1959 - 2016

The History of Our Club

In the summer of 1959 several pleasure boat owners based at Redondo Marina invited everyone interested in forming a family oriented boating club to attend a meeting at Redondo Marina. After several formative meetings, a "name the club contest," etc. The Viking Yacht Club was born. ELDRED PILANT, who had been the primary "wheel mover", was elected the first Commodore. Of the approximately 30 charter members forming the club, only one, Past Commodore SHELL TUCKER, still maintains an active membership. Shell Tucker served as Commodore in 1968 and again in 1978. (Shell Tucker is now deceased)

The fact that most of the Charter members owned outboard boats from 16 to 22 feet demonstrated their enthusiasm and determination to grow by calling the club a "Yacht Club." Possibly they also recognized a boaters built in desire "for just a little more room." This desire is usually called "two footitus." Under Commodore Pilants' direction a good set of by-laws was enacted. This is evident in that some 40 years later the by-laws show remarkably little change.

Because Commodore Pilants first term was only a few months, (our fiscal year runs from Nov. through Oct.) he was reelected to a 2nd term. The only Commodore, to date, to serve two consecutive years.

In October 1960 the first regular monthly newsletter was printed, a contest was held previously to name the newsletter. "THE LUR" was the winner. THE LUR was the name of a long flat horn used by the Vikings, from Norway, to call their bands together and also to send messages from one group to another. So it would seem "The LUR" was well named. As the club grew it became evident the club needed more room for their meetings, preferably property of their own. Space and facilities were limited at the marina.

After a couple bum leads and false hopes the VIKINGS met up with the "Tacoma Beachcombers" who were small boat oriented with desires and aims much like those of the VIKINGS. They had progressed farther, in that they had a "shell" of a clubhouse constructed on property owned by Harbor Marina in Tacoma. The financial and personal stress of volunteer labor to build the clubhouse had depleted their membership to all but a few of the hard core members. They were happy to merge with the VIKINGS who were financially able to assume their debts and eager to complete the building. Thus in late October 1962 the VIKING YACHT CLUB'S dream of their own clubhouse came true.

During the winter of 1962 and summer 1963 many projects were undertaken and completed to get the clubhouse "just the way we wanted it." By fall 1963 the club felt, since Tacoma was our home port, we should become involved in community projects. It was decided to enter a float in the next Tacoma Marine daffodil Parade which was held in early April each year.

The 1964 Marine Daffodil Parade entry was the VIKING YACHT CLUB's first float. We had an energetic group, and club member Don Bangert was a talented float designer. Our float won the "Sweepstakes Award" or best float in the parade. In 1965 we again won the "Sweepstakes Award." Everyone in the club was thrilled again. No club had ever won the "Sweepstakes Award" THREE years in a row. The VIKINGS were determined to be THE ONE. Float planning, by Don Bangert, who designed all of our floats, started immediately. Float construction started in early January. As the finished product passed the reviewing stand the radio and TV announcer stated, "it was as good as any float ever in the land parade and by far the best he'd ever seen in the Marine Parade." A great many of our COMPETITORS expressed similar feelings. Unfortunately the JUDGES didn't see it that way. The VIKING float was awarded second place. During the next 15 years the VIKINGS were considered "the club to beat." The club won more "Sweepstakes Awards" during this time than any club had ever won previously. By 1977 the expense of constructing and decorating a float proved too much and the club elected to drop out of the parade. With Don's planning and artistic ability we originated floats having 3-D, three sides decorated, correctly scaled, proportioned and shaded using dyed daffodils to get the desired coloring. All marine floats previously had been billboard type. We could have gone to that, to lessen the expense, as most clubs were doing. The club decided if we couldn't go first class, with a float to be proud of, we'd rather have none. In the fall of 1964 Ken Wilson was Rear Commodore, and chairman of the Cruise committee. He thought TACOMA should have a "CHRISTMAS SHIP" and possibly a decorated CHRISTMAS SHIP PARADE to cruise the Tacoma harbor and nearby communities playing Christmas music from a vessel decorated as a Christmas tree. Ken's research indicated Tacoma had not had a Christmas ship since before WW II when Henry Foss then president of Foss Launch and Towboat Co., had used his yacht THEA FOSS (the first Thea) to carry local high school choirs along Tacoma's shorelines singing Christmas Carols for the enjoyment of the local residents.

The members of the VIKING YACHT CLUB felt this was an excellent way to do something for the good of the community. Invitation letters were sent to all local yacht clubs requesting them to join us in developing a lighted, decorated Christmas Ship Parade, Similar to Seattle's Christmas Ship Parade, which had been popular for several years. The invitation letters were followed up with personal contact with the other clubs in the area but none were interested in sponsoring a Christmas Ship. It was not until 1978 the Mayor of Tacoma, MIKE PARKER, convinced the Tacoma Yacht Club and the city council to jointly sponsor a Christmas Ship Parade along Tacoma's waterfront. It was largely the Mayors power of persuasion that got the various clubs started participating.

