About GYC


Club History

In the early 1960's, False Creek and Coal Harbour were different places than they are now. Dozens of small yards and wharves existed in a scruffy commercial waterfront. It was a fascinating wonderland. Separate from the mighty Yacht Clubs, a marine mélange of builders, live-a-boards and weekend sailors, of average means, haunted the wharves to gossip, bargain, and simply look at boats. A casual network of friends.

Tony Swain, owner of a 20 foot gaff sloop, the SUZY-B, suggested that the False Creek sailing folk join the Kitsilano Yacht Club's Cruising Fleet. Modest fees gave members a place to meet, simple club amenities, a proud burgee, and visitor privileges when cruising. About 25 sailboat owners joined KYC and held a number of meetings at the club. However, the KYC was basically a keen racing club, and cruisers using wharf facilities conflicted with racers at scheduled events. The cruisers tried again. A flyer was distributed around the wharves inviting sailing folk to a meeting at Peter Bold's Dance Emporium at Main and King Edward in Vancouver. Forty-five people turned up.

From the ideas at this meeting, a core group of six worked through 1964 on creating a club for those who simply wanted to cruise under sail. To avoid pomp, some preferred a club 'President' rather than a 'Commodore', but eventually, it was prudently decided to conform to the traditional yacht club practice, as set out in the current yachting bible, Chapman's, with a commodore, fleet captain, proper flag etiquette, dress for sailpasts, and a gavel for banging the meetings to order.

The original Constitution created by this group has required only minor changes over the years. In essence, the rules required ownership of a sailboat with a fixed cabin, and a return crossing of the Gulf as preconditions to membership. The fixed cabin was to exclude the wild ones willing to sail a dinghy across the Gulf to qualify. Racing and power boating were excluded. Most important, the Club would not own facilities such as docks or a clubhouse, and consequently be inexpensive to join and to belong to. The new club would simply provide cruising fellowship. A friendly lawyer, Tony's landlord, Judge Vance, registered the yacht club as a society in Victoria, and the Gulf Yacht Club was born.

Many of the forty-five who conceived the club, never actually qualified due to unsuitable boats, unfinished projects, or vagaries of life. But, because they felt the concept sound, they voted for rules that disqualified even themselves! No one, not even the founding executive, had yet met the Gulf crossing requirement, so none could yet be a member.

So at Easter 1965, a small fleet of sailors set out to cross The Gulf to become the first GYC members. Don't forget the boats were mostly 20 footers, so you really wanted company during the crossing. Seven boats made the attempt, and the order of arrival at Pirates Cove, the very first club destination, was used to determine member numbers for the club roster. This in spite of the no-racing rule.

Bill Henderson's 30 ft, 'A' class sloop was easily first, and was awarded a silver plaque engraved GYC No. 1. With the qualification cruise complete, a tough, two-entry competition for a GYC burgee was won by founder Tony Swain. His notation was a bow wave cutting a wake across the Gulf. The first meeting of the new executive took place at the Johanne Strauss night club. Our first Commodore still has the empty Veurve Clicquot Champagne bottle, signed by all those who launched the GYC.

Meetings were first held at the Jericho Tennis Club but, by 1970, the Club had outgrown this facility, and moved to the Billy Bishop Legion. A few more years and the Club moved to its present home at the Maritime Museum. A lovely old fid was donated to serve as a gavel in place of the Commodore's ashtray. The ship's bell from the Pamina was donated in remembrance of a member who died tragically at Boat Harbour, and this bell has been used to call meetings to order ever since.

The club has thrived on such traditions, providing a mutual understanding that really works. Sailing folk have a great time with families and friends at meetings, cruises, and annual banquets, with their numerous traditional awards. A monthly newsletter, "The Gulf Sailor", tells stories of Club adventures, and informs the membership of future events.

Club Officers


Commodore:                        Glen Mitchell
Vice-Commodore:               Harry Pratt
Fleet Captain:                       Bruce Edmond
Staff Captain:                        Douglas Macleod
Honorary Secretary:            Cecilia Wong
Honorary Treasurer:            Bruce Shuh
Honorary Signals Officer:   Andreas Truckenbrodt
Executive Officer:                Vivian Wu
Past Commodore:               Patricia Costa
Honorary Editor:                  Suzanne Walker

Past Commodores

1964-1969 Tony Swain
1970 Don Brown
1971-1972 Phill Little
1973 Cece Oliver
1974-1975 Barry Devonald
1976 Jack McQueen
1977 Jim Ballantyne
1978 Gil Newall
1979 Roger Pearson
1980-1981 Peter Lissett
1982 John Hall
1983 Doug Barnett
1984 Walter Frey
1985 Bob Mohs
1986 Peter Lissett
1987-1988 Roy Appleford

1989 Bill Patey

1990 Norm Ross
1991-1992 Tom Shenton
1993 Nancy Little
1994 Brian Sigsworth
1995 Alan Crowe
1996 Ian Rigg
1997 Bill Patey
1998 Doug Barnett
1999 Elaine Clague
2000 Jon Clode
2001 Rod Caple
2002 Martin Pengelly
2003-2004 Nicholas Palmer
2005 Julia Oulton
2006 Phill Little

2007 Athol Trickett
2008 Art Childs
2009 Ron Vandergaag
2010 Bruce Edmond
2011 Doug MacLeod
2012 Bruce Shuh
2013 Cam Shields
2014 Kellay Hamelin
2015 Ken Buckley
2016-2017 Andreas Truckenbrodt
2018 John Dixon
2019-2020 Darlyne Farrell
2021 Chris Stangroom
2022-2023 Patricia Costa