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Old 08-02-2013, 06:32   #46
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Re: Seven Seas Cruising Association -SSCA

We joined just before we started cruising a couple of years ago. I have found some of the information worthwhile, and depending where you go the marina discount can be worth more that the $55.00. is also a site that offers port reports and forums, mostly in French though. Google Translate can be off a bit, but you can get some good info.

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Old 08-02-2013, 07:47   #47
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Re: Seven Seas Cruising Association -SSCA

Good morning.

I'm not going to try to dissuade those opposed to joining clubs or SSCA in particular, but I wanted to chime in about my experience.

I've been an SSCA member for at least five years. I joined when I bought my first sailboat, a 22 footer, and had goals of sailing off into the sunset some day. Mostly, I wanted to read about and get to know people who were out there doing it and to see what boats they did it on. At the time the bulletins' value to me was: where are you and what did you sail to get there? It was the beginning of my Next Boat research and each story by cruisers included the type of boat they sailed (not all sailboats). It never occurred to me to feel inferior because I wasn't a commodore with a 40-foot boat because that wasn't the vibe I got from the organization (others may feel differently). They had information I wanted and a few of my boating magazine subscriptions (mostly ads) cost more and were less personal.

I'm still a member and we're on our second boat (still not the sail into the sunset boat). I've become an SSCA volunteer (Rock Hall Cruising Station), met people, learned stuff, sailed places. Last year I attended my first Gam (Annapolis) and we've already planned to take the week off this year and help out doing whatever the organizers need help doing to set up the next Gam because we had loads of fun and we want to give back. The people we met (all ages) were welcoming, helpful, and some a real hoot. We met up with people we'd met in online forums such as this one and found new people to begin friendships with.

We're closer to our goal with the help of SSCA members. Sure we could have gotten all of the information without them, but the encouragement, experience shared and face to face contact is gratifying. We still don't feel pressured to become commodores or feel inferior because our boat is only 30 feet and not blue-water capable.

Yes, the organization became stale for a while, as most organizations go through periods of stagnation as leadership and membership ebbs and flows. They are coming out of it. From my perspective volunteers are stepping up to make those changes happen rather than complain and watch it fade away into obscurity. I suppose because they think it is worth saving or they wouldn't waste their time. It won't happen overnight. Many of those volunteers are in remote locations, some have work and family obligations, but they fit it in.

And: we're young, only one of us is white and we aren't rich by Forbes Magazine standards but learning to sail and all that sailing has brought us has made us rich by our standards.

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Old 08-02-2013, 08:04   #48
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Re: Seven Seas Cruising Association -SSCA

Originally Posted by drferron View Post
we aren't rich by Forbes Magazine standards but learning to sail and all that sailing has brought us has made us rich by our standards.
Love it!
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Old 08-02-2013, 08:09   #49
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Re: Seven Seas Cruising Association -SSCA

My wife and I were "Commodores" since back in the '80s, and in those days the SSCA provided for many of us what the Internet does today. The bulletin was about the only source of information on places off the beaten track, or on equipment that wasn't mainstream.

I quit a few years back when the SSCA leadership went against the written association rules, without any sort of consent from the membership, in order to participate in and support the creation of Florida's anti-anchoring Pilot Program. The PP was subsequently passed, and exactly what many of us feared happened--all five PP areas have instituted various anti-anchoring rules.

I believe SSCA's rules were changed because of this event, but at the time they expressly forbid the organization from lobbying. Leadership at the time was dominated by Florida retirees who were sympathetic to the false argument that derelict boats were a huge problem and that mooring fields were beneficial to cruisers. I disagreed, and argued that many SSCAers preferred to anchor and that the organization was forbidden to take a stand anyway. Well, the leaders went ahead and did what they wanted to, and I left. I'm not good at politics anyway--I actually say what I mean and believe in what I say.

In any case, Florida officials have subsequently used the argument many times that SSCA and BoatUS signed off on these anti-anchoring laws--"See, major boating groups support this!"
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Old 08-02-2013, 09:44   #50

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Re: Seven Seas Cruising Association -SSCA

Sounds like the SSCA was on the wrong side of things with the pilot program.
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Old 16-02-2013, 14:13   #51
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Re: Seven Seas Cruising Association -SSCA

Been off doing boaty things so it's taken a while to circle back.

