Boca Ciega Yacht Club

History of the Boca Ciega Yacht Club

Established in 1965

1908 - 1918

The original Boca Ciega Yacht Club in Gulfport.

Rumored to have disappeared in a storm, no one seems to know what happened to the original structure.

May 27, 1940

Sunshine City Boat Club is incorporated in St. Petersburg (after about five years of activity) by a dozen men who owned small power boats shared the single desire to form a club and have their own dock.

The request for waterfront was denied by the City of St. Petersburg, so this low horsepower group came up with a high-powered plan. They pre-assembled a dock and trucked it to the Vinoy Basin ‘on a dark night’ where they constructed it in hopes they would not be evicted.


Held the first Armistice Day (Veteran's Day) Regatta which would become an annual tradition for at least the next forty-five years.

The City of St. Petersburg eventually granted a lease on that land and the club grew to 110 slips and remained a very active all volunteer organization at that location until 1965.


It was announced that the "M.G.M. BOUNTY" (built for the Mutiny on the Bounty) was coming to St. Petersburg and would be a tourist attraction for the city.

The club was given its walking papers to make way for the Bounty.


A new location on Boca Ciega Bay in Gulfport was found. Gulfport was improving its waterfront and was happy with a marina that was realistically planned and financed. The "Sunshine City Boat Club" was considered an asset to the community.

The former Coast Guard Officers club, BCYC's "new" clubhouse underwent a serious renovation.

July 21, 1965

A lease with City of Gulfport was signed for period 1965-1975. The club set about building a rick-rack sea wall and to dig out the marina basin that it now occupies.

The name of the club was officially changed to the “Boca Ciega Yacht Club”. A golden spike was driven into the dock to signify completion of phase one, which included the construction of 48 slips.

Feb 10, 1966

Officially incorporated as Boca Ciega Yacht Club, Inc. - a 501(c)7, a not-for-profit social club - to promote safe boating.The IRS defines a social club as a group that is “organized for pleasure, recreation, and other nonprofitable purposes".

May 16, 1966

Final approval of dredging permit by U.S. Corp. of Engineers to create the Yacht Basin.

Sept 20, 1966   


Two-thirds of dredging completed. The lease was amended retroactive to July 21, 1965.

April 16, 1967  

A new harbor was dedicated with a flag raising ceremony. All work on the new harbor was completed by members.

July 1967

Dedication of the rehabilitated clubhouse.  The Mayor of Gulfport was the guest of honor.

BCYC spent more than $30,000 on this program, plus hundreds of man-hours of free labor donated by the members.

Improvements made included:

  • Digging the current yacht basin out of a tidal flat.
  • Paving the parking area.
  • Putting up a jetty and a sea wall on the south shoreline.
  • Restoring the run-down old building to its current condition.
  • Building 76 slips in the new basin.
  • Raising Osgood Point 2.5 with fill taken out of the Yacht Club anchorage.
An additional 27 slips were added later to accommodate up to 75 boats.

Sept 1967

The ability to attract more yachts and yachtsmen was found when the club started its highly successful sailing school.

The first "Sail School'' program began with an enrollment of 170 students. Red Marston helped the club get the program started by writing a glowing report in the St. Petersburg Times.

This fulfilled the provision in the club charter “to promote education in safe boating and all nautical activities while remaining as a non-profit not-for-profit organization.” This program has been run continuously ever since.

As of 2020, over 4,000 adults have learned to sail.


BCYC’s Adult Sail School graduated its 500th student!


After many years of good relations with the city of Gulfport, the lease was renewed for 15 years.


A new seawall, new slips and docks were constructed, and renovations were made to the clubhouse.


The ladies formed the Rhumb Runners of BCYC.

The Rhumb Runners would provide education and the opportunity to skipper small boats, instruction on small boat racing, and interclub racing within the Florida Women’s Sailing Association.


First Annual Lighted Christmas Boat Parade.

In 2020, BCYC will be celebrating its 35th year of providing this fun attraction to Gulfport.


The history of BCYC was published in the Gulfport Historical Society's book, “Our Story of Gulfport Florida” in 1985 in honor of Gulfport’s 75th Anniversary.

