Joining Sailing/Boating and Yacht Clubs - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 100 Old 12-13-2019 Thread Starter
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Joining Sailing/Boating and Yacht Clubs

I am the Rear Commodore for Chesapeake Bay Yacht Clubs Association. We recently had a summit for our member clubs' officers where one common issue amongst about 90% of the clubs was declining membership due to aging members and not enough incoming members to boost membership numbers.

I'd really love feedback from those SailNetters who do NOT belong to boating clubs/associations, etc. about what prevents you from joining.

The sailing club I belong to is $35/year for two of us so in my case, the cost of joining wasn't an issue. I joined to learn how to sail. I didn't buy my first boat until a year after joining. I maintained my membership over 20 years in order to give back to the club my time in various officer positions because the members gave me so much when I needed it (and still do). John and I went from crossing the lake to crossing the Atlantic in our time as members.

Our club is mostly made up of lake sailors. John and I along with one other couple keep our boats on the bay. A couple who sail in Europe and the Caribbean joined a few years ago. Our membership has dwindled steadily since I joined.

When I teach boating classes (USCGAUX) and students ask "What next?" I always encourage them to find a local club to join because it's a great way to learn on a variety of boats. I don't know how many actually do.

Every so often we (OK, I) think about joining a yacht club but John knows that if he waits long enough I'll talk myself out of it and he breathes again. We may join another virtual club that has a lot of social events within walking distance of our boat and although they keep their boats in Rock Hall, MD, most members live near-ish us in SE Pennsylvania.

I realize that some people just aren't joiners. But what else prevents you?

Very curious.

Donna


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Re: Joining Sailing/Boating and Yacht Clubs

For us it's cost versus value. Way back when, reciprocity was simple and welcome among clubs. The few times I've checked lately the clubs I talked to had made no effort to reach out to other clubs so that their members would be welcome to take a transient slip or even enjoy the drinking and dining available.
At us$500.00 a year or so for a non-resident membership, as a cruiser, I'd want the use of the facilities of most clubs that might be on my itinerary.
I understand you are more interested in local members to increase the participation in your club activities, but having members from other clubs involved when they are in the area could be beneficial, too.
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post #3 of 100 Old 12-13-2019 Thread Starter
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Re: Joining Sailing/Boating and Yacht Clubs

Thanks Capta for that information.

Reciprocity was another issue that came up at our summit. CBYCA encourages reciprocity amongst all its member clubs. The clubs with facilities wondered what the clubs without had to offer in return.

When I visit clubs with facilities I always do so with the question in the back of my mind "Would I feel comfortable joining this club?" because I'm seriously shopping. So I'm one virtual club member using the reciprocity with an eye toward potentially requesting membership. Even if I'm just visiting for a day or two, I'm spending money in their restaurants and bars. By not being welcoming, they've lost my potential business.

Donna


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Re: Joining Sailing/Boating and Yacht Clubs

There are so many different kinds of clubs from virtual, to member owned, to full service clubs.

I was an officer and Commodore of a full blown club and member for 10 years. Aside from boat slips, the social aspect at the time was important for my wife to learn sailing and commradiere of other women sailors.

However the clubs politics ruined the last few years of our experience, probably because I got involved in it as the Commodore. The club was failing financially slowly. Was not run as a business, but run as a place to party. The club was held up financially by the resident members ( those with boats) paying over $5000 a year. The social members only paid $500 and they got a pool with that. This group became the the loudest at meetings and any attempt to increase their fees was met with threats. Meanwhile the boaters who supported the club financially really just wanted a safe place for their boats and weren’t interested in partying at the club on the weekend. They were out boating many times with each other.

The politics of this lead to a definite conflict. They wanted a cheap neighborhood place to party and actually resented the “yacht club “ history and it’s officers and tradition.

This discourse drove people away as well as their prices up for slips and it became a cyclical process. This clubs members were not willing to work on beautification projects together and felt they paid their fees to not to have to do that. I watched other successful member clubs who had healthy participation. They had some hour requirements. The only successful financially clubs controlled their social me,bet ship and their voting rights, and ran them as businesses too. While social members would want a restaurant, parties, they weren’t willing to support it financially.

My point is the politics of the club may be a real turnoff to membership. The club has to decide whether it’s a serious yacht club with boating/ sailing or a drinking party club for its neighborhood.

It has been and always will be a discussion of dwindling membership. Reputation helps drive increased membership as do its members attitudes to outsiders.

I was a member of CBCYA for years and have many many good friends from their who I continue to boat with.
Saying that I am glad we left where we were and find that our boating experiences have improved since we did.
We didn’t need planned parties or some member waiting at the dock for me to return from my weekend out to complain about the club or another member.


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Re: Joining Sailing/Boating and Yacht Clubs

Interesting question, Donna...will be curious to hear what the range of collective opinions and experiences are on this.