Right up front:

I am the current President of SSCA. Last year I was Treasurer.

Here is my story:

I've been a member of SSCA since 1992. For most of that time I was pretty passive. I sailed and otherwise boated, read the Bulletin (mostly), went to work every day, and didn't think about it too much. Heck, it was only $55/year. In 2006 I bought Auspicious and sailed across the Atlantic. That life-changing event drove me back into the marine industry from which I came and I started to volunteer for a little here and a little there.

I thought I saw the handwriting on the wall that SSCA was not as relevant to real cruisers as it once was. Still, it was only $55/year.

Early in 2011 I got a phone call from a good friend (who participates in CF also) who was being pressured to run for the Board. Jon figured if he could talk me into it he was home free. I was busy and agreed. I did some research and wrote up my bio emphasizing the importance of relevance to the modern world of cruising.

I got elected. Poor planning of bathroom breaks made me Treasurer. I learned more and saw results from my work. It was fun. Last December I was elected President. I'm still focused on relevance.

Here is the SSCA story:

In 1952 six cruising couples in San Diego formed a disorganization to share information as they crossed the Pacific. With a warped sense of humor that I greatly appreciate they decided, surrounded by yacht clubs in San Diego, that they would ALL be Commodores. Over time, the Bulletin we publish became well enough regarded that people who weren't yet cruising wanted to read it also so we added subscribers later renamed Associate members.

Y'all had a lot to contribute. My thoughts in line.

Originally Posted by PamlicoTraveler View Post
We found the SSCA to be our biggest advocate when we left for Europe in May of last year. Norfolk's Joan Conover, an SSCA Cruising Station Coordinator, and her husband Greg, were longtime cruisers on their boat Growling Tiger.
SSCA is a volunteer-driven organization. You had the fortune to meet some really special ones. Joan is the SSCA Cruising Station for Hampton VA and also the Cruising Station Coordinator for the several hundred cruising stations we have around the world. Greg is a past Board member and was VP of SSCA in 2011 and 2012.

Originally Posted by Waterway Guide View Post
I agree...and I'm a member. The SSCA "Gams" have some of the most informative presenters and topics you'll find anywhere...and they're a whole lot of fun! You'll meet cruisers from all over the world.
We have sponsors. I'm going to miss important people here but let me give examples. Jack Dozier and Mike Ahart, both of Waterway Guides, pay their $55/year just like other members. So does Al Golden of IMIS. In addition they, and other sponsors pitch in to keep the Bulletin going, Gams to be great events, and other activities and services to work for cruisers.

Other notables pay their $55/year also, like Beth Leonard and Evans Starzinger, Jimmy Cornell, Nigel Calder, and Kathy Parsons.

Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
You can join a club that tells you how to do it, where to go and what to see.....
I don't think SSCA does that at all. We give you ways to read about what others have done so you can make your own decisions. We give you means to ask people who have gone before you what they experienced so you can make your own decisions. Our relationship with Lee Chesneau (who pays his $55/year) is a good example: he speaks to the extent of preaching about self-sufficiency in weather forecasting and route planning.

Originally Posted by Randyonr3 View Post
That was at the start of the seven seas "U" project. For months it was played up to be an added part of what was already a great org. I couldn't say enough about them until the project went into motion, it turned into a money hungry organization, where most all information by the "U" program.
The $10 or 15 or 20 for a webinar goes three ways. It pays the costs of the technology to support the webinar itself. There are real costs associated with that! It provides some beer money for the presenter. It provides a small revenue stream to SSCA that helps keep dues down. If you aren't interested in a topic you don't have to pay for it.

As it happens I'm one of the four most prolific presenters at SSU and I can assure you that what I get doesn't keep up with my beer budget. *grin*

Originally Posted by Randyonr3 View Post
Odd thing as most all the people working the boat shows and fairs are working for free.
I don't think that's fair at all. Volunteers at boat shows pull (mostly) a two hour shift and get a ticket to the show for the whole day. For most of us that's a pretty good deal.

Most of the Gam workers are entirely volunteers. What's wrong with that.

SSCA isn't a profit-making organization. We're a 501c7 not-for-profit corporation. The Board and Officers are all volunteers.

Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
Info these days is just a click away on just about every subject needed... Noonsite & CF to name a couple.
Agreed. SSCA has to be relevant or we will fade away. We're working hard at that. I'll tell you that in my opinion, obviously not objective, is that our biggest failing is not communicating our services and value proposition well enough. I'm STILL finding things we do and offer I didn't know about. That's frustrating. We're working on that.

Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
We have been members and even Commodores for years but let the membership expire when it started to feel too bureaucratic.
I'd like to hear about that. Public, PM, e-mail, whatever you like.

Originally Posted by Waterwayguy View Post
We were members for many years but the organization is in my opinion a dinosaur and really has little to offer to others except for maybe the new cruisers.
Hi Chuck! Relevance is important. The world has changed. SSCA must change with it or get out of the way.

Originally Posted by Nicholson58 View Post
We are on the Great Lakes; joined SSCA two years ago; flown the flag everywhere and never had anyone say hi. Perhaps it will be more useful blue water.
Really good point. We're beating the drum loudly in our membership to fly the burgee and look for other members. We're especially pushing our Commodores to look for Associates to provide support, the lessons of experience, and to recommend qualifying Associates for Commodore.

Originally Posted by Bash View Post
To become a "commodore" you have to meet distance requirements, be sponsored by two members, SUBMIT A PHOTO, submit a letter of introduction, purchase a burgee, be a member for more than a year, and have your name published in four succesive bulletins without anyone blackmailing you.
First I've ever heard of a problem with the photo. Educate me. Blackballing hasn't happened in my memory. I'll do the research and get numbers.

Originally Posted by flagorio View Post
Look at the relationship with Active Captain or any of the cruising authors who present there. Nuf said.
The SSCA relationship with ActiveCaptain helps us more than AC. AC is trying to expand their dataset to more global locations. Encouraging our members who do sail the globe to contribute helps everyone, including our other members who follow in the wake of those before them. This is EXACTLY what we were founded for and part of staying relevant in a changing world. We get more exposure.

Jeff and Karen Siegel have been members of SSCA for a long time. We couldn't ask for better more lucid supporters.

Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
I'm 34 with young kids. The ssca seems to be 95% old white retired people with deep pockets who's primary interest in life is boats.
You have clearly not been to a Gam. *grin*

Originally Posted by Kettlewell View Post
I quit a few years back when the SSCA leadership went against the written association rules, without any sort of consent from the membership, in order to participate in and support the creation of Florida's anti-anchoring Pilot Program. The PP was subsequently passed, and exactly what many of us feared happened--all five PP areas have instituted various anti-anchoring rules.
I wasn't active then, although a member. I can tell you that we get calls from FWC and are invited to working sessions while those more strident and emotional folks are left standing in the hall.

Reasonable people can come to different conclusions looking at the same data. SSCA is still at the table. SSCA and Boat/US are the ONLY organizations still at the table supporting anchoring and other cruising rights in Florida (and Georgia, and Maryland, and New York). Oh - unlike Boat/US we're ALL volunteers.

The PP has been unpleasant but we're now in a position were SSCA can help FWC write legislation and regulation that sits on the localities that seem so easily swayed by waterfront landowners and development interests. If you think you can do better you're welcome to join us ($55/year) and help make it better.

Originally Posted by Kettlewell View Post
Leadership at the time was dominated by Florida retirees who were sympathetic to the false argument that derelict boats were a huge problem and that mooring fields were beneficial to cruisers.
I disagree also. I much prefer anchoring to mooring balls.

I can't speak to the composition of the Board at the time, although I'm willing to look it up if you have a year. Our current Board has a part-time cruiser in Annapolis, someone launching from Groton CT this year, an active cruiser heading to the Bahamas this month, an active cruiser already in the Bahamas, an active cruiser in Fiji, a preparing cruiser in Key West FL, and a part-time cruiser based in RI.

Regardless, we are accessible. I've been active on CF for a long time. I'm here. It would be great to be constructive but I'm here regardless.

