Most yacht clubs have plenty of members ready to share the tasks of club administration. What about a small club in a remote place? What happens when a tiny club doesn’t have the membership to continue? That was the situation facing the tiny Niue Yacht Club (somewhat ironically referred to by the initials of one of the largest cities in the world) on the South Pacific island of Niue, a 100-square mile coral outpost sited 326 nautical miles northeast of Tonga and 1,295 nautical miles northeast of New Zealand. Luckily for voyagers who visit NYC’s mooring field and simple clubhouse, the yacht club was rescued with the help of the Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA), the World Cruising Club (WCC) and others.
The Niue Yacht Club, referred to as “The Biggest Little Yacht Club in the World” by its small membership was down to two active members: Terry Coe (one of the founders) and Keith Vial, (a SSCA host for Niue). Coe and Vial were attempting to keep the club viable. Due to COVID 19 restrictions the number of voyagers visiting the island had fallen away and given two years of inactivity, the government of Niue reportedly wanted to take control of the club. Coe and Vial wished to avoid this, as Vial described in an email: “Terry and I were very reluctant to walk away and leave the Government of Niue to take over without the institutional knowledge and good will established over many years. So it was down to two geriatrics to keep going somehow.”
Pre COVID the club saw more voyaging activity. In addition to visits from individual voyaging boats transiting the area, NYC was also a stopping point for various cruising rallies, including a 2019 stopover by the World ARC rally run by the WCC.
Vial continued in his email: “World Arc has been a major supporter of Niue for many years and a significant contributor to the 6,600 crew who have visited over the years. We missed the Yellow Shirts and the ebullient cruisers — in fact we missed everybody here. Such was life living in the Hermit Kingdom AC (After Covid).”
Vial appealed to the SSCA and to the website Noonsite.com and asked for assistance in finding a cruiser to handle the NYC facilities and fix the mooring fields. They were able to get a cruiser to agree to take over running the club from Terry and Keith. In addition, WCC operations manager Suzana Tetlow sent Vial and Coe an email with further good news: “…it seems the long-term desire for sailors to explore the world hasn’t changed and we are pleased to report that we would like to continue supporting NYC and in 2023 we intend to visit Niue not with one, but two fleets. Provisional dates for the stopover in Niue are 26 to 31 May with 26 boats and from 7 to 12 July with 30 yachts.”
With this new support progress has also been made on updating the status of the club mooring field as Vial reported in an email to Tetlow, Joan Conover, president of SSCA and others involved in the rejuvenation effort : “Yesterday I also finalised arrangement for Niue Blue, the sole scuba dive operator on Niue, to carry out a survey of the current 20 mooring block system on the seabed in Alofi Bay. As they haven’t been checked for three years we need to know what is still there and their condition. With the number of yachts in both your fleets, it may be an opportune time to consider an extension of the mooring field, if there is space on the sea bed.”
It appears the ”Biggest Little Yacht Club in the World” is on its way to a new lease on life and this coming May should see voyaging boats in the anchorage once again.