A Brief History of the Encinal Yacht Club
Encinal Yacht Club, being the 3rd oldest yacht club on the Bay, was founded in 1890. The club was established by residents living in Alameda’s Gold Coast, on the south shore of the Island. The club’s unique management structure was set at the beginning, which designated separate Executive and Flag Officer functions. The club became famous for its moonlit parties, regattas, and cruising events. The club encouraged family participation from the very beginning.
The first clubhouse was designed and built by Commodore Joseph A. Leonard, at the end of a 1,000 foot pier extending into the bay from the foot of Grand Street. The clubhouse was an elaborate Victorian design, the main floor was reserved for dancing and the second floor was the residence of the club manager. The San Francisco Chronicle declared the clubhouse to be the finest of its type on the entire Pacific Coast.
Soon after the clubhouse was built the members set to establish a fleet of boats and an enviable social calendar. By 1892, the member’s boat fleet numbered about 30, with half of them being small-craft sailing canoes and the remainder being larger sloops and sailing yawls. There was one powerboat – a steam powered launch.
Social events included Opening Day each spring, where a parade of decorated yachts sailed past onlookers at the clubhouse, combined with swimming events and an elaborate party. Entertainment included music, dancing, Vaudeville acts, and poetry reading. A tradition of regattas was established, with member’s boats competing against those from the other yacht clubs on the bay. Members also cruised their boats as a group for overnight stays to different parts of the bay each season. Popular cruise destinations were San Leandro, Redwood City, and to yacht clubs including San Francisco YC and Corinthian YC.
By the late 1890s the country was in a recession and in response the club transformed to a small-boat club. Into the 1950s small boats including sailing canoes, Star boats, Snipes, and El Toros were the primary boats in the club fleet. Most of the boats were built in the workshops at the clubhouse.
In the 1950s the City of Alameda decided to develop the south shore of the island by filling in the waterfront. The members of the club fiercely opposed this scheme, holding out until fill was placed right next to the clubhouse. Ultimately the city prevailed, which meant losing the beloved clubhouse. For nearly four years, EYC was without a clubhouse and struggled to survive. For a time our meetings were held at Aeolian YC, and the membership even considered merging with Aeolian, except that EYC wanted a swimming pool and Aeolian did not. At the same time Marina Village was being developed on the Estuary, and a deal was struck to build the new clubhouse on the other side of the island. This was not without controversy, as many of the members wanted the clubhouse near their homes on the south shore. The new clubhouse was built in 1960, complete with a full-size swimming pool and guest dock facilities.
Traditions established more than 100 years ago are still the primary goal of our club – family oriented social events combined with boating.