Early 1940s – The Beginnings
The club began in the early 40s as a social club. Captain Clark relocated old deserted steam schooner hulls from Alaska Packers and Del Monte Packers, and formed a breakwater at Point San Pablo. Captain Clark then built the harbor. The schooner hulls were used for meetings and events. The nucleuses of the club’s membership were Coast Guard Auxiliary members who kept their boats at Bethel Island. Later, the Richmond Sea Scouts met on one of the old ships that had been taken over from the Club. The John Wayne movie “Blood Alley” was filmed there. The burned out hulls of ships set on fire for the movie are still buried there in the mud. Anita Ekbert co-stared as a Chinese mother.
1945 – The Point San Pablo Yacht Club was formed in a wheel house of an abandoned ferry boat off Point San Pablo (now Point San Pablo Yacht Harbor). Plank Owners of the Club (aka Founding Fathers) include: Bill Hutchin, May Hutchin (Considered the Founding Father), Bob Sharp, Jerry Ryan, Dan Boone, Vern Nielson, Alton Speed, Bert Clintsman, Roger Williams.
1946 – PSPYC becomes incorporated and accepted as a PICYA club.
1947 – Captain Cook allowed the clubhouse to be built on the beach. The original 8’ x 10’ shacks are the present heads at the Cutting Blvd. clubhouse. Also built at this time were the covered berths and docks on floating 55-gallon drums. Ongoing building done on the property. Started doing Over the Bottom Races.
1949 to 1952 – Started getting a reputation as a party club. PSPYC always had live music. The biggest problem at the time was getting drunk and not being able to drive back home. Equipment after WWII was RDF’s and some old Lorans.
1950′s – Over the Bottom Racing was big, Harry Barusch and his boat Mary Kay have many trophies in our display case.
1957 – Will Heyne joined the PSPYC. During his time, the club was very active in cruising. Many members could be met while cruising up the Sacramento River to the Feather River. At least 10 boats would go up the Feather River every year. Andy Mellin, Will Heyne and Ed Thomas were the first to go offshore cruising. Then David Judd and Hal Hallikanen started joining the cruises. When Will Heyne was Commodore he raised drink prices to 50 cents. It was like the end of the world and they almost threw him out of the club. Beer was 25 cents. Biggest money makers in those days were Bass Derbies, Commodore Balls and Luaus. It was a family club and we did not have a TV then. So, the boat was the big thing. Being a workings man’s club, as it remains today, people extended themselves to own a boat. Club dues were $25.
Early 1960’s – Remodeled the galley at the old club. Frank Byrne (Mike Byrne’s Father) owned Sterling Paint Company in Emeryville. The mast from Frank’s boat went in the garden at the club and Kit Thomas then gave it to Will Heyne where it is now the mast on Leviathan. Larry Knight became the commodore at Aeolian Yacht Club at the age of 18.
In 1967, PSPYC moved to Cutting Blvd. and covered berths. Will Heyne’s recollection: “We had $45 in the treasury. The membership did nothing; we had a ghost of a chance. Andy Mellin loaned us $600 and that’s how we got the place. When we moved, it was a gamble. We did not know why Richmond (Yacht Club) was moving. We had an idea that it was because they wanted to make a turning basin. After it was proved that they could not make a turning basin there, Richmond Yacht Club was already out. We got to stay because the people of Richmond were upset because Santa Fe (railroad) controlled all the waterfront, and there was no public access. To partially satisfy the city, Santa Fe granted us a lease on a month to month basis. They did build some kind of Tiki bar with mats and scrap. Richmond (Yacht Club) moved out and Point San Pablo moved everything from the old place to the present. First improvement was building the covered births and you had to walk on old wooden planks to get to them. South Dock, was rebuilt because a barge tried to go around and mashed into it. The worst time was tearing out the area where our bar is now. Originally there was another building with two roofs. The current building is actually two buildings; the main building and the bar area. Galley, deck, new heads – every Commodore had a project.”
It was at this point the membership split between who’s going and who’s staying. That was when the San Pablo Bay Sportsmens Club formed and began in 1967. While the PSPYC went over the hill to the Santa Fe basin it took with them mainly members who were more into the Sailing and Yachting aspects of boating. Not to mention avoiding the drive over the hill. The Sportsmens Club membership kept the old charm of the harbor, commercial, sports fishing, and most of it’s identity of going back in time. Meanwhile over the decades as a commercial and sports fishing harbor the Club continued as a fun destination for Holiday parties, Crab-feeds, get together, Commodore Balls and the Bass Derby’s. For a long day fishing the waters outside the Golden Gate or around the San Francisco bay the club bar served as a last stop after berthing their boats having a beer or two telling sea stories of their ventures. The bar itself has a view you would have to experience in an expensive restaurant at Fisherman’s Wharf. Still time took its toll on the club and membership and started to dwindle as did the fishermen and their boats only one remains now the Chartered Fishing boat the “Fury” sport-fishing skippered by boat Capt. Frank Miller who’s been at the Harbor for 35 years whom you can meet at the Marina and is one of the Club members who can tell you a story or too. Still the Clubs survives through tough economic times and its reputation of being rough around the edges through different phases. The harbor also serves as a ferry point to the Brother’s Light House. There guests arrive to and from the Island from the marina. In the afternoon you might find the club open for a short visit for a soda or a beer there you can look at the history of Pt. Molate, the Point San Pablo Yacht Harbor and other memorabilia on the wall of the club.