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Before delving into today’s blog post which originated mid-April, I wanted to draw attention to world events that seem to collide with this topic.
There’s a tremendous amount of rhetoric around black lives matter following the tragedies of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Collins Khosa, Adama Traore and Belly Mujinga as hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets in Brussels, London, Rio de Janeiro, Seoul, Sydney, and across the U.S.
In light of recent events, I am drawn to the word “privilege” since it is echoed throughout this blogpost. What does privilege mean among race, gender or gender identity, birth order, education, religion, income level, ethnic background, body type and other groupings including yacht clubs? Thanks to Peggy McIntosh, I am reminded of what it means to have privilege and how you can use the privilege you have to fight for equity.
How privileged are you? We all have a combination of unearned advantages and unearned disadvantages in life. And it changes minute by minute, depending on where we are, who we’re seeing, or what we’re required to do. So it is when we travel the world, we’ll introduce ourselves to different cultures and engage in interactions that allow us to see humanity in all of its variations and forms.
Membership has its privileges
A few weeks ago, while Bill helped to validate our on-going boat costs, he suggested becoming a member of a yacht club to reduce our cruising expenses.
I don’t know about you but the image that I conjure up in my mind when someone mentions yacht clubs is the America’s Cup or an elitist, pretentious club or a rich guy sipping champagne while motoring on a mega-yacht.
So when Bill mentioned this idea, it seemed to contradict our initial thoughts.
Cal Yacht Club
My first direct exposure to a yacht club came about 10 years ago. I sailed in California Yacht Club ‘s Sunset Series Regattas in the summer with Bluewater Sailing, one of the ASA schools in Marina del Rey and where I first learned to sail.
Later on I joined CSC, a fractional-ownership club sailing a Catalina 36 called “Mystic” twice each month. In an effort to increase my time on the water and gain more experience on different boats, Jan from CSC put me in touch with some Cal Yacht Club members, and I crewed on “Pacific,” a 43’ Jeanneau. We raced in the cruising class and happened to take first place on July 16, 2014. (Thanks for cataloging my life, FB.)
At the time, I remember looking into becoming a member even though I didn’t own a boat, and I found it to be cost prohibitive. Ironically, I didn’t do any further research, which is unlike me. I probably could have found something that would suit my needs, but life got in the way.
Despite our initial bias, when Bill give us the pros and cons of becoming a member of a yacht club, we were sold. Chief among the benefits was reciprocity with yacht clubs all over the world, which includes access and guest privileges to moorings and facilities.
Equally important is becoming a part of a large community of sailors, cruisers and racers. Even in the current age of communication made easy through social media and online communities, nothing can quite beat the connections fostered in-person with like-minded individuals.
Let’s take a poll
As a sanity check, I posed the question to some sailors in a Facebook Group (Women Who Sail) on the benefits of joining a yacht club and whether yacht clubs still had relevance in today’s era. The responses were overwhelmingly positive - 35 in favor and 2 against. I grouped the responses into categories and tallied up the benefits. Here are the results:
- Friendship/community/2nd family - 27
- Good facilities/mooring - 14
- Learning new skills - 11
- Boat talk/knowledge transfer - 10
- Reciprocal benefits with other yacht clubs - 9
- Traveling together/rendezvous - 6
- Racing / regattas - 6
- No bullshit - 4
What strikes me about these results is how deeply ingrained these friendships can be. There was a sense that they looked out for each other and each other’s boats. A couple sailors were turned off by their experience, and largely it was due to a poor fit. In the matchmaking game of sailor and yacht club, that seems reasonable not to have a good match on the outset every time … to bat a thousand, so to speak.
So with that backdrop in mind, we were provided a very personal first hand account of a lifelong friendship that came about from being part of a yacht club. Bill put us in touch with one of his best friends, who shared with his background in boating.
Hugh started at the age of 15, by volunteering to launch 12’ dinghies at the local yacht club every Saturday morning. Sailing dinghies led to small keelboats. Eventually, he built his first ocean racer “Glenshiel” and launching her in 1957. The love of his life was Glenshiel v11, an Adams 40’ fast cruising yacht, upon which he has lived his dream of logging over 100,000 miles around the Pacific including a circumnavigation of Australia.
In addition to sharing his time with us and answering our questions, he also sponsored our membership to the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.
The Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, is the largest yacht club in the Australian state of Tasmania. It is best known for its role as the finishing destination for the annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. The club sports a range of facilities, from a 120-berth marina to on-site maintenance facilities.
Originally known as the Derwent Sailing Boat Club, for its location on the Derwent River in Hobart, the club was founded in 1880. It was called such for thirty years until, in 1910, King Edward VII granted the organization permission to use the prefix “Royal”.
Ever since Bill planted the idea in our heads, we have popped onto the RYCT Facebook page to catch up on the weekly updates announced by Commodore Tracy Matthews.
We have also taken to watching footage of the 2019 Sydney to Hobart race, though I do keep falling asleep before they arrive in Hobart. This historic 75th race was particularly slow-going at the end, as the winds dropped to 2 knots, and it took forever before Comanche would cross the finish line. I’m sure it was more agonizing for the sailors!
Meanwhile, the RYCT board met on April 28th and our application was tabled for consideration. In the ensuing month, our application is displayed on the Club’s notice board for member review. Nominations are ratified at the next Board Meeting if there are no objections. That meeting took place May 29th, and we were officially made members!
Future Sailing Plans
The rest of our sailing plans for 2020 will find us in the Caribbean in December and early 2021. Beyond that, we are looking ahead to cross the Panama Canal and head across the Pacific to the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia,
As intrigued as we are about the stories told by Bill and his wife when they rounded Cape Horn, we will likely attempt that on the next circumnavigation. In the 2021/22 season, we will have our sights on sailing to Tasmania to pour a whiskey cocktail for Hugh… perhaps The Andrew , a cocktail that was named after Serenade Wind’s captain.
Lucky seems to be too small a word to describe how we feel about this path. We are incredibly grateful for this initial glimpse into the future life we are embarking on. It is hard to hold back our excitement, but we remain vigilant in following the protocols set forth by the governments in California, Massachusetts and Florida.
More from this series:
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