Have you ever glimpsed a cluster of billowing, white sails skipping across the water on a beautiful summer afternoon? Maybe you've wondered where all these boats come from, or even how you can join in on the fun.
A group of sailboats is usually a pretty good indication that there's a sailing club nearby. Sailing clubs are organizations where people interested in sailing can come together and indulge in the popular pastime. You don't need to own your own boat or even know how to sail to join a club. In fact, that's the whole point -- the clubs provide the boats and the training you'll need, so the only things required of you are a desire and willingness to learn. And if you're already an experienced skipper, sailing clubs still have much to offer, including a variety of boats, racing events, social gatherings and the camaraderie of other enthusiasts.
If you're looking for a fun, challenging activity, sailing is a great option for people of all ages and skill levels. It's also a great family activity because it takes an entire crew to man a boat -- and what better crew than your friends and family?
Can you already feel the warm breeze on your face and hear the wind whipping in the sails? If so, keep reading to find out what's so great about sailing clubs and what it takes to become a member at one. In the next sections, we'll take a look at why sailing clubs are such popular organizations and explain some of the considerations involved in choosing the right club.
Benefits of Joining a Sailing Club
If sailing clubs are designed to give you a means and a place to sail, they certainly do their job well. Not only do they provide the boat to sail on, they'll actually teach you how to sail it, too.
If you've never sailed a day in your life, clubs usually offer classes, from beginner to advanced. They'll teach you all about the different boats and their components, and how to tie knots, use hand signals, rig, tack, identify wind direction, dock the boat and much more. They'll also teach you rules and safety procedures, so you'll be well-equipped to handle any situation that arises [source: Coconut Grove Sailing Club]. Most clubs require you to take at least some classes before using their boats.
Many sailing clubs offer boat rentals, so you can reserve a boat either with your own crew or a crew made up of other club members. Depending on your skill level or membership level, you can serve as either the skipper or a crewmember. Clubs have a variety of sailboats to choose from, so you're sure to find something you like. If you own your own boat, many clubs even offer boat storage in their marina or on a rack. This can be a great solution if you want to keep your boat near where you plan to do your club sailing.
Sailing clubs are not just about leisurely sailing (which, of course, you can do); some also offer racing events where you can test your skills against other sailing enthusiasts. In club races you can compete against other members, and some clubs even host regattas where people from all around come to race.
One of the best parts of joining a sailing club is the socialization it offers. At most clubs, a boat's crew might be made up of several club members who may or may not know one another. You can arrange your own crew, of course, but if you just want to sail and don't have a crew, the club can team you up with other members. This offers a great opportunity to socialize and bond with other sailing lovers.
Most groups also have a clubhouse where you can hobnob with members at parties and events. Clubhouses can be simple or elaborate depending on the club, and can also be great places for events like weddings, banquets and family reunions.
Sailing Club Memberships
Want to sail but don't know which club to choose? It all comes down to what amenities you want. For example, do you want a club that has racing events? Would you like to sail a particular kind of boat? Are you looking for a club that will teach you how to sail? How far are you willing to travel to get there? How much are you willing to spend? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you decide what club is the best match for your needs.
Some sailing clubs offer different memberships based on your skill level and what services you want to have access to. For example, one level of membership might allow you to serve as a crew member, while another level lets you skipper your own boat. Some clubs also offer memberships that are valid only certain months of the year. Keep in mind that some clubs are open to the public, so anyone can join, while others are private. Private clubs might require sponsorship from an existing member in order to join.
So where are sailing clubs the most popular? Well, they exist all across the United States, but residents in some areas of the country seem to enjoy the sport just a little more than others. According to US Sailing, the national governing body of sailing, more than half (51 percent) of yacht clubs and sailing clubs in the U.S. are located in the eastern part of the country. Clubs in the central part of the country make up 30 percent, and clubs near the west coast make up about 18 percent [source: US Sailing].
Sailing Club Costs
Because each sailing club is different and all offer different amenities, the cost of joining can vary greatly from club to club. Many factors can affect membership prices -- even within a club -- including membership level, whether you own your own boat (and if you want them to store if for you), your age (there are often youth prices), whether you're joining as an individual or family, and whether you're a resident or non-resident. While it's hard to say what club dues you'll expect to encounter, many clubs range between $150 and $2,500 per year for an individual membership. There's also often a one-time initiation fee of between $250 and $500 that you pay when you join. Classes and special events can incur additional costs, as well.
If you're looking to join a local sailing club, the best way to find one is through the Internet. Many clubs have Web sites that will give you information about what they offer and how to become a member.
To learn more about sailing, boats, sailing clubs and other family activities, visit the links on the next page.
- Augusta Sailing Club. "Membership Information." (July 31, 2011) http://www.augustasailingclub.org/membership-information
- Coconut Grove Sailing Club. "Adult Intermediate Sailing Courses." (July 31, 2011) http://www.cgsc.org/adult-intermediate
- Discover Boating. "The Benefits of Joining a Sailing Club or Organization." (July 22, 2011) http://www.discoverboating.com/resources/article.aspx?id=322
- Encyclopædia Britannica. "Yacht." 2010. (July 31, 2011) http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/651096/yacht
- Harbor Yacht Clubs: San Diego and Long Beach. "Sailing Club." (July 31, 2011) http://www.harboryc.com/sailing-club-san-diego-long-beach.htm
- Hoover Sailing Club. "Membership Application." (July 20, 2011) http://www.hooversailingclub.com/pdf/hscapplication.pdf
- Legacy Boating Club. "Fleet." (July 27, 2011) http://www.legacyboatingclub.com/fleet.htm
- Manhattan Sailing Club. "Membership Info - 2011." (July 20, 2011) http://www.myc.org/mem_info.htm
- Palm Beach Sailing Club. "Application for Membership." (July 24, 2011) http://www.pbsail.org/2011/2011-Membership_App.pdf
- US Sailing. "US Sailing Organizations: Profile Study of Yacht Clubs August 2010." (July 25, 2011) http://organizations.ussailing.org/ycsurvey2010.htm