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Our Roots

Seneca Yacht Club has many rich traditions that have been preserved throughout its history. 

The club was founded on February 11, 1927 with the election of Harry D. Marshall, Commodore, R. Richard Roenke, Vice Commodore, and Erle R. Snelgrove, Secretary and Treasurer. The fleet consisted of six 17' One Design gaff rigged sloops and four yachts racing under handicap rules.

A winter meeting in December 1928 resulted in the decision to purchase Boody Point and rent the stone pier from the State Canal Commission. The grand opening of the $3000.00 clubhouse was held on Memorial Day in 1929.

The early years brought the beginning of the 1930's, the first regatta of the Central New York Yacht Racing Association, dock construction, hoists and refinements to the club. By 1941 racing fleets consisted of Stars and Comets. In 1943 Cebern Lee built a bulkhead in front of the clubhouse, creating the front lawn and in 1946 built, at his own expense, a haulout area and docks.

The 50's brought the Thistle Fleet, Junior Sailing, and an addition on the east side of the club. Four Penguin sailboats were purchased for the Junior Sailing program and lessons began in 1952. Member Cebern Lee was again responsible for a major project in 1955 that yielded the hoist and launch area still in use today. 

The 60's brought the introduction of the Rhodes Bantam as a new fleet. The state relocated Route 96A and the bridge carrying it across the canal was replaced by a new one further down the Seneca River. Diagonal parking along the south lawn was replaced by a fenced picnic area overlooking the sandy beach. The parking lot was created by covering a ditch, clearing a roadside hedgerow and paving the area.

The 70's was an era of growth for the Star and Thistle fleets with 10-12 boats from each fleet on the starting line every Sunday. A cruising class consisting of 5-7 boats was formed, with handicap formulas applied to race results. The wooden bulkhead was replaced with concrete along the front lawn. Junior Sailing continued its growth and 6 420 sailboats were acquired in order to encourage younger members to participate in the racing program.


The club's publication, 'Telltales' went into circulation. A memorial fund received donations so that members' legacies could be preserved as club enhancements. The flagpole was dedicated to charter member Oliver Wood and the Cebern Lee Star Championship trophy was added to the club's silver collection. The race committee's flagship, a 21' PennYan inboard was named the 'Tom Parkman,' after boat builder and Star sailor Tom Parkman.

The 80's saw an expansion of our race committee fleet, with a 21' Glastron outboard dedicated as the 'Good Shepard' named after Treasurer and Commodore Rick Shepard. The membership grew to over 200 families. A new annual social event was created, known as the 'Commodore's Party' featuring a dish to pass and roast beef as a main course.

The 90's was a stable era of the club, with improvements, large and small made to the facility. The old hoist was eliminated, it's 'v' cut decked over and a new hoist installed. Participation in major regattas, out on the 'circuit' brought representation in regional and national regattas. The Thistle and Cruising Class fleets began a series of pig roasts and chicken barbecues for the membership. The weekly beer keg was moved from its barrel of ice to a refrigerated dispenser.

The new millennium brings the 75th anniversary of Seneca Yacht Club. With it, we have the club's first woman commodore—daughter and sister of past commodores and two board members who are sons of past officers from the 50's and 60's. The family tradition lives on as 200 families enjoy many aspects of life at Seneca Yacht Club.

Bill Mulvey, Jr., Spring 2002

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