Save the Pohara Boat Club

The Pohara Beach Sailing Club was inaugurated on 29th November 1960. An avid bunch of yacht loving mariners had got together several times earlier in the year.  They discussed – while imbibing Fred Ashford’s homebrew stout – ways of utilising the prevailing westerly winds as a cheap method of getting forward movement out of dinghies, and eventually thought it a good idea to form a club.

Fred had tons of sailing experience and all the bright ideas, and as he had a large shed at his house on Richmond Road, Pohara, where they met, it became the clubhouse, and he became the first Commodore. There were about 15 at the inaugural meeting, and from that day, meetings have been held virtually every month to the present day. 

In due course, Fred and Brian McKenna had an idea of turning a dinghy into a yacht by hacking a slot in the keel, creating centreboard, rudder, boom, mast and sails from whatever they could find.  Much more fun, much faster.  Soon everyone wanted the action. Races were held. In the first year, a group of sailors from Nelson came to visit, and races were held with 3 classes of sailing dinghies.

By July 1961, they’d outgrown Fred’s shed.  The Golden Bay Cement Works donated a piece of their land and gave the club permission to construct a clubhouse between the Pohara Hall and the tennis courts, right in front of the present toilets. 24 members, and 23 at working bees to build the new clubhouse, which opened in 1962.  They had to have a rescue boat, which with donations was purchased for 360 pounds.  A social committee was formed in 1963.

In the mid 1980s, the club realised it would be advantageous to build a new headquarters at the harbour. Plans were drawn up, with permission being granted by the cement company for use of a site on the reclamation for the purpose.  The new clubhouse would be closer to club moorings, the sheltered launching ramp in the harbour, and close to the cement works when building began.  However, very suddenly, the cement works closed. Everything was put on hold. The club had some savings put aside but not enough, it took more than another 14 years to get enough capital and support, donations, fundraising, and all the help from so many people for the current building to be up and running.  It was officially opened on 1st December 2002, by the Commodore, Kevin Winter.

There was a name change in the 1980s to Pohara Beach Boat Club, and in 2006 to Pohara Boat Club to incorporate all watercraft.  A land lease was signed with Tasman District Council on 6th August 1999, for 20 years, less 1 day.  Our lease expired on 29th June 2019.

To this day, Pohara Boat Club has active sailing programs with all local schools with YNZ’s Hav-A-Go sailing. The club also runs junior sailing courses, plus adult courses. We have a new enthusiastic coach with lots of exciting ideas and plans.   O’Pen Bic boats (6) have been sponsored by local organisations, and added to our range of sailing boats. Rescue boats are stored in the boat sheds for our Search & Rescue facilities.  Used also as Assist boats for courses and the Tata Titanic Cardboard boat races.

We are a popular venue for weddings, funerals, birthdays, meetings and other functions, regattas, Sundays social meals are very popular with members and the wider community, the venue for the monthly Lions meetings, our Annual Fishing competitions, etc.

This brief summary of the Pohara Boat Club’s history is important, as it serves to put into sharp focus the very real possibility that the club’s days may be numbered. For reasons that have not been explained, Tasman District Council is offering the club a 5 year lease, with no right of renewal. On completion of the 5 year lease period, ownership of the Pohara Boat Club building – paid for by community fundraising – will pass to the ownership of Tasman District Council, with no compensation payable to the club. TDC have offered no explanation for their uncompromising position, nor have they given any indication of their plans for the future use of the building. It could even be demolished.

This will likely spell the end of the club and the community focus it provides, the end of junior sailing, and the loss of the club’s three moorings in Abel Tasman National Park, and the possible loss of the boat wash-down area. It could well be the beginning of the end of recreational sailing in Golden Bay.

If you value the role that the Pohara Boat Club provides in fostering junior sailing, and providing a focus for water-based community recreation and leisure activities, now is the time to show your support for the club. If the club loses this fight to retain the use of our clubrooms beyond 5 years, this will very likely mean the end of the Pohara Boat Club.  If you want to support the club in any way, please sign our petition https://chng.it/XMHqzcng