The sign announcing the entrance of the Clark Lake Yacht Club has been there for years.  Long time member Bruce Nowak remembers, “it was there when I joined the Yacht Club in 1960.”    That was the same year that the Yacht Club moved into its current location, the C.B. Hayes cottage.  Until then, the Yacht Club was located at Pleasant View, where it had been since 1957.  Click here for Yacht Club history. 

So, what are those symbols on the sign–emojis, hieroglyphics, brand names?  All but two of them are sailboat insignia’s that identify the class of sailboat.  The exceptions at the bottom on either side speak for themselves.  No interpretation needed.  The insignia’s represent the boats you might find at the Yacht Club. 

  • Upper left: Buccaneer
  • Middle left: Interlake
  • Upper right: Lightning
  • Middle right: Rebel

Each class has its own characteristics, including length, depth, shape of bottom, and area of sail.  Those and many other differences determine speed and agility, especially in racing situations.  Sailors typically know the class history of their boat–where it was built and who or what made it famous enough to be counted as a one-design in the sailing world. They also have strong opinions about their boat’s racing ability. For example, Interlakes are faster than Rebels, but if you tell that to a Rebel owner, he will fill you with stories of why that’s not true.  

Clark Lake has a huge sailing history.  In the 1960s, 50 or more sailboats would compete on Sundays in the weekly races.  In the 1970s, Hobies descended en masse on the lake. Clark Lake’s Fleet 58 had more Hobies than any other inland lake in the continental United States. Hobies are much faster than conventional sailboats.  During Hobie races, you had to be quick and resourceful to stay out of their way.  Captains and crews were there to win. 

Yacht Club Treasurer Hugh Harris reports the Yacht Club recently added 15 new members.  People join for the social experience, to moor their power boat (but no rafts), or to sail.  Some of the new members are reawakening an interest in the Yacht Club’s original dedication to sailing. 

One of the Yacht Club’s newer members is Patrick O’Harris.  He explains “we have been around Clark Lake for 20 years and used to be at Eagle Point.”  Then came a change in direction.  “We joined the Yacht Club because of our interest in learning how to sail.”  Patrick and his son, Jeremy, took on a project of ensuring the Yacht Club sign was in good shape.  During the off-season, the sign is stored to protect it from the ravages of winter.  But even so, it has 60 years of summer wear.  Instead of stowing it last winter, the O’Harris’s took it home to Ann Arbor, where it received a total re-do in their basement.  Patrick says “I really didn’t know what those insignia’s were all about.  Now I know.” 

Below is a video produced by Rick Belcher for the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation.  It explores the world of sailing by those most qualified to tell the story–sailors who competed in one of the Yacht Club’s fall regatttas.