THE Blue Water Sports Club was meant to be celebrating its 40th anniversary in December.
Instead, the once-popular seaside venue has shut its doors with a mammoth $250,000 debt hanging over its head.
Rumours had been circulating for months that the club was on the verge of closing.
Last week, about 80 of the club's members, some of whom have been part of the club for 35 years, attended a sombre general meeting where they decided to wind up the club and appoint Tony Castley, from William Buck, as liquidator.
Club member Marcus Kitchen said the demise of the club was due to "a dedicated few working for the ungrateful majority".
"It's very disappointing," a crestfallen Mr Kitchen said.
Mr Kitchen said at its peak, the club was a lively venue with plenty of character.
An ominous warning was sounded earlier in the year when the club closed its kitchen and sacked four or five employees.
Then in May, Mr Kitchen and his wife, a retired accountant, along with another club member, spent three weeks going through the club's books.
Mr Kitchen said it became clear the club was about $250,000 in the red with no conceivable way out.
"We called a special general meeting where I presented all the facts to the members," Mr Kitchen said.
"I think a number of the members knew the club was in trouble but not to the extent that it was."
Mr Kitchen said a few ideas were proposed to the Gladstone Ports Corporation, which owns the land, including a month-by-month tenancy agreement.
But Mr Kitchen said that request, and others, were rejected because GPC had plans to develop the area.
GPC chief executive officer Peter O'Sullivan would not comment about any potential development happening at the former club's location.
Mr O'Sullivan said the Blue Water Sports Club had advised the corporation that it was not in a position to trade out of its debts and, by resolution of the members, the club determined to close its doors.
"Over a sustained period while the Blue Water Sports Club has had financial difficulties, GPC provided support and assistance," Mr O'Sullivan said.
"GPC share in the community's disappointment that the Blue Water Sports Club has now closed its doors at the Burnett Heads Boat Harbour."
Three employees were working at the club when it wound up but Mr Kitchen said they had all been paid in full.
A William Buck spokeswoman was unable to confirm the club's debt or assets but said it had only just started its investigations and would communicate with all creditors in writing within the next few weeks.
"We are aware of the critical impact this disclosure may have to the employees, trading partners and community and will attempt to address any of their concerns through the process of winding up," she said.
If creditors or members have an interest in the business, particular concerns or queries they may phone William Buck on 32295100.