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Old 24-08-2015, 10:47   #1
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Yacht Club 101

Can someone please school up me on yacht clubs? How do they work, ect?

I am looking into changing marina's and I am wondering what the pro's and cons of membership are. I am looking for a place to keep my boat at as well as a place to meet people who actually go sailing and aren't just living aboard at a marina for the cheap living.

I looked into some local websites and there isn't much info on membership cost, additional fees to dock your boat there, ect... would their prices be comparable to keeping your boat at a regular marina slip?

Lastly, I did walk into a dinner at a local yacht club once when meeting a guy to buy his laser sailboat. Everyone in there seemed...well, older. Would a 31 year old guy like me even fit in?


I'm just looking for someone with experience who could give me some general info on them as the info available on all their websites is extremely vague.
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Old 24-08-2015, 10:58   #2
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Re: Yacht Club 101

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Originally Posted by VinnyVincent View Post
Can someone please school up me on yacht clubs? How do they work, ect?

I am looking into changing marina's and I am wondering what the pro's and cons of membership are. I am looking for a place to keep my boat at as well as a place to meet people who actually go sailing and aren't just living aboard at a marina for the cheap living.

I looked into some local websites and there isn't much info on membership cost, additional fees to dock your boat there, ect... would their prices be comparable to keeping your boat at a regular marina slip?

Lastly, I did walk into a dinner at a local yacht club once when meeting a guy to buy his laser sailboat. Everyone in there seemed...well, older. Would a 31 year old guy like me even fit in?


I'm just looking for someone with experience who could give me some general info on them as the info available on all their websites is extremely vague.
Lol- older, how nicely put. I belong to a Yacht Club, it is very nice and not totally out of whack with some of the nicer marinas. BUT, there aren't a lot of people in our age category (me 38, my wife 27).

I like the club because I know they're less likely to rip me off, the grounds are very nice, the people are very nice, but I do miss having drinking/sailing/live aboard buddies within a couple of decades of me.

I'm sure they're there, they just aren't on every other boat like at my old marina.

I still haven't decided whether I like it better or not. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side.

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Old 24-08-2015, 11:35   #3
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Re: Yacht Club 101

Does your club have "boating privileges"? I am not sure what that means. Does that mean I can dock my own boat there, or are there normally club boats available to take out?
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Old 24-08-2015, 11:39   #4
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Re: Yacht Club 101

It has reciprocal privileges which is a very very nice feature. There are probably 100 or so (I'm not sure how many but a lot) of clubs in the region that I can tie up at and use the facilities of free of charge, which makes comfortable cruising very easy. I've taken advantage of the privilidges several time- they are fantastic.

I'm not sure about boating privileges, I'm pretty sure my club doesn't have any club boats. My 35' is probably about an average size, I don't think there is much of anything under about 28'.

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Old 24-08-2015, 11:39   #5
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Re: Yacht Club 101

Also, what would be a better route to learn more about sailing?
Joining a yacht club and maybe attending some of their events/finding a mentor...or just going with a regular marina and maybe using the extra money I would spend on the yacht club to take some classes(ASA101-106 is what I was thinking)
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Old 24-08-2015, 11:44   #6
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Re: Yacht Club 101

Yatch Club can mean many different things.

Some are just good old boys who hang out at the marina drinking. Others are formal affairs with dress codes (but usually still involve drinking)
Some own thier own marina. Others are affiliated with a commercial marina.

Hard to say what you will find.
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Old 24-08-2015, 12:09   #7
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Re: Yacht Club 101

Well, I like drinking and I like sailing, so that's a start

Honestly drinking buddies are a dime a dozen though. What I am mainly looking for is an opportunity to not only learn more about sailing, but to sail on a lot of different boats. If I make some new friends in the process who also have boats, obviously that is a plus.

