, Ohio, the Vermilion Yacht Club (VYC) is ideally situated in the Western Basin of Lake Erie. It provides one of the best sailing and power boating ports of call in its unique and beautiful setting that comes equipped with top-notch facilities and services for all of your boating needs.

With over 80 years of operation, VYC is one of the longest-established Cleveland area yacht clubs. It’s not hard to see why so many members love this club with their view of spectacular Lake Erie right from VYC. You can also take a water taxi to dinner at Chez Francois, a world class French restaurant on the water.

The club is also only a walk, dinghy ride or water taxi away from downtown where you can delight in scrumptious restaurants and enjoy some drinks with friends at local bars. You can also visit the lovely shops such as Brummers for chocolate candy, Buyers Fair for men’s and women’s clothing, the Olive Scene for specialty olive oils, and Lees Landing for some nautical gifts.

Over the last few years, VYC has made many improvements in response to the challenges created by the changing water levels in the area. Some of the changes include a new seawall and a charming riverfront walkway that attaches to the clubhouse.

Additionally, they remodeled all of their restroom and shower facilities in 2018 and embarked on a complete interior redesign for their club in 2019. This means new furnishings and much larger glass areas for natural interior lighting which all contribute to the club’s beauty and attractiveness.

Being a member of the VYC is a true pleasure with their well-protected dockage and access to the picturesque private sandy beach only one block away. Apart from this, you’ll also have access to free wireless internet, a TV lounge, meeting rooms, and the gas grills that are provided for the convenience of all dockers.

In addition to general docking privileges, VYC members also have parking just a few feet from their boats and access to a washer and dryer. There’s also full kitchen availability. To top it off, club members also get to attend social events year-round and boat rendezvous throughout the summer months. (www.vyc.us)

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