CLYC History

To memorialize how much members have cherished the Crooked Lake Yacht Club over the decades, one of our long-time members has written a book on the Club’s history:  Soundings, A History of the Crooked Lake Yacht Club, by Katherine S. Winslow, published in 2013 (with some copies available at the Clubhouse.)

A brief synopsis follows:  After World War II there was a resurgence in interest in sailing and the Crooked Lake Sailing Association was started by Dick Robinson in 1946 with 8 boats of different kinds.  By 1947 enough Nipper sailboats (12’ wooden dingy built by Ray Greene in Toledo Ohio) had been purchased to make a class.  This Association became the Crooked Lake Yacht Club (“CLYC”) in 1948 with its own Club flag (burgee), and by 1949 10-12 Nippers were on the Lake and regularly racing.

The Crooked lake Yacht Club Building Association (“CLYCBA”) was incorporated as a Michigan nonprofit corporation on January 14, 1950 to explore finding a facility for the CLYC. In 1953 a picnic at Engle Boathouse drew 70 people, and Nipper races took place on Wednesdays and Sundays.

After exploring several options finally in April 1955 the CLYCBA acquired the 100' of lake frontage next to Engle Marine which the Club had been using for several years.  And in August1955 60 families belonged to the Club and 50 people came to a picnic on the grounds where the Clubhouse was to be built.

A Letter to the Members of the CLYC dated July 12, 1956 noted that over the winter work had been done on the Club’s Constitution and By-Laws, the sea wall had been fixed, the flowing well was cleaned, and a small clubhouse was determined to be “absolutely necessary,” and plans for the building were studied “particularly in regard to cost as a small Club could not be expected to carry bank loans and at the same time have low membership dues which are important in our Club set-up.”  It was noted that the chosen 32x26 ft structure could be expanded in the future, and as of the date of the letter, the building had begun and was expected to be completed by August 10th.

The letter also noted that “the furniture must come from individual donors – so when you go to our good friends at the railroad tracks for your new pieces for your cottage, just send your old to the Club and the boys can repaint it if necessary and it will be just what we need”– and “suggestions had been received to have Badminton and Shuffleboard courts, and the racing committee was planning sailing races, motor boat races, rowing races, skiing and other sports.”

The letter listed Robert C. Graham Sr. As Commodore, George Stewart 1st Vice Commodore, Milton Anderson 2nd Vice Commodore, R.V.P. Robinson Rear Commodore, Albert Stein Treasurer, and Harry Bell and Duval Headley as Trustees of the CLYCBA, and Frank Corl, Ziba Graham, William Falls, Michael Sollinger, and Mary Joseph as Ex Commodores, and Mrs. Julian Magnus as Historian.     

By Laws for the CLYCBA were adopted in 1956 with Robert C. Graham, R.V.P. Robinson, Albert Stein, Ziba Graham, Harry Bell, Duvall Headley, and attorney John Bellamy listed as the 7 Trustees.

By August 31, 1956 forty-nine people had purchased 182 shares of stock in quantities from 30 to one share for a total of $4,550.   Shares of stock were sporadically issued in the following years and no shares were issued after 1978.

While the Club always had a number of local members (sometimes serving as officers), the Club’s membership was primarily made up of “summer people,” families that spent the entire summer at their cottages on and around Crooked Lake.  The Club was very active during the 1960’s-90’s with many activities for kids including daily swimming lessons, sailboat races, fish fries, and Saturday night dinners, often with a theme that included costumes, and often with music provided by a band made up of talented members.

However, membership and activities declined in the 2000’s as the original members aged and as lifestyles changed (more women working and students participating in school activities over the summer), fewer families spent the entire summers Up North.

In 2006-07 several members undertook a Capital Campaign to make much needed improvements to the facility including new electrical wiring, new roof, breakfront, and dock.  With significant support from old members who had wonderful memories of good times and good friends at the CLYC – and wanting those in the area to have the same opportunity -- the Capital Campaign was a great success.  And with a renewed Clubhouse and reasonably priced Tuesday and Friday night Grills, membership and attendance dramatically grew.

Although over the years members proposed that the Club changed to a membership-based organization since so many members had not been issued stock, that change wasn’t accomplished until 2013 when a new CLYC was formed with much needed updated By-Laws.

And in 2018 after an amazingly successful Capital Campaign the Club purchased the adjacent parcel to provide parking and boat slips.  Although an extended time was involved in getting the needed approvals and permits, construction of the docks was 90% completed in 2019, with other improvements including paved parking with 30 spaces and landscaping will begin in early 2020.

Over the years the Club has reinvented itself several times to reflect the changing memberships’ interests, and its programs will continue to evolve to meet changing times – while continuing its mission to:

“Encourage, promote and sponsor sailboat instruction and races on Crooked Lake….  [including] promoting sailing and other boating and water activities on Crooked and Pickerel Lakes for all ages, providing social activities for its members and guests, and being good stewards of Crooked and Pickerel Lakes and their tributaries.”
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