Pendrell Sound Yacht Club

Dedicated to the serious business of having fun in one of BC’s most enticing cruising hideaways.
Pendrell Sound YC could just be the most unique yacht club on the planet. Their annual newsletters would give John Morris a run for his money and outdo the Galley Guys for the creativity of their recipes – from drink concoctions to Asian salmon or what members consider the BEST chowder on the planet.

The club’s most interesting Soundings newsletters include advice on all manner of things such as logging operations in Pendrell Sound, changes in the Canada Shipping Act relating to sewage discharge, safe shellfish harvesting, identifying various species of salmon, the village of Lund and how to open and store oysters, as well as a report from the Desperate Boatwives.

But PSYC’s most unique characteristic is likely the fact it meets only once a year – on the Saturday of the August long weekend in Pendrell Sound, British Columbia. The club came into being when a group of recreational boaters who shared a favourite gathering place near Desolation Sound wanted to get better acquainted with families who shared their love of the area. So Brian O’Sullivan, Jim Case and Fred Hofman hosted the first annual general meeting cocktail reception in 2005 aboard Komokwa, On-line and Delirium in Pendrell Sound.

The Place

Let me set the scene with a bit of history. From 1791 to 1795, Capt. George Vancouver explored Pacific waters in the ships Discovery and Chatham. Britain had her eye on Pacific North America, still hoping to find a passage across the continent, and Vancouver charted much of the 13,500 miles of the BC coastline. His voyage was one of history’s great feats of maritime daring, scientific discovery, marine cartography and international diplomacy. (A great read is Madness, Betrayal and the Lash: The Epic Voyage of Captain George Vancouver by Stephen Bown).

Vancouver named Desolation Sound in 1792 for its steep, dark forested shorelines, its silent waterways (and his own black mood at the time of his visit). Nestled among peaks that rise to 4,500’, the sound offers protected anchorages in coves, inlets, bays and sounds, and today it is one of the BC coast’s most popular cruising grounds.

The home of PSYC was identified in 1888 as “Pendril Sound” (at 50° 15’ 05” N, 124° 43’ 25” W) in NW Coast of America Pilot, p.188. It almost bisects East Redonda Island, just north of Desolation Sound, and is entered off Waddington Channel, between Durham and Walter Points.

BC’s chief geographer reports that Pendrell Sound was “named after Alfred Penderill [sic] Waddington (1796-1872), who in 1862 established the mule trail from the head of Bute Inlet up the Homathko River into the Chilcotin, where it joins the Bentinck Arm-Alexandria trail. It was Waddington’s idea that the transcontinental railway should follow the mule trail to Bute Inlet, cross to Vancouver Island and terminate at Victoria.”

To put it into a clamshell, Pendrell Sound has the warmest waters on the BC coast, with temperatures reaching 25° C (80° F) throughout the summer. There’s no need to visit the fish market because oysters (which, it is said, practically jump into your boat), mussels and prawns are in abundance, as are the recipes to prepare them a la PSYC. It has even been known for boaters to catch salmon – ask young Shane Sutherland, who landed a 28-lb red spring in the sound! With its tranquil, pristine waters and spectacular fjord-like scenery, it is a favourite gathering place for West Coast cruisers.

Are you hooked yet? If not, read on.

The Club

The founding members of PSYC set out bylaws (few in number and likely to cause more club types to cringe) and duties of the officers: commodore, vice-commodore, rear commodore inter-vessel relations, and past commodore. According to founding member and “not yet appointed and probably never will be secretary-treasurer” Jim Case: “Those unsuspecting members who attend the PSYC annual event all have their names put in a hat and a reverse draw takes place so those lucky or unfortunate enough to be the last two in the hat are elected vice-commodore and commodore respectively.

“For some level of governance and at least a smidgen of continuity, the rear commodore inter-vessel relations and the ‘not yet appointed and probably never will be secretary-treasurer” seem to stay loosely associated with the executive of the day, as does founding member Brian O’Sullivan.”

Besides setting out other frivolous and downright funny duties, the bylaws further state that, at the sole discretion of the executive, bylaws may be modified once per year to suit the executive of the day (because it is their duty to delegate the jobs they don’t want to do), and that no disciplinary action will be taken under Misconduct of a Member if the executive finds that the infringement occurred during happy hour.

Yes, you guessed it: PSYC is a spoof on yacht clubs. Indeed, PSYC’s “only purpose and charter are to celebrate a love for one of the most magical boating destinations on earth and keep the summer memory alive!” exclaims Case.  

Membership fees were originally set at $20 (to help pay for burgees and caps) and annual dues at $20 per member. Fee and dues were bumped to $30 to address the club’s sorry finances in 2010. Then-commodore Case reported the first financial statement “from various scraps of paper, beer and wine-stained receipts, to the best of his recollection (which was not great), from what others have led him to believe, and generally whatever came to mind, when forced to sit down to do them.”

From just 32 members from Canada and the US in 2007, the ranks have swollen to 79 registered vessels from 25 to 130’ in length. The waiting list is six minutes, the time it takes to consume an alcoholic beverage, and candidates for membership must answer three out of five “very challenging questions.” The waiting list was brought into existence because, according to Case, “If our membership is allowed to continue to swell, we will be unable to host the GM in typical fashion (aboard several large yachts) and may be forced to utilize the beach at low tide.”

Just for Fun

Worried about putting on a little too much poundage after a weekend of drinking and eating? Members have scouted local hiking trails, bike trails (a logging company built a road for biking which is highlighted in red on the satellite map found at, and written articles on how to properly wake-surf and stand-up paddle.

The club’s annual sailpast is, of course, followed immediately by the annual general meeting cocktail reception. Prizes have been awarded for the past several years for the best-dressed and most creatively dressed ships. In 2009, Commodore Julie Hofman and her crew of “slightly quirky yet smooth-running shipmates” proclaimed that the sailpast would have a theme and it seemed only fitting that year to go with the “The Olympics,” followed by the “Pirates of Pendrell Sound in 2010,” and a visit to “Jimmy Buffet Land” in 2011. Present Commodore Alix Bishop proclaimed a Hollywood theme for 2012 and sunglasses were required.

Sound like your type of fun?

Imagine, says Past Commodore David Cottrell, “A large group of ladies floating on their inflatable toys, favourite cocktails in hand, laughing and enjoying each other’s company. The guys are off in their tenders with a cooler of beer checking prawn traps, shooting the breeze, and diving in the water after each successful pull.”

To find out more, you will just have to cruise up to Pendrell Sound next August long weekend and look for the cluster of  boats…doing a most serious job of having fun!

By Katherine Stone

Photo Captions:

1 – PSYC Sailpast in Pendrell Sound

2 – Rafted and ready for the club's one annual gathering

3 – Jimmy Buffet fans Maureen and Colleen are readyfor fun

4 – Spectators for sailpast

5 – Heading off to sailpast

6 – George the Prawn King

7 – Palm trees in Pendrell Sound? Who knew?

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