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Old 16-02-2013, 14:21   #52
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Re: Seven Seas Cruising Association -SSCA

Originally Posted by gordwedman View Post
You obviously do not know much about the SSCA. They have provided a multitude of services to cruising sailors including helping with the development of RMS Express which will eventually make expensive Pactor modems un-necessary. I have been a member for many years and will continue to support them . I have few posts here because i am over there. I will admit, however, that this forum seems more active. I think SSCA needs to revamp the site.
My observatin too; not much going on at the SSCA site. They seem focused on selling me something. This CF group is very active.
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Old 16-02-2013, 14:35   #53
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Re: Seven Seas Cruising Association -SSCA

Dave: I appreciate your detailed responses, and I think most SSCA members are great cruising folks, but I had to laugh at this statement you made:

You have clearly not been to a Gam. *grin*
We went to several Gams when we were members and had little kids and unfortunately, the stereotype is true--members are all old white folks, like I am now! Went to a Gam in Maine and I think we were the only folks under the age of 60, and our kids were the only kids there. So, it really isn't an organization specifically for families, though there are some that are members. However, this is also a problem with cruising in general within the USA. You just don't see American families cruising with kids, but you will start to encounter kids once outside of the country--many more Europeans, Aussies, and New Zealanders doing this with their kids. Within the USA the average age of an owner of a cruising-sized sailboat is up around 60, so it is logical that you won't find many with kids.
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Old 16-02-2013, 16:11   #54
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Re: Seven Seas Cruising Association -SSCA

Wow, what an array of differing opinions!!

For me personally, the SSCA Bulletin was a major inspiration to me to finally cut the cord and go cruising. In about 1990, when I was a starry-eyed cruising wannabe, working my butt off 60 hours a week "saving for retirement", I read a bulletin where a cruising couple who had been cruising for about 10 years were giving it up because they just couldn't manage the physical side of cruising any more. They had started their dream cruise at 65, and at 75, it was just getting too hard. Their advice was "GO NOW--don't wait until you can afford to retire!!" That was the best damned advice I have ever gotten on any boating subject from any source. I just hope one of my Bulletin articles makes as big a difference in someone else's life as that one did for me.

About the comments "all that info is available on the internet for free". That may seem true, but I have found from searching for specific information on the 'net, that you can spend HOURS and get a lot of "fluffy" stuff, totally disorganized, and almost no "meat". Lots of talk (and pics) on blogs about who they shared the anchorage with, and what the potluck was like, and how cool the native dancing was. But the questions I want to know: "Where can you get groceries? Is there an ATM on the island? Is internet available, and how do I get hooked up?" are usually too boring to put in a blog.

On the other hand most Bulletin articles are well-written and address the "meat"...of what cruisers want to know. Specifics, waypoints, costs, where to find parts in remote places, etc. Barb, the current Bulletin editor, is just fantastic at what she does, and it shows.

We are "off the beaten path" cruisers, and most of the areas we have been in the last 5 years either have no cruising guide, or one that was last updated 20 years ago. Though the old adage "rocks don't move" works for charts, it doesn't work for the services side of cruising. So I download every Bulletin as a PDF file as soon as it is available, and comb the Bulletins looking for inputs from SSCA-ers that were there recently, giving waypoints, up-to-date info on Customs and Immigration procedures, and where we can find Internet and ATMs, and groceries, and what day the market is, etc, etc.

Noonsite is good with facts, but is very spotty--just not enough contributors. Places like the Cruisers Forum is also good for a specific question, but, frankly, I'm too busy cruising to troll forums, and internet can get pretty expensive out here. Having all the info I'm looking for condensed into a Bulletin, for cruisers, by cruisers, that I can download and keep on my PC for future reference, is just WAY more useful.

The SSCA website, as imperfect as it is, has been a terrific boon to us since we left the U.S. We can hop on (as members) and put in search strings to find every mention of a specific area or topic in a Bulletin in the last 5 years. With a discount for electronic membership, we don't have to worry about shipping the paper Bulletins around. The Office is just fantastic about responding to issues by email (including Commodore recommendations).

If you're just cruising the US Coast, the Bahamas, Mexico, and the Caribbean, (and probably the Med), the cruising info in the Bulletins is not so important. In these areas, there are lots of guides, being regularly updated, articles in mags, etc. But out here in the boonies, I wouldn't give up my SSCA membership for anything.

As for the cost, it's not "just $55" to me. I think SSCA membership IS a little pricey to someone on a fixed cruising budget. But the value of the information and assistance available, makes it worth it. And the discounts that SSCA members receive from various alliances forged by the Office and the Board, and some dedicated members in the marine industry, pays for our membership. Things like discounts on boat insurance (thanks, IMIS), discounts on batteries, etc etc etc. (See SSCA website for a long list of current SSCA member discounts).

