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Detroit Boat Club
The Oldest Yachting Club in the Americas
Established in 1839

History of the Detroit Boat Club

The Detroit Boat Club (DBC) has been dedicated to boating in Detroit since 1839. It is the oldest boat club in the United States and the oldest social club in Michigan. In 2024, the DBC will celebrate its 185th Anniversary.

The DBC offers a wide variety of activities for boaters and non-boaters alike and attracts a number of members who are interested in Detroit History.

When the Detroit Boat Club was founded in 1839, it was just two years since Michigan had become a state and 22 years before the beginning of the Civil War. The stockade that marked the fort of Detroit had only been removed a dozen years earlier and the cities population was less than 9,000. The club's first of five boat houses was a small structure with wells for three boats in back of the Campau family warehouse at the foot of Randolph Street.

The DBC was originally founded as a rowing club. Founders included some of the most recognized names in Detroit History: E.A. Brush, James A. Armstrong, John Chester, J.H. Farnsworth, A.T. McReynolds, Alfred Brush, Alpheus S. Williams and S.H. Sibley. In 1842, DBC oarsman raced the Club's two boats on a 2-mile course from Belle Isle (called Hog Island at the time) to the boat house in the first event of its kind in Western waters. The DBC enjoys a special relationship with the Friends of Detroit Rowing, whose members row under the Detroit Boat Club name as the "Detroit Boat Club Crew."

Sailing arrived at the Club later in the century. As it has for decades, the DBC currently owns a fleet of Flying Scots which are used for pleasure sailing and to continue the long tradition of instructing future sailors. Each year, the DBC hosts a DRYA-sanctioned regatta on Lake Saint Clair, with 2022 marking the Club's 130th Annual Sailing Regatta. 

History Slideshow