Latitude 38 article – Founding of SSC

SSC 70th Anniversary Video

By Bob Winter

    The club was started in about 1933 by a few youngsters who went to Stockton High School and hung around the Stephens Brothers Boat Works. They built their own boats and kept them tied to the bank just west of the boat yard. Meetings were held in a loft over the garage at the Stephen’s home on Baker Street. The earliest class boats were the Olympic Monotype, but soon the members switched to Snipes, and became active in the Small Boat Racing Association of Northern California.

    The original name was Ionic Sailing Club, named for early Greek sailors in the yacht club traditions of names like Aeolian and Corinthian. The club officially incorporated in 1940. The name was changed to Stockton Sailing Club in 1952. By this time members were entering regattas in the Bay area. The Stockton Sailing Club won their share of races, but the question was always: Ionic Sailing Club, where is that? The solution was to change the I on the burgee to S to identify with Stockton. In 1965 the articles of incorporation were finely amended.

    The first harbor was at Louis Park. The City gave the club permission to use the cove in 1937. The boats were kept on moorings. It was a do it yourself club, and the members put down old farm equipment wheels on cables for moorings. They cut the mast and boom from a sunken barge on the mud near the head of the channel in Stockton, floated the spars to the cove and erected them on the bank to make a crane. The first big purchase was the clubhouse. An old ark down in the islands at Holt was purchased for two hundred dollars and towed to the cove. It served as the clubhouse until the start of World War II. One by one, all the member went into the service and just left the club property. After the war everything was gone.

    The next location was South Buckley Cove. In 1946 the club built a dock and a few slips and attached them to the farmer’s property on the east side of the cove. The farmer charged the club twenty dollars a month. The club leased land at the present site from the city for a small yearly fee, but the lease could by canceled at any time. A crane was erected at what is now the location of A-dock. There were great plans for a harbor and clubhouse, but it did not work out. The cove was shallow and need dredging. There was no electric service or security, and when Ladd and Armstrong moved their boat building business to North Buckley Cove the sailing club went with them. Slips were built by Ladd and rented to the members. In 1949 a barge was purchased in Sausalito and towed to the cove. It was moored to the bank at Ladd’s. A small building on the barge served as the clubhouse for about a year and then it was replaced with a new redwood structure that encompassed the entire barge. Building contractor Corbin Shepherd, a member, charged only for materials and labor, the painting and finishing work was done by member work parties. After a sinking, the barge was repaired at Colberg’s and was then located at the outer end of Ladd’s dock.

    The club moved back to South Buckley Cove in 1966 under a city sub-lease arrangement with Jack Benton who developed the harbor. The sub-lease was for the plot of land for the clubhouse and the point peninsula for the small boatyard. Benton put in A and B docks to be rented to members. The floating clubhouse was relocated at the end of A-dock. The club developed the small boat yard by contracting with Benton for the utility building and bulkhead for the small crane. In order to get some cash for the first project, a “Century Club” was formed and most of the members agreed to donate one hundred dollars for the crane. Funds for the yard project and new clubhouse were raised by selling interest bearing notes to the members. Some notes were paid off each year with a drawing to select who won their money back. All notes were paid off within seven years.

    The clubhouse was built in 1968. With the cooperation of building contractor Shepherd and architect Warren Wong, a member who designed the clubhouse, the cost was kept down to Sixty-two thousand dollars. It was considered very reasonable for the design that received a merit award from the American Institute of Architects.

    The Stockton Sailing Club purchased the entire South Buckley Cove facility and city lease from Benton’s successor, Frank Hoffman, in 1974 for four hundred thousand dollars. A harbor master was hired and the harbor office and apartment building was the first new construction. It was designed by architect Pierre Bernasconi, a member, and built by contractor Shepherd. The docks at that time consisted of A,B,C, and D. Additional docks were installed one at a time over the next few years, and blacktop replaced the gravel parking area. F dock was built by the members using a work party program under the direction of member Jim Everett who donated his contractor talents.

    The clubhouse “board room” addition came in 1983 and the deck expansion in 1988. The 3-ton crane and boatyard, known as the Purrfect Point Project, was completed in 1989. The “Purrfect Point” designation was adopted because the light standard on the point is the remains of a Non Such 30 mast that broke off at the deck. The cat-boat was named “Purrfect”.

    The books and accounts of the club were kept by elected treasurers until 1975. With the purchase of the harbor, Mike Van Deworp, a member, was elected treasure and his data processing company was hire to keep the books. Van Deworp served as treasurer for twelve years. In January of 1991 the harbormasters apartment was converted to an office for the club. A bookkeeper was employed and accounting was taken over by club employees.

    There was rapid expansion in 1995. Additional land was acquired through the lease with the City. The barbecue and deck facility was built, and a new rest room and shower addition was constructed. The treasurer reported major expenditures of $411,722. The design and building supervision of the barbecue and deck was done by member John Shepherd. He died a year later and the facility was named the Retreat in his memory. “Retreat” was the name of his sailboat.

    The remodeling and expansion of the kitchen was completed in 1999. The design was accomplished with the help of several members experienced in this field. Part of the equipment was donated by member Ni Orsi. Member Richard Carr, whose company did the electric work, donated many “special extras”. Member Greg Gaut, who is a mechanical contractor, did the plans and engineering at no charge to the club.