The Bay Boat Club
In 1810, the Cahoon family settled on Lot #95 in Dover Township. Through the property ran a babbling little creek of clear water that emptied into Lake Erie. They named it Cahoon Creek. They built their log cabin near the mouth. In 1818, they built a clapboard house on the hill, and the cabin was torn down. For the next 35 years, the creek became the major power for the Cahoon grist mill and saw mill.
With the death of Joseph Cahoon, the mills fell into disarray. Joel, Joseph’s son, returned to the farm in 1842. He restored the grist mill and became a miller. In the 1860s, Joel’s sons, Leverett and John Marshall, built a fish house across the mouth of the creek. For 30 years, this was an active business leased to The Buckeye Fish Company.
In the early 1900s the fish house was torn down, leaving a sandy beach at the mouth. Dressing-room sheds were built for visitors wanting to swim. It became a tranquil place for a leisurely walk. In 1917, with the death of Ida Cahoon, the farm and creek became the property of the Village of Bay.
In the 1930s a group of Bay High School boys formed the Bay Yacht Club. They sailed their “cat” boats off the Cahoon and Wischmeyer shores and stored their boats in the Wischmeyer boat house or at the Cahoon beach. In the early 1940s WWII broke out and the yacht club boys, now teenagers, joined the armed services. When they returned after the war, there was a Bay Boat Club at the mouth of the creek. On May 4, 1943, the Bay Council passed Ordinance No. 5497, authorizing the mayor to issue a permit to the “Bay Boat Club” to operate a boat and yacht club on the east bank of Cahoon Creek adjacent to Lake Erie.
I remember as a kid in the 1940s seeing the small (cat) row boats stored on racks along Cahoon Creek. The boats would be manually cranked and pushed down a track to the water. (The Avon Lake Boat Club next to Veterans Park operates with this system today.) Using oars, the fishermen rowed their boats (few had gas motors back then) out to their favorite fishing spots. Looking out at the lake at night you could see lantern lights from boats 500 to 1,000 feet off shore.
Cahoon Creek was a quiet, lazy little spot except when a boat was being launched or retrieved. Bayites swam from the sandy beach. The boys played in the water looking for tadpoles. (When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the T-pier at Huntington Park, due to the change in the water current, stones and rocks began to accumulate on the beach. Today Cahoon is a very stony beach.
A building from the Oviatt-Dover Center area was moved to the creek in 1959, and became the club house. Members began trailing their motor boats, so a pier was built and an east ramp dredged for launching. The boat club incorporated in 1966. The racks were removed the same year, and a west ramp for launching was built. In 1985, the pier was extended. New construction ceased for a while.
I remember when the water was high in the 1970s, and there was a loss of beach at Huntington Park. I also remember when the water level became so low that it became hard to launch a boat and some boats dragged in the sandy mud on the bottom while launching. We were members of the club for 20 years. The ramps were extended north 30 feet to help in launching. We needed to climb ladders to get in and out of our boats. Today, the water is high again.
A sailing club building was built in the 2000s and a picnic pavilion in 2006.
Today, there is a waiting list to belong to the boat club. Near the end of our years there, jet skis began to arrive and today it is kayaks. The boat club still uses the one-in and one-out system for launching boats. They enjoy a clambake in the fall. I watched many a fireworks on the 4th of July from our boat in the lake or along the pier. We had to give up our boat in 2014 and I do miss it.
The Boat Club is a lot of fun and a definite asset to our village. There is nothing like “being on the water.”