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Bigger and Better PCYC
Rebuilding a mightier Pass Christian Yacht Clubhouse
by David Taylor, Commodore Pass Christian Yacht Club – July 9, 2011

     We all know the day that will live in infamy for residents along the entire Gulf Coast. The Pass Christian Yacht Club, situated on the southern most piece of land in the city, bore the full brunt of the wind and the water.

     Since this is the "birthplace of yachting in the South" and the membership survived and was rebuilt after Hurricanes Betsy and Camille, the membership was not going to let Katrina do it in.
       Having over 800 members when Katrina hit, many of whom lived in New Orleans and had "week-end" houses in Pass Christian, one could sense a drastic reduction in membership.  In this light, the Board of Directors, many of whom lost their own houses, wasted no time in letting the membership know that the club was not dead.
     How did they do this?  They immediately had PCYC license plates printed and sent one to every member.  What a great gesture!  I think it is safe to say that the club only lost about 250 members as a result of Katrina.
     In April 2011, we had about 575 members supported by a recent membership drive that added about 50 new or revived members.
     As for as continued operation and rebuilding the clubhouse after Katrina, the Board immediately purchased a "double-wide" trailer and through the generous efforts of a member who owned the property at 100 West Scenic Drive, the trailer was situated there and converted from a 3 bedroom trailer to a yacht club.  The grand opening was held in January 2006,  less than 6 months after the storm.
     Then the task of what to build and where to build began.  All the while the members wanted to rebuild on the former site, but they had to wait until all the government officials gave the final ok.  Once this was done, the question was “what to build and how high to build it?”  A building committee was established, plans were drawn up, changed and changed and changed and re-drawn and changed and all the stuff that goes on when we were trying to build something to withstand future storms.  Not to mention that we had only so much money to work with.
     Finally, in April 2007, there was a groundbreaking ceremony on the site.  The new building is about 10,000 square feet (about the same size as the old one) and built with poured-in-place concrete reaching up to the floor level, which is about 25 feet above sea level.  All of this sits on 120+ concrete pilings that were driven over 40 feet into the ground. These pilings are tied together about 6 feet under ground with yet more concrete.  Finally, the 36 pilings that support the club atop its concrete foundation were erected.  On the eve of Thanksgiving 2007, the massive floor of the club was poured in one pouring.  It was a sight to see.  From there the steel frame was erected and work progressed to our grand opening in May 2008.
     The total cost was over 2.5 million dollars.
     The project did not go without setbacks.  While the temporary club was on W Scenic Drive, the property was sold.  So the double-wide trailer was taken apart and moved to the club parking lot.  Also, the yacht club pier had been rebuilt before Hurricane Gustave came roaring through in September 2008.  Thus, both the pier and the double-wide were destroyed by Gustave.  However, the yacht-club itself stood its ground and had not even a broken window pane.  It did however, have two feet of water in the foyer.
     The big anchor that has graced the club grounds for over 75 years is a story all by itself.  It was donated to the PCYC many years ago by Dr. Rafferty.  He supposedly found it on one of his world travels and had it shipped to New Orleans where it was loaded on a truck and brought to Pass Christian by several club members.
     It survived Hurricane Betsy in 1965.  It survived Hurricane Camille in 1969.  When the club was rebuilt after Camille, it was moved closer to the building where it stayed until Katrina hit.  It was found after Katrina at almost the exact site of where it was situated when the storm hit, just north of the former flag pole.  Several months later some one noticed a suspicious truck down on the site and found out that someone was trying to steal it.  But it was too big to pick up.  So the Rafferty family had it moved to Mike Rafferty's front yard where it stayed until the club was rebuilt.  It was then brought back to the club and positioned on the south lawn where it sits today.  A re-dedication was held in April 2011 in honor of Mike Rafferty, who had passed away in 2010.  The entire Rafferty family was in attendance.

Special Article for inclusion in Dan Ellis's book “Katrina - Survival and Revival”

Composed  by PCYC Commodore David Taylor.  I  have been a member of the PCYC since I was "knee high to a grasshopper", and have lived in Pass Christian for most of my life.

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