The History of the Island Estates Yacht Club
The Island Estates Yacht Club (IEYC) started in the 1960s as a social club, and it still is today. In the beginning, its name was the “Island Estates Yacht and Canoe Club”, and no member had a yacht or canoe, either. Many of the members did not own a boat of any kind.
The club was organized by Tom Walsh serving as the first Commodore and for two years. He also helped develop the Island Estates community and was one of the founders of St. Brendan’s Catholic Church.
A boating and social club for Island Estates residents was proposed at a dinner in the spring of 1975. Widespread enthusiasm among the Islanders was generated and this led to the ” Formation Meeting of Island Estates Yacht (and Canoe) Club” in early August 1975. A slate of officers and directors was formally elected. Our leaders worked hard and much was accomplished towards setting the Clubs organizational framework. At the close of 1975, dues were set at $40.00 per year, payable bi-annually, with a $75.00 initiation fee for all new members.
The Club’s Articles of Incorporation as a non-profit corporation were approved by the State of Florida, and filed for record on March 10, 1976. Lest we leave the impression that those early months of 1976 were all work and no play, such were not the case. In addition to the Commodore’s Ball, the Club had a boat trip and lunch at Pappas in Tarpon Springs, a cruise to Captiva, pot lunch cruise to Caladesi, and a stag only party boat fishing trip. In addition, of course, there was the first very successful Christmas Boat Parade. The Club’s first change of watch was held at the old Holiday Inn on Clearwater Beach (Hilton now), December 9, 1976. The Christmas Boat Parade took place on December 13.
The board meetings were held in the Dolphin Cove condominium’s rec room. It had been decided earlier to permit the membership to attend the board meetings, and the additional space was needed. In addition, the rec room was much more suitable for the men’s poker game that invariably followed the meetings. As the social events got into full swing, the debates as to the course the Club should take subsided somewhat, but not entirely. We still had the “Wet Surfside” group who opted for a “real” Yacht Club.
During May, the Club’s first newsletter was published. The first Club roster in hardback was approved and money allocated for publishing. A telephone committee was formed and the social chairperson and her co-chairman got a program of social events under way that gave the Club direction and rekindled enthusiasm of the membership. In addition to several outings, a cruise, and a St. Valentines dance, the monthly board meetings were open to all, and it was BYOB, covered dishes, dips and hors d’oeuvres galore. These mini-parties served to bolster good fellowship and camaraderie.
The monthly meetings were held in the Dolphin Cove recreation room. In November, the board set the maximum membership at 60 families, or 120 individual memberships. The limiting criterion was (and still is) the number of people that could be accommodated at our meeting places, or in private homes. The Change of Watch was held at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, on December 8.
The 1978 membership year was kicked off by the Club’s first ever-New Year’s Day Brunch. The social calendar contained twenty-two events. Included were such diverse activities as a canoe trip down the Peace River, a grouper fishing trip, a scallop hunt and a Caladesi picnic. While pumping new applications onto the already overloaded waiting list, our founders had put together a set of by-laws patterned after Yacht Clubs. A key proviso was that all future memberships would be limited to Island Estates residents.
The first social event of the year was New Year’s brunch. During early February 1979, our Commodore received a letter from the Commodore of the Clearwater Yacht Club (CYC) inviting our club to join the CYC “as a group”. The letter extolled eight virtues and advantages of such a merger, and suggested a meeting to work out details. The proposal was considered and rejected by the IEYC Board “due to divergent philosophies of the two clubs”.
In April, a contest was held to find a suitable name for the club bulletin and “Scuttlebutt” won. The monthly business meeting combined with a social event continued to be held in the Freedom Federal S&L. It was great for togetherness and good fellowship, but club business had a tough time competing with the BYOB, chips, and chitchat. During early 1979, the meeting format was changed. The board’s business session was held in board member’s homes on a rotating basis, while the refreshments were being set up at the S&L.
Since the IEYC was barely into its fourth year, the social programs and events were still varied, innovative, and sometimes downright offbeat. Scallops hunts, tubing parties, canoe trips, and you name it were scheduled in with more activities that are conventional. The “first” of the group was a progressive dinner involving 12 residences and 69 members. This event was so well received, it is now virtual an annual event!
From the first year of its existence, each Yacht club year was brought to a close with the Christmas boat parade and Change of Watch. The December 21, 1979 boat parade, planned, supervised, and orchestrated was exceptional. It put us on the map and “established the parade as an annual civic event”. The J-one boats participated and for once, the weather cooperated and gave us a beautiful night. The Clearwater Beach Holiday Inn made 38 waterside rooms available, gratis, for the viewing the parade, and the news media provided splendid coverage.
The Change of Watch was held December 13 at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club. The Island Estates Yacht Club turned a corner during the 1978-79 period. It had gained four years of maturity and experience while being guided by talented and energetic leaders. Its goals and objectives were solidly defined and were reflected in realistic by-laws. The IEYC had earned respect from the community and was envied by other organizations’ for its viable social and civic activities. The Island Estates Yacht Club was ready to step into the decade of the 80’s and beyond.
Coming soon the 80’s, 90’s, and beyond into the future.