There were many reasons to celebrate at the Lunenburg Yacht Club in 2022.
Youth and ladies learn to sail programs and the Able Sail program were full, volunteers spent thousands of hours making sure everything was shipshape and the club marked 75 years since it was founded in 1947.
“It’s a happy place for a lot of people,” says club general manager Gale Fullerton. “It truly is a community.”
Located on Herman’s Island about midway between the towns of Lunenburg and Mahone Bay, the Lunenburg Yacht Club prides itself on the learn to sail programs they offer.
“This year we had about 200 kids” in the club’s learn to sail programs, said commodore Andreas Josenhans.
“In all the years that I know, the program has been growing and growing… they learn all they need to be on the water and have fun. That’s a big deal in our society. They are literally operating with their own wits and teamwork. We try and provide a safe place for sailing instruction. We feel really good about that.”
Youth from six to 16 take advantage of the learn to sail programs, starting with the Wet Feet program to get them comfortable being in a boat and on the water, through to the Can Sail programs, where they can opt into a competitive program and race against each other when they reach the teenage years.
“There are two or three classes of boats that are competitive for that age group,” says Fullerton.
In August, the club hosted the national Opti Regatta with kids from across the country coming to compete. “We even had a team come from Bermuda, so it was five full days of racing and club activities,” said Fullerton. “That really is a gateway kind of event for kids of that age, for those that want to continue and race competitively as adults.”
Each July, the club holds a women’s learn to sail program, made possible with the donation of sonar sailboats owned by members.
“They donate their sonars to be used in the month of July to run the program,” said Fullerton. “This year we had nine sonars and five or six ladies on each boat and they sailed for the month of July.”
The Able Sail program is also made possible with the help of volunteers. “We have been gifted by a number of very generous organizations with equipment and funding to run the program,” said Fullerton. “It’s really such a feel-good story. It’s run on volunteers. Participants pay a nominal fee. We had eight registrants in 2022 and it takes about 12 volunteers to make that happen.”
The Lunenburg Yacht Club has about 300 members. “We have sailing members, power boaters, a rowing group who train and compete in a coastal rowing scull race series weekly,” said Fullerton. “Some are social boating members, some are lifetime members, there are various categories to our membership structure.”
Recreational and competitive racing are weekly events at the Lunenburg Yacht Club. During the pandemic, the club picked up regattas that other clubs didn’t have the ability to host, said Fullerton.
“In 2021, we had a provincial women’s keelboat championship here and in 2020 we hosted a welcome back regatta. During COVID-19, Chester Race Week was cancelled, and a lot of other competitive sailing events were cancelled. We saw an opportunity as restrictions were lifted in 2020, we saw a window of opportunity that we could put together a regatta here quickly and we did. We called it the welcome back (to sailing) regatta. We had 120 participants. We put it together in a matter of weeks and had a very good response. People were just so glad to be able to be out on the water. Because we have a large outdoor recreational area on the property, we were able to host social activities outside respecting gathering limits at the time. Everybody could be together and socialize in a much more comfortable way than they could inside. It worked out very well.”
The Lunenburg Yacht Club has deep-water berthage at its marina and moorings. The marina can accommodate 42 boats and berths in the mooring field are available for daily, weekly or seasonal rentals to members and visitors. The club also has a fuel dock that sells gas and diesel, a crane that can lift a five-tonne boat, a spar hoist which is useful for people who take their masts down in the wintertime and all kinds of yard storage available summer and winter, said Fullerton.
“We are constantly challenged how to make the facility better and keep its original flavour,” said Josenhans.
“I’m proud of the facility and our members. A yacht club is basically a facility for people to get on and off the water. We have people that want to go sailing and we teach people. A yacht club is a great way to provide safe waterfront access with infrastructure.”