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Old 11-20-2014, 10:37 PM   #1
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"What’s Really Wrong with Yacht Clubs"

I'm having a hard time convincing my club that they need to attract people not exactly like themselves, and I ran across this fascinating piece:
Scuttlebutt News: What’s Really Wrong with Yacht Clubs
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Old 11-20-2014, 11:30 PM   #2
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Good article - although yacht clubs are just one piece of a deeper, broader trend. Rotary clubs, Lions clubs, service clubs, chambers of commerce - there's just a very broad trend away from joining anything. We used to close our neighborhood street and have a neighborhood cook out. That petered out for good about three years ago. Church is the same way. We like traditional services and music, so we go to the 8:30 service with the 90 year olds. There's a later morning service with snare drums, etc. We don't know those people, never see them, never interact with any of them. Might as well be two different churches. Fractured, splintered, fragmented.

When it comes to yacht clubs in particular though, I think the biggest thing clubs are missing, and one of the biggest barriers to staying vital, is the initiation or entry cost. The older members with high levels of disposible income have forgotten what it's like to be younger and supporting ever more expensive kids. They have to lower those initial entry barriers because in this time of declining "join-ism" to anything, the younger potential members will just do something else.
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Old 11-21-2014, 12:55 AM   #3
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Kthoennes is close.
My opinion- All the fraternal organizations were at one time the basis of community outreach. Over the years, government has encroached into the field due to laziness of our generations and acceptance of "Government does it better". Just look at your local "Parks and Recreation" departments they now provide much of the youth activity and starting at a very young age with continuance into young adults where they are so comfortable with being provided for they do not understand "volunteerism" with rare exception.
Another example is the status of the Boy Scouts. The fission within over sexual orientation is bringing that and similar organizations to their knees and evenual extinction baring a turnaround.
Sorry didn't really mean to spout off but it is a concern of mine as well.
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Old 11-21-2014, 02:52 AM   #4
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We had an extended discussion about Clubs a while back, arising from one members difficulties with the Club hierarchy I think. Much of the problem, if I remember well, was the old established members were stuck in their ways, wanted to retain power and authority and had little interest in accommodating newbies, though it seemed to show itself in personal animosity.
Might be a reason people enjoy "virtual" yacht clubs, like ours.
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Old 11-21-2014, 04:36 AM   #5
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Very good read Refugio,
I completely agree that most "yacht" clubs should be called "sail" clubs.



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Old 11-21-2014, 06:14 AM   #6
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Clubs are expensive , but so are boats.

Even a basic day sailor for a kid to learn in costs a grand , and a boat for competition wayyyy more.

Younger folks no longer congregate together in person , as their time has better uses.

Sitting in the yacht club bar has little appeal.

Remember Beach Clubs with cabanas? Long gone.
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Old 11-21-2014, 07:19 AM   #7
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A few thoughts on this.....

I have more social interaction with people about boats here in a day that I ever did over the course of a whole year at our yacht club.

Our club turned out to be a drinking and dining club with very little interest in boat. There were a few sailors, but very few. As an example, after my wife and I did the downeast loop, I offered to do a little talk an slide show. Compared to the boating done by club members, we might as well have circumnavigated the world. There was so little interest that it never happened. How could that be?

In contrast, down at the marina where I keep the boat over the winter, people do nothing but talk about boats and they were all very interested to hear about the loop.

So I guess in my experience, boaters hang out at marinas and on-line (or our course out in their boats), not at yacht clubs.

We lasted 2 years and left, forfeiting the initiation fee. It was a very costly mistake.
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Old 11-21-2014, 08:29 AM   #8
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The same rules apply to any club or volunteer organization. 20% of the people do 80% of the work. The old-timers don't encourage new people and actively discourage change. Personalities clash.

But, whatever the organization, I've found that it only takes one or two active members to put their mind to something, like recruiting new members, and good things start to happen. Most members are full of great ideas that someone else should do. The few who actually DO something always make a difference.

My marina IS a boat club, so I think we have the best of both worlds. We have long-distance cruisers, weekenders, day trippers, fishermen, sailors and boats that never leave the dock. Overall, I think we have more active boaters than a lot of marinas.
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Old 11-21-2014, 10:37 AM   #9
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Yacht clubs have only one product that they sell which distinguishes them from commercial offerings.


That product is camaraderie.


