Santa Barbara Yacht Club Turns 150 Years Old

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By edhat staff

The Santa Barbara Yacht Club (SBYC) has turned 150 Years Old and will celebrate with an all-fleet blessing on Saturday.

The Blessing of the Fleet is a tradition that began centuries ago in the fishing communities of the Mediterranean, according to the SBYC.

Commercial and pleasure vessels are invited to receive a blessing at 11:30 a.m. Saturday by Father Larry Gosselin and Father Dan Lackie, of the Old Mission Santa Barbara.

The Fathers will be moored on a vessel on the southern end of the Stearns Wharf and participants will pass the stern of that vessel.

The SBYC was founded in 1872 and is the second oldest yacht club on the West Coast of North America. It hosts an annual Charity Regatta that has raised over $2 Million for VNA Health, a local non-profit that serves residents suffering from terminal illnesses.

The best location to view the blessing will be on the Breakwater or on Stearns Wharf. 

For event updates, go to

Vintage Boating off of Stearns Wharf, Circa 1920

Vintage Sail Boats off of Stearns Wharf, Circa 1920

Update by edhat reader Bob

I recognized your cover photo showing the original clubhouse of the SB Yacht Club as being Edson Smith Photo Collection #1687, viewable online via the SB Public Library.  The limited information about the photo indicates it’s circa 1915, and that the pier shown is indeed Stearns Wharf, which places the location squarely at State and Cabrillo.

Here’s another view of the same subject from the West Beachside, taken 11/3/1919.

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NJ nomad Apr 03, 2022 10:40 AM
Santa Barbara Yacht Club Turns 150 Years Old

I believe the photo of the original YC clubhouse is flopped. A cupola of the Potter Hotel is clearly visible. This would then make the location of the building to be either at the end of Bath St. /Castillo St.

SoapBox Apr 03, 2022 12:51 PM
Santa Barbara Yacht Club Turns 150 Years Old

The original location was at Sterns Wharf as shown. The Yacht Club website explains this photo and offers a lot of interesting history of the waterfront.

3mta3 Apr 03, 2022 12:05 AM
Santa Barbara Yacht Club Turns 150 Years Old

Back in the day that place was a hoot! I remember sailing Wet Wednesdays, stiff drinks from the bar and Chef Russel’s great food. I miss those days.

jdelise3 Apr 08, 2022 02:25 PM
Santa Barbara Yacht Club Turns 150 Years Old

Sure looks like the location is correct. What's curious to me is how narrow the pier appears to be in the initial photo. Possibly 4-5 "shoulders wide". Not very wide at all for a pier/wharf that was initially built for commercial purposes. Its width seems more like the pier that was further west near Bath/Castillo St. I need to check out the library pics some more! Thank you!

Chip of SB Apr 03, 2022 09:04 AM
Santa Barbara Yacht Club Turns 150 Years Old

Actually, water was a big problem for Santa Barbara since the beginning. The most severe drought ever recorded in our region occurred in the 1860s. After years of above average rainfall and even flooding, a years long drought set in which wiped out a huge portion of the cattle in the region and resulted in the large Spanish era ranchos being split up and sold off. This 19th century drought fundamentally changed the course of history in California. Here is a great write up on the history of water resources in the region from the beginning through to the 1990s.

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