The Salem Boat Club was organized by a group of racers and skiers in 1946 and assumed its present identity as the Salem Yacht and Boating Club in 1957. Our club site was acquired in 1959. An old hop dryer was remodeled into a clubhouse and docks were built.
In 1961, dolphins and pilings were driven into the slough and members began to build covered moorages. Unfortunately, a big storm in 1962 destroyed the moorages. The covered docks were rebuilt and wiring was put on individual meters to provide year-round power.
On October 12, 1962, utter disaster struck our club again when the Columbus Day Storm hit the moorage with winds exceeding 100mph. The docks were demolished. Covers were carried over the west bank and areas of the docks were split, overturned, and squeezed together. Boats were damaged by debris. Consideration regarding rebuilding at another site were rejected, and under the direction of Elliot Johnson, rebuilding was started. By July, 1963, the stalls and docks were restored. Some time was given to fun with a Halloween Party and a Christmas Party.
Some highlights of these early years included the inception of a roving trophy in 1963 for the largest guest participation in the annual Memorial Day weekend festivities. Hayden Island always won.
In December, 1964, the docks were again destroyed. A freeze followed by snow and rain brought tons of water down on the club. A beam wind on the docks helped weaken the piling, and at 3:00am, December 23, the north dolphin broke and the docks swung held by only one cable. The wreckage threatened the bridge and a watch was set up. The docks broke loose and were carried to total destruction in the trees a mile below. The club bulletin became the Channel Marker in 1964. Other high points of 1964 were predicted log races and scrambles as well as Opening Day in Portland.
Dona Battig became the first editor of the Channel Marker in 1965. At the 1965 Commodore’s Ball, Hayden Island presented us with a declaration pledging a weekend of work from their members to help rebuild our docks. On March 26 and 27, they kept their pledge. The occasion was filled with laughter and good spirits along with our heart felt gratitude.
Under Commodore R.J. Van Saten, work was started in 1966 to build permanent docks that would withstand floods and wind. Winter and spring weekend of 1966 and 1967 were devoted to the project. Commodore Clarence Applegate carried on and by Memorial Day weekend of 1967, the covered docks were finished and secured to the bank with strong arms to allow for rise and fall of the river.
In 1967, log races, scrambles, and treasure hunts were continued. Our fleet was scattered between Detroit, Puget Sound, and the Columbia. Those who stayed on the Willamette enjoyed local cruises, barbecues, and potlucks.
Highlights of 1968 included a May cruise to Clarks where a roast pig was served by Dan Clark and the Riverside Yacht Club. A champagne trip to Hayden Island’s Commodore’s Ball was managed by Harold Edwards.
Placing first in the CRYA opening day parade was the most exciting happening of the year. Fifteen of our boats negotiated the course with no mark down in score. Fleet captain Dudley Henderson had everything organized and timed well. This event was covered in an illustrated article in the July 1968 issue of Sea Magazine.
A trip in October 1968 was also memorable. The oyster barbeque pits were lined up along the outside edge of Dan’s floating gas dock, and everyone gathered near them to be served. The dock gradually submerged until water was ankle deep and a mad scramble for dry ground ensued.
In 1969, Salem placed third in the Opening Day parade. Twenty-four slips were made available for members.
The clubhouse was renovated in 1970. An outer deck overlooking the river was added. The clubhouse was paneled inside and sheathed outside. The parking lot was paved, a new bridge was built across LaCreole Creek, and several new stalls were added. Elliot Johnson and Bill Beckett deserve a vote of thanks, along with all of the club members who helped them.
The year 1971 was a productive year. The club took third place in the Opening Day competition. Under the direction of Vem Salter, the upstairs and downstairs were carpeted and tile was laid on the dance floor and kitchen floor. The upstairs lounge was also paneled. Six more slips were built to bring the total to 33, with Dockmaster Elliot Johnson leading the work parties. Over 300 people attended our Memorial Day weekend festivities with many boats cruising up from Portland. In September, the Dale McGee’s sponsored a corn bash, which has become an annual affair.
The events of the year 1972 were many. Dockmaster Elliot Johnson and crew added another two covered stalls, bringing the total to thirty-five. Four new and larger picnic tables were constructed. The club kitchen and women’s head gave a new coat of paint and paneling. The Memorial Day chicken barbeque was a smashing success with the Past Commodores serving 400 chicken halves to a hungry crowd. A cruise to Independence was held on the 4th of July for the small hydro races. The Annual McGee Corn Bash was held with lots of corn on the cob and suds out of the keg. The final cruise of the year was made to Portland Rowing Club for a weekend of fun.
1973 was a busy year. We had quite a few shallow water cruises with our usual good time. Memorial Day, Riverside Yacht Club won the award for the Most Boats in attendance. Cruised to Independence for the 4th of July. Some of the boats stayed for the beautiful fireworks display. More corn and suds on Dale McGee Day. Managed to finish the new piling before the high water. SYBC was the host club to CRYA for 1974.
A busy year was ahead for us in 1974, when Harold Edwards and his new board took office. SYBC, for the first time, would be host for Opening Day. In the early spring, we sponsored the Daughters of Neptune Tea at HIYC. Sandi Well represented our club beautifully. Opening Day was upon us and once again our members made a fine showing as lead club.
