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Yacht club celebrates opening day

Newly commissioned Commodore Derek Pritchard prepares to repel boarders on the deck of the South Whidbey Yacht Club Sunday as the club celebrates boating season’s opening day. - Jeff VanDerford
Newly commissioned Commodore Derek Pritchard prepares to repel boarders on the deck of the South Whidbey Yacht Club Sunday as the club celebrates boating season’s opening day.
— image credit: Jeff VanDerford

What do you think of when someone says, “yacht club?”

A bunch of stuffy folks dressed in ill-fitting blazers hoisting champagne glasses and eating caviar on toast points, all the while gazing at their anchored mega-yachts in the harbor?

That definition certainly doesn’t fit the South Whidbey Yacht Club, whose members celebrated the opening day of boating season Sunday at their Honeymoon Bay headquarters.

Three years ago, good friends Ken Sasson, Larry Dobrin and David Shaw were working on the somewhat worn-out dock that extends into the bay.

“Suddenly, Ken looked up, turned to us and asked, ‘Why don’t we start a yacht club?’” recalled Dobrin. “We started with eight, then 20 and now we have almost 60 members.”

“Ken was a man with great passion for the ways of the winds and tides and deeply committed to making boating accessible for all ages,” Dobrin added. “He wanted to create a real community of boat owners and water craft enthusiasts.”

Sasson passed away not long after, but his memory is kept alive by his widow Pat, who warmly welcomes members and visitors, even total strangers, at the door.

Sunday’s highlight was the ceremonial installation of the club’s new commodore, Derek Pritchard, who successfully pulled the hilt of the sword Excaliber from a papier-maché stone to symbolize his reign.

“I think our season opener can best be described as whimsical,” Dobrin noted.

There was plenty of food but not a fish egg in sight as members noshed on barbecued burgers, hot dogs, nachos and guacamole salad.

Soon, conversation turned to the advantages of sail versus power as fuel prices escalate and the cost of travel to the San Juans or Port Townsend becomes more prohibitive. “Remember, the wind is free,” Sasson noted.

Commodore Pritchard plans to ensure the club’s values include equitable decision-making, respect for nature and wildlife, a safe boating environment for adults and children and good fellowship.

The club’s stated purpose, as defined by Sasson, is to “foster the boating interests of the individual members through educational programs, safety training, group trips, and ‘hands on’ exploration of new equipment and techniques as well as social and boating adventures with other clubs in the Puget Sound area.”

Out in the harbor, the commodore’s sailboat, “dressed” for the occasion, proudly flew the club’s burgee pennant — red and white with a breaching orca designed by Pritchard himself.

“It’s flown as far away as Hawaii,” he said.

Anyone wishing to join the club can visit their Website,

www.swyachtclub.com.

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