Sunday, February 18, 2018

Tale of Two Clubs

November 20, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

two clubs 1

two clubs 2For many boaters, being out on the water is just part of the fun. Many of us also love being around people who share our same nautical interest.

One place to be around like-minded boaters is a yacht club, yet yacht clubs are not all alike. They come in different shapes and sizes to meet your budget, taste, and style. Some clubs are centered around sailing races, while others focus on a good martini. Certain clubs have amenities such as pool, tennis and racquet ball courts, others just a clubhouse.

two clubs 3I recently visited two Nassau yacht clubs to see if Superstorm Sandy and a changing economy had affected their emphasis and membership. At the Woodmere Bay Yacht Club (WBYC) on Hewlett Bay, I met Commodore Mike Gordon, who has been at the helm for a year after being a member for nine years. Sitting in the club’s inviting lounge with sweeping views of its 70 slips and the bay and hearing about the heated pool and barbeques, it’s easy to understand why Gordon calls WBYC “a very social club.”

In 2006, WBYC had about 60 members. After the economy faltered and Sandy’s five feet of water swept through the facilities and damaged boats, membership has fallen to about 43. A group of the remaining members lent funds to the club to pay for upgrades to make repairs and to ensure the club will be more resilient to future storms.

On a typical Friday night a friendly group of WBYC members set up tables of food and drinks to watch a beautiful sunset, on other nights they might be watching movies or celebrating a holiday. Members also get together to watch football as their kids play together.

two clubs 4At the East Rockaway Yacht Club (ERYC) a couple of miles away on the channel near Dock Street, I met with Commodore Ossie Jones, who has been a member (and official) only a short while. As a Commander in the U.S. Power Squadrons (USPS), and an advocate of safe boating, Jones and three fellow USPS members hatched a mutually beneficial plan. “I saw ERYC going under and thought I can help them out,” says Jones. “At the same time the squadron needed some place on the water to meet.”

The ERYC history dates back to 1924, yet Jones doesn’t want to live in the past. He also resists comparing ERYC to other clubs, choosing instead to focus on his little spot on the channel with its 25 slips.  He said that despite many of its members heading to Florida for the winter, ERYC will stay open year round. He’s creating a 2015 calendar of events, trying to raise money through crowd funding, publicizing the club’s full bar and banquet room, and looking to increase membership from its present low of 18 members (before Sandy destroyed members’ boats and homes, it was about five times that).

two clubs 5The club holds social events many Saturdays, hosts USPS meetings, and is available for other community meetings at no cost.  As of press time, Jones was seeking to renew the club’s expiring lease for the building with its owner, the Town of Hempstead, and is always motivating ERYC members and potential members with his can-do attitude.

For more information about Woodmere Bay Yacht Club, call 516-599-9783; for East Rockaway Yacht Club, call 516-599-9821.

Story and photos by Tab Hauser

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