Sailing club members share vessels and ocean excitement
By Alex Wilson 05/12/2011
Southern California’s largest sailing club offers mariners a chance to have fun and hone their skills from six locations stretching from Channel Islands Harbor to San Diego Bay.
I set out for a recent voyage with members of Marina Sailing around Anacapa Island, where we enjoyed stunning views of Channel Islands National Park and encountered wildlife that included sea lions and pelicans. It was a friendly group of people, and we all took turns at the helm of a beautiful Catalina 309.
Brett Clarke manages the Channel Islands office where he’s seeing a growing interest in sailboats, especially as fuel prices rise and make powerboats more costly to operate. “There’s this whole concept of the earth going green. Looking at the price of gas, people are starting to enjoy the fact that you can use the wind power to get out there,” says Clarke.
People also enjoy experiencing the ocean environment from a sailboat, and Clarke says kids get a big thrill when they sail close to wildlife. “They like the nature aspect of it. They don’t care so much about jibing and tacking, they just get super-excited when they come onto a pod of dolphins or they see sea lions playing around the boat,” says Clarke.
Joining the club is also far less expensive than buying a boat. “People who’ve owned boats in the past have always been subject to the higher responsibility of the whole boat, as far as insurance and slip fees and maintenance and upkeep,” says Clarke. “Marina Sailing offers a whole different experience where we will, number one, teach them to sail; and the second part is, people can take the boats out.”
Marina Sailing offers classes spanning from introductory lessons all the way to captain’s license certification. It also hosts social events like barbecues, wine and cheese sails, and flotillas where many boats gather at a cove for a party.
Boats at the Oxnard location range from 28 to 42 feet in length.
Club member Rick Jones actually has his own boat, but enjoys the camaraderie of the club and having an opportunity to sail larger boats. “I like that somebody else is maintaining the boat that I get to sail,” says Jones. “I’ve got a 22-foot boat that I take out by myself a lot. But at 22 feet, I don’t take it out for the longer sails. The clubs sail out to Anacapa Island; or an overnight trip I did for one of the classes to Santa Cruz is hard to do on my own, and with the club it’s very easy.”
Jones especially enjoys overnight trips. “That’s an adventure. To me, it’s similar to backpacking, but on the ocean,” says Jones. “Being at a club event, you get a group of like minded enthusiastic people who are really excited about being out and learning. And the club supplies a skipper who knows what he’s doing so you can participate more or less, depending on whatever you want to do at the moment. You can just relax and take it easy … or jump in as much as you want.”
Jones says too many Southern Californians take the ocean for granted and never experience the fun and relaxation sailing has to offer. “There are a lot of people on the West Coast who have never left the beach, they’ve never really gotten out in open water, and certainly never gotten out to the islands,” says Jones. “It’s amazing. It’s not very far offshore, but it seems like its a million miles away.”