Table of Contents

Poulsbo Yacht Club History

(As of September 1, 2004)

The start of the PYC, as told above by Jean Niemeier, took place in 1956. The incorporators - Hill Sawyer, Leif Ness, Fred Hill, Ed Niemeier and Clarence Gunderson - signed the Articles of Incorporation on March 20. Hill Sawyer was the first commodore.

The first yearbook (1956-57) was issued featuring the club burgee on the cover, an introduction by the trustees, articles of incorporation, by-laws and a membership roster of 150 members. Our first club house, the Panabode building referenced in Jean Niemeier's story, was 30' x 60' and cost between $8,000 and $9,000, partially financed by the sale of $50 bonds at 4% interest. The first rummage sale, the All Seas Bazaar, was held Aug. 2 & 3, 1957 in the partially finished building.

Every member was asked to contribute one day's work or pay a $20 assessment, the birth of our present Work or Pay program. On Aug. 17, 1957 the first potluck dinner/meeting was held in the new clubhouse.

The first Codfish Derby, dinner and dance were held Feb. 7, 1958, with the most successful fisherman/woman given the " Jerk of the Year" award. In the early years of the club, yearbooks were financed by advertisements; the 1958-59 issue featured 30 ads, mostly by members, many of which were prominent local merchants strongly involved in the growth of our community and club. The PYC joined the Women's Interclub Council (W.I.C.) in 1958. WIC had been formed officially during a meeting in Bremerton on September 25,1957; however, women's auxiliaries inter-club visits date back to 1938, when the Bremerton Skipperettes organized and invited the Tacoma Shipmates and the Everett Barnacles. The 1958-59 issue of our yearbook made reference to the first Rainier/Poulsbo log race held in 1959.

On Jan. 2, 1966 an Open House was held honoring a new addition to the clubhouse. The following year saw George Snelson and Walt Woodward as Vice and Rear Commodore in 1967. A Harvest Ball in Oct. 1968 had our own club band in action. In 1969 the first PYC sailing races were held on Liberty Bay in Nelson dinghies. Ed Niemeier was voted Honorary Life Commodore Award for being an ' inspirational leader, a shining light and the club's founding father'.

In 1970, Mary Gray presented an original painting by her, of the clubhouse. Ed Gray led sailing classes in Nelson dinghies, attended by 35 children and adults; all instructors were PYC members. 15 boats entered the Codfish Derby, with Virginia Ganson winning the "Jerk of the Year" award. The PYC came of age that year in predicted log racing with entrants in many races. The membership, which stood at 274 that year, put on a vaudeville show during Viking Fest; the curtain was a giant canvas made by Marge Schmuck, listing Poulsbo ' s merchants.

The July 15, 1972 International Cruise Race started from Poulsbo, the clubs first opportunity to host this event. The following year the clubhouse roof was replaced, the galley remodeled and a trophy case installed. The fuel crisis almost caused the Christmas Ship Parade to be cancelled. After much debate, and many letters and telephone calls from the public, the event went ahead with only 5 boats. A record 6 PYC boats participated in the International Cruiser Race to Victoria. 1n 1974 the 'Annual Invitational Sailing Race' was established with our nearest neighbors, the Port Madison Y.C. Commodore Barney Thompson summed up the feelings of the club with a memorable quote in the 1973-74 yearbook: "Another year of ' messing about in boats ' has added to our store of memories , to be drawn out and relived from time to time."

In 1977 the club took a giant step forward with the purchase of our present building site and water space for the marina. Commodore Arnold Morton and his wife Bernice fronted the $5,000 earnest money to hold the property until they could convince the membership of the wisdom of purchasing the last available piece of land so perfect for our purposes. In June the club paid $100,000 for the site, the former ARCO dock and uplands, and leased the tidelands from the Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR). The purchase was financed by the sale of $100 bonds at 7% interest which raised $96,000; the balance was paid from the treasury. Walt Jolly was the bond chairman. The plan was to pay off 10% of the bonds per year, by way of a drawing. That year the Yearbook was changed to a loose leaf format, and advertising was eliminated.

In 1978, club member Vince Bryan's BARBARIAN with 2 other members in the crew of 7 entered the Victoria - Maui race and placed our burgee in the Hawaii YC. Bob Johnson's SCHOTTISCHE IV won 1st overall in the International Power Cruise Race, a first for the PYC. On May 24, the first of 10 annual bond drawings was held to pay for the marina property purchase.

