Vetting Yacht Club Members

Discussion in 'Ask All Sailors' started by Parsons, Sep 20, 2018. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. JimInPB


    Joined Aug 22, 2017
    1,507 posts, 435 likes
    Hunter 26.5, 212, 170
    us West Palm Beach
    In the distant past, I would have agreed with that statement, but these days, even clubs that are comprised of the rich & powerful have been the victims of discrimination suits. The Bohemian in SF is one that comes to mind. It's not my kind of club, but it's certainly a good example of a private club that got bashed in court for wanting to do things their way.

  2. Kings Gambit

    Kings Gambit

    Joined Jul 27, 2011
    3,172 posts, 792 likes
    Bavaria 38E
    US Alamitos Bay
    I once read the Royal Cork Yacht Club's view of a good member was one who could get tight w/o becoming disagreeable. Perhaps we should still take view that under advisement.:beer: Seriously, unless you rely on member sponsors who personally know the applicant(s), or seek verbal references from others who do, there's not much a membership committee can do to "vet" prospective members in a meaningful way, IMHO.

    Last edited: Sep 20, 2018
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  3. Mikem


    Joined Dec 20, 2009
    547 posts, 136 likes
    Hunter 466
    US Bremerton
    Our prospective members interview with a member of the bridge, membership chair, and a member of the executive committee. Since our club has 191 slips, a good portion of which is covered moorage, a number of boat sheds, a pumpout station, portable pumpout, gas, diesel, commercial galley, railway (haul out), shop, wastewater recycle, and picnic shelter we do the vast majority of our own maintenance to keep our moorage rates down. Because we do our own maintenance and have moorage rates that are hugely less than other clubs and marinas we want to make sure that our members understand the work commitment that is required to maintain those rates. Throughout the year we have numerous work parties and special projects in addition to cooking our own dinners for the numerous special events that we have. We want to make sure the prospective members will participate in that other words we don't want a member who is just a moorage member. Background checks have been suggested from time to time but we have not done them. Since our founding in 1929 we think only one or two members have been voted out of the club. One item we did institute recently was a "no harm no foul" clause in our by laws. This clause allows the new member one year to leave and have the initiation fee refunded if the member decides the club is not a good fit. It also allows the club to expel the member and refund the initiation fee if the club deems it necessary.

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  4. Parsons


    Joined Jul 12, 2011
    765 posts, 333 likes
    Catalina 36
    US Bay City, MI
    Thank you all for your thoughts and advice on this.

  5. smokey73


    Joined Oct 26, 2010
    727 posts, 164 likes
    Hunter 40.5
    US Beaufort, SC
    Our club has a sponsorship requirement plus a requirement to attend two "club functions" like our "Sunset Friday", "First Friday", First Wednesday Steak Night, and then get two endorsements from current members. While this may sound like a big deal, its really not and to my knowledge no one has ever been denied membership. More likely someone would decide that it "isn't for them" rather than they "aren't for us." Our club is very laid back and pretty active in PHRF racing (albeit a small group of people), paddle boarding, youth racing, youth programs, summer camps, etc. Our dues are very reasonable for what amenities are offered. We also give a dues credit for volunteer work at the club (up to a limit) for things like bartending, landscaping, race management, storm cleanup and general maintenance.

    We also have a very large non-boating membership since we have a clubhouse, bar, large salt water pool, tennis courts, "pickle ball" courts, a launching ramp and on site boat storage (outdoor places to park boats) and play area for kids. All in all its what a lot of people are looking for that don't have these amenities at their home or subdivision so we try to be inclusive and thus have a lot of members who don't even have boats. (helps keep the cost down for us boaters too!!!) I can't recall that anyone has ever been "kicked out" but that may be possible. We don't have a waiting list, nor do I think we ever will for membership. We do have a waiting list however for mooring balls and could use more if we could get permitted for them.

  6. dlochner


    Joined Jan 11, 2014
    3,782 posts, 1,755 likes
    Sabre 362
    113 US Fair Haven, NY
  7. LeeandRick


    Joined Apr 26, 2015
    447 posts, 160 likes
    S2 26 Mid
    US On Trailer
    After reading all 44 replies (I know what mine said :)) it has shown me why we just have a "sailing group" here in Havasu. No money, no hassles, not much drama. If someone gets drunk and rowdy, we call them a cab and in a few days say, "Dude you were a little over the top the other night". So far this has worked and for those we don't like we just give them a cold shoulder, which is difficult since we live in Lake Havasu, AZ :laugh:. We have 2 rules, Number one: Have fun because life is toooo short not too. Number two, Don't organize any events or things. Before you know it there are permits, liability problems, etc. Now don't get me wrong we probably top most clubs with things to do. Lee and I are worn out at about the third one in a week during the season.
    We do vet people, but it's over a cold beer :beer: and pizza at Mudsharks. If they like us and we like them then they can do stuff with us. All it takes is a few friends that enjoy sailing.:waycool:

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  8. Leeward Rail

    Leeward Rail

    Joined Mar 20, 2015
    1,689 posts, 441 likes
    Catalina 22 New Style
    CA SHSC, Lake Winnipeg
    To me the best thing would be:
    " If you don't have a boat in our slips or were not a boating member at the club previously.. you can't be a member"
    A social membership seems goofy to me. You want a social club then join one. You want sailing.. then join a sailing club. That in itself would seem to filter the members, without vetting.

