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  #1  
Old 11-14-2009
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Most Exclusive Clubs on L.I. North Shore

A friend of mine is writing about the struggles of many Yacht Clubs today.
What would be considered the most "exclusive" clubs on Long Island today? Similar to Larchmont YC or American YC?
I would guess Seawanhaka, but I am only speculating.

Any insight??????
Thanks!
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Old 11-14-2009
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Most exclusive? Knickerbocker YC. Doors are locked to everyone.

Great business model, the notion of exclusivity: let's keep potential paying customers out. Then we can charge the people we do admit (subject to two endorsements by Senators, a pedigree DNA test, and review of bank records) a swingeing join-up charge, $7500 per year in dues, plus mooring or slip fees and bar tab. All for the privilege of keeping one's premises rabble-free.

I guess it worked for 135 years. Might not work much longer. We are rabble -- but there's more of us.

(This post brought to you by the Bastille Boat Club & Grill, Serving Lower Hoboken's beer and live bait needs for 30 years. Welcome, new members!)
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Old 11-14-2009
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Originally Posted by bobmcgov View Post
Most exclusive? Knickerbocker YC. Doors are locked to everyone.

Great business model, the notion of exclusivity: let's keep potential paying customers out. Then we can charge the people we do admit (subject to two endorsements by Senators, a pedigree DNA test, and review of bank records) a swingeing join-up charge, $7500 per year in dues, plus mooring or slip fees and bar tab. All for the privilege of keeping one's premises rabble-free.

I guess it worked for 135 years. Might not work much longer. We are rabble -- but there's more of us.

(This post brought to you by the Bastille Boat Club & Grill, Serving Lower Hoboken's beer and live bait needs for 30 years. Welcome, new members!)
I agree, and from what I gather, that is the theme of what she is writing about. Actually across the board, club membership is declining. But the appeal of exclusive clubs has been declining for decades.

I would guess Seawanhaka is the most exclusive. Maybe Shelter Island (not north shore) also.
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Old 11-14-2009
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BobMcGov,
You had me going for a moment until your link was for the same article I already read about Knickerbocker closing. Very funny!
I bet I would flunk the DNA test and I don't even know 1 senator. It is believable that they might have re-opened while trying to get the Palm Beach and Miami crowd but Manhasset just ain't in Florida... Didn't Bernie Made-off belong to an exclusive club in West Palm that had to issue an 'assessment' to it's members after his empire crumbled?
Soundbounder,
I am not familiar with the club on Shelter Island but it sounds like it could be fairly snooty, although not technically the 'north shore'.
I am familiar with Seawanhaka on Center Island though. A buddy of mine who went to SUNY Maritime by the Throggs Neck Bridge was briefly a launch operator there back in the late 80's. One of his favorite stories was when he went out to pick up a passenger from a boat who turned out to be Whoopie Goldberg. It was a blowy and bouncy night and there was some formal 'affair' going on at the club which she was headed too. Apparently her fancy hat blew off and my friend retrieved it for her and let her off at the dock. Her star had not risen quite fully by then.
Interestingly, Whoopie Goldberger does not like flying and has her own full sized bus for traveling across country - no airports for Whoopie! I am not sure if it was a power or sail boat but my guess would be that it was a stink pot that she came in on.
If not Seawanhaka what about NYYC (again, not the north shore of LI)?
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Old 11-15-2009
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I have been down to Manhasset Bay Yacht Club right next door and treated pretty nice.

Shelter Island is tough to get in BUT they always treated us nice when we were there for after race events WHICH was a LOT because they gave are humble J24 fleet a weekly start for years

I was a rare member of Orient Point YC who lived out of the village but they also treated me fine.

Been to NYYC for dinner a bunch of times because they again allowed are humble J24 fleet to have are annual meeting there we did know a member but none us were.

And i am just a humble grease monkey with a trade school degree who can talk with people
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Old 11-15-2009
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Knickerbocker wasn't very upscale, nor snooty. I stopped there once in a twenty foot wooden sloop and they treated me like a friend. I was at Shelter I. once on a bigger boat, they didn't seem very friendly.
I'd rather see a list of the least exclusive clubs. I've no interest in snobs.
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Just musing on the topic....

The Yacht Club/Country Club may be a fading model because of evolutionary changes in US society, socialization patterns, and preferences for manifesting wealth. Americans have never been comfortable with the idea of aristocracy, even as elevate our own royalty from the ranks of merchant princes. We are an aspirational and materialist people but at the same time dislike talking about our incomes or having other people wave their riches under our noses -- even if their riches are our own dearest desire. So Blue-Blood social institutions like Yacht Clubs have always held a strange & ambivalent status in America.

Nowadays, you can't smoke at the bar; your doctor says you shouldn't sit around drinking cocktails for six hours; a greater percentage of our money is spent on housing (bigger, fancier houses), utilities, automobiles, and health care. Time has been compressed for most people -- how many here really work a forty hour week? How many take entire weekends off? I don't. I can't. A fifty or sixty hour work week is the new normal, even for salaried or self-employed people. Less discretionary income, less social time.

Lots of fraternal social organizations are hurting for membership: the Elks, Rotary Clubs, Masonic lodges, and yacht clubs. There are, I suspect, deeper reasons than just money and time: a general turning-away from group interaction and The Commons, and a loss of social mechanisms that attend group activity. Americans have never been especially great at collective enterprise; we're a go-our-own-way sort of people, have been since our founding. Yacht Clubs are collectivist or co-operative entities, and they suffer when people are no longer interested in working or playing together.

