Mission of the CLYC

As stated in our By-Laws adopted in 1947:  “(Our) object shall be to encourage an interest in all forms of yachting, to sponsor racing contests in the various classes of craft on Crystal Lake, Michigan; to encourage good fellowship and sportsmanship among (our) members; and to assist in the development and enforcement of pilot rules and such other rules as may increase the safety and welfare of (our) members at Crystal Lake, Michigan.”

Mission Statement

Simply put, the CLYC is a summer sailing club.  Our members do not own “yachts,” nor do our members expect the ancillary services and facilities typical of many ocean-based “yacht clubs.”  Our central goal is to sponsor sailboat races for the enjoyment of our members and the education of our children.  Because we wish to include members of all ages and careers, we aim to achieve this goal at a very modest cost.

In many respects, the CLYC is a “family affair” of Crystal Lake residents.  Most of our members have or will have children, and we are anxious that the Club will stimulate in our kids the same camaraderie and love of sailing that we have enjoyed.  Thus, we strive to excite and entertain our kids, and to leave them a healthy, vibrant Club – one they will be proud to join and carry on.

As in any family, we expect our members to pitch in and help make the Club work. Because we are a low cost, summertime operation, we cannot afford a year round staff of employees to operate our Club, nor can we maintain fancy facilities.  Working together, we aim to have a Club that meets our expectations for sailing, that excites and educates our kids, and that we can be proud of.

Sailing:  Our Raison d’Etre

As a sailing club, our summers revolve around our racing fleets:

  • Weekend fleets:  Weekends are our busiest sailing times, because many of our working members can only compete on weekends.  Our open fleets (mainly E-Scows and MC-Scows) invite members of all ages, and we welcome participation by visiting sailors from other clubs.
  • Junior fleet:  For our children through their sixteenth year, we sponsor racing during the week, currently in Butterflies.  Education is a central aim of our Junior Fleet program, so we offer both sailing clinics and lots of parental guidance.  We have recently launched an Optimus Pram program, and the response among the younger kids has been very enthusiastic!
  • Special fleets:  We welcome the formation of special fleets that sponsor competition outside of our weekend and junior programs.  Examples of such fleets have included the Ladies Butterfly Fleet, the Wood-Pussy Fleet, and the Welcome MC Fleet.  In effect, we encourage competitive sailing for whatever excuse the participants care to invent.

In addition to our regularly scheduled races, from time to time we host regattas that bring sailors from other clubs to Crystal Lake.  These regattas, which depend upon volunteer help from our members, represent “Super Bowl” events for our sailors – with opportunities to meet and observe top tier competitors in our various fleets, to learn about new sailing technologies, and to repay the hospitality of other clubs who invite us to their regattas.

Regattas also give us a chance to show off our Lake and our Club to visitors who can really appreciate the joy of sailing on Crystal Lake.  And, as in any household, having visitors from time to time provides great stimulus to “cleaning up the parlor.”

At the CLYC, sailboat racing is in the front seat, and everything else is in the back seat.

Activities That Support Sailing

While sailboat racing is the central focus of our club, we are fortunate to be able to provide other organized forms of enjoyment to our members:

  • Junior outings:  During mid-weeks, we sponsor Junior Fleet outings to places like the Platte River, South Manitou Island, miniature golf courses, or the Lake Michigan beach.  These parent-supervised events are designed to be fun for our kids and to increase their enthusiasm for our Junior Fleet.
  • Education:  We aim to offer lessons in sailing as well as in swimming and tennis (depending upon the availability of teachers).  We invite the Benzie County Sheriff to use our facility for boating certification courses.  We view our Club to be the principle institutional source of boating expertise on the west end of Crystal Lake.
  • Pot-luck dinners:  Three Saturday evenings per summer we hold pot-luck dinners for member families to congregate and socialize.  Over the years we have found that it works best for us to provide a main-course for usually about $10 per head, and to have members bring their favorite casseroles, salads, or deserts.
  • Light lunches:  When our fleets are racing, we offer modest, sandwich-style lunches.  We cater to the demands of hungry sailors and kids, with no pretense of competing with local restaurants or Mom’s refrigerator.

We strive to make these non-racing activities as enjoyable as possible, with the goal of enhancing our sailing programs.  They are, nevertheless, the “tail of the dog” relative to sailing.


Our management of facilities is subject to two overriding considerations:  we are only open for about 60 days each year, and we wish to keep costs low so that dues are not a barrier to resident sailors of all ages and careers.  Because of these constraints, we aim to have reasonably functional and aesthetically pleasing, but relatively modest facilities.

In this regard, our spending priorities are, in order:  (1) maintain our existing facilities in a condition that fully supports our summer activities, ensures the safety of our members and visitors, and instills a sense of pride in our membership;  (2) add new, enhanced, or expanded facilities as our cash flow permits and our members wish.

