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The best sunset in the Keys can be seen from the UKSC! Our waterfront location features a conch-style clubhouse with a full bar, porches with waterfront view, a conch cottage for our resident dockmasters, storage areas and buildings, dry storage for trailered and beach launched sailboat, a large dock with power and water, and smaller docks for dinghy or other access. In addition, the club owns several sailboats for members' use, and two powerboats which are used for race committee, chase, and coach boats. Buttonwood Sound is the venue for most of our races. Its consistent 6' depth can be a factor in racing for the big boats, but for most it is not a problem. It's a perfect site for Portmsouth racing, offering great wind but little chop due to the protected nature of the Sound. In addition, Buttonwood Sound is the home to dolphins, turtles, many different fish, horseshoe crabs, and birds of all sizes and descriptions. Non members are not allowed on property unless accompanied by a member, or if they are prospective members or interested parties attending a social or racing event.
In the summer of 1972, the Fifer and Newell families, sailors all, began talking about forming a sailing club. At about the same time, the Lumbs and Bob Rosselle were discussing the same idea. Ann Lumb (Northup-Blatcher) contacted people she knew who were interested in sailing, asking them to call others they knew with similar interests. A meeting was convened, the Lumbs, Newells, Fifers, Rosselles, Sunderlands, Zepernicks, Glanders, Wells, Bulls, and Hamlys were present and a club was born.
The new club's first race was held at Harry Harris Park on April 29, 1973, with 11 boats in the race. They held meetings in various places, and races were run wherever we could launch our “rag fleet.” Many races were held at Plantation Yacht Harbor.
After considerable thought and much discussion, it was decided to charter the Club, and on October 28, 1975, the Upper Keys Sailing Club received its charter from the State of Florida. The UKSC Burgee was designed by former member and well known artist, Millard Wells.
Soon the Club's need for its own home had become apparent. With the financial aid of 38 members who contributed $1000 each, and the support of all the members, the clubhouse property was purchased in September 1977. The clubhouse needed many repairs and refurbishing.
In January of 1982 an organization of women known as the Circes was formed within the club. Its purpose was to raise funds for redecorating the clubhouse. This small organization, with the support of members, raised more than $15,000 in a few short years. The funds were used to purchase new carpeting, 100 chairs, 10 tables, new kitchen equipment, flooring, a canopy and the material to build the new entrance. Many of these items are still in use today. The determination and effort of this group of ladies accomplished much.
The Upper Keys Sailing Club continued to grow, and in 1983, members and founders celebrated the Club's 10th anniversary. The following year the adjoining property was obtained and financed by each member purchasing a $500 bond. With the new property we inherited a large Quonset hut, a decrepit barge with an old house on it and four derelict vessels.
Eventually, the Club's "Chain Saw Gang" dragged out the vessels and literally sawed them up and the debris was hauled off. The barge with the house on it was towed through Snake Creek into the ocean and sunk to form an artificial reef for the enjoyment of fishermen and divers. The Quonset hut is now used for storage and boat maintenance.
In the same time frame, the decision was made to enclose the screen porch around the front and side of the club with awning type windows and paneling. A few very hard working members shed blood, sweat and tears as they knocked out the inside walls, forming wide openings to the enclosed porch area. A beautiful floor to ceiling trophy case was built into one of these openings and the bar was renovated.
Over the years, the members have continued their efforts over the years to improve and renovate the property with as much volunteer help as possible. The dockmasters' cottage has blossomed with new tile, additional kitchen cabinets and the enclosing and carpeting of the screen porch.
In 2005, Hurricane Wilma wiped out the club's main dock and dinghy dock. Both docks were rebuilt with lightning speed, new dock pedestals with power and water were installed, and modern gratings were used instead of regular dock planking. In the past two years, a covered patio was built on the western side of the clubhouse, more than doubling the outside space of the club, and new high impact, insulated windows were installed. New kitchen equipment has updated our cooking area, the trophy case was moved to a featured location and an additional bar/eating/meeting table was created. As one member put it, Bill Ellis as Rear Commodore did a great job of building a new place under the same roof!
The bathrooms were modernized and two new outside showers were installed next to the sail loft. Our jetty improvements have made it a favorite place for watching the races as well as enjoying the beautiful sunsets. The office is also kept up-to-date in its methods and equipment. The Club computer now handles the record keeping as well as computing race handicaps and results.
The spirit of volunteerism which characterized our club's beginnings continues with the current membership!
Stop by the club any Friday between 6 pm and 8 pm and find out more about our facility, our membership, and our great sailing venue!