My thoughts were either join the yacht club, or take some ASA classes and then using those certifications to rent some bareboats.(seems like it would be about the same price)
It seems like the yacht club idea could be hit or miss for what I am looking for, based on what everyone has said so far. I am just trying to get all the info so I can make a decision when it comes time to move my boat in a few months.
If it were you, which do you think would be a more efficient way to go?
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Old 24-08-2015, 12:16   #8
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Re: Yacht Club 101

We have belonged to a couple of yacht clubs. They have pros and cons. The Navy Yacht Club was so cheap and casual, and since we were already part of the community, there was no downside whatsoever. We have belonged to one yacht club in civilian life, although looked at probably a half dozen others when we were shopping for a place to keep our last boat. The main reason we looked at so many yacht clubs is because there just happened to be a lot of them near where we live.

Pro:
Slip rents are generally very inexpensive. We were paying around $1000 a year for a 28' Cape Dory.
Con:
Low slip rents are offset generally by initiation fees, quarterly or annual membership fees and (usually) mandatory spending on food and drinks. Some yacht clubs have required work days but usually have lower fees if you are required to work. Our last yacht club required a $1000 initiation fee and a $5 charge for one "voting share." We had quarterly membership fees and mandatory food and drink charges which, when combined with our yearly slip rent, brought our costs to about $3000 a year. This did not include the cost of winter haul out and storage, which had to be done elsewhere. We could have left the boat in our slip for the winter at no additional charge but we would not consider wintering over in the water in this climate. A yearly slip could definitely be found in a local marina for less than $3K for the season, but you can't really count the charge for food and drink. You would pay to eat out anywhere else.
Also, at our club at least, you have to bid for a slip based on seniority. Depending on the size/location of the slip you need or want this may mean you need to be a member for awhile in order to get what you need. In our case it was getting a slip with sufficient draft. The first year that we had a permanent slip our keel sat in the mud regularly at very low tide.

Pro:
Food and drink can be cheaper than you would pay at a sit down restaurant.
Con:
The food and drink may or may not be that great. Our yacht club, while very nice, tended toward canned green beans and instant mashed potatoes with the prime rib. Not great choices for people with a WFPB diet, and not being big drinkers we couldn't really spend all our mandatory food and drink money on booze either. Functions that had admissions fees ate up some of it. We ended up taking friends out to dinner there a lot just so we could spend all the money we were required to. It made us very popular with our friends but it felt like a waste of money to us.

Pro:
Lots of social functions; dances, dinners, BBQ's, Opening Day parties (around here you are invited to opening day at all the YCs in the area so that's a party a weekend for 2 months running)
Con:
The music at said social functions may not be anything you recognize. Think Big Band Era or the occasional Elvis impersonator.

Pro:
Reciprocal privileges at other participating yacht clubs
Con:
There is no downside to this.

Pro:

Facilities are generally behind locked gates so may offer a higher level of security. This is certainly not always true, but we have observed it to be true a majority of the time.
Con:
Inviting visitors may require a degree of coordination and may require a trip to let them into the facility as opposed to just walking to the top of the pier. A good trade off for the increased security in my opinion.

Depending on the yacht club some people can be a bit snooty and it may take a little time to feel like an insider. But we found that after some time we really started to feel like part of a family. But it took some "getting involved" to accomplish this, and can happen faster or slower depending on how involved you are willing to get. Are you a "joiner" in other respects beyond just paying your membership fee? We could show up there for dinner or drinks on Friday evening and there was always someone to eat and drink with that we knew.

Our yacht club also partnered with the Power Squadron so they offered a lot of classes there and they arranged for the USCG Aux to make regular visits in the spring to do the complimentary safety inspections.
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Old 24-08-2015, 12:25   #9
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Re: Yacht Club 101

To answer your questions….

Yacht Clubs can be very different from one another, just like people. There is a spectrum.

Some will be "low key" "open to everyone" "just about fun" and "lower priced."

