By Pat Holinka, Commodore
“Hey, I think I just found the best kept secret on the shoreline,” I told my friend.
“Really? Tell me,” she replied.
“There’s a singles club that meets in Westbrook, CT twice a month, I explained. “They go boating, sailing, kayaking and socialize. The skippers that have boats take out those who want to sail. Simple as that.”
Thirty-five years ago two women who were single and had boats needed crew. They recruited their friends to go boating and thus began the Shoreline Sailing Club.
Members of the Shoreline Sailing Club relax following a previous year’s Sag Harbor Labor Day Weekend Race, known as the Bud Cook Memorial Race.
Ten years ago my husband passed away. We had been avid boaters for many years. I wanted to keep the boat, but didn’t have any single friends who were knowledgeable about boating. There was a fellow who owned a sailboat in the next slip who had a revolving crew of skilled hands every weekend. I started asking questions. He told me he belonged to a sailing club for active single people over age 35. They had many members from novice to experienced skippers and there were about 40 boats in the fleet. He went on to explain that those who had boats took out members who wanted to go boating each weekend.
I attended my first meeting and found an active group of single people who shared my passion for the sport. They welcomed me into the group. I was introduced to the fleet captain and asked him for a recommendation for a first mate. He introduced me to the Past Commodore, Rita. Well, that’s all it took. She introduced me to others and before the end of the meeting I had 200 new friends. It’s been an amazing journey.
The Shoreline Sailing Club offers a variety of activities. There are daysails, weekend overnights, and weeklong cruises. Our calendars are full with trips to Block Island, Montauk, Sag Harbor, Shelter Island and Watch Hill. We have cruised from New York to Nantucket over the years. Spending a day on a boat with a group of strangers quickly turns into lasting friendships.
Our focus is getting skippers with boats to invite crew who would like to go boating/sailing. The season traditionally starts on Memorial Day weekend, with club members cruising to Hamburg Cove for an overnight and a cookout at the Hamburg Yacht Club. Sunday we are off for Essex to spend the evening and watch the Memorial Day Parade in the morning. Members enjoy taking in the sights and stopping by the “Gris” to listen to a local band.
The largest turnout of the fleet is our annual “Bud Cook Race,” which takes place Labor Day weekend. Skippers and crew plan their strategies weeks in advance and the winner gets our beloved trophy to display.
Some members like to kayak, sail small boats, or paddle board. How we love to mess about in boats. During the winter, many of us enjoy chartering in the Caribbean and the Med. Some of our destinations have included Croatia, Belize, The British Virgin Islands, The Grenadines, and Greece. It doesn’t stop there. Someone is always up to join you for an adventure at a moment’s notice.
The club meets the first and third Thursday of each month at 7:30 pm at the Westbrook Elks Lodge. Our meetings are a blend of social and educational activities. Recent speakers have lectured on navigation, seamanship, radio etiquette, sail trim and foiling. Others have kept us abreast of local issues concerning preserving our waters and land trusts.
We also enjoy an active social calendar filled with opportunities to get better acquainted. There are small “dockside” house parties, meet-up events, theme dances, a lobster bash, a Commodore’s Gala and a Holiday Party.
The club will host its annual open house on May 5, beginning at 7:30 pm at the Westbrook Elks Lodge, located at 142 Seaside Avenue in Westbrook. The event is free to the public and we welcome new members to come and check us out. For more information, visit shorelinesailingclub.com.
Welcome aboard! It’s boating season! Wishing you Fair Skies and Calm Seas…
Special thanks to Barbara Thomas for her assistance with this story.