Boating Traditions: America’s 100 Oldest Yacht Clubs

The development of yacht clubs in the 1800s is an important chapter of our boating and marina history in the U.S.—and tells us much about the country’s early yearning for nature and community.

The birth of organized boating, rowing, and sail-racing clubs in our country took place in the 1800s and many of these early yacht clubs are still in operation today.

 

If you’re a sailor, oarsman, or boater, you’re probably familiar with many yacht clubs around the country—but do you know which U. S. yacht clubs have the pedigree to lay claim to being the country’s oldest?

 

The first time I heard the phrase yacht club was during a weekend at our family camp on a lake in the Northern Tier of New York State, just outside Adirondack Park. As a boy, most of my weekends there were spent fishing, swimming, and boating, and at the neighboring marina I heard sailing stories about the St. Regis Lake Yacht Club, founded in 1897. (Not on the list here, it’s the 156th oldest yacht club in America.) I was and still am a powerboater—learning boating back then in an aluminum boat with a 7 1/2-hp outboard—but I was fascinated by the sailing stories I heard dating back to the turn of the 20th Century in New York’s Franklin County.

 

At Dockwa, our loose definition of a yacht club is:

  • Usually membership-owned and controlled by a board;
  • Can be exclusive, but many no longer are;
  • Can specialize in many different types of activities such as sailing, racing, cruising, and kids’ programs;
  • They do not always have paid employees and might be volunteer-based. 

 

Many yacht clubs nationally use Dockwa as their dockage reservation-and-booking platform or for marina management. So recently we had some fun office chatter—because we all work remotely, it was actually digital direct messaging office chatter—about which of the country’s yacht clubs have been around the longest.

 

Without further ado, and giving a shout-out to International Burgee Registry, here is the list of the 100 oldest yacht clubs in the United States, in chronological order of their founding from one to 100, with links to those still operating.

#1 Narragansett Boat Club, RI — 1838

Narragansett Boat Club (NBC) rowers; watch a video here

#2 Detroit Boat Club, MI (shown below) — 1839

#3 New York Yacht Club, RI — 1844

Fun fact: The New York Yacht Club (NYYC) launched on July 30, 1844, when John Cox Stevens invited eight friends to his yacht Gimcrack, anchored in New York Harbor. The nine who met formed the NYYC and Stevens became its first commodore. Members then departed on a yacht cruise to Newport, beginning the historical connection between the NYYC and Newport, RI.

 

