COVID-19 Pandemic: Yacht Clubs Stepping Up and Providing Support

Southern California’s recreational boating organizations are playing their parts in practicing social distancing while still being a place for community.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA—There isn’t an easy way to introduce this story, other than to say we’re living in unprecedented times. We have no idea of what’s ahead and how the world will look like once this COVID-19 pandemic finally passes. But one thing is for sure: being forced to stay at home (and, for the most part, off the water) has actually shed light on a few new, mostly positive habits. Many of us are reaching out to people and reconnecting with friends or family members we otherwise were out of touch with (but wish we weren’t) prior to the various Stay At Home orders that forced us to limit our in-person social interactions.

Another positive outcome of this otherwise restrictive pandemic: yacht clubs are stepping up and doing their parts to help local communities get through these uncertain times. Most yacht clubs having been offering food services – either to-go or delivery – as a means to keep essential staff on the payroll and keep people fed. Other yacht clubs are finding creative ways to keep its membership occupied, such as organizing online games or happy hour events on Zoom.The Log sampled what a few yacht clubs have been doing since mid-March. Here’s a look at what we discovered.

Dana Point COVID-19
Dana Point Harbor is trying to spread positive messages, such as this.

Orange County

With red-taped floors, social distancing signage, virtual appointments and to-go food the new normal, The Marina at Dana Point has taken those extra precautions and more, including extra cleaning, to keep their 3,000 slip and dry storage tenants healthy. While public access is restricted in Dana Point Harbor, boater parking lots remain open and accessible to boaters and authorized users, for now.

The Dana Point Boaters Association has encouraged boaters to follow state and local guidelines to help flatten the curve and has also heavily encouraged supporting local harbor restaurants and businesses. One harbor business, Golden Galleon, is selling  “Quarantine Care Kits” and donating $10 to Second Harvest Food Bank for every one sold.

Positive messages, including a surfboard reading “Be Well! Dana Point Strong,” have also been popping up around the harbor.

Farther north up the coast, Seal Beach Yacht Club helped their members prepare for the pandemic and deal with the supply shortage. The club’s flag contacted their suppliers and arranged for members to place orders for items such as toilet paper and cleaning supplies.

“Those that took advantage of our program were very grateful that they did not need to go to a grocery store and [deal with] lines or people for toilet paper,” said Seal Beach YC 2020 Commodore Laura Ellsworth in an email.

SBYC also compiled a list to connect members within walking distance of each other or just a few miles away should they need to borrow something. Seal Beach YC member Joan Palango said she got a request from a neighbor and fellow Seal Beach YC member to borrow a cup of flour.

“Yes, I did have the flour that my neighbor could borrow and was able to walk it over to him,” Palango said in an email. “In return I received some olives for my next Bloody Mary. You just gotta love this club and the spirit of cooperation. “

The yacht club is keeping members engaged and connected by initiating a “Seal in the Window” program, hosting virtual events including cocktail parties, regular monthly events and board meetings.

Several members are also making cloth masks, some of which are being donated to CASA Youth Shelter in Los Alamitos.

Newport Harbor Post 291 of The American Legion has been providing a drive-through food service in the post’s parking lot for the entire Newport Beach community. Post 291 Commander Jon Reynolds said it enables them to serve the community while also keeping some of their employees employed.

Details about the food service program can be found at www.al291.com.


Los Angeles and Long Beach

Los Angeles Yacht Club is also trying to keep members connected from a distance. Los Angeles YC Commodore Rich Maire said one of the club’s historical favorites, the Wednesday lunch with featured speakers, resumed on a virtual (Zoom) basis April 8. He said they are also providing information to members in a light-hearted way, using photos to keep everyone apprised of member activities.

“Many members are still taking the opportunity to go sailing, and it is hard to imagine something better while still adhering to strict social distancing protocols – sailing in the time of Coronavirus!” Marie said in an email.

The club is also providing toilet paper to members who need it and will be running a test of “curbside” food service for feasibility, and may provide that service if member demand warrants it.

On the business side of things, the flags, the board, and its committees are meeting regularly to keep the club business in order. Marie said as of now, the Board has made the decision to keep its employees on the payroll.

In Long Beach, Long Beach Marina Boat Owners Association President Tom Mayes said they are trying to maintain their role as the support organization for boat owners in the area. They have compiled resources for boaters on their website, including what to do if you plan to leave your boat during this time and a Q&A with Marine Operation Superintendent Todd Leland about relevant information for boaters related to COVID-19. That information can be found at lbmboa.org/blog/. He also said they are looking at hosting some of their planned events online.

Meanwhile, the Port of Long Beach is playing a major role in getting much-needed gloves, gowns, masks and other gear to medical supply companies. The Port of Long Beach’s Business Development team has been working directly with Cardinal Health to bring these products through the port and reduce the time of delivery.


Catalina Island

Corsair Yacht Club, whose facility is in Emerald Cove on the West End of Catalina Island, has been trying to keep members connected virtually despite having to cancel events. CYC had to cancel the 37th iteration of their annual Easter at the Island event in Two Harbors due to COVID-19. In lieu of the event the yacht club held a Virtual Easter over Zoom on April 11.

The Zoom event still featured many of the traditional activities including the beginning of the boating season poem reading, burning of the socks and traditional Easter hat decorating contest.

“We are fortunate in that even if the entire boating season is canceled we will endure and will be ready to for whatever happens,” said Dennis Lynaugh, a 2020 Corsair YC director, in an email.

A memorial for one of their members, Mike Doell, who pass away – not due to COVID-19 – also had to be canceled in March. Lynaugh said while members were broken hearted to not be able to give Doell’s wife Sandi hugs and personal support, they flooded her email with tributes to him.

San Diego County

Zoom has been a useful tool for San Diego Yacht Club, as well. The club’s catering crew held a virtual happy hour via Zoom on April 10. But it’s not just Zoom – the club has relied on other media to keep in touch with its members during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as podcasting.

San Diego YC’s general manager, Terry Anglin, hosted a “socially distanced” episode of “Sail Cast” in early April. Anglin used the podcast to inform club membership of projects happening at San Diego YC.

The podcast episode and Zoom happy hour event were easy-going distractions amidst these trying times. Club leadership announced the cancelation of California Offshore Week and postponement of the 2020 Yachting Cup, both as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. (The 2020 Yachting Cup was rescheduled for Oct. 10 and 11.)

Coronado Yacht Club, meanwhile, offered Bloody Mary and Mimosa to-go kits for Easter. An Easter/Passover menu was also available on April 12. The menu offered scrambled eggs with chives and cheese (plus home fried potatoes and bacon or sausage) for $12. An order of pancakes (plain or with chocolate chip) was available for $6. Also available for $6: French Toast.

A to-go/delivery dinner menu was also available at Coronado YC. One dinner special offered to membership: seafood paella with scallops, shrimp, mussels, fish and rice for $40. Another special: 12 mixed pieces of homestyle fried chicken with mashed potatoes (and gravy) and a Caesar salad, also for $40.

Silver Gate Yacht Club encouraged its members to purchase gift certificates for the galley minimum. The club’s kitchen has remained open for to-go or delivery service; also remaining open at the club during the COVID-19 pandemic were the club’s restrooms and laundry area.

Mission Bay Yacht Club offered members a creative activity to keep themselves occupied during the current lockdown. The club’s Bowline Challenge urged members to tie a bowline to anything creative, then post a picture of it on the Mission Beach YC Facebook page. One posted photo featured a bowline tied around an unopened package of Angel Soft toilet tissue.

What’s your yacht club up to during the COVID-19 pandemic? Email us your stories at editor@thelog.com.

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