Overview of the CLYC

The Crystal Lake Yacht Club is a summer sailing club of about 300 member families, located on the west shore of Crystal Lake in Benzie County, Michigan.

Our primary goals are to sponsor competitive sailing among members of all ages, and to encourage safe and fun boating on Crystal Lake.  Our Junior Fleet is the nucleus of our club’s activities, and it provides education, competition, and camaraderie for youngsters through the age of 16.  We typically hold sailboat races five or six days per week, starting in the middle of June and ending in the middle of August — between school’s out and school’s in.  Since the CLYC is located in “Scow Country,” our primary fleets consist of E-Scows, MC-Scows, Melges-17s, and Butterflies.

As a summer sailing club, open for about 9 weeks starting in mid-June, we are very much a volunteer operation.  Our Junior Fleet program is run by parents, who turn out en mass to cheer on the competitors, and to ensure their safety.  We plan three pot-luck dinners per summer, organized by hardworking members who plan and decorate the affairs — and the food is absolutely fabulous!  When the dock needs repair, or something else needs fixing, usually one of our members solves the problem.

We also have a small staff of young adults who serve as sailing masters, as sailing, swimming, and tennis instructors, and as the house master.  These are wonderful jobs for members’ kids who have outgrown the Junior Fleet, but want summer work.

We are blessed to be located on one of the finest recreational lakes in the world.  Crystal Lake is quite unique in that its watershed is smaller than the water area of the lake.  Combined with sandy shores and a bottom deeper than Lake Erie, this unusual situation results in water that is crystal clear, with the bottom visible to a depth of 20-30 feet.  Our sailors can refresh themselves by scooping up water right out of the lake!  By August the water temperature is in the mid-70s, but by February cars can drive across the frozen lake.  There’s trout fishing in the summer, and ice fishing in the winter.

Located just inland of Point Betsie, the west end of Crystal Lake is surrounded on three sides by Lake Michigan, so north and south winds blow unimpeded across the water, usually without kicking up much wave action.  The lake is roughly a rectangle of about nine by three miles, and there is plenty of room to set optimal racing courses.  Crystal Lake is a perfect setting for sailing the fast, exciting inland lake scows!  And, it’s a water-skiing, wake-boarding paradise!

Thanks to the foresight of our grandparents, the CLYC enjoys superb facilities.  Our pristine sandy beach and deep blue swimming hole are flanked by a pair of docks for boats of all sizes.  A floating trampoline is in use by “kids” of all ages from dawn until dusk (and sometimes by moonlight).  Our clubhouse, designed by a well known architect, Alexander McColl, can host 250 dinner guests in a traditional, white cedar-paneled setting.  And, our tennis and volleyball courts are great for land-based competition.

Nearby are some of the finest summer activities in America.  We share our facilities with the Crystal Downs Country Club, a world famous golf course designed by Alister MacKenzie that has been ranked among the top twenty courses worldwide.  The Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes National Park about five miles north includes beautiful clear-water river cruising and hiking on the tallest sand dune in the world.  Lake Michigan provides salmon fishing and miles of pristine, sandy beaches.  Northern Michigan in July and August offers beautiful weather, gorgeous lakes and forests, and pleasant shops and restaurants.