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Fledgling yacht club finally has a home

Three-year-old Stonington Harbor Yacht Club opens new clubhouse for its 300 members and visiting boaters

Three-year-old Stonington Harbor Yacht Club opens new clubhouse for its 300 members and visiting boaters

Members of the StoningtonHarbor (Conn.) Yacht Club recently celebrated the grand opening of their new 8,800-square-foot clubhouse on Water Street, between Fisher’s Island Sound and Little Narragansett Bay. The party was held at the clubhouse in December.

“I think the construction of this clubhouse is a visual representation of the success of this club,” commodore Spike Lobdell says. “No other club has come so far, so fast. As far as we can tell, this is the first ‘from the ground up’ new yacht club clubhouse in the Northeast.”

The clubhouse, constructed on the former Monsanto factory site — which was destroyed by a July 2003 fire — houses a restaurant, bar, kitchen, a “founder’s” meeting room, library, club room for younger sailors, community sailing classroom and shower/

laundry facilities for visiting boaters. The clubhouse also includes a 1,400-square-foot terrace, and has slips available for members and visitors. Separate from the club are condos and waterfront homes, which are also on the property. The clubhouse, which will be open year-round, cost about $3 million to build.

Lobdell says he hopes the new clubhouse will attract boaters of clubs from all over New England and the Mid-

Atlantic to stop in and visit. So far, he says, four yacht clubs that hold annual cruises have planned events at the Stonington Harbor Yacht Club.

“Having a clubhouse will enable us to entertain these boaters as well as provide them with other needed services as they cruise,” says Lobdell. “Importantly, we will make new friends that will enable our cruisers to enjoy the same privileges when we sail. There is nothing better than coming off the water from a great day’s sail to arrive on shore and see people you know, [with] whom can enjoy the ‘stories of the day,’ and feeling the comforts of home even though you may be away.”

The Stonington Harbor Yacht Club began as an informal club in May 2002 with founding members expecting to recruit 50 or 60 area members. After a six-week membership drive, 174 interested boaters signed up. In the years since, membership has grown to nearly 300 and members have held weekly regattas, hosted special off-season events, and started a sail-training program for children and adults. Until the building of the clubhouse, the club’s social functions were hosted at the town’s community center and its sailing events were held at nearby Dodson’s Boatyard.

“Not having a clubhouse was like going skiing with your friends all day and not having a lodge,” says club member Mike Leahy.

“Having a clubhouse now gives us a place to come back to,” says Lobdell. “We all meet here in the afternoon after a day of sailing and boating, relax and share stories.”

With the clubhouse now complete, Lobdell says he’s looking forward to continuing the club’s mission of “promoting a spirit of excellence in boating amongst club members and in the community.”

“Building the clubhouse was a tremendous amount of work but also a tremendous amount of fun,” he says. “Seeing our members enjoying the facility makes everything worth it. The club will continue to grow, and continue to embrace our programs and help people have fun and get out on the water.”