    Amen. The whole name "Yacht Club" turns me off due my lifelong perception of that having the connotation of a bunch of people standing around with Martinis, yacking about nothing. (I love Martinis btw)

    When at the club, I'd rather be sailing, or working on boats (ours or others), than be in the clubhouse. Every night the clubhouse has people cooking or sitting around drinking/chatting, while my wife and I are sitting on our boat. If I wanted to be inside a building, I'd go home.

    No vetting at our club. There is a set of rules that people need to follow.
    Most of those can be summarized as "don't be a jerk".
    The club and marina are private property and our membership and slip contract state the rules.
    Break those rules in bad way, you are out.

    P.S. I kept expecting someone to post about getting rabies shots and the rare needle in the paw.

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  9. uralite


    Joined Apr 26, 2018
    131 posts, 42 likes
    Catalina Catalina 30
    US Bayview
    Any yacht club that would let me in is totally suspect in my opinion.

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  10. shemandr


    Joined Jan 1, 2006
    3,983 posts, 923 likes
    Marblehead Skiff 14'
    US Greenport, NY
    What do you do about crew? In PBSA crew can join for $15. We encourage that. They get all the communications (And often they are more in tune with race data then the skippers), are invited to our social events, have voting rights (As if we ever vote on anything), and can hold office. Members who race in our 7 race series get free entry with membership - which costs less than all the entry fees combined. Members who own boats but don't race them in the series still have to buy a full membership. Some join for social activity, some to support sailing and some for the cruising events. I think it makes sense to accommodate different levels of sailing interest. Again, we have no infrastructure so it's different.

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  11. Jackdaw


    Joined Nov 8, 2010
    10,277 posts, 3,293 likes
    Beneteau First 36.7 & 260
    US Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
    At WYC we have over 500 crew members, 3x the number of full members. Cost 100 bucks. As a crew member you get full access to the clubhouse and grounds year round. And free beer (and pop) after each of the 60 races. And parking in the crew lot.

    We know the secret to racing is having crew. We treat them like owners.

    Owners pay $450 and that of course includes all the races and seminars. Do 6 races a year and you maintain your mooring priority. Do 15 and your morning rate gets cut in half. It’s a great deal.

  12. waterpirate


    Joined Sep 6, 2015
    110 posts, 20 likes
    Unknown snipe
    US delaware bay
    3 clubs near me. Three completely different vibes. LYC social only except for token sunfish events. Years long waiting list, costly initiation, social club imho. RBSA sailing and race oriented, costly to join imho, shallow draft only no access to ocean. IRYC laid back social club, docking available, no sailboats, only pontoons and fishing skiffs. Cheap to join, seeking membership, 1 sponsorship needed and criminal background check. Commodore ask me to join. Still doing my own thing.

  13. Kings Gambit

    Kings Gambit

    Joined Jul 27, 2011
    3,172 posts, 792 likes
    Bavaria 38E
    US Alamitos Bay
    Whether prospective new members are "vetted" or not, and to what extent, may depend on a club's need for memberships and on how it wishes to present itself as an "inviting" group of folks where all, or at least nearly all, newcomers are welcome. I suppose one could debate all day about a general need for "vetting", or not. Despite that, I suggest that we as a sailing community at large need yacht clubs in our areas. They are the core support for sailboat racing nationwide, even worldwide, as a competitive and fun sport. They organize cruises and many of them offer courses on various aspects of seamanship and navigation. AND, they always offer friendly stops for travelers of other clubs up and down the coast. Whether or not you ever chat with the "right" members on worthy topics pertaining to sailing is largely a matter of your own efforts at participation. The clubs may appear imperfect from the sailing purist's view, but it's mostly a matter, analogously, of wearing 18 versus 24 carat gold, IMHO.

    Last edited: Sep 22, 2018
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  14. sailnoproblem


    Joined Oct 10, 2011
    508 posts, 153 likes
    Tartan 34C
    US Toms River, New Jersey
    I don't care to belong to a Yacht/Sailing club. Truth be told when I started in the marine business I could not stand sailboats. I was in the marine fabrication business aluminum and stainless, and at shows I would be able to sell a Hard top for a sportfishermen in a reasonable amount of time. However when a sailboat owner would come by with a custom project I would spend hours with him/her. Then quote a price that was basically time and material they would balk at the price. We had a saying the sailboat owners have the wind for free and think everything else should be.
    But then in 2001 I had quad bypass, and six months later a great friend of mine convinced me and my wife to go to the BVI with him and his wife, He chartered a 55' Irwin. He said it is not like the sailors I know, or have dealt with.
    Needless to say he was right, the worm did turn and I love sailing, but I still shy away from "clubs".
    Yea I know my tread has nothing to do with the OP.

