Yacht Club Anyone?

It’s smooth sailing and plenty of fun when you join one of these local Yacht Clubs
story by: Ami Brown

Brunswick County Beaches and our local Coastal Communities offer the perfect conditions for safe water activities, sailing and boating. Let’s face it, LOTS of people come here to retire, to be close to the water and enjoy a rather quiet life. If you like the water, own a boat, or just love to be around boats – you might want to think about joining a local Yacht Club. If you’ve ever wanted to join a Yacht Club, now is the time.

There are two local organized clubs that I researched and the main focus of these clubs are boat related, safety education and social activities. They both seem to be great choices if you want to get involved with your community, enjoy the water, go on cruises and have fun. I’m sure there are many other loose yachting, fishing, sailing or cruising groups that are marina based too.
Southport Yacht Club is a relatively young club, about four years old, but are a strong group. They are set up as a non-profit and currently have about 106 members with 55 boats. Based here in Southport, they have minimal yearly fees with plenty of social, educational and cruising opportunities.
I sat down with Commodore Sam Johnston to learn more about the club. “The Mission of the Southport Yacht Club is to encourage and promote all aspects of yachting in the spirit of good sportsmanship and camaraderie. The Club is committed to creating a Corinthian atmosphere by blending a friendly social environment with a variety of sailing and cruising programs in which members and their families may participate.”
The SYC is founded on the basic tenant that all members should be active members and that participation of all members in both boating and social activities is vital to growing its membership.

SYC goals are to provide:
A social calendar which promises events year round
Cruises and rendezvous to area locations
An opportunity to meet new people with similar interests
A cruising schedule that makes sense
A competitive sailing program
A venue that connects all Boaters — Sailors and Power Boaters
Continuing boater education
The founding members were all members of other clubs when they decided to form Southport Yacht Club. They wanted to form a group focusing on water safety and education. They also have plenty of fun cruises as well as community activities throughout the year.
This year they are launching their own PHRF (Performance Handicap Racing Fleet) Series races. This kind of race allows every boat to start on an equal playing field. Kind of like a handicap in golf. The races are held on Saturdays and do not conflict with any other local sailing races. This is pretty exciting, the waterfronts will be full of even more of those beautiful sails this Summer. The boats usually range from 20 ft – 48ft and the members’ ages range from their mid 30’s up to Seniors.
In June, the Lone Palm Regatta takes the spotlight, with 50 plus boats all racing for that coveted prize. American Fish hosts the after party and awards ceremony – not to miss this one. Here are the upcoming races: Apr 29 – River, May 20 – Ocean, Jun 17 – Lone Palm Regatta, July 8 – Ocean, Aug 19 – Ocean, Sep 9 – River, Sep 23 – River, Oct 14 – Ocean. It’s also a special opportunity for local businesses to get involved, as corporate race sponsorship is available too. A few businesses have already stepped up like Re/Max Essential in Southport.
In addition to the races, there are monthly socials where all the members get together to eat and talk boats. (or just talk) It’s a fun way to get to know each other and be part of a boating family. In May for instance, Loco Jo’s is hosting a party where everyone brings a side dish and gathers for good times.
They also have community activities too, such as volunteering to judge local contests, setting up a marine market to sell your used boating equipment, oyster roasts, Frogmore stew and a chili cookoff.
This club seems to offer everything and more that you would want in a sailing or boating-social club. If you are new to the area, and if you love boats (but don’t have one) this could be perfect opportunity to learn more about boating, have fun and meet some super nice people too.
Some of their cruises this year include: Myrtle Beach, Cape Lookout, Ocracoke, Charleston, Banks Channel, Wilmington and Bald Head Island. If you are interested in joining, have questions or want to see all the activities on their calendar, check out the website: www.sycnc.org, they also have an active facebook page.
Another local group is the Cape Fear Yacht Club, stablished back in 1994. They are based at the end of Fish Factory Road, by South Harbour Village Marina, with an amazing Club House there. Their membership fee is a little more pricey, but you get full use of the clubhouse and all its perks. Celebrating their 25th anniversary, they are currently having a membership drive with discounted fees, but you have to join soon to get the special rate. They have about 120 members with a similar age range of 40’s to Seniors.
The club house was designed by award winning architect Rick Bandera. It has stunning detail, arches, sliding barn doors, amazing light pouring in and huge garage style doors that open right up to make the whole space flow.
The outside area includes a wrap around porch and a separate dock right on the water. They’ve hosted weddings, parties, band concerts, celebrations and themed evenings. The public can rent the space as well. The beautiful bar was hand crafted and built by member, Neil Holben, a retired Naval Officer before he passed away in 2011. With their liquor license in place, plenty of glasses have been raised in his honor I’m sure.
Being a little more established, this club offers a few different outlets – something for everyone. There are approximately 20 committees you can join, and participate in community fund raisers and a huge variety of activities. Some of the recent activities include: making Easter baskets for kids, Taps on the Waterfront, The Blessing of the Fleet, Water Safety training, helping renovate the community gym, playing bridge, community outreach and raising money for youth scholarships.
One of their most successful programs is the Youth Sailing Program. They have a small fleet of youth sailing boats, and hold classes for kids from age 6-13 year olds. It’s been running for 20 years and each year grows. This year they hope to raise enough money to buy a few more boats to keep up with the demand. They also presented a $7500 youth scholarship from the club.
I had a chat to one of the former students, Andrew Bates. He’s all grown up now, but participated in the youth sailing classes from the age of 6 until he was 12.
The classes gave him a sound knowledge of sailing and water safety. He told me, “I always loved the water and knew it’s what I wanted to do.” He’s now Second mate on a huge ship that carries supplies to our military, from the Middle East, to the Mediterranean to the up and down the East Coast. He spends between 4 – 8 months out of the year on the water now as a career, and it all started at the Cape Fear Yacht Club.
The Commodore, Linda Schrum, says that the Cape Fear Yacht Club, is more than just a social club. “We are a family.” I get the feeling that everyone in the club feels part of this family. The warmth and inviting environment makes it hard to believe otherwise.
If you like boat cruises – they have plenty of those too. Some of their destinations include: Bald Head Island, Wilmington, Myrtle Beach, Carolina Beach, Charleston and New Bern. They have themed social outings coming up like Casino Night and a Kentucky Derby Party.

“Cape Fear Yacht is more than just a social club… we are a family”
Linda Schrum,

Their PHRF Series Races are May 13, June 3, June 24, July 15, Aug 5, Aug 26, Sept 16. They also host the Rocket Regatta every year. This year it will be on August 12th.
I can whole heartedly say that both these Yacht Clubs have a lot to offer someone looking to join. They participate in a variety of activities on the water and on land. They have full social calendars that looks like heaps of fun. They are engaged with the local community and feel like a close-knit family.
If you are new to the area, or a long time resident and interested in joining either group, check out their websites and facebook pages. Have a chat to the membership chair or Commodore. You will surely make friends in the process. There have been a few other Yacht Clubs in the past that have come and gone, but these two are definitely here to stay.
If you get sea sick, there is a club in St James could be perfect. It’s the Model Boat Club, and they build and race model boats… no life jacket required. You can keep your feet dry on land and still play with boats in the water.
I have to mention the supportive local Marinas too. They play a big part in servicing and housing the boats in the area. Without these Marinas, there would probably be no Yacht Clubs. Thank you…

Southport Marina
South Harbour Village
St James Marina
Deep Point Marina
Bald Head Island Marina
Indigo Plantation Marina
Blue Water Point Marina
Dutchman Creek Marina
Southport City Docks & Marina



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