#4 Mobile Yacht Club, AL — 1847

#5 Biloxi Yacht Club, MS — 1849

#6 Pass Christian Yacht Club, MS — 1849

#7 Southern Yacht Club, LA — 1849

#8 Springfield Yacht Club, MA — 1850

#9 Carolina Yacht Club, NC — 1853

#10 Hoboken Yacht Club, NJ — 1856

#11  Brooklyn Yacht Club, NY — 1857

#12 Jersey City Yacht Club, NJ — 1858

#13 Buffalo Yacht Club, NY — 1860

#14 Neenah-Nodaway Yacht Club, WI — 1864

#15 Carteret Boat Club — 1865

currently Raritan Yacht Club, NJ

#16 Riverton Yacht Club NJ — 1865

#17 Toledo Yacht Club, OH — 1865

#18 Williamsburgh Yacht Club, NY — 1865

#19 Atlantic Yacht Club, NY — 1866

#20 Boston Yacht Club, MA — 1866

#21 Palisades Boat Club, NY — 1866

#22 Detroit Yacht Club, MI (shown below)— 1868

#23 New York Athletic Club Yacht Club, NY — 1868

#24 South Boston Yacht Club, MA — 1868

#25 Bunker Hill Yacht Club, CT — 1869

#26 New Hamburgh Yacht Club, NY — 1869

#27 Oshkosh Yacht Club, WI — 1869

#28 Portland Yacht Club, ME — 1869

#29 San Francisco Yacht Club, CA — 1869

#30 Fishers Island Yacht Club, CT — 1869

#31 Savannah Yacht Club, (shown below) GA — 1869

#32 Eastern Yacht Club, MA — 1870

#33 Lynn Yacht Club, MA — 1870

#34 Manhattan Yacht Club, NY— 1870

#35 Milwaukee Yacht Club, WI — 1870

#36 Beverly Yacht Club, MA — 1871

#37 New Jersey Yacht Club — 1871

#38 North Shore Yacht Club, NY — 1871

#39 Seawanhaka Yacht Club, NY — 1871

#40 Toms River Yacht Club, NY — 1871

#41 Old Club Yacht Club, MI — 1872

#42 Santa Barbara Yacht Club, CA — 1872

#43 St Augustine Yacht Club, FL — 1873

#44 Albany Yacht Club, NY — 1873

#45 Hudson River Yacht Club, NY (shown below) — 1873

#46 Knickerbocker Yacht Club, NY — 1874

#47 Lake Geneva Yacht Club, WI — 1874

#48 Perth Amboy Yacht Club, NJ — 1874

currently Raritan Yacht Club

#49 Quincy Yacht Club, MA — 1874

#50 Chicago Yacht Club, IL — 1875

#51 Duxbury Yacht Club, MA — 1875

#52 Rhode Island Yacht Club, RI — 1875

#53 Savin Hill Yacht Club, MA — 1875

#54 Varuna Yacht Club, NY — 1875

#55 Florida Yacht Club, FL — 1876

#56 Bristol Yacht Club, RI — 1877

#57 Great Salt Lake Yacht Club, UT— 1877

#58 New Bedford Yacht Club, MA — 1877

#59 Rochester Yacht Club, NY — 1877

#60 Marblehead Yacht Club, MA — 1878

founded as Marblehead Boat Club

#61 Cleveland Yachting Club, OH — 1878

#62 Monmouth Boat Club, NJ — 1879

#63 Yonkers Yacht Club, NY — 1879

#64 Larchmont Yacht Club, NY — 1880

#65 Old Dominion Boat Club, VA — 1880

#66 Chelsea Yacht Club, NY — 1881

founded as Carthage Ice Yacht Club

#67 Oswego Yacht Club, NY (shown below) — 1881

#68 Yale Corinthian Yacht Club, CT — 1881

#69 Narragansett Yacht Club, RI — 1882

#70 Beach Haven Yacht Club, NJ — 1882

#71 Raritan Yacht Club, NJ— 1882

#72 American Yacht Club, NY — 1883

#73 Carolina Yacht Club, SC — 1883

#74 Fort Schuyler Club Yacht Squadron, NY — 1883

#75 Harlem Yacht Club, NY — 1883

#76 Minnetonka Yacht Club, MN — 1883

#77 Onondaga Yacht Club, NY — 1883

#78 Winthrop Yacht Club, MA — (shown below) 1884

#79 Quannapowitt Yacht Club, MA — 1884

#80 The American Yacht Club, MA — 1885

#81 Bar Harbor Yacht Club, ME — 1885

#82 Corinthian Yacht Club, MA — 1885

#83 Inter-Lake Yachting Association, OH— 1885

#84 Newburgh Yacht Club, NY — 1885

#85 Sandy Bay Yacht Club, MA — 1885

#86 Shattemuc Yacht Club, NY — 1885

#87 Annapolis Yacht Club, MD — 1886

#88 Chelsea Yacht Club, MA — 1886

#89 Corinthian Yacht Club of San Francisco, CA — 1886

#90 Ischoda Yacht Club, CT — 1886

#91 Put-in-Bay Yacht Club, OH — 1886

#92 Red Dragon Canoe Club, NJ — 1886

#93 San Diego Yacht Club, CA — 1886

#94 Shelter Island Yacht Club, NY — 1886

#95 Biscayne Bay Yacht Club, FL (shown below) — 1887

#96 Cedar Point Yacht Club, CT — 1887

#97 Housatonic Boat Club, CT — 1887

#98 Lake Champlain Yacht Club, VT (shown below) — 1887

#99 Quaker City Yacht Club, PA — 1887

#100 Volunteer Yacht Club, MA — 1887

You can also find many of these marinas on Marinas.com for easy access to information about hours, contact phone number, address, and more.

 

 

LIST SOURCE: Burgees.com. See the entire list of America’s oldest yacht clubs by clicking here.

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