  15. JimInPB


    Joined Aug 22, 2017
    1,507 posts, 435 likes
    Hunter 26.5, 212, 170
    us West Palm Beach
    I've been a guest at & had memberships at many clubs over the years. I have seen a pretty wide variety of people & personalities at the different clubs. Some clubs are genuinely exclusive. Some try to appear exclusive (but run ads in the newspaper looking for new people to join). Some are very inclusive. Some clubs are knife & fork clubs with a view of boats at the docks. Some clubs are mainly comprised of people who truly love boating. Some knife & fork clubs pretend to be boating oriented. Some clubs host a lot of races & do a wonderful job of it (even getting multinational TV coverage at events). Some clubs run a lot of races & really have no idea what they are doing. Some clubs run a lot of races & could do a good job of it if their priority was the sport itself, rather than politics. Some clubs run few races. Some clubs have no racing interest at all. One club that I was a member of costs over $15k to walk in the door as a new member. Another that I still belong to is more like $100/year. Neither of these is an ultimate extreme in cost.

    The vetting process at each club varies. Some clubs will take anyone who writes a check & applies. Many require nominations & seconds, & then a time period for member comments, then a committee vote. Most fall somewhere in-between. I have seen local clubs, that take just about anyone, manage to survive & prosper for generations in areas with tight knit communities. I have seen one or two near-city clubs get infiltrated by a small group of people with an agenda, who then expanded the membership to include more people who would support their cause, & then change the character of the club substantially. I have even seen a club that was founded by people who were denied access to another club, then the little upstart came to overshadow the longstanding club in prominence, prestige & racing prowess... on their own home turf.

    Different things work well in different places. Each club has it's own personality. Most have at least some politics going on. Many have a heavy dose of politics in the mix. Most clubs that I have left, have been left because of my distaste for the politics. I stay with the clubs that have a heavy percentage of true boaters. That works for me. I have chosen to best serve some of the (self proclaimed) exclusive clubs by improving their exclusivity, through excluding myself from their membership.

  16. justsomeguy


    Joined Feb 20, 2011
    6,936 posts, 1,196 likes
    Island Packet 35
    US Tucson, AZ/San Carlos, MX
    Nicely put! :thumbup:

  17. Maine Sail

    Maine Sail Moderator

    Joined Feb 6, 1998
    10,957 posts, 749 likes
    Canadian Sailcraft 36T
    US Casco Bay, ME
    Our club, second oldest in the country, does not have issues getting new members. As of right now we have an approximate 5-7 year wait list of vetted prospective new members. If we did not vet our members we'd have a 20+ year wait list...Our process is pretty straight forward.

    #1 You need to be a boater, we do not allow social memberships or new members without boats
    #2 You need to be nominated by two or more current members and those members need to pen recommendation letters.
    #3 You need to fill out the application in full and actually write something other than "we like boating"
    #4 If you show an interest in volunteering, and specify an area of interest, this certainly does not hurt
    #5 The membership application and recommendation letters are evaluated by the Membership Officer & his/her committee
    #6 Your new membership application is then presented in front of the board and voted on to move it to the members
    #7 The prospective new club members are then introduced to all members and a comment period is opened
    #8 If a member has a concern with the prospective new member/s it goes back to membership for more discussion/vetting
    #9 When you proceed through all this you are placed on the waiting list

    For what you get for your $ around here our club is an absolute steal. The house & grounds are stunning, we have three beautiful launches (one of them built by Hinckley), expert launch drivers who respect your vessel and don't slam into it as they approach, a very, very strong junior sailing program (for members and non-members kids), very strong race program (just hosted J-24 US Nationals three weeks ago) a large parking lot with two parking passes per membership, kayak, paddle-board and dinghy storage racks, a beautiful well designed boat launch ramp, an amazing dining-room with world class food and we're right at the doorstep to some of the most coveted cruising grounds in the entire US. Best of all the members are not at all snooty they are just like the rest of us and enjoy boating to the core. Our members vary widely from a former US President to a lowly marine electrician (grin) and everywhere in-between. Our vetting process just helps to ensure we all have a common goal/theme and that theme is boating.

    Quintessential Maine...

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  18. hewebb


    Joined Oct 8, 2011
    329 posts, 14 likes
    Catalina Catalina 25
    US Joe Pool Lake
    One club I belong to has a limited amount of members allowed. I was on a waiting list for about a year. You have to be sponsored and attend some activities then the staff has to approve the application then be voted on by the members. It is more sailing than social which I like. One issue the club has is getting inactive members and derelict/unused boats removed.

  19. Kermit


    Joined Jul 31, 2010
    5,228 posts, 2,558 likes
    Hunter 260
    US Lake Murray Sailing Club, SC
    “Our members vary widely from a former US President”

    George the First?

  20. JimInPB


    Joined Aug 22, 2017
    1,507 posts, 435 likes
    Hunter 26.5, 212, 170
    us West Palm Beach

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