For me, my folks were members of a sailing club when I was a kid and that's where I learned to sail. After I graduated from high school I held my own membership at that club through my twenties because I had made a lot of friends there over the years and enjoyed the racing and social aspects of being in the club. If I hadn't finally graduated from college and gotten a job (at 30!) I'd probably still be a member there today - if its still around after 35 years or so.......but, I got a job, sold my Nacra, let my membership go, and moved around the country for about 20 years before I landed in south Florida and got another boat. At that point in my life sailing was an escape - I was working 80 hours a week and when I had time to sail I was looking for the peace and solitude of time alone on the boat, not a social scene, so a quiet marina in the keys was what suited me best. Over the next 10 years or so I moved the boat from the Keys up to Port Canaveral and back a few times as I got moved around for work, but each time looked more for a quiet marina rather than a club.

Now that I'm retired, however, I have become more interested in sailing club or yacht club membership. I joined the Royal Marsh Harbour Yacht Club last spring when I was in the Abacos because I had met some fellow cruisers in the anchorage at Green Turtle who recommended it as a way to meet some local cruisers and get discounts on food and fuel at marinas, but unfortunately didn't spend much time getting to know folks thinking I would have more time to do that this coming spring when I went back that way as part of a longer trip to the the Exumas......but Dorian provided a good lesson in not putting things off for tomorrow, huh?

Anyway, that's a long way around to say that it was a matter of what sailing experience I wanted with the time I had available more than a cost versus value decision when deciding to join a sailing / yacht club vs staying in a marina.

Andy
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post #6 of 100 Old 12-14-2019
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chef2sail View Post
There are so many different kinds of clubs from virtual, to member owned, to full service clubs....

However the clubs politics ruined the last few years of our experience, ..... The club was failing financially slowly. Was not run as a business, .....
This group became the the loudest at meetings and any attempt to increase their fees was met with threats. ......

The politics of this lead to a definite conflict. ..... and actually resented the ... history and it’s officers and tradition.

This discourse drove people away as well as their prices up .... and it became a cyclical process. This clubs members were not willing to work on beautification projects together and felt they paid their fees to not to have to do that. I watched other successful member clubs who had healthy participation. They had some hour requirements. The only successful financially clubs controlled their social membership and their voting rights, and ran them as businesses too. While .... members ...
weren’t willing to support it financially.

My point is the politics of the club may be a real turnoff to membership.....

It has been and always will be a discussion of dwindling membership. Reputation helps drive increased membership as do its members attitudes to outsiders.


We didn’t need ..... some member ..... to complain about the club or another member.
I have not yet spent any time at anyplace that has a yacht club, but this sounds like all the worst elements of a youth sports parents club, the PTA, and a neighborhood association, all rolled into one. Scary.

The only reason I might join one, would be to have a place to keep my boat, and to introduce my wife to people in a sailing community. And I can't offer any insight into what young people would want. We were members of a ballroom dance club that died because there were no young couples joining. Near the end, we had long term members who came with their walkers, just to hear the music, and socialize.

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Re: Joining Sailing/Boating and Yacht Clubs

Quote:
Originally Posted by midwesterner View Post
I have not yet spent any time at anyplace that has a yacht club, but this sounds like all the worst elements of a youth sports parents club, the PTA, and a neighborhood association, all rolled into one. Scary.
Understand the first 6 years it was a perfectly good experience.

My takeaway was that if you can find the “right” club it can be a great experience. Figure out what you want from it first and if it can meet those needs

If you find a club where the members help out physically then they are more likely to accept others IMHO and it helps create an esprit de cor. The clubs which are people paying and everyone gets a vote, well that leads to a lot of discention.

If you are looking for a boating/ sailing club , the goals are different from the club which encourages the locals to party.


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Re: Joining Sailing/Boating and Yacht Clubs

I never joined a club because non of the benefits appealed to me and I believe the costs were too much. I have wintered at a few clubs. I find the restaurant handy when I was doing boat work... the members were friendly. They wanted me to join... that club went out of business. My experience at another wintering was not as positive... very little interaction with members, staff seemed OK... lots of rules. Location of these clubs was close to home in the west end of the Sound but not where I would be sailing usually. As I rarely needed things like reciprocal privileges... slip or mooring... the only features which I might use.... a dinghy landing dock (to walk the dogs) or their restaurant/bar were no available at most clubs. A few of them seemed to welcome non members to their restaurant. I am not one to sit at any bar, drink and shoot the breeze... something many sailors seem to like. I don't race or have kids who need to learn how to sail.

Why be a member of something, a yacht club in this case, if you get nothing of value (to me) for the money?

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post #9 of 100 Old 12-14-2019
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Re: Joining Sailing/Boating and Yacht Clubs

I would say a big turn off for us is initiation fees. Around here, most of the clubs annual fees seem to line up more or less with a decent marina. But there are hefty initiation fees, I think designed to lock you into the club.

We joined what on the surface seemed like a nice club but the culture actually sucked. It was stuck up and cliquish. We only stuck around a year due to the culture and were out the 6 boat bucks.

We have never been willing to part with the bucks for an initiation fee again to try out another club when there are so many nice marinas around. And we have never encountered the same exclusive culture at a marina and we can move around marinas every few years as we please, or even just trailer.
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Re: Joining Sailing/Boating and Yacht Clubs

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Originally Posted by Arcb View Post
were out the 6 boat bucks.

$600? or $6,000?

I pay AU$700 per year for my Australian Club that I *never* go into, nor get any benifit.

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