During the sixties, seventies and eighties many traditions were born, the membership grew and the by-laws were amended from time to time to improve the operation of the organization.

Another first was established in 1979, when P/C David and Tasha Davis organized the first annual crab feed. This popular event has been held every year except one, when no crab was available. The property was rezoned for ' public use marina ' . In 1980 Floyd McManus started a youth sailing program, and the club established another first: The SYC Stimson Trophy race was won by the PYC for best 4 boat team, and the Latt trophy for best individual boat.

In 1981 a 25th Anniversary Commemorative folder was issued and a special P/C ball held on September 25. Commodore Bob Bedinger stated: "In reviewing the objects and purposes stated by our organizers 25 years ago, one cannot help but feel that their hopes for the future of our club are being realized. As we look ahead to the next 25 years, we again find ourselves with hopes for the future - our own moorage, a new and improved clubhouse, ample parking etc.Knowing the caliber of our members, I have no doubt that the present hopes will also be realized.

That year 8' El Toro sailing prams were added to the sail training fleet, either loaned or purchased by members and donated to the program. At the November general meeting, the first official proposal to build the marina was presented; Floyd McManus was a real mover on this, as were Dick Hess and Walt Jolly.

In October 1982 all the permits were in hand for the new marina, which required a start of construction within one year. By August of the following year the pressure was on to start construction. Bremerton Concrete delivered the first 4 sections of floats to the Port of Poulsbo boat launching ramp, where club members assembled them. They were then towed by Chuck Lowry and his PUGET PRINCESS to our new property where they were attached to the existing pier; this action reserved the permit process. As this pier was badly in need of rebuilding, a work party was organized to replace stringers and planking. By November the first usable 40 slip section of moorage was in place and a ribbon cutting ceremony was held.

February '84 saw 120 slips in place, mostly financed by pre-sales. When financing became tight, an offer was made to existing slip owners to purchase one or more additional slips at the original price, and many owners stepped up to the plate again. In July the gate house containing the electrical service, designed by Tom Henderson and built by Tom Valiga and Mel Schmuck, was torched by a suspected arsonist, cutting all power to the docks. Chuck Lowry organized landscaping for the property, with plantings and ditches for parking lot lighting and sprinkler system. In September John and Barb Stephenson started the monthly Friday night steak fry which has continued since; no business is conducted, just good fellowship.

In 1985 the Work or Pay program was officially restarted, with 8 hours of work required per member per year, or pay $4 per hour not worked. The club took a big step forward when it purchased the adjacent (to the north) Edmonds Yacht Club property for $105,000, payable in 5 annual payments, and the use of 4 club owned slips for a 5 year period. On July 4 Marge Schmuck and Virginia Valiga started the annual recognition of our country ' s Independence Day in the old metal shed which was on the newly purchased property. In June '87 the final bonds for the purchase of the marina and clubhouse site were paid off. Some years a $50 per member assessment was charged to pay off this debt. Commodore Crowder appointed a standing committee for clubhouse planning, and Arnie and Bernice Morton received the Arnold Morton Award, established by Dick Hess for outstanding service to the club. The following year the club received approval for rezone and a shoreline permit allowing major expansion of our facilities - discussions were also started on covers for A dock.

March 1989: The first estimate of $679,376 for development of the grounds and clubhouse was submitted. The clubhouse design and cost estimates raisedsome serious questions, and some meetings became a bit confrontational , so it was back to the drawing board. Ideas for a clubhouse ran the gamut from bringing in a barge and building an ark type structure on it, to obtaining surplus 1-room classrooms and connecting them. In June the EYC mortgage was paid off and deposits were taken on A dock covers. Jim and Carol Haskins restarted a youth sail training program at our marina with 10 students.

In 1990 the future D dock was discussed and the membership approved the covers for A dock. The clubhouse construction funds reached $305, 000 due to a renewed successful push on slip sales. A membership survey was held to assess the skills available to help in construction. On July 3rd the first Liberty Bay boat parade, prior to the fireworks, was organized by John and Barb Stephenson; this tradition is alive and well today. July 4 saw the last event in our old clubhouse downtown, with a large crowd in attendance. From then on and until the new clubhouse was ready, the meetings were held at the Sons of Norway building. The Arctic Express came roaring through that December and did considerable damage to the marina.

