MONROE BOAT CLUB
The Monroe Boat Club (MBC) traces its roots back to the end of the 19th Century. The Club was formed November 8, 1945 by a merger of the Monroe Yacht Club and the Bolles Harbor Boat Club. P/C Edward Knabusch "1946-1947" was elected the first Commodore. Monthly meetings were held in "Bus" Millers barn, and the annex, on club property.
It was in 1948 that P/C J.M. Nicholson donated lumber from an old bard to start us on our building projects; clubhouse and docks. P/C William McKenzie drew up plans in 1949 and the clubhouse was about to become a reality. All the labor was performed by members, the result, a two story building.
The bar and social events were set up in 1951 & 1952 by P/C Ted Hoffman and in 1953 P/C Vaughan Smith started the first permanent docks. In the following years, the Club continued to expand. P/C Carl Gruber obtained materials from a demolished bridge to construct our present sea-wall. The back room, which is still in use today for parties, dining, dancing, and rentals went under construction in 1979 by P/C Bill Rea. An added 380 feet of waterfront property plus a home for a caretaker was purchased under the engineering of P/C Mark Latray in 1973. A steel seawall was installed in front of the clubhouse in 1980 under the leadership of P/C Wm Tuck.
Competitive sailing and power yacht cruises are two of our major activities. We have social members who at one time may have been boaters but still have an interest in Monroe Boat Club. Over the years, many major improvements have been made to the Club because of the efforts of our Commodores and members. These efforts have made our club what it is today.
UPDATE May 2019
The Monroe Boat Club (MBC) traces its roots to the formation of an independent boat club in 1868 which brought fame to Monroe by finishing first place at the world-famous Henley Royal Regatta in Henley-o-Thames, England in 1878. Out of this effort, the Monroe Yacht Club emerged in 1902 with W.C. Sterling as its Commodore. In 1905 The Club first sponsored its famous sold-out, annual muskrat dinner, which continues to this day. Between 1905 and 1935 the Monroe Yacht Club grew to a membership of 500, and became a popular social spot and center of yachting activities on Western Lake Erie. The years between 1936 and 1945 were tough economic times and saw a reduced interest in yachting resulting in club inactivity.
The Club was reformed November 8, 1945 by a merger of the Monroe Yacht Club and the Bolles Harbor Boat Club. Edward Knabusch "1946-1947" was elected the first Commodore. Monthly meetings were held in "Bus" Miller’s barn, and the annex, on club property. It was in 1948 that P/C J.M. Nicholson donated lumber from an old barn to start the club members on their building projects; clubhouse and docks. P/C William McKenzie drew up plans in 1949 and the clubhouse, with all labor by members, became a reality.
In 1953 P/C Vaughan Smith started the first permanent docks, and in the following years, the Club continued to expand. The banquet room, which is still in use today for parties, dining, dancing, and rentals went under construction in 1979 by P/C Bill Rea.
During the 1950s and 60s, Monroe Boat Club Regattas were attended by 5000 or more people. A grain-thrashing steam engine boiler was used to cook 600 dozen ears of corn each year, and corn-on-the-cob was a special feature for many years. Sailboat races, with over 90 sailboats in 13 classes, were a regular feature of the annual Regatta. In 1966 Howard PInkley initiated the Sisters Race, and Mark LaTray began a junior sailor’s program.
During the 60s and 70s the club held parties, attracting 100-200 people, like the Roman Romp and the Hawaiian Luau, which helped solidify the memberships and friendships which have lasted many years. During these years many improvements and expansions of buildings, grounds, and docks were completed. Bolles Harbor had become a declared USCG Harbor of Refuge with required dredging and seawall repair by the Waterways Commission.
In 1972 the International Order of Blue Gavel granted a charter to MBC. By the 1980s the Satin Gavel had become a part of Monroe Boat Club. To this day, many of MBC’s commodores and presidents of Auxiliary have held leadership roles in these international groups. In the 1980s P/C Ray Morrow expanded the collection of historical records of the club which P/C Vaughn Smith began in the 1940s, which are now housed in the Monroe Historical Museum. The 1980s-90s saw growth, expansion of buildings and docks, and major renovation of the seawall.
