Seniors take the high seas with Oasis Sailing Club

Seniors take the high seas with Oasis Sailing Club

NEWPORT BEACH — Can recreational boating help you live longer? A group of senior citizens who are members of Oasis (Older Adult Social and Information Services) Sailing Club in Newport Beach certainly believe the time they spend on the water has been key to living long, healthy and happy lives.

Scroll the “History” page of the Oasis Sailing Club website and you’ll find the sentence that states in bold and capital letters that “sailors live at least six years longer.” Noted as a truism by the club, members regularly take to the high seas of the Pacific Ocean on a weekly basis.

Supported by the Friends of Oasis and connected to the Newport Beach-sponsored Oasis Senior Center, the Sailing Club’s 150-plus members are entitled to enjoy time aboard the club’s two sailboats – Oasis V and Oasis VI.

On one warm September day in the Balboa Yacht Basin, for example, the club’s commodore, John Whitney, and a crew boarded Oasis V for a trip to Catalina Island to participate in a race.

Members simply sign-up to use one of the boats. The sign-up sheet does not long to fill up as Oasis V heads out to sea just about every day, Whitney said.

The secret of the club, Dan Karmon said, is everyone is like-minded and truly enjoys sailing. At 72 years of age, Karmon, who only became involved in sailing about 10 years ago when he and his wife moved from Claremont to Huntington Beach, says he is one of the club’s younger members. Soon upon his arrival on the Orange County coast, Karmon quickly found his new hobby and retirement pastime.

“You cannot find any other place where you can do this kind of sailing for what we pay,” Karmon said. “No matter how much we put in, we get infinitely more back.”

Whitney, commodore of Oasis Sailing Club through 2016 and a member for almost a decade said he spends about 20 hours per week with the Oasis boats.

“I love to sail,” said Whitney, who started sailing in 1960. He added that it has been a source of pride to see the club grow about three-fold from about 50 members when he joined to its current membership of more than 150 people.

As the club’s first commodore and member for about 20 years, 96-year-old John Kraus, has witnessed the club’s acquisition of six boats.

“When I became the first commodore of the club, we had 10 members and one boat, a 27-foot Catalina,” said Kraus, who came to California in 1961 by way of New York and Ohio.

As the Oasis Sailing Club grew, the 27-footer was no longer large enough to hold the full membership on the vessel. Accordingly, the club purchased a larger Oasis II.

The club’s first sailboat arrived at the Balboa Yacht Club in 1988. During the first few years the vessels was lightly crewed and went out to sea two or three times per week. By 1993, the club began offering tours and social events. Six years later, Oasis II arrived and served as the sailing club’s vessel until 2006 when Friends of Oasis received a donated Newport-30 sloop. After Oasis III came Oasis IV, which currently sits in Newport Yacht Basin was put out of commission because of the club’s two newest additions.

The club currently has two sail boats docked at the Newport Yacht Basin.

Whitney accredited his younger, more energetic aura to his life as a recreational boater. Recreational sailing appears to serve as an unofficial fountain of youth.

Although he is in his 80s, Whitney quite the youthful spirit, making him appear younger. The same could be said of Kraus, who, like Whitney, shows both a mental and physical zest for life at age 96.

While his professional career covered the aerospace and space industries with jobs at McDonnell Douglas or TRW, Kraus fell in love with sailing on a lake in New Hampshire in 1929. When he moved from New York to Cleveland and its Lake Erie shoreline, Kraus continued his recreational lifestyle and sailed weekly.

For the most recent 20 years of his life, Kraus sails every Monday, mostly with the same crew, where he goes depends upon the week.

Everyone associated with Oasis Sailing Club hopes to serve as living proof of how long one lives is directly tied to the lifestyle choices he or she makes.

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