Time&Again: Quartermaster Yacht Club sprang from humble beginning

This photograph of the yacht club was taken during the 1950s. - Vashon-Maury Island Heritage Association photo
This photograph of the yacht club was taken during the 1950s.
— image credit: Vashon-Maury Island Heritage Association photo

Quartermaster Yacht Club was formed in 1948. The first facility was a short dock and float for landing boats and boarding passengers and a cook shack on the bulkhead, where the current clubhouse is located just north of Burton.

The yacht club early on began celebrating the annual Opening Day of yachting season the first Saturday in May along with other yacht clubs through the Puget Sound region, and has continued the tradition ever since.

In the late 1960s, the club began a series of sailboat races that at their peak in the early 1980s involved more than 30 Vashon boats competing for trophies.

Today, the yacht club works with Vashon Park District to offer summer youth and adult sailing programs, supports good boating practices around the Island, offers reciprocal moorage to other yacht clubs and sponsors cruises to destinations around Southern Puget Sound.

The current facility was built in several stages with the current clubhouse built in the early 1980s. The original docks were expanded in the 1970s and again in the 1990s. Parking lots were also built across Vashon Highway from the entrance to the club docks, and a house just south of the parking lots was purchased to provide for future expansion.

The original photograph taken in the early 1950s shows the dock with the dogleg to the right and the ramp down to a float.

These features are still basically the same. The bulkhead is also still basically the same, except now it is hidden under the deck that is cantilevered out over it.

The original photograph shows one sailboat; all the other boats are powerboats from about 15 to 30 feet in length. Today the club is 35 percent powerboats and 65 percent sailboats ranging from 22 to 65 feet in length.

The new photograph shows some interesting changes. There is only one buoy visible in the original photograph, while there are 18 visible in the 2009 photograph. As the number of boats and the cost of moorage has increased, many Islanders prefer to keep their boats on buoys.

The original dock with a dogleg to the right is still in place, but at the bottom of the ramp, the new docks expand impressively; a 180-foot guest dock runs to the right with attached floats storing the dinghies for the Youth Sailing Program. There are slips for 93 boats, several dinghy floats and a workshop shed.

From its very humble beginnings in 1948, Quartermaster Yacht Club has come to represent a major facility for recreational boating on Vashon with more than 150 active memberships.

— Bruce Haulman is an Island historian. Terry Donnelly is a nationally recognized landscape photographer.

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