Unfortunately if you ask the the entrenched leaders what they sell they will rarely mention camaraderie.


I was in a club with declining membership and the leadership stated that they needed to elect board members who thought as they did, they were successful in that. A recipe for disaster that they achieved a few years later.
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Old 11-21-2014, 10:46 AM   #10
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Interesting article. This is exactly what happened to our yacht club. We used to be know as one of the better clubs on the river, although a little bit on the redneck side, which didn’t sit well with the traditional clubs. In our club they grew old, no active recruiting and then the economy tanked. Our dues were cheap compared to other clubs. That why we joined them. Now there are just a few folks, we no longer have a club house or moorage.

Longview Yacht club is just up river from them and many of them have tried to recruit us. To join there is a $200 initiation fee (non-refundable), $400 buy in for the property (this is refundable), $250 a year for dues. Just to start it is $850! Then you are required to joined at least 6 work parties a year or pay $60 per work party. Then once a year the common area lighting and water bill is spread-out among the members.

They have limited uncover moorage, fuel dock; pump-out, club house, then the rest of the club are boat houses, which are regulated through another set of club rules.

So the wife and I were going to join as we are just less than a half mile down river. But for my $850 what do I get in return? Work parties? I don’t need a dock, I have my own. Don’t need a boat house. We asked if there was an associate membership, meaning we were willing to pay yearly dues and even do the work parties. They do, but you have to be a full member for a minimum of 10 years. I was told the club house has showers and an ice maker! I have both on my boat.

But the biggest turn off was the internal politics and empire building. I had a discussion with the Commodore about this and he did agree with us, but could do anything. We have been invited on most of the cruises as guests. So there is our story.

It would be nice to be part of the social gathering (Comaraderie), but it cost more money than I am willing to spend.
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Old 11-21-2014, 10:55 AM   #11
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Longview Yacht club is just up river from them and many of them have tried to recruit us. To join there is a $200 initiation fee (non-refundable), $400 buy in for the property (this is refundable), $250 a year for dues. Just to start it is $850! Then you are required to joined at least 6 work parties a year or pay $60 per work party. Then once a year the common area lighting and water bill is spread-out among the members.
That is really cheap from what I have seen in this neck of the woods.
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Old 11-21-2014, 11:44 AM   #12
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That is really cheap from what I have seen in this neck of the woods.
Maybe, but not to me! My time is money and the club doesn't offer anything for my hard earned cash.

I am thinking I am not alone as many clubs on the Columbia River have cease to exist because folks are spending their money somewhere else.
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Old 11-21-2014, 11:48 AM   #13
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Interesting topic, as I'm the Rear Commodore of a yacht club.

One of the things that attracted us to our club was the camaraderie that was ever present in the members- there was no distinction between sail and power, between elder member and new recruit. The club never left its primary mission of boating, and fun on the water.

Some of the other factors that led us to joining:
  • Low initiation and low yearly dues
  • No monthly dues
  • No mandatory volunteer hours
  • No other silly requirements

We don't have moorage, so that may be seen as a detriment. At the same time, members join because they like the club, and not just because they can get reduced moorage.

We do have an active recruitment process, because we believe the club has lots to offer to boaters of all ages and experience levels.
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Old 11-21-2014, 12:22 PM   #14
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My yacht club is in the same boat (pardon the pun.) We have over 300 slips with a not too long waiting list (thanks to the high turn-over.) The new members we get are not dedicated boaters but "dabblers' that are in and out in a year or so. They do not serve on committees, participate in one of our four raft-ups a year, or join the angler's or sail fleet. We never get to know them, and get blamed for being "cliquish." When joining our club, the new member gets a form to check-off what they are interested in. The committee chairs then contact them and are met with "not right now", " our boat's not ready", "too busy", etc. It has reached a point where we now accept "social" members who are not boaters but want to enjoy the yacht club lifestyle. At $5,000 a pop in initiation cost, it's a money-maker for the club but does not reflect our Corinthian values.
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Old 11-21-2014, 12:38 PM   #15
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I just quit my club because I couldn't get moorage. I took a chance for a year to see if I could get into the marina, but no dice. If I don't keep my boat there, I don't use any facilities, don't meet any other members; why would I go to the Commodore's Dinner if I don't know anyone or have no experiences in common? I can go to a restaurant and have a good meal and no issues. I have no problems with sailboats (well, not too many) but sailer's attitudes to power boats is just stupid. I was also annoyed that the bar and restaurant was the same cost as for-profit bars. What's the point?