This book is available online and at the Gulfport Historical Society.


Began the free Youth Sailing Sea Explorer Scout Ship program to Gulfport children. This free program, open to the children of Gulfport, has run every year since.

As of 2020, over 900 youths have been taught the basics of sailing.


Purchased a fleet of sunfish sailboats to enable the club to participate with the Gulfport Sailing Club in a Gulfport cup race to be held by the Lion's Club.

This fleet is still in use today, primarily by the Rhumb Runners for races with other FWSA clubs.

January 1989

The membership elected Elaine Rodrigues de Miranda as the first female Commodore of a Yacht Club in the United States.


The annual Labor Day Sunflower Raft-Up started with only 17 boats with no wind and nothing better to do than to tie up and party.

This event grew each year to be the best-attended activity in the Club. Festivities included a dinner and dance the night before the Raft-Up, and then a day of rafting, swimming, and end of summer companionship.

1991, 1994, 1996

The 1991 raft was built in 5 hours and gained national recognition in Boat/US Report with the 81 boats participating.

The 1994 Raft-Up was the largest ever on this continent and it had a record-setting 176 boats.

But in 1996, BCYC broke the record again with 179 boats. This was documented and made the cover of Boat/US magazine.


In 1996, the City of Gulfport and BCYC worked together to rebuild our boat basin, changing the configuration.


Began participating in the annual Gulfport Police Department’s “Operation Santa” toy drive for the children of Gulfport.

2020 will mark BCYC’s 20th year of providing toys and money to support this wonderful program.


Began an Annual “Open House” Fun Day for the public of Gulfport.

This event draws several hundred visitors each year to the Gulfport area. While the free hot dogs, soda, and water are popular, it seems that everyone's favorite "event" is the free boat rides.

Over 5,000 citizens have attended as of 2020.


Established a collaboration with the City of Gulfport with the formation of Sea Scouts Ship 915.

Now celebrating its 13th year and presently the largest Sea Scout Ship in Florida, BCYC supplies the space and adult advisors, and the City provides 3 in-water slips and 1 dry slip for Sea Scout boats.

Over 150 scouts have graduated from the program with 85% going on to college vs the Florida average of 63.1% of high school graduates (for 2019).

Several have returned to become full members of BCYC with their families.


BCYC signed a new lease with the City of Gulfport to end in December of 2020.

In exchange for paying $1 a year in rent to the City, the City took over all the slip leases. This  represents a significant amount of monthly income to the City as all the fees, for both wet and dry slips, are paid directly to the City.


BCYC Members Brian Fox and Joel Heyne left Boca Ciega Bay on Saturday, January 4th, 2014 to sail around the world.

They would travel 32,200 miles and visit over 19 countries, returning on May 3rd, 2015.

Other BCYC members would join them on various legs of the journey.


Celebrated our 50th Anniversary in Gulfport as the Boca Ciega Yacht Club, Inc.


Renovated the exterior of the clubhouse and grounds to match the newly renovated Gulfport Municipal Marina buildings. This included re-paving the parking lot, leveling and covering the patio, painting both the interior and exterior, replacing some fencing, installing new signs, and refreshing the landscaping.


The year 2020 marks BCYC's 80th anniversary of history as a boating club in Southern Pinellas County. As the club has changed over the years first from a power-boating club to a sailing club, and now changing back again, one thing is clear, boaters will always find fellowship with other boaters!

While the global pandemic has hit us hard, we are determined to survive and while we have had to cancel our big events in the name of safety, there are plenty of things our members can still do!


With Covid-19 still hitting hard, and our bigger activities cancelled, there are plenty of things that our members can do!

  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Paddleboarding
  • Windsurfing
  • Small boat sailing with the Capris, Sunfish, and prams
  • Biking
  • Bird watching
  • Picnic on the Patio

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Boca Ciega Yacht Club‎
Latitude 27° 44' 21.0552'' N
Longitude 82° 41' 44.7252'' W
4600 Tifton Drive South   Gulfport, FL 33711

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