Newport Channel EntrySlip-In and Meet “One Fabulous Community of Floaters”

By John Gallaugher

It’s Friday afternoon at the Newport Yacht Club in Stoney Creek, and that can only mean one thing - the members are preparing for their end-of-the-week social event that nobody wants to miss - yep, it’s ‘Mix ‘n Mingle’ time!

The event calendar, available online and emailed out weekly, indicates this week’s hosts are Marty and Lynn, along with some help from their neighbours. Most members have become familiar with each other around the docks and there’s been much anticipation about this week’s menu after the theme was announced as“A Retro 1950’s Diner.” With the hosts and some members decked out in their best 50’s costumes, the barbeque is sizzling and a “spiked” root beer float is served for dessert. The music is all 50’s hits, which strikes a soft spot of days gone by in the hearts of some, while the dancing and mingling carries on into the evening.

These Friday night ‘Mix ‘n Mingle’ gatherings have been on the calendar for several years now, and with them came the social life explosion the club so desperately needed. Countless stories about the old Newport Marina have been in the rumour mill around Lake Ontario for a number of years. Some might be true, some are interesting, some caused a great deal of harm, and others are just not accurate at all.

So, let’s hop aboard the old “Yacht Club Time Machine” for a minute and go back to the beginning.

Newport SignThe original developers had a very unique concept in mind. What could be better than a world-class marina with over 200 boat moorings, 100 executive style homes, and extensive facilities for the members? There was nothing like it on Lake Ontario. The plans were approved and in the latter 1980s, the excavation began on the south shore in Stoney Creek just a few kilometres from the iconic Hamilton/Burlington Skyway bridge. The developers’ final price tag was in the $6.2 million range and, prior to completion, the advertising and marketing strategies hit the media with some quality sales creative. The cabin cruiser in a swimming pool, helicopter rides, barbeque parties, and sleigh ride promotions all were effective to a degree. But the real estate recession set in, several ownership changes took place, many of the amenities did not appear, and then the biggest problem of all occurred (this was the one rumour that did hold some water): Regular dredging of the harbour entrance had hit some snags and the club fell victim to the dreaded “silt-in.”

As the sailors disappeared, the power boat numbers increased. This had not been the original intention, and with more rumours in the wind, the club membership fell off and slips sat empty. In 2011, the marina was up for sale and concerned residents were now fearful of staring into a swamp instead of the promised sailboats and beautiful facilities. And as if all this wasn’t bad enough, now there were significant back tax issues and disagreements about who owned what and who was responsible for maintenance and dredging. It was believed that the marina would close in 2012.

Enter the ‘Three Amigos .’ During the fall of 2011, several members had a vision to purchase the marina from the troubled developer and create a new yacht club. During the spring of 2012, with a new financial plan in hand, instead of closing, the Newport Yacht Club, Stoney Creek Inc., was formed with Jack Book at the helm as the first Commodore and Peter Martin as its Secretary (two of the ‘Three Amigos’ ). With a solid new outlook for the 2012 boating season, the much-needed full-scale dredging of the harbour entrance took place and the community breathed one massive sigh of relief.

A new era of enthusiasm and excitement had begun. The now-energized club members rolled up their sleeves and set about cleaning and polishing up the grounds and docks. An official Board of Directors was formed along with a variety of committees. Seemingly overnight this little club turned the corner.

Pirate Theme Winner“It’s the people,” said Jack Book. “We all realized we were sitting on a very special little gem here and some of us were just fed up with the problems, so we just knew that something had to be done or we’d lose the whole thing.”

There’s nothing quite as gratifying as witnessing a great plan come together, and the transformation of the Newport Yacht Club was a great plan. The residents and boaters alike had been waiting for something like this and the new Social Committee got the ball rolling by starting out with the concept of a Friday night ‘Mix ‘n Mingle’ party. They began slowly with a few members wandering over to the little clubhouse for a barbeque. As the membership grew and emails were gathered, the word spread fairly quickly about these Friday nights and the next thing everyone knew - boom! The members were then invited to host some events and theme parties sprang up, co-ordinating food, drinks, music, and appropriate attire.

