The Seafarers Yacht Club, located at 1950 M Street, Southeast, is the oldest African American boat club on the east coast. It was founded in 1945 by Lewis T. Green, Sr., a vocational arts teacher in the District of Columbia Public Schools, who built boats as a hobby. He contacted the Department of the Interior about renting this site but was ignored until Mary McLeod Bethune and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt intervened. Members of Greens Boat Yard (later Seafarers) improved the marshy land and built docks and a clubhouse.The club also promoted boating safety and community service. The annual Anacostia River Cleanup Day evolved from efforts begun by the Seafarers in 1985.A key threat facing Seafarers Yacht club is increased sedimentation on the river bottom which has reduced water depths for members, limiting cruising access for their boats to periods of high tide
To promote the sport of boating, six men met on April 25, 1910 and founded The Washington Yacht Club. The club was then, as it is now, a “do it yourself” club – making it possible for persons of modest means to become members. The members bought the materials and built their first wharf. Between 1910 and 1925, the club had to move four times. With each move, the men dismantled and salvaged what they could and reconstructed the buildings and docks. A final move to the present site on M Street included the 7-foot block foundation on which the clubhouse now stands.Over the years as sailing and rowing were replaced by motorboats and water skiing took the place of swim meets, concrete has been hand-mixed and poured, oyster sheds converted into wood shops. The club used sweat equity in lieu of a large bank account to continue its boating traditions.
In the years before 1950, the area now occupied by the District Yacht Club was a working boat yard known as the District Boat Company. After its closing, a group under the leadership of Ed Darnella, organized and formed the District Yacht Club. As a working yacht club, each member is expected to work a certain number of work hours per month to help maintain the facilities. This way, membership and slip fees are set lower than average due to the reduction in operating costs.This design has appealed to the working middle class who possess the passion for boating but often could not comfortably afford the high membership fees charged by other yacht clubs or marinas. DYC is active in the boating community, participating in and hosting events for the DC Clean Marina Program, the Anacostia Watershed Society Annual Anacostia Earth Day Cleanup, and the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Eastern is one of the oldest boat clubs in the country devoted exclusively to the sport of motor boating. It was formed in the year the first outboard boat motor was patented. In 1910, the Eastern Power Boat Club incorporated itself with the express purpose “to promote the sport of motorboating” at a time when power boating for sport was in its infancy. The earliest club membership was drawn from the nearby community. Written records of the clubs’ members date from 1910, showing the names and addresses of the members who lived in the area surrounding Capitol Hill and greater Southeast. Other early records list members’ various occupations including Navy Yard and brewery workers, tradesmen, and members of the armed forces. Like the other historic clubs on Boathouse Row, the Eastern Power Boat Club has always been affordable for the working class of Washington interested in power boating.