Like many of the Northwest yacht clubs, Meydenbauer Bay Yacht Club had to struggle to get established. Our struggle did not begin until after World War II. During the war years, fuel was rationed and boating was severely curtailed because of the war effort. There were defense installations and industries around Lake Washington, such as the Sand Point Naval Air Station, the Renton industrial complex and the Houghton Shipyards, so all civilian boat traffic was strictly monitored. All boat operators had to be registered with the Coast Guard and carry a photo ID card. Everyone had to be off the lake at sundown.
But with the conclusion of the war, yachtsmen and women were anxious to take their boats out and enjoy the challenges and relaxation of sailing and cruising again. The Eastside was just starting to grow into a major suburb of Seattle. Moorage facilities were basically confined to the docks in one’s front yard. But with the demand for inexpensive moorage, came the idea of establishing a new yacht club on Meydenbauer Bay.
A group of Eastside residents started talking up the idea of a new yacht club in the coffee houses and watering troughs of Bellevue. Marc Lagen, Frank Armstead, Burt Marshall, Gilbert Skinner, Thomas Bannon, Gail Williams and Dwight Hartman formed the nucleus of the new club. Marc Lagen’s family was the owner of the American Pacific Whaling Company whose headquarters were located on Meydenbauer Bay. Mr. Schoupp, President of the company, had purchased the adjoining property, the Wildwood Park Dance Hall. He was converting the dance hall into his manor house when he unexpectedly died with the building still in a rough frame condition. The new yacht club group obtained an option to buy the unfinished structure.
The Meydenbauer Bay Yacht Club was incorporated on June 26, 1946 and one of the fledgling club’s first actions was to obtain a mortgage and buy the 400-foot by 600-foot waterfront parcel for $44,000. They garnered a great deal of enthusiasm and membership grew to near 100. But they were a bit before their time. The Office of Price Administration informed them they could not remodel and complete the clubhouse because of building priorities. The Nation needed schools, hospitals, roads, etc. Yacht clubs did not rate very high on the priority list.
Membership dwindled and the founders had to make the mortgage payments out of their own pockets, with no relief on the horizon. It was 1952, six years later before any materials could be purchased for the clubhouse. During these early years, the small core group of sailors improvised with scrounged materials to build some primitive docks and try to make the clubhouse halfway usable. The upper floor did allow room for the sail boaters to swing their masts by a boom attached to one of the tall firs, into the attic space where the masts could be refinished.
MBYC was known as the “do it yourself” club, a name we still consider ourselves today. With limited funds and a “can do” spirit, the membership pulled itself up by its’ bootstraps, pouring a concrete floor, installing heads, paneling, painting, laying tile and enlarging the moorage. They had to clear the brambles and blackberry vines from the lower parking lot, so that it could be paved. They installed water and power to the docks and informally dredged the silt from beneath the slips by prop wash.
A new addition was made to the clubhouse, providing indoor stairs to the second floor and a grand porte co-chere. Mr. Schoupp’s garage was converted into a Manager’s Cottage. Since the early fifties, the clubhouse has been remodeled and expanded several times to the grand facility it is today.
MBYC entered the racing competition around the Sound with a vengeance. They became members of the International Power Boat Association and the Interclub boating organization. As our members went further and further from our homeport, we developed a demand for outstations where we could come ashore. The first outstation was established at Port Ludlow and has been developed into a very enviable facility. This first outstation was purchased for $17,000 back in the mid-sixties. Another outstation was established in Eagle Harbor (Winslow) in the mid-eighties. In recent years outstations have been acquired in Friday Harbor, Deer Harbor, Gig Harbor and Ganges (B.C.) and we are still looking for attractive sites to lease, or purchase.