And for those just starting to dream about cruising--those of you wonderful people who are in the shoes I was in 20 years ago (yes, I'm an old retired person), the SSCA Gams, Seven Seas U, Cruising Stations, and hangin' out with other SSCA-ers are some of the best ways to get motivated and learn what you need to know to feel comfortable about cruising.

We regularly schedule our trips back to the U.S. around the SSCA Gams--partially because it's "old home week" for longtime members like us, and we get to see a lot of friends who've sailed over the horizon. Last year at the Melbourne Gam, I reconnected with one of the boats that we were "first year cruisers" with in 1993. Did we have fun reminiscing about all the mistakes we made that year, and how terrified we were about crossing the Gulf Stream the first time!!! We also occasionally get to meet our "Heros"--people like Jimmy Cornell, Beth Leonard, and Nigel Calder, whom are all members of SSCA.

But we also try to attend Gams for another reason--Because SSCA is a service organization, and now that we are experienced cruisers, we feel it's important to give back to the organization, and mentor new cruisers, just like we were mentored oh-so-long-ago. So we volunteer to present something (sometimes several things) at every Gam we've attended. We have also done one or two FREE Seven Seas U "webinars". The feedback we get from new cruisers is all positive--they are totally stoked to meet real people, in the flesh, who broke away and are "doing it". And conversely, we are stoked, too. It reminds us to keep writing, mentoring, and contributing to the organization.

Anyway, for those of you non-members and former-members--there is new energy in the organization. Join up, see what it's like, and if ain't perfect--come help us change it.

s/v Soggy Paws, in Fiji
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Old 16-02-2013, 16:44   #55
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Re: Seven Seas Cruising Association -SSCA

I've been a member for the past year and have enjoyed the Bullitin. I probably won't re-up this year though. Not for any negative reason, but just because I'm active in a couple of other organizations right now and just have too many irons in the fire right now. I would definately join again when my boating plans change though. I wish them luck and hope they are still there when I'm ready to come back.

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Old 16-02-2013, 17:17   #56
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Re: Seven Seas Cruising Association -SSCA

I love it for the Annapolis gam if nothing else.

I do use the services infrequently.
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Old 16-02-2013, 21:21   #57
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We joined when we started cruising and enjoyed the bulletins. It seemed bigger & more activities on the East Coast of US than on the West where we are so I felt not as connected. We did drop after a few years since we are back & working again. I found CF & enjoy it-it fits my needs. Would maybe join SSCA when I head out again.
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Old 17-02-2013, 04:52   #58
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Re: Seven Seas Cruising Association -SSCA

Gosh, I hate to be a bit commercial folks, but nobody has mentioned that SSCA Commodores can save hundreds of dollars on their insurance premiums annually, simply by attaining SSCA's Commodore status!

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Old 17-02-2013, 05:01   #59
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Re: Seven Seas Cruising Association -SSCA

Originally Posted by Al Golden View Post
... SSCA Commodores can save hundreds of dollars on their insurance premiums annually, simply by attaining SSCA's Commodore status!..
Good to know! What other benefits does the Commodore over the Associate have, besides being able to vote?

I can only find requirements, not the benefits:
The Seven Seas Cruising Association - IX - Commodores
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Old 17-02-2013, 05:38   #60
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pirate Re: Seven Seas Cruising Association -SSCA

I tend to measure organizations against the RYA in the UK... it started out great.. someone defending our corner but over the last 50yrs it has morphed into a different beast... it has gone commercial and as a result the priorities have changed... the humble boat owner is no longer the priority... its the advertisers and the quest for the Holy ...
The course's are being broken down into smaller brackets to increase revenue and instructors have no real standards it seems...
I sent a GF on a Competent Crew course... she had a great time... they (6pupils) set sail 10am most days once the skipper had recovered then were tied up again by 3pm... they then retired to the 'Local' for discussions... needless to say she showed no improvement in abilities but was 700 worse off...
Now I'm a member 1yr outa 5... thats the year I renew my Coastal Skipper licence... its free if you take up membership... 15 more if your not..
A saving of nearly 200 roughly in non membership... not a lot.... but when your walking the line...


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