Monday, March 23, 2009

My Town Monday -- Columbia Yacht Club


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.

13 tidbits:

debra said...

Wow, that is an amazing boat.
Beautiful photos!

Fortune Cookies said...

what a beautiful yacht! And with a beautiful view too.

Lauren said...

@debra- The club ship is so much fun. I didn't put in pictures of it, but they actually let you go up to the steering room. The wheel is disconnected from the rudders so people can play with it.

@cookies- Thanks! The top one is actually off the CYC website, but the others were from my little point and shoot. So many other bloggers have such great shots with nice cameras. Maybe I'll have to post some more pics when/if I get my nice camera!

Travis Erwin said...

Very cool and something I never would have expected to find in Chicago

Lauren said...

@travis- Thanks :) Because of Lake Michigan Chicago has a very active sailing communitiy. Another thing that feeds this is, in comparison to many other water-front cities, the cost to maintain and moor boats is much less expensive (partially because it is usable only 5 months out of the year) so a wider range of people have sailing as an option.

T and S said...

That's an amazing Yacht but you guys on the deck have fun impressed me more. Its always nice to see someone happy and enjoying life.

strugglingwriter said...

I wanna go in a yacht! Or own a yacht! Actually, I'd take a row boat :)

Lauren said...

@t and s- Yes, it's kinda funny to call an ice cutter a yacht, but *technically*--well, legally, that is what it is now. We do have fun :)

@writer- I'd love to own a sailboats. That is the boat of choice of the majority of the Club members. They are actually much cheaper to own than your standard motor boat you see all over the place (because sail boats need no gas). Maybe one day....

Raph G. Neckmann said...

This looks a lot of fun! Sounds great, and the photos are beautiful.

paintandink said...

What fun! I desperately want to learn to sail - have just looked up sailing lessons near me, and they're quite affordable, so I'm hoping...planning...

Anonymous said...

I just had to write and let you know that as a resident of PEI as a kid I travelled on your "yacht" many times. As for icebreaking, I don't know how good she was as I remember being stuck in the ice on her a couple of times and having to wait for a real ice breaker to come break us out. When she was sold, I was working for the Canadian Coast Guard and saw her on her final journey. Great to see her being used and loved. She is looking pretty darn good for an old girl. Enjoy!! Dawn.

Anonymous said...

Hi all sailing enthusiasts, I noticed that you mentioned that the Abby was used as an ice breaker between nova Scotia and the mainland, though nova Scotia is close to Prince Edward Island this ship was actually used as one of the ships to transport people, cars, trucks and trains between Cape Tormintine in New Brunswick and Borden in Prince Edward Island between 1947 and 1982. As an islander myself I have crossed on this ship many many times. My grandfather was the 1st mate of her (I enjoyed many privileged trips to the bridge as a kid) and my mother also worked on her.She was the main means of transport for the people of P.E.I to get to the mainland of Canada. As far as being an ice breaker she was one of the best in the world in her time, the Northumberland straight has some of the strongest winter winds and fiercest weather in Canada and for her age, the Abeweit did very well in plowing through all the ice, sometimes very slow but she always did make it where many other ships would not even have a chance. We all here on P.E.I also referred to her as the Abby and we are glad to see she is still being enjoyed.Here is a link to a page dedicated to the history of the ABBY it is very informative, hope you all enjoy
http://members.shaw.ca/colinluv/tableofcontents_001.htm
Garth

Harold Watson said...

Such a good photos. Beautiful yacht, I really like. When I traveled along the coast of Antarctica I have seen a lot of interesting ships, for example such as those https://poseidonexpeditions.com/ships/.

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