Nestled at the head of Halifax Harbour’s Northwest Arm on historic Melville Island is the Armdale Yacht Club (AYC).
Founded in 1937, the Club is home for approximately 150 boats, boosts around 300 members, provides berthage for visiting yachts, has a thriving Learn to Sail program and usually a full schedule of social and sporting events.
While this year will be different because of COVID-19, “members are very optimistic about the boating season since the bubble has been expanded to include two households,” said commodore Rob Field. “The yard is very busy with boats being prepared and launched and we are excited to have Horizons opening for take-out on May 29.”
Field said the AYC is hoping to soon schedule some events for this season. “These are challenging times to be keeping a yacht club prospering with physical distancing in place. We have had a virtual AGM to continue the business of the club and hopefully we can meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Once further direction is received from the province the AYC will be making a decision whether or not they will be offering their Learn to Sail program this year, said Field.
“For the past several years, AYC’s Learn to Sail program has been offered to adults and families. Lessons are taught primarily using three Solings (22’ keel boats), though some lessons are taught using smaller dinghies. Enrollment in AYC’s programming is ordinarily near capacity, which is approximately 25 students during the summer months. AYC’s Sail Training programming offers flexible scheduling for students, which allows students with busy professional and family schedules to fit sail training in around other obligations,” said Field.
“This year, AYC has sought to expand upon its Sail Training programming by offering targeted programming to new Canadians and their families. To this end, AYC’s Sail Training is intended to serve as both an opportunity to invite new members to the Club while simultaneously broadening participation in the sport of sailing more generally.”
Field said there is no question COVID-19 will have an impact on the club’s activities and bottom line this year. “Currently our year-round dining room is closed until who knows when. We are expecting a drop in revenue from gas and diesel sales and marina and mooring rentals. With the delayed start to the season the launch schedule will be challenging. Hopefully, our caterer will survive the closure as the dining room and bar at the Club are important gathering areas.”
The Club is a very a popular venue to rent for such events as weddings, birthday parties and corporate Christmas parties, said Field.
“The club hosts approximately 30 to 40 events per year. The club has a great reputation within the community for great food and warm hospitality, not to mention the amazing view which is second to none within HRM.”
Located in the heart of the city, the club’s property can be tied to events dating back to at least 1732. Since the arrival of the Europeans, Melville Island has been a family estate, hospital, quarantine station, military prison, prisoner of war camp, recruit training station for the British Foreign Legion and an ammunition depot. After the Military vacated the four-acre island in 1945, the founders of Armdale Yacht Club negotiated a long-term lease for the land with the Department of National Defense.
The Armdale Yacht Club is one of five in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM). The Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron, the Shearwater Yacht Club, the Bedford Yacht Club and the Dartmouth Yacht Club round out the list.