Windjammers Sailing Club was established on August 16, 1961. On September 24, 1965, the club was incorporated as a “Without Stock and Not for Profit” corporation. A site was found to harbor the boats in April of 1966. Jack’s Boat Rental, on the east shore of Green Bay, became the first home of Windjammers Sailing Club. In August 1966 a clubhouse was built. In August 1991 the club purchased the former Sea Dogs/Jenk’s Channel Tavern on the west shore of Green Bay in the Town of Suamico. The use of the East Side facility was terminated in December 1992. Since that time, the west shore location has been home to Windjammers Sailing Club.
HISTORY of EARLY WINDJAMMERS SAILING CLUB
As told to us by Don Cuene, a founding member
“Windjammers Sailing Club was first chartered on Aug. 16,1961. Robert Dixon, Dave Renard, John Renard, Vic Renard, and others who enjoyed sailing on the bay, felt a need to officially organize a sailing club for themselves and others interested in casual sailing for pure enjoyment. They decided to call it the Windjammers Sailing Club, or jokingly, “the boozin, cruisin, and snoozin club”. Most of the boats at this time were home builts. The group met at Renard Machine Company, in the lunchroom, the first Monday of the month. Each member would bring snacks and drinks to share during the meeting.
The club made arrangements with the Eagle’s Nest to construct and install their own docks for the Windjammers use. Ed Denis, who operated the Eagle’s Nest, also allowed the members to use a small building along the shoreline for some of the gatherings. In 1965, the Eagle’s Nest was purchased by a Mr. Seigel, and for whatever reason, the Windjammers did not fit into his plans for the future. A search was started for a new home. The search went as far north as Little Sturgeon. Just inside of Point Saubel, Jack Reynen, with his sons Ray and Danny, had a small commercial fishing business. They also rented rowboats.
The membership explained their needs to Jack Reynen. They were looking for harbor space and did not expect the Reynens to have any responsibility for the docks or for the maintenance of them. The membership estimated that the club would grow to at least twenty-five boats, with a minimum length of eighteen feet. Reynens would be paid $2.50 per foot per year. Jack Reynen did a quick computation and asked the group when they wanted to move in.
Jack Reynen then hired Gauthier Construction Company, who happened to be a neighbor, to bring in his crane with a bucket to break the ice and enlarge the channel. This took place around March 1966. As soon as the channel work was completed, the club members constructed and installed suitable docks. The docks were made out of wood, with barrels for flotation. Each dock was anchored by four steel poles, one on each corner. The dock could raise and lower with the water levels without disturbing the poles. Later, new docks were constructed of metal, with wooden planking.
The first summer at Reynen’s Harbor, the Windjammers were without shelter until Harvey Keyser provided the group with a huge military type tent. As the first summer season was ending, Jack Reynen said that it was time to think about winter, and something other than the tent for use as a clubhouse. Jack gave permission to use a small piece of land near the launching ramp to construct a clubhouse. (The pictures in the upstairs meeting room show Reynen’s Harbor before any work started. Another picture show’s the clubhouse under construction with the tent in the background.)
Each member was assessed $35 to get the project started. This allowed the membership to frame out a building approximately twenty feet by twenty feet. Further nominal assessments were needed to provide for wiring, insulation, and interior wall covering. A fireplace was part of the original construction, with the bricks donated by member Bob Cravillion, and the mason work provided by members Harvey keyser and Don Harvey.
A small bar was acquired and tap beer was served in plastic cups and glass pitchers. In the beginning, there was not running water or indoor plumbing. There was one two-holer outhouse. As time went on, the clubhouse was expanded several times. A meeting room was added, a place for a pool table, indoor plumbing, and running water.
Tuesday night racing became a regular occurrence. During the sailing season it was quite common for the club to sponsor cookouts, crab boils, corn roasts, and fun races.
In the late Sixties, the water level in the Bay was extremely low and the Reynens used their steel-hulled fishing boat to clear a narrow channel through the sandbar near the mouth of the harbor. Channel markers were willow sticks.
In the early years, the club was relatively small in numbers and because of that, the membership knew each other well and became a very close-knit group.