The purpose of the San Rafael Yacht Club is to participate in the various activities sponsored by the yachting and boating organizations of the Bay Area. We promote proper and safe boating and provide a comfortable atmosphere of camaraderie amongst our members.
Our 4000 square foot clubhouse is located at the West end of the San Rafael Canal. It is a protected harbor offering visiting boats over 300 feet of dock space. The warm and friendly cocktail lounge overlooks the harbor and is adjacent to our large deck. There are dining and dancing areas that can accommodate well over 150 people.
200 Yacht Club Drive
San Rafael, CA 94901
First Thursdays Monthly
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
SAN RAFAEL YACHT CLUB, EST. 1938
37°58’08.4” N, 122°31’06.8” W
ABOUT 100 MEMBERS
Located at the west end of the San Rafael Canal, it has a protected harbor offering visiting boats more than 300 feet of dock space and plenty of room to have a good time inside, too. The club’s main goal is to promote proper and safe boating practices and to provide a comfortable atmosphere of member camaraderie — which the cocktail lounge overlooking the harbor next to the expansive deck helps facilitate. Still run by volunteers and featuring events like the New Year’s Eve “hangover” cruise-in, the unstuffy San Rafael Yacht Club has been going strong since 1938.
Despite contradicting accounts regarding its origins — some claim it was started by William McNear of the McNear brick company and former San Rafael council member Fred Jensen; others say a group of working-class men were the founders — what’s indisputable is that the 4,000-square-foot clubhouse was built from the ground up by its members, many of them contractors.
ANSWERS PROVIDED BY J.E.B. PICKETT, PAST COMMODORE
How would you describe your club?
First, you must realize that we are an all-volunteer club. We don’t have any sort of pretentiousness in this club. While we do own and use our boats, have formal meetings, and conduct ourselves according to our bylaws and rules, you will find that everyone at this club is friendly, cheerful, and fairly well behaved on most occasions.
We are very casual most of the time, but we also have formal dinners, theme nights, and other fun events.
The best feature of the club?
We’re close enough that visiting cruise-ins from other yacht clubs can walk downtown from their boat. As for the club itself, we have a great dining and meeting areas with a large dance floor that we like to put to use. We’d also like to point out that we are proud to provide room for and assist in the sponsoring of the San Rafael High School sailing program, and we have yearly events and assist the San Rafael Lifehouse Agency with a Christmas party and boat rides and provide the clubhouse so they can prepare for their performance at the Great Chefs event.
Always a yacht club?
Yes, the building was in fact built by its members. The area has not always been a yacht club. In fact, our old deck area consists of the pilings that used to support the oil companies and their lightering barges that used to use the canal commercially.
Describe your typical member.
First of all, she’s Irish — actually, we have no typical member. Many of the members are tradespeople, but we also have professionals and business owners from all walks of life.
Do you have a paid bartender?
We don’t have a paid anybody. We’re an all-volunteer club, so don’t complain if your drink is late.
Are you open to the public on any nights?
Because of California’s ABC laws, we cannot be open to the public without paying for a special license. We are always open to members of reciprocal yacht clubs, and we encourage the public to call and come as our guests some night so that they can decide if they would like to join.
Live music? Yes, please. We try to have bands and live music whenever possible.
Foodservice? Not on a daily basis. We usually have food on Friday evenings and for planned dinners and events. Our club, fortunately, contains members who have some culinary bent, so we do have some great meals.
Membership dues? Very reasonable. Only $350 per year.
Signature cocktail? Not particularly, but the current favorite appears to be what used to be called a Skyy-scraper. Skyy vodka, soda, and cranberry juice.
Reciprocity? We extend the invitation to all members of PICYA-affiliated clubs. We also extend privileges to yacht club members from all over the world on request.
Membership events? Usually at least monthly, and a monthly cruise-out to other clubs throughout much of the year.
Are there yachts? Yes.