The VIKING YACHT CLUB membership agreed to continue with the project and sponsor a Christmas Ship. On the weekend before Christmas 1964 the EL DONDEE a 33' Chris Craft owned by Don & Dee Bangert made the maiden voyage as the VIKING YACHT CLUB Christmas Ship.

During the next 19 years various routes and schedules were used, finally evolving 3 evening cruises the weekend before Christmas. Friday evening, 6 PM to 11 PM, slowly cruise along Old Town, Shuster Parkway to Gig Harbor and return. Saturday evening, 6 PM to midnight, slowly cruise along Brown's and Dash Points, Redondo to Des Moines and return. Sunday evening, 6 PM to 11 PM, slowly cruise along Browns & Dash Points, to Manzanita through Quartermaster inner harbor and to Tahlaquah, to Pt. Defiance Pavilion along 0ld Town to Tacoma. All the Christmas Ships featured a lighted Christmas Tree and sometimes other holiday decorations. All used an amplified PA system to broadcast Christmas music of organ and chimes. The first 10 years several members volunteered the use of their vessel for the VIKING YACHT CLUB Christmas Ship. They were: 1965, LINDA LEE a 70' Classic owned by Lloyd & Jean Bealer; 1961 & 1967, PATRICK HENRY, a 51' ketch rigged sailboat owned by Eric & Daisy Soby; 1967, MARY LOU, a 34' Classic owned by Earl & Phyllis Garman; 1968, a 30' Fairliner owned by Marv and Grace Howes; 1968, THE 3-0's, owned by Ossie & Vernell Osness; 1969, WE GE V, 28' Grandy owned by Dave & Jean Hagen; 1970 & 1971, TIKI, a 33' Custom Cruiser owned by Ken & Jean Wilson; 1972, LUBO, a 36' trawler, owned by Pat & Lu Bowdridrge. Beginning in 1973 MITTLITE a 57' Classic cruiser, built in 1933, owned by Brad and Lena Bradford was used as the VIKING YACHT CLUB Christmas Ship. MITLITE was returning to a "service" she last performed 32 years earlier when she was the THEA FOSS (1st Thea Foss) and owned by Henry Foss. MITLITE was "dubbed" TACOMA'S CHRISTMAS SHIP by Tacoma News Tribune Maritime writer Bruce Johnson. MITLITE served the VIKING YACHT CLUB and Tacoma in that capacity until 1983.

In 1964 the VIKING YACHT CLUB had been a member club of NORTHWEST BOATING Council (NBC) for many years. In 1962 and 1963 the VIKINGS had won the attendance trophy at the annual NBC cruise for having the largest percentage of member owned boats present. If a club won the trophy 3 years in a row they were allowed to keep the attendance trophy permanently. The VIKINGS decided they wanted that trophy permanently in the trophy case. A tremendous effort was put forth to get a GOOD TURN-OUT, and on Sunday June 25, 1964 at Whitman Cove State Marine Park (renamed J.F. Kennedy State Marine Park) 43 VIKING boats were rafted together, right in front of the registration area. Needless to say the VIKINGS kept the trophy and to date that number of boats from any one club has never been equaled. For many years a picture of those 43 rafted VYC boats was on the cover of the annual NBC book.

About this same time VIKING P/C Ossie Osness was a board member of NBC. He decided NBC should have a "pennant" NBC members could fly. He had an idea for the design and enlisted VIKING member Don Bangert to help with the art work. Their design was chosen and is still the official NBC pennant.

The "sixty's" were good to the VIKINGS. We had a highly active cruise and social schedule. Any weekend we didn't have a cruise, something was going on at the clubhouse. Each year we participated in many yachting functions on Puget Sound: Opening Day of Yachting Season in Seattle, South Sound Opening Day at Des Moines, Opening Day at Quartermaster Harbor Yacht Club and the Shelton Forest Festival to mention a few. Many of our daffodil floats were reworked and entered in the Opening Day of Yachting Season Parade sponsored by Seattle Yacht Club. VYC won their share of awards in that event. During this period VYC membership stabilized around 70 to 75 member families.

The "GOOD OLD DAYS" of the sixty's were followed by the "bad years" of the Seventies. 1972 found the entire country in a deep recession. Recreational boating and the VIKING YACHT CLUB suffered. To make matters worse, in 1973 petroleum was in extremely short supply. Gasoline prices rose from 35 cents per gallon to nearly $2.00 per gallon. The "side effects" of these happenings were felt well into the eighties. Viking Yacht Club membership "bottomed out" at about 20 family members. In November of 1976 the club members felt the limited use of the club house did not justify the increasingly high rent. Since then the club has held our meetings in a variety of public and private meeting places.  By not having our own clubhouse, offers our membership lower dues and more time spent on our planned cruises and events.

We continue to be active in Northwest Yachting events and welcome other fellow boaters to join us.