With permits in hand for the new clubhouse, a ground breaking ceremony was held on Jan. 1, 1991. Our contractor was Jim Engels. A nonsmoking policy was adopted, causing some controversy. In April a work party was held on the clubhouse sub-floor to pre-stain the cedar siding. The Youth sailing program, with 3 Puget Trainers and 3 Lasser II boats on loan from the Seattle Sailing Foundation, was shifted to Kingston due to all the construction activity at our facility. Many manhours of work were put in by the membership in sub-floor strengthening, cabinet work, painting, landscaping, storm sewers and sprinkler system. On August 28 a dedication ceremony was held to officially open the new clubhouse and the first board and general meetings were held in the new facility in September. Tom Valiga asked for contributions for a 100 year time capsule which was buried in front of the clubhouse near the entrance - the spot is marked by a plate.

Compared to the hectic pace of the previous years, the period 1992 - 1995 was relatively quiet. Further improvements were made to the clubhouse, including parking lot lighting designed by Tom Henderson, conversion to natural gas, and entrance gate by Bob " Smitty" Smith. Plans for A dock covers, D dock and storage building also moved along. On Jan. 5, 1993 the first meeting of the Retired Gentlemens Association, a.k.a. the O.F.C., was held. In 1993 the Adopt-A-Highway program was started by John and Earleen Hunt.

A new clubhouse rental policy was adopted in 1994, eliminating rentals to non-members, and the dues were raised from $100 to $125 to offset rental loss. The storage building was completed and Gloria Holcomb became the first female Bridge member. A new dockmaster program was established to simplify and control the reciprocal dock. Personalized bricks were sold to the membership to help finance the $35,000 barbecue. Our junior members took 1st place in the SYC Opening Day Junior Decorated Boat Division.

In June 1996, the club installed our first female commodore, Gloria Holcomb. Thanks to "Smitty" and Jim Gilmer, a new flagpole and bulkhead were installed. Charlie and Harumi Nation's PYC cookbook made up of members' recipes was ready for sale in October and became an immediate success.

In January 1997 a report was made to the membership on the '96/97 winter storm damage, which was not significant thanks to repeated snow clearing by members in between storms. The Edmonds YC, however, incurred considerable damage and requested temporary moorage at our marina, which was gladly given. A new social event was tried in August, a Welcome Back Margarita Party, hosted by the PYC Board, which was so well attended that it also has become a regular event to start the new club season. Membership was reported to be pushing the 400 mark. That Fall a new series of Sunday afternoon sailing races was started, and the 2 day sailing race around Bainbridge Island was resurrected. A reminder was issued that the club-owned Puget Trainer ' Li'l Red' was available to any club member. The new BBQ pavilion with natural gas grills was completed.

In Feb. '98 the club established a Web page,, password Viking, which was expected to help slip sales and provide information on our club to members and the outside world. That year's SYC Opening Day parade saw our juniors again win 1st place, and the PYC officers boat EASTWIND won the dressed sail category. In June all the authorized club slips were sold, and the scullery remodeling and enlargement was progressing nicely. The Independence Day celebration this year included, for the first time, a children's parade and readings by children of quotations by early patriots. A new social event, Octoberfest, was started in the Fall, and all cross stichers, embroiderers and needle-pointers were invited to ' Half-Hitches', a new social activity held 2 Mondays a month in the membership lounge. Two new committees were also formed that Fall, one to explore an Outstation, the other to set up a Youth Sailing Program.

In 1999, the Outstation plan was rejected by the membership. The Youth Sailing Program, although scaled down from its original plan, was operated for two weeks in August. Sixteen youngsters completed the well-organized course. The program was a huge success.

The year 2000 saw several improvements to our beautiful facility and marina. The aging Dockmaster Shack and the pier beneath it needed extensive repair. A new structure resembling a lighthouse was built, after the work on the pier was completed. The small clubhouse trophy case was replaced with a handsome, lighted, mahogany cabinet. Later in the year, the bar was expanded and constructed with matching mahogany woodwork. It included a marble counter top, wine chiller, glass washer, and beer cooler.

A TGIF was added to the social calendar and the steak fry's were continued through the summer.

10/04The Junior Sailing program acquired 11 new Dewitt sailing dinghies to replace the aged El Toro fleet. This popular program graduated 44 students in the summer of 2000 and 76 in both the beginning and intermediate classes in 2001.

