Mark C. Olsen
Hawaii Yacht Club Historian

Before the Mast:

Hawaii Yacht Club
Early History

In 1917, The Hawaii Yacht Club, chartered in 1901 by King David Kalakaua, our “Merry Monarch,” found a new home at Pearl Harbor in the beautiful Waipo Peninsula.

Prince Jonah Kalanianole Kuhio was the Hawaii Yacht Club's first Commadore.(Mahalo Comd Linda West)

Before Hawaii annexation, the Waipo Peninsula was a tranquil, lush, and peaceful bay with a good anchorage. It has many small islands to explore, and calm waters for small boat racing. During this time HYC actually had a two-story wooden structure along the shore for its very first clubhouse.

Many old kama'aina families made Waipo their country getaway. These vacation homes were far away from busy Honolulu. Along these shores of “pure pearl spring water” the Campbells, Dillinghams, Judds, Cookes, Baldwins, Blacks, Castles, and Atkinsons, just to name a few, relaxed here in island style.

Jack London anchored his schooner “SNARK in these waters during his visit to Hawaii, and while undergoing repairs to his yacht. Mark Twain’s chartered schooner “BOOMERANG” anchored here also.

Still the HYC clubhouse served well for its popular activities of dinghy racing, moorings, social gatherings, and of course, barge and shell racing. These activities were brought to Hawaii, from New England as many kama'aina residents had attended Ivy League schools on the east coast.

In 1903 The US Navy started cutting a channel in the coral reef to open the area up to larger vessels. Walter Dillingham bought a used dredge from the Oahu Railroad and finished the channel dredging job. Thereafter, the US Navy got a deep harbor, which became Pearl Harbor. This project was the start of a great Hawaii corporation, later known as Honolulu Dredging and Construction.

Dredging became a big business in Honolulu, and changed our Oahu landscape forever. Oahu needed more ports and wharf facilities, and Waikiki was growing fast. Soil dredged up from these projects created many new areas. Sand Island 146 acres, Waikiki 415, Kewalo Basin ( Blue Lagoon) , Ala Moana Park (city dump), Ala Moana Shopping Center (swamp), Ala Wai Yacht harbor, and Wailupe Circle (the author's boyhood home).

Soon again HYC would have to move. This time to the new Ala Wai basin. A clubhouse was shared and HYC was reestablished near the site of a Navy haulout yard. During WWII this location was then used for preparing and fitting out PT boats for duty in the South Pacific. This new clubhouse was located at the present site of the now existing Prince Hotel.

NEXT: TransPac and Dillingham.

Dedicated To:, Jimmy Blears 1948-2011, WORLD CHAMPION SURFER 1972

Aloha always,

Mark C. Olsen