Club Traditions

Traditions are the continuing threads that keep a yacht club such as ours, a special place. As Encinal YC is approaching our 125th year of operation, a review of our time-tested traditions and events may be of interest to both our new and longtime members.  

Club Management

Our two-level management structure in itself is unique, not frequently seen in other clubs. We have the senior FLAG side of the administration that consists of the Commodore, Vice Commodore, Rear Commodore, Other Flag officers consist of the Port Captain, Fleet Captains, and our Staff Commodores. The Flag is responsible for all events having to do with the water, such as race organization and use of our dock facilities for events and interclub relations. The actual BUSINESS side of the club, all things pertaining to the running of the club and the clubhouse, is the responsibility of the President, Senior Vice President, Vice President and the Board of Directors. Senior Flag officers also serve on the Board of Directors. The hands-on work is done by members of the standing committees, in coordination with the General Manager. Members are encouraged to join in and help with the many details of running a successful club. The weekly Signal Flag and the monthly Soundings as well as the EYC online Website keep members in touch and aware of upcoming events.

Annual Traditions & Events

Like many yacht clubs, EYC has many events that we hold on an annual basis. They have become part of the fabric of our club and are the chief occasions when our members gather together to celebrate and play. They are the essence of what makes EYC a yacht club.

New Year's Day

The year starts with the Around the Island cruise with stops at Aeolian YC for chili and fizzes then on to the Ballena Bay YC for burgers before heading back down the estuary to Encinal for Clam Chowder. Since the tide is a big factor, many members go by car and enjoy the festivities to start the year.

April • Opening Day on the Bay (sponsored by P.I.C.A.)

This tradition goes back to 1917 and is held on the last Sunday of April. A parade of decorated boats starts near the Golden Gate Bridge and circles the bay. EYC has been well represented and has had entries winning the best award several times.

May • Mother’s Day at the Club

Two seating’s will allow you to enjoy a wonderful brunch from our famous chief and celebrate with your family.

May • Master Mariners Race

Classic wooden yachts race around the bay and then sail down the estuary to tie up and party at Encinal. It is a grand party held on our great lawn with dancing up in the clubhouse.

July • Fourth of July

A signature event for EYC, this is a full day of celebration at the club with sailing, swimming, and barbecue, with games on the lawn for the kids and adults. Our junior sailors build floats and enter the famous Alameda 4th of July parade.

July • Encinal Regatta

Another annual event for EYC, this brings racers from all over the Bay down the Estuary to Encinal for an after-race party. Once again, the great lawn is a showcase for logo wear, drink tickets, drinks, music, and dancing.

September • Junior Sailing Auction / Dinner Fundraiser

A huge event in August and a fun party to help support our Jr. Sailor Program

September • Wheel Chair Regatta

This is our opportunity for “giving back”. It is an annual event where we provide a chance for disabled veterans to enjoy a cruise on the bay and a nice dinner on the lawn. The event (sponsored by PICYA) features boats from many clubs and the help of local Firefighters and the Coast Guard.

October • Commodore’s Ball

An annual formal event for most yacht clubs to honor the Commodore and President for a good year on the water. The event is electric as members don their finest and fill the club with a fine dinner and dancing.

November • Change of Watch / Annual Meeting

Outgoing Board members report on the state of the club for the year and the new Board members are introduced. Many yacht clubs celebrate this event with a black tie formal dinner. Bring your nautical wear and following reception is a little less formal but still more than street clothes blazers, slacks, ties, and bullion. Part of the protocol is the ceremony of the Eight Bells.

November • Eight Bells Ceremony

The ringing of eight bells is a short ceremony to memorialize the life of a departed member(s). The eight bells signify the end of a person’s watch on earth. Eight Bells and All is Well –A Sailors time for rest. The audience is asked to rise and observe a minute of silence in honor of the departed member(s). During the silence, eight bells are rung in pairs of two. Aboard ship, the day consists of six watches of four hours each. The time is told by the number of bells rung. One bell at the end of the first half hour, two bells at the end of one hour, three bells at l 1/2 hours. One bell is added each half hour until eight bells at the end of four hours denotes the end of the watch.

November • PICYA Awards Dinner

Held on the first Monday in November. Full formal nautical dress is the tradition.

December • Lighted Yacht Parade

We co-sponsor the parade with OYC to the enjoyment of thousands of people watching from both sides of the Estuary and Jack London Square. The parade is followed by a normally sold out dinner event at the club.

