Craig Williams stands in the cramped kitchen at the Vernon Yacht Club

Craig Williams stands in the cramped kitchen at the Vernon Yacht Club

Yacht club proves popular

Boat and Sportsmen Show runs Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days

Moorage and membership are growing in waves both on and off the shores of the Vernon Yacht Club. And in order to meet that demand, the club is continually cooking up ways to expand.

The club, which is a non-profit society, started in 1953 with a little more than 30 members. Today, more than 400 members make up the society, ranging from social members to the 280 boat owners who are anchored in the club at the docks.

Once a year, the club invites the community to its Boat and Sportsmen Show this Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. That’s where you can check out the many vessels or the parking lot full of vendors, enjoy free sailboat rides, free face painting for the kids and this year, there will be some special Frozen appearances. The whole event is free with a donation to the Salvation Army.

When they’re not busy with community events such as this or doing what they love best (spending time out on the water), the Vernon Yacht Club boasts a healthy social atmosphere, bringing fellow sailors, captains and co-pilots together on land.

Much of that activity revolves around food — from Sunday brunch to burgers every Wednesday after the sailing race.

“Our really busy nights are Friday nights, that’s our steak night,” said Craig Williams, rear commodore among the club officers.

“We’ll still get 50 to 60 in the winter and in the summer we’ll get 100 or more.”

The days of firing up the barbecue and grilling your own steak are gone as the membership has swollen.

But so too has the capacity in the kitchen.

Corinne Kirton, kitchen manager, does a fabulous job of meeting the demand. But inching around counters, a giant dishwasher and stacks of dishes isn’t ideal in the 200-square-foot space.

“It’s very, very tight,” said Williams.

Ss a result, the club is currently more than doubling the small space with a $90,000 expansion.

Adding on another 325-square-feet will not only give Kirton more elbow room, it will allow the club to move its ice machine and three upright freezers from the basement up to where they belong in the kitchen.

“Right now, Corinne has to run up and down those stairs to get her supplies,” said Williams. “It’s very inefficient.”

Needless to say, Kirton is quite excited about the additional space, which will also make her job easier.

And it allows the club to further serve its memberships growing needs.

“The days of back in the ‘70s of people just waiting to come have a beer are done, now they want to eat.”

Plus more and more social members are coming on board to benefit from all the club has to offer.

The club is also looking at redoing its breakwater, an expensive venture ($1 million), but worth it to protect all the vessels.

“We get some good storms throughout the year,” said Williams, noting the club’s exposure out in the lake.

In addition, the club is, and continues, to replace fingers on the docks – taking out old wooden planks and replacing them with cement fingers.

To find out more about the Vernon Yacht Club, check out the Boat and Sportsmen Show Saturday and Sunday. There will be free parking and shuttles to and from Marshall Field for the family-fun event.