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HomeHistory of Tyee Yacht Club

Tyee Yacht Club


In the spring of 1946, while cruising in the vicinity of Port Madison and Suquamish, one of our members pulled alongside a boat in distress, which turned out to be that of Harold and Lela Hall. While working on the boat to get it underway, the idea was conceived that a family club should be formed by boating people to promote safe boating and participation in recreational and yachting advantages of the Pacific Northwest.

With these principles in mind, a group of six couples ultimately met and formed the club. The first official election was held on May 6, 1947, with twenty charter members. The name TYEE was chosen, after much discussion, as the club name. 

Tyee originates from the Nootka Tribe of the west coast of Vancouver Island. Its meaning is “chief” or “superior.”For several years, meetings were held at various places. All the while, members searched for property within their means, to buy or lease as a club home. Finally in December, 1955, the 105-foot Manitou was purchased and fitted up as a floating clubhouse.

The Manitou was one of the last survivors of the Puget Sound mosquito fleet, a group of ships that serviced Puget Sound points with freight and passenger service before the establishment of our present ferry system and bridges. The Manitou was built in 1917 for the Vashon Navigation Company at Burton on Vashon Island. It serviced the Quartermaster Harbor route and was named Vashon II. Purchase of the Manitou was made possible by the purchase of bonds by Tyee members. After two moves, the Manitou arrived at 3229 Fairview Avenue East where moorage was obtained from Mr. H.H. Noot.

On May 3, 1958, the Noot property and also the adjacent property known as the Coleman property were purchased. Plans were made to build a new clubhouse, and on July 18, 1958, a contract was awarded for the building. Both were financed by the issuance of bonds purchased by Tyee members.

There were many problems encountered. On August 13, 1958, a power failure stopped action of an automatic bilge pump on board the Manitou, causing her to sink at her moorings. She was raised at considerable expense. There was a heavy loss of club facilities, but some were salvaged and ultimately the ship was sold for one dollar, towed to sea and burned.

Another acquisition was that of second-class shore lands from the State of Washington in 1964. The year of 1966 saw the addition of a dock facility on the front of the clubhouse. In 1968, the board of trustees elected to redeem the outstanding bonds issued to fund construction of the clubhouse, and in 1986 the mortgage was paid in full.

A new phase in Tyee’s expansion occurred in 1969 with the acquisition of outstation property at Eagle Harbor. Development commenced in 1972 with dredging and construction of docks and floats. By January, 1973, the rough structure, walls and roof of the clubhouse were up. The outstation property was officially dedicated and named “Tyee West” during the annual Birthday Cruise, April 28, 1973. Construction of the clubhouse has steadily progressed as a result of many work parties. Anchorman for this development was P.C. Carl Weiss who headed the development committee from its inception in 1969 until 1989. Detail design and drafting of plans for the dock and clubhouse were furnished by P.C. John Mitchell.

Memorial Day, 1979, saw the final exterior siding installed on the clubhouse and, on Labor Day of that year, as a memorial to P.C. Oscar Welden and P.C. Matt Dannemiller, a handsome brick outdoor fireplace with barbecue was dedicated. In 1985, the docks were extended, electricity was provided for the boats. In 1986, a new well was dug. In 1990, a new ramp was installed leading from the dock to the floats, and in 1992 a team led by Ken Jones installed piping and plumbing to bring water service onto the docks.

During the 1990’s, the décor of the Lake Union clubhouse was updated and the restrooms were revamped. In 1996, the club’s 50th anniversary was observed with a year of special events, tee shirts and commemorative pins. 

The new millennium began with renewed focus on the outstation. In the spring of 2001 club members, under the able direction of Steve Detwiller, replaced the stairway which climbs the bank from the fixed dock. In addition, new lighting was installed in the main room. In the fall of that year, 200 feet of new floats were constructed at a Seattle marine yard by members. They were towed to the Eagle Harbor site to replace the original wooden docks and were fitted with cleats, modern electrical service/lighting stanchions and water.

In spring of 2004 the outstation was dredged, removing 32 years accumulation of sediment. We were then able to fully use the entire dock due to the diligent efforts of Andrea Schock. Andrea researched and pursued the permitting and dredging process for nearly three years and overcame numerous obstacles. Andrea and Terry Schock were present for the actual dredging to assure the process was completed as planned, on time and on budget.

In 2005, all of the old, deteriorating wooden railings were replaced on the main dock leading to the club house at the outstation. Red and white plaques commemorated the donors of the new plastic (no paint!) railings.

Through the years, Tyee Yacht Club has remained true to its charter. It is indeed a family club “dedicated to encouraging and developing safe cruising and participating in the recreational and yachting advantages of the great Pacific Northwest.”

By Jean Birkland
Historian and Trustee