December • Cruising Awards Dinner

The first Friday in December holds the fun-loving celebration of the year by the Cruising Fleet. This is a vibrant event all held in good-humor and the award of the EYC Half-Fast trophy to the deserving recipient.

December • Children’s Holiday Party

The club shines in its Holiday Dress, the kids meet Santa, who arrives by boat, and enjoy their own buffet dinner while the adults do the same at bigger tables. The club usually has a modified operating schedule for two weeks so the staff can enjoy the holidays with their families and friends.

New Year's Gala

Formal dress is optional but does add to the grandeur of the evening. Dinner and dancing with good friends, champagne and chocolates, hats and whistles –it was a very good year.

Reciprocal Privileges

One of the nice things of belonging to EYC is enjoying reciprocal privileges at other yacht clubs around the bay, around the country and the world. HOWEVER, not every club acknowledges and extends these privileges to us. You must contact the club you intend to visit and see if they acknowledge reciprocity with Encinal. It may also be wise to obtain a letter of recommendation from our club manager confirming that you are a member in good standing at EYC.

Proper Dress

EYC is a rather casual dressing club. There are some events that are enhanced by upgrading ones apparel, such as the Commodore’s Ball, the Change of Watch and the New Year's Eve party, but many clubs are much more formal and have dress requirements, so if you are planning on visiting other clubs it is advisable to check about proper attire.

Guidelines: The most universally accepted Yacht Club dress for men consists of:

  • Blazer –black or blue-shirt white or blue shirt.
  • Collar insignia, if used, only on white, non-button down.
  • Slacks –Grey in winter, white in summer, Breton red or tan Tie –Black or navy blue four-in-hand, club tie or other conservative colors. Bow ties may be worn for special occasions at the Commodore’s option.
  • Shoes: Black or white, or boat shoes.
  • Name tags are placed on the right, club bullion over left breast pocket of coat.

Docking Etiquette at EYC

Our Port Captain is in charge of the use of the docks. In general, members should always tie up, bow out, on the members side, leaving the rest of the docks for guests. Special events and cruise-ins require different considerations. Each member can tie–up for 7 days a month, free of charge, 12 days for Lifetime Members. Please call or e-mail the Port Captain before arriving and sign in at the office after arrival. Longer stays require additional payment.

Flag and Burgee Etiquette

The EYC Burgee must be flown with the tip of the star pointing straight up! A yacht club’s flag mast(flag pole) is considered to be part of a vessel. Therefore, the flag etiquette for yacht club flag masts is similar to that of a vessel going to sea with the gaff facing aft. The most common flags flown at yacht clubs are the US Flag, the Club Burgee, the Officer Flag of the senior officer present at the club, the State Flag, Yacht Club Association Flags and Burgees of Visiting Clubs.

On the EYC mast, the Club Burgee is at the top. The US Flag is flown from the gaff. If a state flag is flown, it is from the outside starboard halyard and the senior officer flag is on the inside starboard halyard. The yacht club association flag is flown from the outside port halyard. The club burgee of a visiting club is flown from the inside port halyard. Other flags area flown underneath the visiting club flag on the inside port halyard.

All flags area hoisted at 0800 and lowered at sunset. The sequence for hoisting the flags is as follows: The US Flag, the EYC Burgee, Senior Officer flag and Other Flags. The order of lowering flags is exactly opposite. Flags may be flown at night if the pole has a light.

Table Flags

In many clubs, when past or present offices are dining in the club, a small version of the officer’s rank is placed on the table in front of that person. A flag should be placed for each ranking person at the table. This is wonderful way for the members to get to know the officers in the club.

Flying flags at Half-Mast

Flying flags at half-mast indicates a state of mourning and respect. The US Flag is only flown at half-mast during occasions of national mourning. When mourning is ordered for the death of a club member, other member’s yachts at the club marina and the club land masts should half-mast the club burgee only. Important note: Half-mast in flag etiquette does not mean the flag flies half way down the mast. A third down from the masthead is a good rule. The flag is first raised to the top then lowered to position.

Memorial Day

The national flag should fly at half-mast until 1200 (noon) then raised to the top of the mast until the colors are struck at sunset.


EYC –Encinal Yacht Club
PICYA –Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association. An association of l05 Yacht Clubs in Northern California
RBOC –Recreational Boaters of California. RBOC is the recreational boaters legislative advocate in Sacramento
YRA –Yacht Racing Association –Promotes, supports and administers organized racing in Northern California.

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