Darien Boat Club restored almost two years post-Sandy

When former Darien Boat Club commodore David Dever arrived at the club in the days following Superstorm Sandy, he was met with a dock that had been ripped from its support and strewn across the banks of the beach.

"It was absolutely amazing," Dever recalled of the days following the November 2012 storm that caused extensive damage to at least 30 homes in town. "The deck was everywhere."

Debris from the three-season room, which had been demolished, was scattered. Pieces found their way across the Goodwives River and on the banks of former First Selectman Dave Campbell's property.

The club's roof was hanging, and kayaks wound up at the Noroton Yacht Club across the bay. Some portions of the dock and the building have never been recovered. The gas dock was ripped up and slammed back down on top of the gas line, which was damaged.

"I didn't expect it to be so bad," Dever said.

The club had no damage as a result of Hurricane Irene in August 2011. Hurricane Irene caused $235 million worth of damage across the state, damaged dozens of homes along the state coast and knocked out power for almost 1 million homes.

Dever suspects that after years of waves and storms, the deck's wood weakened and cracked.

But after extensive deliberations with the Planning and Zoning Department and a $250,000 loan, the Darien Boat Club is ready for the 2014 boating season with a deck that Paul Johnson, who does community relations for the club, said will hopefully last more than 100 years.

The club worked with marine engineers to develop a deck that would pass the rigorous standards of the town's building department. The result is 30, 42-inch pylons installed under the deck that are made of pressure-treated wood, which will withstand the force of the ebbing tide and rocking waves.

Club administrators had anticipated the construction to take six months, Dever said, but with the heightened standards, the project wound up taking a year and a half to complete.

Johnson expects that the club will pay off the loan within two years by temporarily increasing the annual fees to $250 per member from $150 for the more than 200 members.

Throughout the construction, the club remained open to its members and provided an alternative access way to the boat slips.

As part of the construction, the boat club is now providing an office for the marine unit of the Darien Police Department. Prior to the renovation, the police were stationed by Pear Tree Beach, which was away from their police boat. The police will share the office with the harbor master.

mspicer@bcnnew.com; 203-330-6583; @Meg_DarienNews