A beautiful salute to our military program is offered annually on Memorial Day, established by P/C Paul Braunlich. In 1993 Jaclyn Grady was installed as the first woman member of MBC. By this time, Friday night euchre parties were held, Good Friday fish fries were launched, and Christmas and Easter parties were held for the children. The Commodores and their Ladies were very active in all the AYC events of the year. In 2004 MBC’s sold-out Thursday night burger nights were started by P/C Richard Schneeman and Carol Smith. In 2006 the first antique car show was held, and the bar was remodeled with poured countertops and nameplates added. P/C John Peterson became commodore, lengthening the Peterson commodore legacy of Fred Peterson in 1955-56, Howard Peterson in 1960, 70, and Ruth Peterson as Auxiliary president in 1953-55 and Edith Peterson in 1956-57 and 59.
In 2006 the annual special recognition of members of 30 years was initiated during the Change of Watch. At this time, the club was expanding its community responsibilities by partnering with the Monroe Public Schools in a Clean Water poster contest supported by a grant from the BoatUS Foundation. By 2008-09 MBC was a member of the free wireless Internet community and using e-mails and paperless newsletter distribution. By 2010-11 we had our first woman Commodore Wendy Campbell, and Power and Sail Fleets were traveling together on weekend cruises. Sail Camp scholarships were provided by many of the groups and individuals of the club, and the MBC Book Club was initiated.
During 2013-14 the Sunday AM Bloody Mary Bar was started by P/C Brian Moyer and the 3rd Sunday Boater’s Breakfasts by past commodores was initiated. Monroe Boat Club continued its community involvement by offering the first Environmental Career Day for 120 7th graders of Monroe Middle School, in partnership with River Raisin Institute and the Monroe County Intermediate School District and funded by the Monroe County Environmental Fund and Community Foundation. In 2017 the 501©3 MBC Association was formed as a corporation and approved with its purpose as providing educational, social and recreational opportunities associated with fostering the development of a sustainable boating and clean water harbor community, and providing programs and projects that build environmental and conservation stewardship in youth and adults. By 2019 MBC and MBC-Association hosted 1,000 7th graders through its annual Environmental Career Day, and introduced local job possibilities to high school students through the annual Maritime Trades Career Day.
The MBC team first participated in the Relay for Life race, and participation continues annually. Under Commodore Michael Powers, the AYC Commodore’s Ball was held at MBC and with continuous renovations, the club membership was kept busy with an informational community Dealing with Disaster Day and installation of a Compass Rose and landscaping. The first membership open house was held, and MBC was featured in the Great Lakes Boating and Scuttlebutt magazines.
As we approach 2020, the members recognize that its membership’s needs have changed over the years. We have more members now who are reaching retirement, selling their boats, possibly spending more time visiting grandchildren and other states, and more families with both parents in careers thus challenging the club to meet the expectations of a new generation of members. We continue to have steak roasts, Thursday burger nights, Sunday breakfasts, Friday and Saturday night bands in the lounge, and Saturday and Sunday football and baseball game festivities, and special day parties. At the same time, we recognize the luxury of the beautiful property we own and access to Lake Erie represents an obligation to continue to be involved with the sustainability of the community and its environment.
In 2015 MBC celebrated its 70th birthday. Commodore David Ryan wrote these words, “The Monroe Boat Club stands on the shoulders of 70 years of Monroe Boat Club history with the origins of the Monroe Yacht Club stretching back to 1868. The club was founded for the ‘Promotion, Protection, and Encouragement of boating for pleasure and sport with good fellowship among its members.’” That standard has been upheld well, and now in 2019, these principles are as fresh, clear and bright as they guide us in our current decisions as a club. We have a strong and vibrant club poised and ready for the next 75 years. With our active and involved membership and the good will shared, we will certainly live up to, and even surpass the vision our founding members had.