A small group of race oriented sailors hosted a regatta off Collingwood and invited Thornbury sailors to participate. The event was a huge success, well documented in the local paper (there was only one at that time). A steering committee was formed and work began towards forming a boating club in Collingwood. There were only about four boats moored in the Collingwood harbour at that time.
The present Collingwood Yacht Club (CYC) was formed and later in the year, incorporated. The Club constitution ensured local control of the Club. This local control of voting members and club executive has been maintained for over 40 years. That first year, approximately 15 sailboats were moored in the Collingwood Terminals Basin, thanks to the generosity of the Collingwood Terminals Ltd and the CNR. By the end of year one, there were 75 CYC members.
In May a formal agreement between CYC and the Collingwood Terminals Ltd. was signed with many thanks to the generosity of Mr. Bob Beattie, the then general manager of the Terminals. Later that year the Club took over the basement of the Collingwood Terminals office building. The Terminals undertook renovations in order to allow the use of the basement as a Club House.
The gap between the north and south concrete Federal docks (west side of basin) was spanned with a floating wave break, constructed by CYC membership. This wave break provided better protection for the mooring basin and allowed the Club to maximize the use of available space. The mooring basin reached maximum capacity that year. Power and sailboats were moored on floating docks A, B and C along the west harbour wall and wave break (west side) and along the north shore of the basin (south side of the lower parking lot). Since that time new memberships to boat owners, have been limited to spaces made available due to retiring members.
Grain handling at the Collingwood Terminals ceased and CYC took over the balance of the Terminals office for use as an expanded Club House.
CYC and its members were instrumental in facilitating the Town’s purchase of the Collingwood Terminals Ltd. CYC signed a formal lease agreement with the Town, agreeing to service the debt undertaken by the Town as a result of the purchase of the Terminals. By the end of the first term of the lease (2017) the Club will have paid close to $1 million in lease payments, as well as having completed significant leasehold improvements to the building and property. In addition, the Club pays its share of the hydro costs for the property.
Water levels began a 14 year downward trend. The fleet was shuffled annually to maximize the use of the basin, based on size and draft of individual boats, rather than by seniority as per the Club constitution. When a slip was vacated by a retiring member, preference was given to new membership applications from people with smaller boats and/or shallow draft boats. As a result the small sail and power boat ratio of vessels in the club increased. The Club continued not to solicit new boat owning members and it became generally known that membership in the Club would not guarantee a slip for one’s boat, especially in the short term, as the basin was fully utilized.
Water level in the basin in October, during lift out, was over 1/3 of a meter below datum (a level on which nautical charts are based). Numerous boats had to be dragged out of their slips to the crane and the Club’s lift out was the longest on record. It became evident that CYC could not continue to operate in the basin and provide the current level of service for its members. The Long Term Planning committee formulated an emergency plan, which was approved at the Annual General Meeting in mid-November, 2012. The Club began the approval process for certain works in the south end of the harbour. CYC prepared an application for temporary works for submission to local, provincial and federal levels of government for approval. Collingwood Council decided that the Town would proceed concurrently with a project of their own in the south harbour. The Club assumed the lead role in preparing the necessary submissions to include the Town’s proposed works and they were submitted as a joint venture. The scope of the joint venture, which was approved, included, a wave break and installation of three yacht club dock spines by CYC and the construction of a head dock and one dock spine for seasonal/transient boats and with two access ramps, by the Town of Collingwood.
The above noted infrastructure was installed, the Town’s portion by a marine contractor, and the Club’s portion as a massive member volunteer Club project with some professional assistance. Separate approval was obtained by CYC on behalf of the town, for the construction of a day transient only dock, in the shipyards launch basin. That dock was placed in November of that year. CYC boats occupying the docks in the south harbour are a combination of boats too big or too deep draft to be moored in the terminals basin. The new south harbour docks currently do not have power or water supply for either Town or CYC users. Washroom facilities are limited to two construction site type porta-potties. Some CYC membership turnover has resulted from the disruption generated from the relocation of some of the CYC’s docks to the south harbour, and also because these new facilities are not currently supplied with power or water nor are there adequate washroom facilities. The CYC sees the south harbour facilities as having the potential to re-invigorate membership however recent recruitment efforts have been challenged as the current facilities do not provide all the services that are the norm for other harbours.
The CYC took over stewardship of the Collingwood Sailing School, a not for profit organization which operates out of the north basin and a portion of the grain elevator building. The club is working to improve and sustain this activity for youth in the local area.
The CYC has started to replace its existing wooden docks in the south harbour with stronger steel framed docks which are comparable to other marina docks and are better suited to the greater depths and the wave and wind exposure encountered in the south harbour.
The CYC donated club funds and club member labour to support the operation of the sailing school. The CYC sponsored a number of little brothers and little sisters from Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Georgian Triangle to attend a week of sailing school. The CYC was able to assist in bringing one of the Midland based Atlantic Challenge’s gigs (38 foot wooden sailing/rowing boat) to Collingwood. This organization provides leadership programs for youth and young adults during the summer. The Atlantic Challenge utilized a CYC dock in the south harbour as well making use of the Town facilities in the Terminals to maintain and repair their two gigs during the off season. The CYC also provided its facilities to a number of Pan Am windsurfing athletes from different countries who were training for the 2015 Toronto Pan Am games. The CYC additionally was able to provide space in the yacht basin to moor the Town’s Endurable 1 Watts Skiff and its related town docks.