The Junior Sailing Program continues to grow, as 2004 saw 91 youngsters complete the program. The program now spans 8 weeks, with both beginner and advanced levels. Many of our graduates are now members of the North Kitsap High School Sailing Team. Along with the sailing program, the Poulsbo Yacht Club Juniors are now an active part of the club. They total 22 members and are involved in all aspects of our boating activities. They have been instrumental in purchasing and securing donated Lasers sailboats to add to our sailing program. We recently were awarded the Garrett Horder Memorial Trophy for our development of the Junior Sailing and Junior Yacht Club Programs. They represent PYC with a float in the Poulsbo Viking Fest parade.

This club chronology, abbreviated due to space restrictions, brings us up the present. A more comprehensive history is being worked on, as well as possibly a small library. Your involvement and contributions are invited - please stay tuned.

New Building

Poulsbo Yacht Club has a proud history. It is important that we remember the events that made this one of he premiere organizations in the Seattle area. The charter anil long time members gave selfishly so that we can enjoy boating from this wonderful facility. Many of these folks are still with us, but as time moves forward, the rue events of those years can be easily forgotten. I asked a committee to chronicle their thoughts and research into a club history. You have just read a synopsis of their efforts. I hope that knowing the hard work and wisdom that built PYC will make us all proud members.

Tom Harris P/C





PYC Honors Our WWII Veterans

Top row (left to right): Ralph Weaver, Bob Johnson and George Gregg
Bottom row: Chuck Lowery (Jeff Steel’s grandfather) and Mel Schmuck ( Patty Henderson’s father)

[PYC WWII veterans: as of July 2019, Ralph Weaver was the remaining survivor.  Bob Johnson PC, George Gregg, Chuck Lowery PC, Mel Schmuck. Chuck is PC Jeff Steel’s grandfather, Mel is Patty Henderson’s father and was onboard the USS Missouri during the signing of Japan's surrender ending the war.]










Opening Day 1990



"Right away folks started talking about a clubhouse." 

"But where? And how to pay?" 

In clearing up legal descriptions for some Poulsbo property where Mobil Oil wanted to put a gas station, Ed found one piece of tidelands not belonging to anybody. An odd-shaped piece, it should belong to the City, but what could the City do with it' Well, Ed thought the City could lease the mudflat to PYC for $1 a year if we would keep the junk off it. We could use it to launch small boats. That seemed to suit everybody. Now if only PYC had some upland property, we could build, only nobody wanted to sell any. Well, why not make some land? Fill in the mud. The place was in nobody’s way and there were no complaints, so that is what was done! The fellows corralled logs and Clarence Paulson, Town Engineer, dove some pilings in his spare time. But the southwest wind washed though and over the logs and they collapsed in a jumble. 

"Has to be rocks," said John Ephland, an old deep-sea diver who knew blasting and heavy construction. Ed had lots of gear so he and John drove all over North Kitsap looking for rocks. When they saw a big one, they’d offer to remove it and folks were usually delighted. One man wanted an especially difficult one taken out, only to have his wife so excited about the lovely rocks--after it was all in pieces-that she wouldn’t let the fellows take them away. But the first rocks dumped into the mud were the big boulders Jean had been saving for her new rock garden; Ed thought the Yacht Club needed the rocks worse than Jean did. When they were dumped into the muck, they just went down out of sight, it was that sloppy. But finally enough broken concrete and rock were dumped in so that there was a dry piece of land big enough to build on. 

When Fred and the other fellows judged that the land was firm enough to support a building, everybody had ideas but the big question was money. It was decided to sell $50 bonds without interest, to be redeemed by lot; that way nobody would buy many and everybody would share in the expense. Just about every family pitched in to buy two or three bonds. Fred and Bob Hayes and Leif and Bjarne and Les and Mel and all the other guys set to work to fill and level the site, and when Hal Hoover and Jergy Almos laid out the Panabode housing that had been ordered, everybody got into the act. There were boards to assemble, the oof to put on, plumbing, wiring, painting-you name it. Lil Almos and the gals put on a Rummage Sale. Poulsbo folks came to look and comment. They couldn’t believe that the Clubhouse was sitting where there had been only water before. 

Folk have to be reminded about this every so often, because nobody can possibly remember all the haul work and organizing that it took to put Poulsbo Yach Club together-not just as the Clubhouse, but as a responsible, solvent organization of wonderful people (whether they are on or off their boats)-every single one of them. 
From "Start of Poulsbo Yacht Club" by Jean Niemeier