In January 1913, a handful of sailors met at Peterson’s Boat House at the foot of 12th Street in Oakland. They formed Oakland Yacht Club which was incorporated in December of that year.
Early history of Bay Area yacht clubs suggests that there were two yacht clubs named “Oakland.” It is thought that our Club has its roots in several former clubs including The Panama YC.
Judge H.W. Pulcifer was elected the first Commodore, and the first meetings of the board of directors were held in the Judge’s chambers. (The Judge served as Commodore again in 1916-1918).
Oakland Yacht Club was the ninth yacht club to be formed in The Bay Area. The others are Alvarado and San Francisco, formed in 1869, followed by Corinthian, Encinal, California, South Bay, Vallejo and Aeolian.
A $250 CLUBHOUSE
In our first year, Oakland YC received our first eviction notice. Board minutes of February 1, 1914 noted that a new clubhouse committee was formed. That October, OYC moved up the Estuary to the 19th Avenue site that would be its home for the next 63 years. A new 30′ by 40′ clubhouse was constructed: cost $250.
The marina consisted of wood pilings driven into the mud. Members tied their boats to the pilings and access was by dinghy. Some secured their boats to stakes on shore making access a muddy affair at low tide. In January 1919, all members were assessed $1 for a new wooden walk out to the boats. In September of that year, the board took quick action to shore up the wharf underpinnings; otherwise, the clubhouse would be laying over in the mud. Next month the board authorized payment of $95 “for labor on the wharf.”
In those early years, yachting and yacht clubs were largely the domain of the wealthy and privileged who could afford the trappings of a private club and to have their wooden yachts maintained. That first year, the OYC fleet was 30 sailboats.
Jack London’s sailboat was among them. The famous author-adventurer was a member from 1913 until his death in 1916. He was in good standing with the club when he died, but was posted in 1915 for non-payment of dues and then granted the first non-resident membership.