Harbor Style June 2015 : Page 55

Gottschlich explained. Though most people who join have previous sailing experience, they’ve most likely gained that knowledge in other parts of the country and aren’t prepared for how shallow the water is here. Club membership provides plenty of opportunities for just getting together – many of the activities aren’t even on the water. Monthly meetings bring members together for educational presentations. Three of the meetings also include meals, such as the steak dinner held with May’s meeting. Picnics are held after every scheduled Sunday race, which means at least 19 picnics every year. Dinners and awards ceremonies after regattas give everyone the chance to discuss – including complaining, laughing and boasting – the day’s races, conditions and results. And there again, at the after-race picnics and after-regatta dinners, all members are welcome whether they raced or not. As avid sailors, they all want to hear how the day went and enjoy the camaraderie of other sailors. Bi-annual meet-and-greet meetings focus on new members and introduce them to club officers and committee chairs. They learn about the club and are invited to volunteer for various committees. Pre-race skippers’ meetings bring sailing leaders together to go over instructions and distribute ditty bags. Regatta socials at the hosting clubs give skippers and their crews the chance to interact with other sailors in the region who they might otherwise not have the opportunity to meet. About 30 of the club’s female members, whether wives or singles, belong to the club’s Sea Gals. They usually get together at a local restaurant to socialize, make friends and exchange information. As many as 45 once turned up for a Christmas party. The group also has a soup exchange in January. Meanwhile, the men meet monthly at restaurants and pubs, too, often discussing boat-related problems and solutions. Other activities aren’t directly sponsored by the club, but arise through friendships and common interests. Men who enjoy bicycling take bi-weekly rides together and then stop for lunch, often at newly discovered, off-the-beaten-path spots. Families and friends often decide to cruise together to a local spot, Key West or the Bahamas. ä H ARBOR STYLE | 55

Punta Gorda

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