Also, members don't build docks or do other useful work because of liability issues so work parties were just cleaning up other people's messes. Not interested.
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Old 11-21-2014, 12:44 PM   #16
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My yacht club is in the same boat (pardon the pun.) We have over 300 slips with a not too long waiting list (thanks to the high turn-over.) The new members we get are not dedicated boaters but "dabblers' that are in and out in a year or so. They do not serve on committees, participate in one of our four raft-ups a year, or join the angler's or sail fleet. We never get to know them, and get blamed for being "cliquish." When joining our club, the new member gets a form to check-off what they are interested in. The committee chairs then contact them and are met with "not right now", " our boat's not ready", "too busy", etc. It has reached a point where we now accept "social" members who are not boaters but want to enjoy the yacht club lifestyle. At $5,000 a pop in initiation cost, it's a money-maker for the club but does not reflect our Corinthian values.
Some of the yacht club applications I have seen wanted more information than the guvmutt requires for a Secret security clearance. I had some interest in buying a boathouse out in Portland but it required membership in the yacht club. So I went to the yacht club web pages to find out more about membership and costs. Well, no info on costs but they did have the membership application form. Maybe I value my privacy too much but I just can not bring myself to be convinced a yacht club REALLY needs all that personal and credit information. Needless to say, we immediately lost interest in the boat house. It is too far from FL or MI anyway....
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Old 11-21-2014, 12:55 PM   #17
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Getting people with kids to join anything is difficult. Today is very different than when I was a kid in regards to how much time kids require from parents. Our area has quite a few sports leagues that are run by volunteers and the leagues run year round. If a child wants to play a particular sport they pretty much can play most of the year and if the kids thinks they want to get good enough for a school scholarship, they better be playing as much as possible. This puts a huge time burden on the family. The family has to drive the kids around to practice and games and it is CONSTANT. Last weekend, my wife and oldest were gone from Friday night until Sunday afternoon for a tournament in another city! No way in heck would parents of my generation have done such a thing but this is what is done now.

When I was a kid and played sports, I mostly could ride my bike to practice and the parents would only have to drive to the games which were local. Now, kids are bused to schools away from their neighborhood so riding a bike is not possible for many so the parents have to drive. When our kids are playing sports it is a part time job for us. We will pick up from school 2-3 days a week, drop the kid off for practice and then have to return at 8:00pm to get them home followed by at least one game a weekend.

Then there are school projects and events that take up time.

Today, many parents simply do not have time to join clubs and organizations. People on the boating forums will tell new members to buy a boat NOW and enjoy it. In our situation, which is like many, we don't have time to use a boat now. We would be lucky to spend a week on a boat and that would require scheduling vacation time. Chartering would be far cheaper. We have sea kayaks and one reason we live in our house was so I could more easily kayak on a nearby lake. The last time that kayak was in the water was over a decade ago because once the kids got older we have very little free time.

Not to mention work requirements...

Later,
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Old 11-21-2014, 12:56 PM   #18
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Some of the yacht club applications I have seen wanted more information than the guvmutt requires for a Secret security clearance. I had some interest in buying a boathouse out in Portland but it required membership in the yacht club. So I went to the yacht club web pages to find out more about membership and costs. Well, no info on costs but they did have the membership application form. Maybe I value my privacy too much but I just can not bring myself to be convinced a yacht club REALLY needs all that personal and credit information. Needless to say, we immediately lost interest in the boat house. It is too far from FL or MI anyway....
Many clubs are now required to collect this information due to State requirments for taxes. The State wants to know when you arrived, how your boat is registered etc.
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Old 11-21-2014, 01:08 PM   #19
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"What’s Really Wrong with Yacht Clubs"

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Many clubs are now required to collect this information due to State requirments for taxes. The State wants to know when you arrived, how your boat is registered etc.
Sure, and when you obtain mortgage you can submit that info along with your proof of insurance. To ask for that prior to joining a club is extremely invasive.
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Old 11-21-2014, 01:37 PM   #20
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In the last two places we've lived (Key Biscayne and Longboat Key, FL), the cost of joining the local club was 20K, yes. They have trouble getting new members. What would you rather do....drink, socialize and generally rub elbows with the old membership, or install a new state of the art electronics suite? Duh?!
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