Saunderstown Yacht Club is a small private club situated on the banks of the ‘west passage’ of Narragansett Bay. Founded in 1927 to promote the enjoyment of the resources of our bay, SYC has a strong family and volunteer culture, offering activities for the young and not-so-young.
SYC’s well-known sailing instruction is among the top programs on the Bay and invites club members as well as non-members to participate. Club members enjoy active junior sailing and tennis programs, club sailboat races, single, double, and mixed tennis tournaments, and social events throughout the ebb and flow of the summer months.
SYC Club Membership entitles the member or the family to participate in Club programs and activities and to use all the Club facilities. Regular adult members are expected to participate actively in the volunteer life of the Club by serving on at least two social committees and attending spring and fall workdays. Regular memberships are granted on either a family or an individual basis. Family membership includes two adults and all single children age 24 and below as of December 31 of the year for which membership is sought. In addition, this type of membership is classified by age (30 and older or under 30) for the purpose of setting dues. Visiting grandchildren, nieces and nephews age 24 and below who are living in the members’ home during part or all of the summer are extended Club privileges under the definition of family membership.
Becoming a SYC Club Member
Applicants for membership must be sponsored by an active SYC member in good standing and seconded by another member. We encourage applicants to attend Club functions as a guest of their sponsor for up to a year prior to applying, in order to become familiar with the membership, the Club’s volunteer culture and the activities we offer.
If you are interested in finding out more about membership to our club, fill out the form below and we'll be in touch shortly.
Saunderstown was founded as a shipbuilding community in 1856. In 1889, for the growing vacation trade, Stillman Saunders built a small hotel called the Saunders House in the shipyard overlooking Narragansett Bay. By the turn of the century a well-known literary group was in existence, and others who knew a good place for rest and relaxation came when they saw it.
With the Twenties came a bright and expansive era in the development of our country, and this area of southern Rhode Island was no exception. People had started flocking to shore side points for the summer season and Saunderstown, like many other places, was growing. As more people enjoyed the coast, some felt an urge to get out on the water. Some here began looking for an inexpensive sailboat to meet that need. The Cape Cod Baby Knockabout attracted them. A significant discount would be granted to a yacht club ordering a group of boats. This was the impelling point which caused the formation of the Saunderstown Yacht Club in 1927.
The obvious site for facilities was down by the small bit of semi-protected water in the lee (usually) of an abandoned ferry slip. There below the hotel was an unused boat shop of Martin Saunders. The association which owned the hotel had no use for it, so it was rented to the new club, initially for a dollar a year. Club members contributed enough to add a porch, a flagpole and a pier in front of the small building.
Racing was quite formal the next year as Poyntell Staley appeared dressed in white with a bow tie. Others conformed but the phenomenon died. A committee studied by-laws and rules of other clubs, and Commodore “Heinie” Newcombe chartered a sizable power boat, complete with crew, and set off on a cruise down Long Island Sound to see how other clubs operated. On the bow snapping bravely was the new burgee designed by Henry Dunbar and Jim Sheldon.
Irving C. Sheldon, Historian