Memorial Day was a weekend of fun and food. We had a record turnout and met many old and new friends. A new venture for many of our members was a canoe trip from Corvallis to Salem. As the trip came to an end, plans had started for another trip in 1975. Cruises included Independence, Yamhill, and a closing cruise to the Albany Elks. A lot of work was put in on the docks, clubhouse, and grounds in an effort to continue growth within our club. It was a year of work and fun, which makes SYBC a really fun club.
1984 was the year we began our 4th of July fireworks celebration, which was to grow into a major annual function and the best fireworks display in Salem, thanks to our pyrotechnicians – Mick Harchenko, Del Isaac, and Jim Jones. Roger Gleason was Commodore.
1989 will always be remembered for three accomplishments: 1) we dredged our bank for the first time, 2) we replaced our gas and walk docks with beautiful new ones, and 3) we tore the clubhouse down. Over time, the clubhouse had been damaged by water leaking out springs in the hillside, and it was no longer safe for use. Our Commodore was Jim Eastridge.
In 1990, the Salem Yacht Club experienced a tremendous loss when the permanent moorage was destroyed by a heavy snowfall. The new walk docks were salvaged and utilized for side moorage. Our Commodore was Jim Jones.
In 1991, an electric security fence and gate was installed and a long-range beautification project was initiated by our Commodore Bud Elgin.
In 1992, we saw a resurgence of activity at the club. A covered area was built over the upper picnic area. Our first lady Commodore was Dian Marr.
During the winter of 1998/1999, the walk docks were left in the water too late, and one night during high water, they disappeared downriver, never to be seen again. In 1999, new walk docks were purchased. Dave Hampton was Commodore.
In 2003, the Club decided to leave the walk docks out of the water due to changing water conditions in the slough and not enough depth for boats.
In 2006, sun screens were installed over the picnic tables on the beach. Jerry and Sharyl Combs made them, and they were put up on Memorial Day weekend.
In 2007, the beach was reshaped to make it nicer for families. However, the 2008 winter brought high waters, and by the time the river dropped to normal levels, the reshaped beach had disappeared.
2008 brought a record turnout at the 4th of July Fireworks and BBQ. An estimated 400 people sat on the hillside, enjoying chicken, hotdogs, and music while waiting for the fireworks to begin. Bud Elgin catered the event, and Rick Pittman provided music. August brought our first Hot August Nights party with live music by First Sleep, a local rock band.
John Burt was Commodore in 2009. This was a very nice year. We had another very large turnout at the 4th of July Fireworks and BBQ event, and for the 2nd Annual Hot August Nights party, we enjoyed live music by The Brothers Jam. We initiated a Member of the Year award, and the first recipient was Sharyl Combs.
2010 was a year of technology, guided by Gary Halleen as Commodore. Security cameras were added to our facility, as well as wireless Internet access and the ability to pay for dues online, using PayPal. We finalized a partnership with Willamette University’s Crew team for use of our facilities. Live music for the 3rd Annual Hot August Nights party was by The Flextones. Member of the Year was Jim Eastridge.
In 2011, we had a focus on beautification of the grounds, and built a new kitchen area in the BBQ Patio area, as well as a new changing area, next to the showers. For the 4th Annual Hot August Nights party, we had a repeat musical performance by The Flextones. Member of the Year was Kasey Duus. Tom Meinzer was Commodore.
Mike Mueller was Commodore in 2012. The upper parking lots were cleaned up and leveled, with lines painted, allowing a large increase in available parking for boat storage. Grounds were beautified throughout the club, and plans were drawn up for a new well. Hot August Nights was very popular, with a large crowd. Live music was provided by The Flextones. Member of the Year was Gary Halleen.
A new well and pump house were added in 2013. Commodore Sam Duus presented the Member of the Year award to Jack Stuart at the annual 3rd of July Fireworks event.
Tony Biasi was Commodore in 2014. Member of the Year was Sam Duus. The Flextones returned again to SYBC for an exciting annual Hot August Nights event.
Jim Silldorff was Commodore in 2015. Member of the Year was John Burt. Over the past several years, John had worked extensively with state and federal authorities, as well as a soil testing company, to ensure we are able to continue dredging the cove and maintain the beach.
Ben Taylor started the year as Commodore in 2016, but had to step down when his job relocated him to Arizona. Vice Commodore Jerry Borsberry stood in for him the remainder of the year. SYBC was able to finally receive proper permits to resume dredging the cove, after several years of effort. This arduous project involved many people, including our Commodore and John Burt (a former commodore). Member of the Year was awarded to Bill Walker for his ongoing commitment to maintaining the club.
In 2017, Jerry Borsberry was Commodore. Member of the Year was Larry Dalke. At the annual 3rd of July event, we decided to change up the dinner, and invited several area food trucks to attend. This was a huge success, as we were able to reduce the admission charge and give members and guests more options for food. At the Hot August Nights party, entertainment was provided by 16 Penny.
Pam Halleen was Commodore in 2018. We were able to accomplish some great things under her watch, including negotiation of a longer-term lease for the property, replacing our aging gate controller, replacing the old cabinets in the BBQ area, and other beautification projects. We continued the food trucks at the 3rd of July due to their popularity from the previous year, and had record attendance at the event. Stew Stone was named Member of the Year. At Hot August Nights, 16 Penny again provided entertainment.
For 2019, Zak Stone was Commodore. The club worked to make the cove deeper and wider so it was easier to launch boats from the ramp. Brian Forster was named Member of the Year. Food trucks were, again, at the 3rd of July, and we had record attendance once again. 16 Penny performed at Hot August Nights.