VBC is not just a boat club. We're a swim club, social club, dining club, educational facility, and a whole lot more. Based on our history, we'll be even more in the future as we strive to be a better club every week ... every month ... every year!
Here is s brief look at our history:
The Vermilion Boat Club (VBC) is a boating/yachting club with nearly a century of history. It was started on June 27, 1913, by F.W. Wakefield and Tom Ball, with Tom Ball serving as its first Commodore. Dues were set at $1.00 per year and the club grew to 50 members in its first year. The club also joined the Inter-Lake Yachting Association (I-LYA).
The Early Years
In the early 1900's, sailing regattas were very popular. From 1906 – 1913, the Lakewood Yacht Club, which later merged with the Cleveland Yacht Club, came to Vermilion every year to hold Regattas up until the VBC was formed.
From 1914 – 1920, the club held canoe races and swimming and diving events. The club also continued the annual Regattas in Vermilion. Their first Regatta in 1915 was called the "Open Regatta." The 1916 Regatta was called "South Shore" and that name remained for the following years. During these early years, people from all over would flock to the Vermilion River on weekends to watch the Regattas and have parties in the streets. These parties were very early versions of what transpired in later years into what is now known as the Vermilion Fish Festival.
For nearly 50 years, the VBC did not have a permanent home and met in many locations in Vermilion. The first location was in the Mayor's office on Main Street. Over the years, the club met in several locations on Main Street including the Nolan Saloon and the second floor of the Fischer building. In subsequent years, the club met in the Sail Loft (now known as Chez Francois), above Hart's Drug Store (now the Main Street Grill) and later on the second floor of the former McGarvey's restaurant. In 1961, the VBC moved to its current location and permanent home on the Vermilion River.
The Modern Era
The current VBC building was originally a fish house as commercial fishing was the major industry in Vermilion during the early 1900's. In 1976, additional property was purchased next door from the Fischer family estate which gave the VBC considerable water front exposure on the Vermilion River. This expansion allowed the club to have 32 docks which exist today. Several improvements have been made to the club including an expanded dining room in 1994, a new Sail Camp building in 2005 and a new pool in 2007.
Today, the club has a mix of boat owners and non-boat owners. VBC has an extensive social program which includes theme parties, dances, cookouts, pool parties, power boat rendezvous' and sailing regattas. In 1952, the Sail Camp was started and continues to this day teaching sailing, safety and boating skills to various age groups.