On the Move
From MHYC: The First 60 Years
Article by: Doug Sturrock
During the 1960s, the MHYC changed from a small yacht club to one of the largest in Australia. During the 1960/61 season, there were approximately 80 yachts racing and the club had 400members.
The clubhouse, at that time, was the building now occupied by the Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol. It soon became too small for the number of MHYC members and in the early 1960s plans were made for additions to the club premises. While these plans were proceeding, it came to the notice of the yacht club committee that the Old Spit Baths site would become available.
Without doubt, the greatest advance in the history of the club was the acquisition of this site, which now provides us with a unique foreshore clubhouse.
On August 7, 1963, the club obtained possession of its present site. It was appropriate that the club was about to celebrate its 25th birthday, and was under the chairmanship of HE Godden. It was proposed that a new clubhouse would be built at the southern end of the site, of concrete construction, but it soon became apparent that this building would not be large enough to accommodate the needs of the expanding club. The construction would also have been too expensive, and finally the finance for this project could not be raised.
At this time, Saturday and Sunday working parties of club members came to remove corrugated iron surrounding the Old Spit Baths dressing sheds and tidy up the area, and attempts were made to use the outer part of the baths as a temporary marina. At first, the club office was in the downstairs section of the so-called 'old clubhouse', and locker rooms were provided in the current downstairs bar. The clubhouse occupied the upstairs section and various functions were carried on in this area. These arrangements were not satisfactory and later, the office of the club was moved to an area on the old baths site. Often, at high tide, and especially with a south-easterly swell, the office staff got their feet wet when the water sloshed through the floor!
By the mid1960s the MHYC was experiencing financial difficulties, and it was obvious that improvements to the clubhouse were necessary. Because of general dissatisfaction with the committee, a completely new committee was elected, except for one member. This new committee was chaired by a new Commodore, Clem Susans, who was able to sort out the difficulties. A levy of 20 pounds, which was twice the annual subscription, was raised. Some members took out a decade of membership which enabled renovation to the old clubhouse to be carried out at a cost of about 8,000 pounds.
1965, associate members were encouraged to join the club and their membership added to the finances.
It was now obvious that the remains of the perimeter of the Old Spit Baths were quite unsatisfactory to use as a temporary marina, and were in fact falling apart. The committee was anxious to put up a permanent marina and obtain as much space as possible for its construction. This involved many meetings with the Lands Department, the Maritime Services Board and the Mosman Council which, at first, would not agree to the construction. It was necessary to meet the council on two occasions to explain our plans and to provide aerial photographs of the area to convince them that we were not going to encroach on the access to the rest of the foreshore, nor were we going to obstruct navigation in the area.
With some minor adjustments, approval was granted and the construction of our present marina was undertaken by Hornibrook Constructions, through the good offices of one of their executives who was also an active sailing member of the club.
The marina was completed in 1968. It was apparent that a new clubhouse also needed to be built.
At this time, racing within the club in all divisions was very successful. Most divisions raced with handicaps at the start, from the starter's boat, and the finishing line was off the yacht club. This was a spectacular sight and often attracted visitors to the club to witness the finish. One Saturday afternoon, to the immense confusion of race officials, it was estimated that 27 yachts from different divisions finished within one minute, with spinnakers up in a light south-easter.
By 1966, the club had 716 members, including 100 associates, and a few junior members. There were 140 yachts in seven divisions and, for the first time, a Waiting list for membership. In 1968, Sir Roden Cutler, the Governor of New South Wales, and Sir Garfield Barwick became honorary club members.
The decade ended with approval for building the present clubhouse and a start was made on its construction.