MastgalAnd it hasn’t let up one bit. Even during the off-season, while everyone prepares for the winter months, several ‘Mix ‘n Mingle’ parties take place at a few of the local establishments. The big event for years had been the ‘Christmas Luncheon’ at the upscale Edgewater Manor next door to the club and even that has now grown into the ‘Christmas Commodore’s Ball.’

Newport has become an event-filled club and with the return of the sailors a good mix of crafts has evolved. The traditional season-opening Sailpast has been successful; Tuesday race nights are competitive and well-attended; there’s the Poker Run; the Peaches ‘n PHYRF Regatta; and the annual Lobsterfest. Recently, the main highlight of the summer has been the annual GHYRA event.

Newport FilledPeople are still talking about the party that Newport held for their first GHYRA celebration. It was one of the largest gatherings and certainly one of the more robust evenings the club hasever hosted. The slips were packed with colourfully decorated boats complete with a predetermined competitive visual theme and the homeowners joined in the festivities with creatively decorated balconies as well.

Make no mistake, the re-born Newport Yacht Club is back and the new Commodore, Michael Rushton , wants the rest of the boaters on Lake Ontario and throughout the Great Lakes to know it.

A busy social calendar is filling in with events for this summer, which accompanies the numerous impromptu gatherings for daily cruising, sunset outings, and educational courses. Rushton says, “I’m encouraging the entire club to release their lines and get off the docks, volunteer for events and put their expertise and talents to good use to help their club wherever they can.” He recently outlined his vision as the new Commodore for the club with the following ideas:

• Continued boating growth
• Continued sound financial results
• New clubhouse construction (plans are being developed)
• Continuous facility improvement
• Increased member volunteerism to maintain the lowest costs for boating in our end of Lake Ontario
• Succession planning

Party GangThere seems to be no end on the horizon as this busy little club continues to make a name for itself. Perhaps one of the most important notices that needs to get out to the other clubs and boaters around Lake Ontario is that the channel is in fact clear and Newport is not ‘silted-in’ any longer.

“We have over 200 slips available, the atmosphere is infectious, and the people are enthusiastic about being here and part of a friendly community,” says Peter Martin.

At the recent AGM the members were asked to offer a short statement describing what they enjoy about Newport. Dozens of comments were submitted including, “…the best sheltered harbour on the lake,” “a fabulous community of floaters,”“a strong sense of community,” “very helpful people,” “accessible slips,” “excellent docks,” and “having my boat at my back door.” But without question, the number one comment was about the great social life and how much everyone loves the ‘Mix ‘n Mingle’ Friday night gatherings.

Newport Neptune BeaconSo, if you happen to be cruising Lake Ontario near Hamilton seeking a friendly harbour or even looking for a new home port with the best docking rates around, set your GPS for the Newport Yacht Club in Stoney Creek. And try to make it a Friday night where you and your crew will be welcomed with open arms as you “mix” in with the boaters and “mingle” with the neighbours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GHYRANewport Yacht Club - Stoney Creek Inc.
711 North Service Road
Stoney Creek, ON
Canada L8E 4Z5
905 643 0195
newport-ycsc.com
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
facebook.com/ycscinc/

By Water Monitor Channel 68

222 slips available
Serving boats from 15 ft. to 55ft.

Latitude - N 43 14.177
Longitude - W 79 41.466

 

Author/Photographer Bio

John Gallaugher is an art director, designer & photographer who has been with the Canadian Media for over 40 years including a stint as a designer with Canadian Yachting Magazine. He has been a member of the Advertising and Design Club of Canada and The Graphic Designers Society of Canada where his work has been recognized with multiple awards. He is also an award-winning photographer and member of the Golf Journalists Association of Canada and has photographed numerous PGA events. Recently he was in Sint Maarten as the only representative for the Canadian Media covering the 37th Annual Heineken Regatta. His stories and photos appeared in Canadian Yachting’s ONBOARD Newsletter.

 

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