Ottawa Marina’s - Yacht Clubs - Sailing Clubs Part One

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Ottawa Marina’s - Yacht Clubs - Sailing Clubs


Part One


     Ottawa has a vibrant boating community being located at the centre of three main bodies of water, the Ottawa River, the Rideau River/Canal and the Gatineau River.

     There are several boating facilities available to Ottawa residents and visitors depending on your boating preferences and activities.  Prices and amenities vary from facility to facility and I will try to summarize them with this series however you should contact each facility to ensure pricing has not changed since the creation of this article.  Please keep in mind these are my opinions and impressions of these clubs and you should visit each club to determine for yourself if they are right for you. In Part One of this series I will introduce you to the Britannia Yacht Club.




     Britannia Yacht Club is one of the oldest clubs the region at 125 years, with a long history related mostly to sailing. Located at 277 Cassels Street in Ottawa’s west end it is situated on a part of the Ottawa River called Lac Deschênes, at the head of the Deschênes Rapids.

     The location of the club is very picturesque with beautiful views of the river especially at sunset and wonderful grounds. The club offers many amenities such as gas; pump out, electricity, cranes, tennis, showers and of course the Club House with restaurant and bar. No water is available at your dock but is available at the service dock. While there is no swimming pool available you can swim in the river in front of the clubhouse but it is quite rocky, shoes are advised and you should check to see if high bacteria counts have closed the adjacent Britannia Beach.

     Parking and access to your boat is one of the nice features of the club. You can drive right up to your boat in most cases making the on loading and offloading of supplies much easier.  However the use of Mediterranean style docking where you must access your boat by crawling over the bow of your boat is not conducive to older boaters. Finger docks are being installed but when I last checked you had to purchase the dock at an additional cost of $5,000.00 which would be returned to you should you leave the club but only if another member was willing to purchase it from the club.

     The Club House while old is charming and has undergone some recent renovations which have greatly improved the facilities. Hours of operation for the restaurant and bar even during the summer are restrictive in that they are not open during the week for breakfast, lunch or an early afternoon drink and minimal hours on the weekend.  This is in part due to the club house being rented for special events such as weddings almost every weekend and in part I think due to its policy of a member’s only club and not being open to the public. As the club is funded solely by its members special events make up a large part of the clubs revenue.  It is unfortunate as these missed opportunities have a large effect on the clubs ability to finance its self and attract new members.

     As probably the highest priced facility in the region there is plenty of mooring space available. The pricing structure for the club is a little complex and convoluted based on the clubs belief that it offers something more than other clubs and facilities in the region. The club advertises it’s self as “Your Cottage in the City “. The total cost for a NEW member couple over 28 yrs. of age, seniors pay a premium don’t ask me why, with a boat having a 10 foot wide beam would pay as follows;


Annual Membership Fee       

$ 998.07

taxes included

Initiation Fee

$ 221 .15 (paid over 4 years)

taxes included

Mooring Fees  

$ 2168.30

Mooring fees include winter storage; spring launch and fall haul out. BYC has holding tank pump out facilities, free to members. Taxes included

Mooring Initiation Fees

$ 2168.30 (not calculated deferred)

Currently, there are wet moorings available at Britannia Yacht Club. New members may therefore request a temporary mooring and defer paying the Mooring Initiation Fees for their boats until such time as the harbour is full, at which time they will have the option of converting to a permanent long-term mooring or risk losing their temporary mooring

Total Cost  (First 4 Years)

$ 3387.52

Fees as advertised  on BYC 03/03/12



                Finally let’s discuss the atmosphere of the club. BYC, although there have been many recent attempts to change it, still exudes the rich old boys Yacht Club atmosphere.  Despite these attempts to change the atmosphere it is difficult to avoid. This may in part be to the no public allowed policy, the limited hours of the club house or due to the cliques that are naturally formed along lines of the activities at the club such as racing members vs. cruising members vs. non boat owners like the tennis only members.

The governance of the club may also contribute to this atmosphere. The club is run by a board of directors elected by the members at large. It can be likened to a bad Condominium association. While there are some very excellent and friendly members at BYC this type of governance is riddled with competing visions and politics. This atmosphere coupled with the high fees may be one of the reasons BYC memberships an moorings allocations continue to drop.  The staff at BYC is extremely courteous, friendly and helpful and enough cannot be said about them.

     All in All BYC is a nice location and I would recommend you check them out either on the web or in person to see for yourself.  While I am not convinced that they offer anything more than other clubs in the region to justify the high fee’s they do have available slips and the location is beautiful.

In Part Two I will review the Nepean Sailing Club NSC.


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