Cannon blast opens boating season in Oak Harbor

Oak Harbor Yacht Club member Gary Jandzinski officially opens the 2011 boating season with a shot from a cannon. - Justin Burnett / Whidbey News-Times
Oak Harbor Yacht Club member Gary Jandzinski officially opens the 2011 boating season with a shot from a cannon.
— image credit: Justin Burnett / Whidbey News-Times

Boating season in North Whidbey opened with a blast Sunday.


Holding with tradition, members of the Oak Harbor Yacht Club announced the season’s official start with a shot from a cannon. The blast followed a brunch, live music, a prayer blessing the fleet, and comments by senior club members.

“I maintain that this is the best yacht club in the Northwest,” Commodore Jim Byrne said. “I have yet to have someone contest that.”

Although the club, which has roots that stretch back to 1956, has been hosting the opening ceremony for about 30 years this is only the second year that it was held on the same weekend as Holland Happening.

The idea originated with former commodore and retired Navy Capt. Jack Anderson, who has since passed away, as a means to leveraging participation in the two events. Following the cannon blast, a handful of members participated in a boat parade in the bay.

Although the club is private and geared toward yachting, Vice Commodore Steppe Williford said it’s not solely for boat owners. Anyone can join. The club hosts one major social function a month, along with two dinners and one game night each week.

“It’s a social and dining club,” he said.

And despite the turbulent economy, membership has remained healthy with 206 current membership certificates. Each can represent a whole family so the number of individual members is believed to be more than 400, he said.

For more information about the Oak Harbor Yacht Club, their activities, or to apply for membership, call 675-1314 or visit

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