Since I just posted the other day about the Junior League, I thought that today I would post about one of the jewels of the Chicago Sailing Community, the Columbia Yacht Club. For those of you previously familiar with the Junior League, you will see the connection (other than being two organizations that I am involved in).
The Columbia Yacht Club, or CYC, was started in 1892. As you can see, we have a club ship rather than a club house. Throughout our history we have had several club ships. The first club ship was just a simple barge with a shed on top served as the first club ship and then in 1927 the club purchased an old wood and iron plated steamboat which was replaced in 1936 by the old Florida Steamer. In 1982 the Florida was retired and replaced with our current club ship, a 372-foot Canadian ice breaker and ferryboat, the Abegweit was purchased from the Canadian National Railway. We at the club affectionatly refer to her as the Abby. She used to serve as the primary tranportation method between Nova Scotia and mainland Canada. She would haul rail cars, automobiles and passengers.
Members pulled together the funds to buy the Abby from . From April 5-14th 1983 45 members, 15 Kings Point mariners and 6 Candaian seamen brought the Abby all the way from Pictou, Nova Scotia to Chicago. This was the largest privatly owned yacht ever brought through the St Lawrence Seaway.
We joined the club as a way to meet new people, which we have done. Even though we have belonged to the club for two years now, we are still the youngest memebers! We hope to get more involved in the club this year. Next season (2010) we plan on joining in Pinacle, but for now we just sail with Pete's sister and friends that we have met through the club.
CYC is very casual. I mean, people just got done sailing in the summers when they go to the dining room or the bar area! You'll see all levels of dress, but mostly it's jeans/shorts/casual. If you want a fancy club, go to Chicago Yacht Club (or at least that is what we always say!)
Perhaps my favorite part of the Club is the dining room. It is, in my opinion, the best view of Chicago's lakefront. Our executive chef, Breanna Bieke, is simply amazing! I always knew that she was young for an executive chef, but just learned that she graduated high school the same year I did (2001--I'm a youngin', I know). She became the executive chef three years ago at the age of just 23! Every month or so Chef Breanna and Nick (the Food and Beverage Manager) organize wine tastings, usually paired with a fabulous menu whipped up by Breanna. The normal dining food is amzing but these meals are unbelievable! Veal, duck saugage, lobster, quail....always interesting and unusual foods. She is very big into local produce and seasonal cooking. The regular menu gets changed up, oh every couple months, I'd say...
The most random person I ever saw at the Club was my Biology professor last semester. Although, I'm sure she found it even more random that I was a member!
Anyone interested in learning more about Columbia, please visit their website. If you are local to Chicago and are interested in learning how to sail, I highly recommend that you check out Skipjacks, a 9 week sailing program that only costs $325. It is broken into 2 classroom sessions, 5 on the water sessions and a party between the classroom session and another party after the last class. You will quickly learn that one of the best parts about sailing is the drinking and hanging out with fun people--that's why there are two parties! The reason why the costs are so low is because club members volunteer their time and their boats to teaching the students how to sail. Also, students are encouraged to come crew Beer Can races on Wednesdays. During the summer I will blog about those as well! Hopefully Stu will want Pete and my help again next year!
Pete and I being silly on the top deck.
Pete and I being even sillier, but down on the dining level. There are tables several feet away from where this pic was taken. See, they will let just about anyone join. This was taken almost two years ago--time sure does fly.
Proof that I need a better camera, but you get the idea. The yacht club is next to the harbor so during the sailing season you look out onto all the boats. On the other side of the boat from where this is taken you can see Navy Pier and the Ferris Wheel.
My Town Monday is the brain child of Travis Erwin. For other locations to visit please go to Travis' site here.