The Marathon Yacht Club is one of the oldest and most enduring institutions in the Middle Keys. In 2021, it will celebrate 70 years.

“Hopefully, we can have a party to celebrate,” said Rear Commodore Sandy Yenick.

“Yes,” echoed Commodore Rosemary Thomas. “I hope it will be safe to meet then.”

Marathon Yacht Club closed at the height of the pandemic, but has since reopened with strict guidelines in place. 

“While we have ‘reciprocal’ agreements with other Florida yacht clubs, we are limiting the dining room to members only, or those who are staying with us more than a week, to cut down on the number of visitors,” said Thomas. “Guests are welcome at our outdoor tables — we’ve made them fancy with linen tablecloths — or order takeout.”

The bar and dining room are still operating at 50% capacity and there’s a small bottle of hand sanitizer on every table, but the club is still a thriving social concern. It has trivia night, Mahjong lunches twice a week, bingo and game night. On nights when dancing is an option, like the annual New Year’s Eve party, it happens between the tables to maintain social distancing. The dining room is open for lunch Wednesday and Friday and dinner Tuesday through Saturday.

While many of the members own boats, some of which are housed at one of the club’s 21 slips, not everyone is a water fanatic. 

“You don’t need to own a boat to belong. I don’t. I don’t even swim,” said Thomas, laughing. “I think what’s nice about the Yacht Club is that we’re not very concerned about ‘turning tables’ (in the dining room). Our guests can come and spend the whole evening here.”

Yenik compares the club to “Cheers,” the establishment where everyone knows your name. 

“People come through the door and are immediately greeted with calls from every direction,” she said.

“The Bridge” of 2020: Carl Carlson, left, Don Swatik, Margaret Desfoses, Bill Weir, Rear Commodore Sandy Yenik, Commodore Rosemary Thomas, Joe Dowdell, Dave Ruesch and Vice Commodore Bill Warner. BARRY GAUKEL/Keys Weekly

Throughout the pandemic, the institution has been able to take care of its staff and continue its philanthropy with endeavors like scholarships for local students and a “giving tree” to benefit the Middle Keys community. And the path to commodore status is thorough and methodical.

“I think the leadership sets Marathon Yacht Club apart. Stepping into the roles takes time. Here there’s a years long path to become Commodore,” Yenik said. She’ll assume the top role in 2022. In 2021, Vice Commodore Bill Warner will take the helm. 

As always, the Marathon Yacht Club is looking for new members. For more information about the benefits of membership, call 305-743-6739.

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