History of the New Bern Yacht Club
It was a cold night in March, 1993. A group of friends were having an adult beverage at The Oar House, a local pub in River Bend, discussing their boating plans for Spring, surely just around the corner. They were among the first Northerners who had recently chosen New Bern to be their new “Forever” home. As they had done many times, they lamented their inability to join with others already here in the area of like minds. There was but only one local yacht club, the East Carolina Yacht Club. Alas, its’ membership consisted of the sons and grandsons of local tobacco and cotton plantation owners, bank founders and auto dealership owners, in short - the movers and shakers of New Bern. They did not look kindly on inviting a bunch of Yankees into their midst. Further, even if they had, this was a club of only men, women were not invited, and this group of Yankees included many women who were as interested in boating as their men. On that cold night, they decided there was only one course of action; they would have to form a club on their own. One where everyone would be welcome, even women. Later that week, they gathered in the home of the Browns and laid out their formal plan, including filing the necessary papers with the state to register their new organization as a Non Profit Corporation. As the ECYC was known locally as the Good ol’ Boys Club, their group would shortly be recognized as the New Boys Club, NBYC.
Those seven founding couples names were:
- Marilyn and Ray Brown
- Jeanne and Norman Anthony
- Judy and Bill Bond
- Beverly and Norman Nelson
- Pat and Tom Green
- Sally and Sam Church
- Peggy and Trubee Racioppi
This group immediately got to work, creating and adopting the first official By-laws, while Marilyn Brown designed and sewed the first official burgee, still in use today. This was, of course, their only conversation item with everyone they met those next few weeks, and by June they had another 20 families ready to join them on their mission to make the NBYC the premier boating club of New Bern.
These Charter Members names' were:
- Nada and Bill Behr
- Betty and Herb Boss
- Nancie and Bob Burns
- Lynn and Nick Carr
- Janet and Win Carrick
- Margaret and Richard Greene
- Gail and Gene Krielow
- Margaret and Tom Kruczek
- Mary and Charles Maimone
- Viki and Bob Mangan
- Ellie and Jim Mennitt
- Daisy and Stu Miller
- Marge and Doug Robbins
- Jane and Bill Schneider
- Mary and Bill Thoms
- Jean and Bill Tilley
- Mimi and Charles Tittle
- Gay and Carl Wagner
- Miriam and Lloyd Welkin
- Brenda and Ben Williams
The first official meeting of the membership took place at the Oar House, June 1993. There were 30 attendees, with much to be done. A newsletter was agreed on with Carl Wagner the first editor, publishing Issue 1, Volume 1 in July. Ray Brown issued what he called "Challenge 100”. An effort by everyone to have a membership of 100 families within one year. Dues were voted on and collected, $100 per family. The club at this point had no real financial obligations, other than the printing and mailing of the newsletter. It was decided at the next club meeting that they would have an entry into the New Bern Flotilla in December. The hat was passed, and over the next several months designs were presented, parts acquired, and with the help of everyone, their entry, Camelot, decorated as “The Dove of Peace” won. First in Most Creative, as well as First Overall. Not bad for the New Boys, closing out their first 6 months with 50 family memberships.
As the months and years went by, the club did indeed grow. Most importantly this group of avid boaters were out on the water as a club. There were annual cruises to Ocracoke, Washington, Dowry Creek, Beaufort, with a club favorite being the cruise to Wrightsville Beach where the club rented “The Cottage”, a large waterfront old beach style home on the water, next to and part of “The Blockade Runner” hotel. Members would sit on the huge elevated porch overlooking the water with their adult beverages and watch the sun go down. Activities were almost endless, but the theme of all, besides just having fun, was fundraising. With no real financial obligations,
why all this fundraising? They were building a fund to acquire their very own clubhouse.
One of the early activities was sponsoring “ A Day on the Water for Special Olympian Athletes.” This was an activity that was valued heartily by everyone involved, and went on for many years. Meetings had moved by the second year to the Lawson Room in the Sheraton Grand Hotel in downtown New Bern. An ideal location for members to be able to boat to the meetings, and spend the night in the marina if they chose. Best of all, the room was offered to the club at no charge. It was a good business decision by the Sheraton, as many, many club functions were held there, the most popular the monthly TGIF get togethers. In 2001, a management change at the Sheraton resulted in their deciding to charge the club for the use of their room. One of our members arranged for the club to be able to use a large room at the Garber Church for no charge. And that is where meetings were held and the decision was made it was time to find our own property.
A Property Committee was selected, and the search began in earnest to find the clubs new “Forever “ home. Many properties were viewed, with several put forward as viable options. The problem with every one was that they were not on the water. A yacht club needed to be located on the water. While the club did possess a substantial property fund, it was not sufficient to buy outright a waterfront property. Jim Miller created the idea of organizing a separate non profit corporation to issue bonds and acquire a property. When the bonds were retired, the ownership would be transferred to the club. Ethel and Willard Hess found a piece of waterfront property on Brices Creek. It was a 1931 800 sq. ft. 3 bedroom home on 8/10ths of an acre. The building itself was in such deplorable condition, it was no longer habitable, and hadn’t been for a long time. But the owners did what many folks in the country do in North Carolina, they installed a 40’ single wide trailer on the property, and moved into that. Unfortunately, the trailer had been allowed to fall into disrepair as well, and had rotten floors, leaking roof, and filled with mold. But as a bonus, the property also had an attached "garage” to the main home, a shed, and a pig slaughterhouse also included. The fact that the water couldn’t be seen gives an idea of the state of this property. However, it was priced in our budget, $50,000. The club decided to make an offer, however the next door neighbor on a small lot had plans to acquire this lot to expand his, and he countered. This went on for a while, until the neighbor decided we were crazy and withdrew. On September 6th, 2001 the title was transferred to the New Bern Yacht Club Properties LLC. at a cost of $150,000.
