History

Origins of the Club

Members of today should look back with admiration and utmost gratitude, at the backbreaking work invested by our predecessors, to seeing French Bay Yacht Club become a reality.

When FBYC was founded in 1956 it operated from an old building located where the present pump house is now. It was then put on rollers and pushed by a team of good keen men, to a new position roughly where the current Coastguard building is.

The club operated here until 1960 when a new clubhouse was built and in 1961 the reclamation was constructed where the first ramp is, all done by club volunteer labour.

The French Bay Boating Club as it was called then was affiliated and with the inspiration and some more hard work by some very dedicated  members the patrol boat was built in a garage up the road and in 1962 Otitori, as it was christened, was launched.

The club membership increased and as more people got on board the enthusiasm increased and in the Annual General Meeting 29 June 1964 a sub committee was formed to organise preparing plans for the new clubhouse which proudly serves the community to this day.

The committee consisted of four members, one of whom was Brian Northcott, a local practising Architect, and in October that year a plan and perspective was presented to the members, who undertook a a fundraising project of monumental scale, to raise the $15,000 needed for building work.

“This time in the club was incredibly frantic with all sorts of fund raising schemes—carnivals, sausage sizzles, garden parties and stalls – even building P-class boats at the Boat Show and carting the completed boat around shopping centres and raffling them off,” recalls one of the original members.

“But the most funds came from bottle drives, a superbly organised affair by all the dedicated club members. There are plenty of us around that can recall the sometimes hilarious antics and occurrences on these expeditions, convoys of cars and trailers,open trucks,whatever transport was available with an entourage of youngsters scurrying off into all parts of the local area to hunt out stashes of bottles.”

On the 31 May 1965, $2,000 was allocated to start the project and the Auckland Harbour Board (now the ARC ) was approached for a loan and later that year a modified smaller plan was presented with a new budget of $11,000.

At that point the Committee deliberated over whether to pursue the dream of a building that would stand proud over the sea, or to accept a more modest building at lower cost.

The hard working and dedicated members of the day have to take credit for pursuing the dream of a building that would stand proud over the sea, including engineer and club member Bob Foster, whose expertise and energy was invaluable.

The building was meant to be ready by Christmas – but which Christmas exactly was never specified, and as often happens with building projects, there were delays, and countless hours were put into the approvals required to reclaim the sea and form the launching ramps, reclamations, car parking and roads, all of which were built by tireless volunteers, contributing their weekends and evenings to the dream.

To keep costs under control, it was decided that all of the manual work in preparing for the build, would be undertaken by members. A time frame of 10 weekends was set and the backbreaking work of forming the concrete foundations – large reinforced concrete piles anchored into the sea floor – huge precast floor members, and retaining walls was undertaken and the savings made reducing the deficit by thousands of dollars allowing the club to proceed. Together with a Golden Kiwi grant the tenders for completing the club was let in December of 1966.

The building program entered into the next year and in February 1967 a full contract was let to finish the club, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Video by Paul Mullings

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