Although such groups exist, yacht clubs are as varied as vessels on the water. Getting past the name, one doesn’t need a yacht to enjoy the many benefits of belonging to a yacht club. They really embody more about the second half of the name – club – than the first.
The Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association (PICYA) has 106 greater Bay Area member clubs listed on its web site (www.picya.org/memberclubs.html). Most clubs are specific to a locale, and that typically manifests in a club culture akin to the people, lifestyle and boat use in the area. The Golden Gate Yacht Club, for example, will be very different from the Delta Yacht Club, the former where Larry Ellison calls home and the latter who probably don’t care.
There are local clubs formed around boat builders such as Nordic Tug, Sea Ray, Bayliner and Carver. There are clubs supporting specific interests such as classic boats, single sailors, fishing, Rotarian/Shriner and sport boats. Many clubs have a waterside clubhouse where you can sit, chat and drink a beer with other members while enjoying the waterscape from terra firma.
Many clubs are very active in the community, sponsoring charitable boating events so participants raise money while doing what they love. Yacht clubs are essentially a community of people with similar water activity interests. Larger clubs typically have a staffed bar and fully equipped kitchen, serving gourmet meals a couple times a week at prices often much lower than a restaurant of like quality.
Organized events such as cruises to other clubs, poker runs, theme parties, game nights, racing, broadcast sporting events, dances, potlucks, holiday events and bazaars are all typical activities of the active yacht club. If this sounds like fun, have a look at the PICYA list and check out clubs that are nearby or whose focus interests you.
Most clubs don’t require a vessel for membership but many require a sponsor or have a waiting list. There is typically a fee to join and periodic fees to maintain membership and pay for the facilities. These also are as varied as the clubs themselves.
When making your short list, consider distance from home, look and feel of the clubhouse, focus, cost, amenities and activities. Visit the club on a Friday night and ask for a visitor badge. Talk to people and further narrow your search. There’s a yacht club fit for everyone and they can be a fun complement to your water activity lifestyle. Check one out! Have fun and boat safe.
Jonathan Bloom is a USCG licensed Master and ASA certified sailing instructor. He can be reached via www.baydeltafun.com.