Two new models have emerged, and I foresee most YCs being replaced by one or the other: The upscale retail waterfront with condos and rented slips (ala Marina Del Rey); and the sole proprietor, the extremely wealthy individual who buys the frontage, bulldozes the YC, builds a mansion, and parks his Wally out front. Spends two months a year there. It's his fifth such house.

YCs belong to the middling wealthy and the aspirational bourgeoise. We tend today toward the hyper-rich and the not-rich, and the remaining somewhat-rich have turned away from group social pursuits. That leaves YCs in a bad place. As for the hyper-rich.... They build egregious mega yachts like Tatoosh and the Maltese Falcon and take their private yacht club with them, as it were. Then they can absolutely control who gets admitted and what events are scheduled, without resort to committees and YC politics.
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Old 11-15-2009
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Lots of fraternal social organizations are hurting for membership: the Elks, Rotary Clubs, Masonic lodges, and yacht clubs. There are, I suspect, deeper reasons than just money and time: a general turning-away from group interaction and The Commons, and a loss of social mechanisms that attend group activity. Americans have never been especially great at collective enterprise; we're a go-our-own-way sort of people, have been since our founding. Yacht Clubs are collectivist or co-operative entities, and they suffer when people are no longer interested in working or playing together.
Very good post! I think you really touch on something in this particular paragraph. The one part I would disagree with is that during the first 2/3 of the 20th Century, civic and social clubs were widespread. Most Americans belonged to a PTA, Lions Club, Elks, or Country Club. Somewhere in the late 1960's through the early 1980's, the membership numbers started declining.
There is a book that discusses the trend called BOWLING ALONE
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Very good post! I think you really touch on something in this particular paragraph. The one part I would disagree with is that during the first 2/3 of the 20th Century, civic and social clubs were widespread. Most Americans belonged to a PTA, Lions Club, Elks, or Country Club. Somewhere in the late 1960's through the early 1980's, the membership numbers started declining.
There is a book that discusses the trend called BOWLING ALONE
You are perfectly correct! It's worth considering why civic and community groups flourished in that brief window in American history. The reasons are probably a mixed bag: some social clubs were an entree for new immigrants or success-hungry middle-class people to make contacts, perhaps even mingle with their betters, and to integrate with the broader community. In the early 20th century, the US had lots of first- and second-generation strivers who wanted to belong; we had a general need in society to get those people educated, gainfully employed, and making money. Social clubs are great at that. "You're Catholic, Methodist, Jewish? Hey, we're all Rotarians! Gimme that funny handshake and let's do some charity!"

And then we had those backwater social clubs (like the Klan, or whites-only golf clubs) dedicated to preserving a different, less motile vision of American society. They were (bluntly) created to exclude people of inferior class or race or gender. Yacht clubs have often been filed in this latter class, sometimes unfairly, sometimes with cause. There are are open-admission clubs that do community work and outreach, and there are others that shun change & cling to some nostalgic WASP vision of America that, let's face it, ain't coming back. It's gone the way of Long Island's potato farms: suburbs, televisions, and automatic garage doors.

---------------------

ETA: One nice thing about sanding is it leaves 90% of your brain free to chew on other stuff. Maybe we should consider what is meant by "exclusive". How would you define it, Soundbounder? It's a word with lots of applications. Here's three definitions. Maybe y'all can come up with others:

1) Numerically exclusive. There are limited spaces available, and demand outstrips supply. Most people could afford the dues, and there are no other tests or requirements; it's just a matter of a slot coming free. Limitations are structural. Probably involves a waiting list.

2) Financially exclusive. Membership is too expensive for most people. The bar is kept high, and those who get in are automatically of the upper wealth percentile (or are willing to devote a large % of their income toward membership.) This is an interesting model, in that it uses exclusivity to justify price, and price to guarantee exclusivity. Level of service is very high, as are per-member operating costs. The model works unless the club loses its 'cool' status, or unless its typical clientele drops off by even a few members -- if, for instance, Wall Street shoots itself in the head.

3) Socially exclusive. Admission depends on who you are. Criteria may be dark, or they may be open. Legacy is a sure in, as is address (Greenwich CT? C'mon in!). Certain professions may be preferred. You might need sponsors from within the club, or you might need to submit to an application & interview process. Financial means alone do not guarantee acceptance, tho large wads of cash can somewhat stifle the 'breeding' issue, esp. if a YC is on the ropes.

Most 'exclusive' YCs probably operate on several of these levels at once. But there is a difference between a YC that is hard to get in because it's well-situated and has good docking facilities (and a waiting list) -- and one that's hard to get into because (Brahmin voice) "we have high standards for our membership."
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Last edited by bobmcgov; 11-15-2009 at 05:31 PM.
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Old 11-15-2009
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I belong to one of the oldest yacht clubs on the north shore of Long Island. Founded in 1891. However our operating model is different from the ones mentioned - no bar, no restaurant, no pool, no tennis courts, workdays where everyone pitches in get things done, etc. What do have is a well equipped kitchen and commercial BBQ grills so members can prepare their own dinners, a wraparound porch over the water for dining, an active junior sailing program, and launch service and winter storage for boat owners. Ours dues are low - a bit higher than the municipal facilities, but well below the nearby clubs or commercial marinas. Because of all this our membership is increasing and we may soon need a waiting list. So there is a demand for yacht clubs, just not perhaps for the full-service expensive ones.
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