The Palatka Yacht Club (PYC) met informally for several years filling a gap during which no yacht club existed in Palatka after the St. Johns Yacht Club ceased operation—the St. Johns Yacht Club (legally incorporated in the 1950s) was the originator of the first Mug Race.

Dan and Nancy Sheffield moved to Palatka and were instrumental in organizing the PYC very much like the one that they had belonged to in Miami. The Sheffields and other founding members had the experience of belonging to a yacht club without a proper clubhouse and knew the challenges. They also had two key ingredients, the love of boating and perseverance.

For several years the PYC conducted monthly meetings in the home of various members. The monthly meetings served as both the directors’ meeting (as there were no formal directors at that time) and a business meeting. Business was transacted over a dinner served by the host of the meeting. At that time, the club consisted of approximately a dozen members, most of whom had boats. Finally, in 1976 PYC was incorporated by its members (charter members).

Club membership soon grew beyond a single meeting in member homes. Meetings then moved to “floating events,” then later to rented halls necessary to accompany the growing membership. PYC held many monthly meetings, club functions, commodore balls, and dances over the years at the old Holiday Inn (now Quality Inn & Suites Riverfront), the Civic Center at Ravine Gardens, Lion’s Club, Price Martin Community Center, and the Palatka Women’s Club.

Members Gene O’Connor and Colin Mackenzie raced in the first Mug Race as St. Johns Yacht Club members and continued racing as PYC members. PYC boats have participated in many Mug Races. Club members provide support for the Mug Race by assisting the race committee at the start of the race and by providing hospitality for the racers. PYC sponsors the Gene O’Connor Commemorative Trophy to the first PYC member to finish the race and the Colin Mackenzie Memorial Trophy for the first Putnam County resident to complete the event.

PYC rendezvous were numerous and were often over night events. Some of those early events included overnight boating to Harbormaster’s Marine in Jacksonville (now River City Brewing), Astor (south of Lake George), and 3-day weekend events to Ft. Brook through the Buckman Lock onto Lake Ocklawaha (Rodman Reservoir). Other outings were cruises to enjoy food and drink at Corky Bells and the Old Shell Harbor. Capt. L.J. Smith, who ran Shell Harbor at the time, always looked forward to the arrival of the club and made sure that everyone had an excellent dinning experience—which it was indeed!

Membership continued to grow despite the fact that the club was without a home of its own. While many members looked forward to the wonderful catered dinner meetings, events and rendezvous, others dreamed, explored, and discussed the club having its own home.

After many years of not having a large enough membership to afford a clubhouse, the PYC dream of owning their home was achieved in 2004. In approximately 2003, several members found an old steel hull that was half sunk at the old Offshore Ship Building facility across from Seven Sisters Islands, just south Palatka.

A Barge old 5

The club acquired a large hull originally destined to become a floating entertainment vessel. PYC renovated the hull into a multilevel floating clubhouse with inside seating for nearly 100.


Built in the style of an 1800s riverboat, the clubhouse, complete with wheelhouse and towering stacks, has new measurements of 85 feet length overall by 32 feet high by 32 feet in beam and a weight of approximately 68 tons. The build out was ready for its members in 2005. Our first mooring location was at Browns Landing, about 11 miles south of Palatka on the St. Johns River. Our second location was Crystal Cove Resort, north of the City of Palatka on the beautiful St. Johns River. Hurricane Matthew caused damaged to the docks at Crystal Cove marina, the only marina that could accommodate the clubhouse. Therefore, the clubhouse was placed on the market and was finally sold in early 2020.

Activities of club members are many and cover everything from regular monthly gatherings to weekend boating rendezvous, including canoe trips.

On the great St. Johns River, we enjoy all forms of boating.

1976 Flag Officers

Commodore—Gene O’Connor

Vice Commodore—Jack Bush

Secretary—Nancy Sheffield

Treasurer—Isabel Rion

Charter Members

Jacqueline Askew

Robert S. Askew

Raymond Bunton

Ruby Bunton

Donald F. Caffee

Grace Caffee

Marguerite A. Campbell

Roy E. Campbell

Fernande Close

Grace Evans

Samuel F. Evans

Martha A. Fox

Robert E. Fox

Howard L. Gardner, Sr.

Willetta Gardner

Almon D. Hannah

Carl W. Hannah

Edward E. Hedstrom

Joy F. Hedstrom

Helen M. Jacobs

Julius W. Jacobs

Samuel P. Jordan, Jr.

Shirley M. Jordan

Frederick A. Keene

Rosa H. Keene

James C. Kitaif

David B. Kuhe

Sarah D. Kuhe

Colin C. Mackenzie

Lillian M. Mackenzie

Jean C. Noll

Joseph E. Noll, Jr.

C. E. “Gene” O’Connor, Jr.

Jeannine O’Connor

Albert D. Oltman

Evelyn C Oltman

Gertrude A. Owen

John P. Owen

Virginia G. Philips

Waid D. Philips

E. Craig Raby

Nancy Raby

James B. Reed

Kathryn Reed

Earl L. Rice

Mary Ann Rice

Ann W. Rion

Fount H. Rion, Jr.

E. David Risch

Sherry Risch

Levy N. Roberts

Edward E. Roundtree

Barbara S. Roundtree

Daniel B. Sheffield

Nancy B. Sheffield

Barbara Smith

Carolyn Burde Smith

Scott Smith

Robert E. Solomon

Freda M. Solomon

Anthony A. Tenore

Elizabeth A. Tenore

Robert A. Warner

Nita Warner