The idea of a yacht club for Ford Motor Company employees was first conceived in the era after World War II when Detroit was booming under a backlog of automobile orders it took years to fill.

Early in 1947, Ford’s recreation department (FERA) was engaged in a recruitment drive, looking for employees with common interests to band together in clubs which would serve as the basis for the company’s recreation program. Out of that drive came the 15 original members of Ford Yacht Club, who attended their first meeting in June 1947. In September, a constitution patterned after the New York Yacht club was adopted, and the Club elected its first commodore.

Finding a site for the Club was the most important task the group faced during 1948. Land on the southern tip of Grosse Ile on the Detroit River was a likely spot. Except for the fact that the land was overgrown with bushes and trees, and looked anything but a site for a recreation area. The site had one important component though—water. Water surrounded all three sides of the land with ample room to support the activities of a full-fledged yacht club. Still it took a great deal of foresight and optimism as they trudged through the waist high grass and eyed the woody point where the group signed the lease papers and closed the negotiations for the land.

In 1949 plans were made for a clubhouse. Ground breaking would begin as soon as the Club coffers were in a position to handle the expenditures. By April of 1949, five mooring slips, one floating dock and a catwalk were completed, and the foundation for the clubhouse had been dug. In the early 1950’s work progressed on a marine railway and hoist system as well as a racing program, and the first perpetual trophy was purchased.

Today Ford Yacht Club has a beautiful new facility sitting on 175 acres of prime land overlooking the Detroit River and lake Erie. The Club has more than 600 members, and docking facilities for 275 boats with electricity and water taps at each dock. Member’s boast it’s one of the best-equipped and modern yacht clubs on the Great Lakes. Ford member’s have worked diligently on their Club, and their story is one of long planning sessions, fund raising, land clearance, dredging, planting, paving and building.

Ford Yacht Club continues to forward plan and improve its facilities, as well as the quality of boating for its members and affiliates.