This is a letter written by Holley Lilley, in January 2002. She was one of the Life Members of the Yacht Club. She wrote it and passed it on to us via Marian Cantrell. After reading it, I thought it a valuable piece of history and I took the liberty of retyping, editing, (very little) and I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. - Terry Wiseman

I have not used a typewriter in 12 or 15 years, and never was all that great as a typist anyway, but my handwriting is such that even I cannot always read it. So, keeping in mind what will happen, try to muddle through this. I will reminisce, misspell, strike-over, strike out, and in general, make a mess. You muddle through and pick any, all, or none of it to help you out. I tell you now; I am no good with dates and sequences in time.

I am not going to try to write a history of the club, but rather isolate memories of things I knew so well. Since we sold our house in 1989, and left San Carlos, our time with the Club was long before many of you moved there - the first ten struggling years to be exact. Since it was then, a seasonal club, it had little chance to survive, but it did.

It began with a meeting called by our founder, John Street. I think there were eight men and one woman, Jean Reynolds, possibly Shirley (Street) as well. I was not there, so I’m not sure. John had an idea for an association of any and all persons who were interested in water activities, fishing, boating, etc. It took off from there. I think the initial dues were $5.00 USD to join (or some like amount). At the first meeting I saw everything from row boats and pangas to Street’s Los Calles, and a lot of rather strange looking people. I think the magic words “Yacht Club” and Shirley and John’s work in beating the bushes for members did the trick and got all those boats out. Most of them dropped out, leaving mostly the original charter flag members, as a core.

We held together those first two or three years, Street, our first Commodore, Llewellen, our second, Ken Amundson was third (Ken was not famous as a Commodore, but for something else all together…. more about that later). Then came Jean Reynolds, a big name in the history of this club. She was there at the beginning, served as secretary year after year (no one else wanted to do it), then became our first woman Commodore. And a good one!

By then we had realized that to survive we had to have a place that belonged to us. We had drifted for as long as we could. Jean was the one who found this broken down little house for sale. It was truly a mess, but it had two advantages: it was cheap and had a hell of a view, sitting on a cliff. In Mexico, there are no mortgages and the club had no money. So the Lesh’s and the Lilley's bought it and sold it to the club for what we paid for it, carrying the mortgage. The club had the option of a fixed rate (money even in the states was high then) or a variable rate of two above prime. They took the fixed rate expecting that the already high rate would rise. Boy, was there a lot of bitching when the rate fell! Up or down, the Club still had no way to make payments on that loan, so Val Lesh and I began to dream up ways to make money to pay our own loan off. That is how the Friday night dinners started. That custom, and many more started then. Anything that would make a buck, we did. When we went to the street market on Wednesdays to buy for Friday night, Val would buy a sack of potatoes, a sock of onions, flats of tomatoes, etc. Then she took the leftovers (a lot of leftovers) and put them in plastic bags and sold them to the members for a dollar a piece. She sold them, too! We walked a tight line between how much we could charge and still have people pay for the meals, and then thought up ways to make things that would get the crowd in. Then we started the occasional Sunday morning brunch with scrumptious stuff like quiche, seafood crepes, Val’s cinnamon rolls, etc. along with bloody mary’s, and charged as much as we could. They came! Hal was bar manager then, and we made money on that, too. Somehow we made the payments.

Meanwhile, some of the members worked on that house, treating termites, painting, dear hateful Tandy McFall built the tables (we literally had nothing) and fixed things. I can’t remember where we got those cheap chairs we had, but they showed up. We paid off that loan and fixed the house up and it was worth more than we had paid for it. And the Club grew. That finally got us kicked out – we had no real parking area and the neighbors complained of the cars, noise, etc. We were asked to take our Club elsewhere.

But some of our greatest hours originated in that house, if I remember correctly. I think our famous Search and Rescue started then, the best thing we ever did, and most of us remain proud of it to this day. Those of us with seaworthy boats participated, taking turns on duty or “on call” a week at a time. Some of those stories are well worth telling, but would take too long, and too much of your time. A few were hair raising, most routine – out of gas, some real help when we needed it from boats big enough to do a dangerous job. Jean Reynolds with her plane to help with “search” when needed, pulling boats off the shore and towing them in. We were proud of what we did, and I hated to see it disbanded.

One Christmas Eve ( now believed to be 1983 ) from our terrace we watched a boat, decorated and lit from stem to stern, sail through the dark past our house. All over San Carlos people watched that boat. At the moment we first saw it, we swore that next year it would not be alone. It was Ken and Margaret Amundson on their “Adonde”, and that was the start of the Christmas Light parade. The next year I think there were three, the Los Calles, the Kai Manu (ours), and in the lead the “Adonde”. The parade was off and running and by the following year there was a parade of several boats (Vern Lesh was Commodore by then and his “Sea Fin” led when “Adonde” was not there. Again, lots of stories, starting with tailgate chili parties and then moving into the traditional chili and margarita parties at the Club following the parade.

Vern Lesh was Commodore after Jean, and he started the fishing tournaments. He did a great job – personally getting those trophies donated (no small job) and putting the tournament together. He did it for three years. I think it’s still active, as is the light parade. He too is long gone. After the first of the fishing tournaments Val and I fed 125 people in that little club house. If that wasn’t fun! We ran out of everything and had to go rob our own houses. We fed ‘em!

One night near our first Christmas there we dreamed up a really fancy eggnog party, dressy. We made those gallons of eggnog from a super recipe in my own kitchen - the four of us. We made such a mess that my whole kitchen had to be washed down, walls and all. Then Hal and Vern put on red jackets, we rounded up enough glass eggnog cups and punch bowls, made all the first class goodies, made everyone dress up, and charged them a lot. I don’t remember exactly what we made that night, but a lot. Fun, too. Anything for a buck, huh?

We had overnights at Ensanada Grande for all members that wanted to bring their boats and come along, and sometimes there were quite a few of us._ On one such outing Johnny White and Kathleen in their “JohnnyKay” ran up on the beach, stuck fast in the sand. We pulled the boat off and I asked Johnny “why did you do that?” (He was Commodore at the time and served two terms). He said to me “I don’t know Holley, I just did.” We all spent a lot of time on the water, sometimes staying out for days at a time. I guess you all still do that. I hope so. We had a lot of fun.

I was never Commodore. I was asked, and refused. I spent about 3 or 4 years on the Board, 2 ½ years as Social Commander, and put out the Foghorn for a couple of years. Hal was Bar Manager in the early days and mixed literally hundreds of gallons of margaritas in his time. We did not even have a bar until one was built in the second clubhouse. In the early days we used a table, period. We used plastic glasses, paper plates, cast-off flat wear, and we hauled everything down from Price Club in our motor homes. No one came back from Tucson empty. In those days almost any booze except tequila was prohibitively high in Mexico, so we brought it in. Of course, we charged more for it so we drank lots of margaritas at that club.

You can imagine what the current club house looks like to me, the fist time I walked in and looked at it, my thoughts flew back to the dreams of the “Yacht Club” twenty years ago. It fulfills most of them. Hal and I visited small Yacht Clubs in the U.S. and Canada, realizing that ours could never match some of them, but ours now comes close in a lot of ways. We think that what we did was worth the while, and the results are gratifying. Hopefully, the Club will be enjoyed for years to come by people still to arrive in San Carlos. As for the history, always look to Les Ruddock, he will never steer you wrong. The whole thing could never have been held together without him. He and Peg were also good neighbors and good friends. I am glad he is still there to guide you.

Holley Lilley