The New Boys had a home, kind of. Virtually every member who looked inside the main house agreed, this needs to be torn down and start over. They only looked, as the floors were so rotten they were unsafe. However, the club was fortunate to have among their members an individual whose whole life had been restoring 1700 and 1800’s homes, Willard Hess. The purchase was not without challenges. There was a group of members who were dead set against the purchase of any property, much less this diamond in the rough. Neighbors wrote letters to our board as well as newspapers all in protest against this purchase. But the die was cast, bonds ere sold, and the property was ours. The club lost nearly a dozen members, although it must be noted that most of those who left were not
truly devoted boaters.
Willard took charge immediately. Virtually the entire body of able bodied members showed up every day to follow instructions. The first job was to remove the trailer. With sledge hammers, crowbars and pick axes, the members took the trailer apart by hand, loaded the parts into members pick ups and hauled it off to the dump. Next was the home itself, our new club house. First was making the floor safe, then came tearing out walls. Every piece of wood that came out of the home was sent to a crew whose job it was to remove all the nails. Then that wood came back into the house and was used to build trusses in the attic to hold up the new ceiling. Other members were assigned to acquiring the proper permits, not an easy task when what you are doing is re-habbing an almost 100 year old decrepit building into a home for 100 plus members.
One of the more difficult tasks was the septic permit. To begin with, this was a septic system designed for a small family, and there were now to be 100 individuals in the building at the same time. When the officials found out that the “gray” water was draining from the home directly into Brices Creek, they about had a heart attack. Bill Wilson was in charge of this operation, and he almost dug up the entire property locating the septic tank. It was found, but the officials insisted it was too small for our requirements. Club members visited other similar club type facilities in the area who had similar systems, to prove what we had was adequate. Eventually, reluctantly, they agreed.
Meanwhile, Willard was busy. Having now gutted the building, restored the floors, hung a ceiling, it was time to rebuild. He removed every window and rebuilt them. New kitchen counters and cabinets, new bathroom, new everything. But with the never-ending efforts by the membership, on June 22, 2002, the club hosted a Potluck Dinner with a Cake Cutting ceremony to celebrate our achievement.
The entire project, from start to cake cutting was less than $7,000. From this point in time, members continued with their efforts to improve our property. Donations were never ending, including an entire air conditioning system donated by Susan and Charles Bacon. Of course it was completely installed by the members.
On March 22, 2003 title of our little club house was transferred from the Properties LLC directly to the NBYC. But what is a Yacht Club without docks? In 2004 the club decided it was time. Mike Creedon was in charge of navigating the myriad bureaucratic morass to acquire approval from 17 different government organizations to build our docks. Part of this process is notifying the public of our intent. Every single property owner on Brices Creek, as well as others, wrote letters objecting. Including Merchants store down the road, where members had been buying lunches and fuel for years. Also part of the process, was that we were required to have an accurate hydrographic survey of the waters in which we were proposing to build. Professional quotes were in the many thousands of dollars.
Picture this if you can: 30 members at sunrise, 6 row boats, each with two members, strings stretched across Brices Creek, from our shore to the marsh. Members then rowing to markers hung every 10’, and measuring the depth of the water and reporting it to shore. Then think of a local fisherman screaming down the Creek, only to encounter our small fleet and obstacles. But it was accomplished for the cost of a few dozen donuts. And our permit for 10 boat slips was issued. The club hired local dock builder Decks and Docks to come drive pilings and hang stringers, with decking installed by members. Initially the club could only afford the L dock, but the finger slips came 2 years later.
The club continued their annual cruises, fund raising activities continued, with everyone enjoying all the fruits of their labors. In 2008, the club decided that they had outgrown our little 1931 club house, and that an addition was necessary. Charles Bacon drew up the architectural plans and oversaw the members construct the new addition.
Hundreds of members over the years, way too many to mention by name, have made substantial gifts of money, resources and most importantly their time, to make the New Bern Yacht Club what the original 27 members envisioned 30 years ago. A Yacht Club open to everyone, the New Boys Club.
More Recent Upgrades
Adding a TV / Monitor
Keeping up the grounds
Painting the deck 2014 - Karl Lichty, Link Bonforte, Gary Todd
Lynne and Bill Neilson power washing the porch 2014
Andy D'Angelo and Steve Spaziate working the peak at peak temperatures (2014).
Jeff Noyes and Chuck Saraceno part of a crew to finish the siding project (2015)
Erecting the NBYC flagpole (2017)
Powerpoint Presentation of the above history:
(NOTE: This is a large file that will require having Microsoft Powerpoint to view it)
(NOTE: This is a large file that will require having Microsoft Powerpoint to view it)