Junior SailorsBy Katherine Stone

(left) Junior sailors getting ready to rock. Family memberships can be an investment in life-long enjoyment.


In my lifetime I have been a member of 5 yacht clubs. There were big differences. The one that I grew up at, is where I learned to sail and to drive a motorboat. The second one didn’t have a clubhouse. All we did was race off the beach. The third one was a self-help club, with a clubhouse. The fourth one has a clubhouse, pool and wonderful winter activities. Finally, the fifth one only has a pavilion, but access to great cruising. The one thing that they all have in common is camaraderie. They were places where I could socialize, learn from other boaters and make life-long friends who shared the same passion for being out on the water.

The most important thing to remember is that there are boating clubs, yacht clubs, sailing clubs and marinas. They all offer different choices, amenities, activities and experiences. You just need to find the right one to fit your lifestyle and your needs, whether you are an individual, couple, or a family. What interests you? Do you want to learn to sail, learn how to operate a powerboat, race, cruise, fish, swim, grab a quick snack, or dine at a fine restaurant? All these choices are available.

Joining one of these organizations provides wonderful benefits whether you own a boat or not.

Open House GuestsOpen house guests get their first taste of sailing.

Camaraderie

The number one reason that boaters join a club is for social activities and fellowship with like-minded and experienced boaters who can help them begin their boating experience. Many extol the wonderful family threads that have kept generations continuing to enjoy water sports with family and friends who share the same passion.

Education and Information

Boating clubs can offer what are probably the most important and beneficial things; education and facilities. Sail training, as well as other boating related topics can be a big plus. Want to learn how to repair your engine, navigate in unfamiliar waters, pick stunning cruising grounds, learn about new boat accessories, provision your boat for long trips, winterize your systems, or learn about the Racing Rules of Sailing? Not only during the summer, but also in the winter months when the boats are covered in snow, boating clubs offer all manner of courses and seminars.

Reciprocity

Some other big pluses include reciprocity with other clubs and marinas, usually giving you the same access to their facilities as members enjoy. Another one would be group cruises – either on your own boat, hopping on another member’s boat, or borrowing a boat from the club’s fleet, (yes, there are many clubs who have a boat for training and member use). There is also the opportunity to network with people with common careers and experiences. Don’t forget some clubs have amenities which might include a swimming pool, tennis courts, dining room, beach access, fitness facilities - the list goes on and on. Finally, racing, which is one of the big reasons a sailor might join a yacht club.

There are also virtual, or paper clubs, where there is no clubhouse, no amenities nor any place to moor your boat. These still provide the social activities and camaraderie that a physical club would offer. Many focus their activities on cruising in local areas, rafting together for socializing, or chartering boats in exotic locations together. There are hundreds of boating clubs throughout Canada, so let me give you a taste of what you can enjoy.

Raymer Member Wedding ReceptionWhat a delightful way to celebrate! Here is the Raymer Member Wedding Reception

Use the Club’s Boats


In many instances, boating clubs own their own boats. Depending upon your interests you can go fishing, tubing, gunk-holing, racing, cruising, or just enjoy a day on the water with the wind going through your hair. The best part is that you don’t have to make the cash outlay to purchase and own a boat, yet you might have access to many types of boats. Some clubs include all the maintenance, insurance, docking/launching/hauling fees and upkeep of the boat in the cost while others rely on work assessments. Many of them offer courses to obtain certification and proficiency to operate power and sailboats safely and confidently. The Guelph Community Boat Club Co-op (Ontario) has more than 40 centreboard sailboats ranging from one to four-person capacity. The Barnet Sailing Co-Operative (British Columbia) owns 7 Catalina sailboats ranging from 27-30 feet, which they all agree is the “perfect co-op boat”. St. James Town Sailing Club (ON) owns 28 boats and consider themselves a community rather than a sailing club. The Mooredale Sailing Club (ON) boasts the newest and largest fleet of club-owned Albacores.

Powerboating

If powerboats are more your thing, Carefree Boating Clubs in Montreal, Georgian Bay, Niagara and Lake Simcoe could become your go-to. With unlimited use, great availability, a terrific range of power boats from small run-abouts to luxury and specialty boats, they have access to 90+ locations and hundreds of boats. Another choice is Freedom Boat Club with 250+ reciprocal locations in the US/Canada/France and boasts free unlimited training. (See the Freedom Boat Club story in this issue of Canadian Yachting on page 78).

New Member SailsNew member sails provides a great opportunity to get acquainted.

If you would rather join a yacht club, Glenmore Sailing Club (Alberta) has sailboats available for members to use including 6 keelboats and over 50 centerboard boats in their co-op boat program. The Burlington Sailing and Boat Club (ON) has mentors to provide ongoing learning experiences. New members can start as Crew, progress to Skipper and then after proving their competency can take boats out without a Sailing Mentor. The Royal Canadian Yacht Club (ON) has a 12-boat Ideal 18 Fleet. This club within a club offers members complete access to the club-owned boats any time for racing, regattas or just sailing. The Royal Victoria Yacht Club (BC) owns Martin 242s and Mini 12s for charter or through their small keelboat and fleet programs. Toronto Sailing & Canoe Club (ON) has both a dinghy and keelboat fleet program, giving their members an opportunity to sail and use the club facilities throughout the year. Both the National Yacht Club and Oakville Yacht Squadron (ON) have a few club owned boats for their BOAT4U and Borrow A Boat programs to help members without boats learn skills, enjoy club activities and eventually buy their own boat.

Realizing that club owned boats are the future of keeping sailing alive, Port Credit Yacht Club (ON) has embarked on a co-op program with 5 keelboats in the 24-30 foot range to address a problem with their Adult Learn-to-Sail students who finish their sail training courses and then ask, “So what do I do now?” They have taken their cue from Ashbridges Bay Yacht Club (ON), who has run a very successful Dinghy and Keelboat Co-op program for years. Their co-op members are able to enjoy the camaraderie of sailing in a club, participate in social events, and experience a low-commitment alternative to boat ownership, or just test the waters before actually purchasing a boat.

So, take the time to do some research, write down your list of “must haves” and “nice to haves”, figure out your budget, and then check the Sail Canada website at www.sailing.ca to find the contact for your provincial sailing association, contact the Canadian Power & Sail Squadron at www.cps-esp.ca, or search for boat clubs and marinas on the websites for Boating Ontario, Boating BC, Atlantic Marine Trades Association, Mid-Canada Marine & Powersports Dealers Association, or the Quebec Marine Association.

You might be amazed to learn how little it can cost to join a boating club and become a boater!

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