Some others at the other end of the spectrum may be:
1. Exclusive (very hard to become a member
2. Expensive (if you have to ask, you probably can't afford it)
3. Elitist (conformity to standards is very important, nothing less is tolerated)

Some clubs are heavily into racing at the highest level of competition. Some are not and just offer "beer can" races (very informal).

Some host major yachting events (regattas, races). Many don't.

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IF you just want to LEARN to sail, I suggest you first do as much "home study" as possible by reading books on sailing, then watch videos about sailing (instructional videos are commonly found on Youtube), THEN take a series of classes from a certified ASA or SailUS school. You will learn in a good environment aimed at helping you learn.

Then, go to the yacht clubs and offer to "crew" for anyone. That way you get more experience, and you get to introduce yourself to members who then get to evaluate you (and vice versa) to see if there is a good fit. You may find you really enjoy the people and then want to join the club. Or you may find you don't fit.

Later, if you decide you really like the people in the club, you could consider telling your new friends there you would like to join the club. That is what they may want to hear, AFTER they have sailed with you or learned about you.
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Old 24-08-2015, 12:32   #10
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Re: Yacht Club 101

I didn't join a club with any thoughts of learning to sail. At my club, the average skill level of the sailors seems to be very high, few if any dock queens. I can't really imagine they invite people to come sailing with them though. There are no organised race nights at my club, but at others that is the main focus.

Compared to the above rates described my club is fairly pricey. Initiation $2k, annual rates in the $3000 neighbourhood for 6 months.

I think you will find huge variety one club to the next. If you want easy access to day sailors what you might be looking for is a canoe and boat club type establishment rather than a yacht club.

I think for learning, especially given that you already have your own boat, you would be better off spending the money on formal lessons. Racers can be a bit funny (serious A types).

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Old 24-08-2015, 12:44   #11
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Re: Yacht Club 101

Having checked out the websites of most yacht clubs in my area, my conclusion is that there is little consistency in their personalities. SteadyHand touches on them. May I suggest you check out the websites of clubs in your area? Some may fit your style.

In my area, there are clubs which seem more welcoming for potential members ("come visit at one of our social events and introduced yourself" ), specify membership costs, offer sailing classes, and have berths (subject to availability).
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Old 24-08-2015, 13:05   #12
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Re: Yacht Club 101

Thanks family van/steady hand this is exactly the kind of advice I was looking for.

I have been sailing/studying on my own for years now and I feel like I have hit a slump where I could really use some hands on experience with someone much more experienced than myself.

It sounds like I should go through with my plans to enroll in the ASA courses and just signup for another year at a regular marina. Once I get the knowledge from the course I will likely do what steady hand was saying and try to get in on some peoples boats at the yacht club when I have more experience.

The ASA 103/104 course actually looks like a lot of fun!

Should I bother with 101 since I already have been sailing for a while? I notice you can "challenge" the 101 part of the course and not have to take it for half price.
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Old 24-08-2015, 13:18   #13
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Re: Yacht Club 101

I can't advise on ASA, I'm not familiar with their material. My sail training was dinghy sailing for 3 seasons with CYA as a pre teen, then 4 seasons volunteering on CSTA Vessels (Tall ships) as a teen. But I would think you should be able to snipe which ever courses interest you.

Why study stuff you already know?

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Old 24-08-2015, 13:26   #14
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Re: Yacht Club 101

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Why study stuff you already know?
Very true, I am likely going to skip the ASA basic keel boat 101. It seems like it mainly covers the basics. Raising sails, sail trim, points of sail, ect. which I've definitely got down already. I figure if I can pass their "challenge" there's no need to take the whole course.

The ASA 103/104 looks fun and challenging for someone like me, then eventually the 106 which is advanced coastal cruising.

As far as formal training, I could only really find ASA classes around here. Are there any other organizations in the US?
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Old 24-08-2015, 13:30   #15
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Re: Yacht Club 101

I think ASA is the benchmark in the US, of course RYA stuff for Britain is well regarded, but ASA probably makes the most sense stateside.

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