What is today one of the most prominent, and beautifully situated yacht clubs, had an austere beginning indeed. Our club was legally organized and established as a Corporation under the Commonwealth’s Laws on July 18, 1934. The incorporators were Clarence A. Rayfuse, J. Ralph Keefe, A. Wylie Van Wart, Edward L. Gaffney, Charles H. Pineo, William M. Downes, Arthur A. Sullivan, Edward Spiegel, Sidney C. Milgate, Roland E. Duberger, Kenneth B. Warner, Philip L. Chase, G. Fletcher Fraser and Roger E. Bowlby.
The charter indicated the purpose of the Club was to promote yachting, sailing and boating; to encourage the science of navigation and proficiency in seamanship; to further the social welfare of its members; and to own or hold such real and personal property as may be necessary, useful or proper in carrying out the objectives of the corporation.
Back in 1934, 100 Memorial Drive, or directly opposite our entrance, was the site of an exhibition building for Boston’s bustling shoe industry. Directly in front of it was a gasoline filling station owned by Clarence Rayfuse, one of our original incorporators. He and his friends, boat lovers all, sought and obtained permission from the MDC to form a boat club. The first facility consisted of a ladder dropping straight down from the stone wall to a 20 x 50 float, anchored by heavy chain.
The cost of membership was $5.00 per year, with no initiation fee. The members had to anchor about 100′ out in the river and use a dinghy back and forth to the float. There was no water, light or power. Gas was obtained from the filling station across the street and was brought over in a wagon for that purpose. Jugs of water were similarly obtained and ice was purchased from a nearby ice house, and transported on the bumper of a car.
The Club never stopped growing, and through the years, more and more permanent floats were added. These were built wider, sturdier and at a more comfortable boarding height than found in most similar facilities. The last section was the easternmost, heading toward the locks, capable of receiving yachts up to 60′.
We can today boast of one of the most scenic and interesting yachting sites, as well as a near perfect shelter from storms. It is difficult to imagine a more convenient and better equipped yachting facility in such close proximity to the heart of a major city.
The Charles River Yacht Club burgee proudly flies every day during the boating season from the yardarm above the clubhouse. This is in tribute to those in the past who had the foresight to capture and develop this natural scenic attraction. It also beckons welcome to fellow yachtsmen from recognized yacht clubs throughout the world.