Our facility assets include:

  • Land:  All residents of Crystal Lake share a common goal:  to preserve the unique clarity and cleanliness of our water.  Consequently, we aim to manage our property in a lake-friendly way, which means no fertilizers or other toxic chemicals (except for poison ivy killer!).  Our goal is to have the Club grounds appear neat and well cared-for, but relatively natural.
  • Clubhouse:  Built in 1942 and expanded in the mid-70s, our clubhouse is typical of Northern Michigan summer structures, with a simple white clapboard exterior and a white cedar paneled interior.  We maintain it in a fashion that shows well to visitors and will ensure that our grandchildren can enjoy the same clubhouse we played in during our own childhoods.  We are not interested in improvements or expansions which do not increase its functionality as a headquarters for summer sailing.  Because our facilities spend about ten months out of each year closed down, we need to be very practical about the level of sophistication we build into our equipment inventory.  And, we are always sensitive to controlling the cost of our facilities
  • Docks and hoists:  Because we are a water-oriented club, our facilities which reach out into the Lake are central to our activities.  Thus, we prioritize our spending so that these assets are in good repair and capable of serving our needs.
  • Boats:  Although we no longer maintain a small fleet of sailboats as during our Club’s early years, we must maintain motorboats equipped for running our sailboat races.  These boats are relatively modest craft, but completely equipped for ensuring the safety of our sailors and the quality of our races.  We do not compromise on the functionality and maintenance of our racing equipment.
  • Beach and swimming hole:  Many of our members – in particular the smallest children – derive great pleasure from our pristine beach and swimming hole. Thus, we aim to ensure that our beach front remains a delightful place for adult-supervised play.
  • Tennis courts:  Because many of our members enjoy tennis, we maintain a pair of tennis courts in ship-shape fashion for members who pay an annual fee.  We also have an older court for all members (and especially young kids) to use free of charge..
  • Parking:  For most of our racing sailors, our Club grounds are a convenient and collegial place from which to dry-sail their boats.  Actively raced Butterflies are parked on our beach.  As space permits, we also provide parking for non-racing sailboats, motorboats, and empty trailers.

When our Board of Directors is convinced that our membership wishes to go beyond routine maintenance of our facilities, we then carefully undertake enhancements in a fashion that will preserve the modest funding requirements of our club.

Neighboring Clubs

Many of our members are also members of two other organizations located at the west end of Crystal Lake.  As a result, we strive to maintain cordial and productive relationships with these organizations, and whenever possible to schedule our sailing programs at times that do not interfere with their special events:

  • Crystal Downs Country Club:  We have a special relationship with the Downs that originated with the early benefactors of both clubs, and we share with them ownership of the land on which our facilities are built.  As a result, members of the Downs are always welcome to use our beachfront, boat launching and parking areas, and clubhouse facilities.
  • Congregational Summer Assembly:  Over a quarter of our members are also Assembly members.  We appreciate the wonderful programs for children sponsored by the Assembly, such as the annual Operetta, so we make special efforts to ensure our kids can participate without compromising their race standings.

Maintaining collegial relations with these neighbors is a very high priority for the CLYC.

Things We Eschew

Over the years we have found the following to be incompatible with our style of operation and social character:

  • Adult beverages:  We discourage alcoholic consumption on Club property, other than those refreshments brought by members in a discrete fashion and in small amounts to specifically designated occasions.
  • Fancy facilities:  Our objective of keeping membership costs easily within the budgets of all sailors at Crystal Lake, coupled with the fact that we are shut down during about ten months of severe Northern Michigan weather, rule out fancy facilities.  Our toilets are clean, but rustic;  our kitchen functional, but Spartan;  our furnishings comfortable, but rugged.
  • Dining room service:  As a summer club, we provide simple lunch food to supply calories for our sailors, and we sponsor pot-luck dinners primarily as an excuse to socialize.  Our members look elsewhere for restaurant-style meals.
  • Day care services:  We do not operate as a drop-off center for kids.  Although parents are not expected to be present at all times, we expect them to take turns supervising our Junior Fleet activities.  We do not provide life guard coverage of our beach.
  • Destination resort services:  Our clubhouse is open most of the time, and our beach, docks, and tennis courts are open throughout the summer.  While we have a staff of teen-agers who perform light janitorial services, we expect the members who use our facilities to pick up after themselves and to help out around the place.  Nobody gets waited on.

Overall, these exclusions reflect a family-oriented Club, operated largely through the efforts of our membership, for the sake of sailing.

Membership Policy

As the population around Crystal Lake grows, we believe that our process for admitting new members will have to become more selective – just as have those of our neighboring clubs.  This selectivity arises not from a wish to exclude anyone, but simply from the physical constraints imposed by our facilities.

Following are our primary criteria for encouraging membership:

  • Children of members:  As a family affair, all of our members look forward to the days when their kids will assume leadership roles in our Club.
  • Dedication to sailing:  Ideally, new members have or are buying sailboats with the intention of racing them.  Also, our fleets are always looking for willing crew members, so we welcome families who wish to participate in our racing without launching their own sailboats.
  • Residence on Crystal Lake:  Because we are a modest Club focused on sailboat racing, it seems to us that the ideal new members are drawn from the immediate neighborhood.  Otherwise, it is unlikely that they can truly contribute to our programs.
  • Willingness to volunteer:  We clearly favor families who want to get involved, who think pot-luck dinners are fun, and who understand that their dues are insufficient to run the Club in the manner we all wish.
  • Strong moral character:  As a family oriented club, we aim to provide role models for our kids.  Here in Northern Michigan, we don’t really lock up at night, so trust is important.

Of course, many of our older, long-standing members can no longer be active in our fleets.  Our hope is that they will continue as members in order to support sailing at Crystal Lake and to come to our family affairs.  And, we hope they will encourage their children to be active participants in our racing programs.