Channel Cruising Club “The Early Years”

By Russ Lamb, January 1995


I was asked to write an early History of this club, but to do this I have to go back about five years before 1958 when the club officially started. “I had a dream” – I am sure Cliff Tucker originated that thought and to my knowledge he never told anyone his dream, or how much actual work, money and planning he put into that dream. In about 1953, many of us belonged to Windward Yacht Club and went to Little Fisherman’s Cove on weekends. Cliff had a Steelcraft 25’ all steel cruiser, which he ran up on the beach to bring in supplies.

I don’t think we had a lease. We just had squatter’s rights for Windward Yacht Club in Little Fisherman’s. Most of us had sailboats. Cliff got rid of his Steelcraft and bought the Trinket a 30’ sloop. We informally raced home on Sunday afternoons. Cliff had organized us (without us realizing it) and he handpicked the group he wanted to participate. At this time I was in the Balboa Yacht Club and actively racing with the International 14 fleet, but I gradually phased this out because Cliff’s group was so much more fun. Cliff’s dream was to have a club consisting of people who were active sailors, who participated in all club doings, and who had a stable family life with wives and children who also participated in club events. After a couple years of this, Cliff must have decided it was time for us to have our own club and called a meeting of all the families at a nightclub in Inglewood, about where the Forum is today.

We started meeting there once a month for a couple years with Cliff conducting the meetings and Marybell, Cliff’s wife, doing all the paperwork. To collect money, Cliff would fine us for any infraction: coming in late, going to the bathroom, picking up the wrong fork, etc. At the end of the year, we found that we had all paid about the same amount of money. Redondo Beach Yacht Club (later King Harbor Yacht Club) took over Windward Yacht Club and got the right to Little Fisherman’s Cove. Cliff took over negotiations for us to lease our present location.

In 1958 a group of us met in Bob Johnson’s kitchen: Bob, Cliff, Ted Melsheimer, Emil Schweitzer, Herman Lorence, etc. Bob was elected Commodore, Ted- Vice Commodore and Emil- Fleet Captain. Cliff had brought the bylaws from another yacht club, which we followed with a few changes and Channel Island Cruising Club was formed. Marybell came up with our name Channel Cruising Club with three C’s on the burgee and Channel Height’s for the name of our cove. These were accepted unanimously. Cliff made arrangements with SCYA to get us approved. Marybell was the secretary and treasurer and spent hours preparing for every meeting. She kept these duties until things ran smoothly. However, she continued to indoctrinate the new secretary into her job for many years after so that the club would run like clockwork. It has been interesting to watch the changes the club has made through the years.

One year a Commodore gave up the lease in order to save money and cruise more. It didn’t work out and the next year Cliff had to talk like a “Dutch Uncle” to get it back. When we started out it was all potluck dinners, then we tried catering and it slowly evolved into what we have now. I am sure that the club will continue to change in the future, but I hope it will maintain its original purpose of family, friendship and cruising.