While sailing around the harbor this week a strange feeling overcame me of days gone by and that something was missing. Upon returning to the Balboa Yacht Club and pulling my Lido 14 out on the south crane, the thought came to me: I wish I could have been a member of a 1920s sailing club.
With that in mind, I walked upstairs to the BYC library and started looking at all the old photo books of the "Southland Sailing Club." In the pictures everyone was dressed in white and wore some type of hat.
While reading about the club's history, a quote from one of BYC's first publications haunts me: "Several prominent members of Newport Harbor Yacht Club decided to form a new club because small-boat sailing was not receiving sufficient impetus."
Now this is not to say that BYC today does not have any momentum to encourage small-boat sailing. In fact, the opposite is true and I take great pride in BYC heritage. But I feel that something is still missing.
What I am missing are the barbecues and picnic benches, and the kids playing and fishing off the beach. I miss having a small clubhouse with a big fire pit in the middle of the room with photos of past commodores and burgees of other visiting yacht club members lined up around the room. Ideally a member would want to have the bay in front of the club, where we could race our small boats at a moment's notice with easy launching.
In the summer we could watch our kids take part in a junior program during the day, then later on the adults could go out and act like kids. Members would then barbecue their own meals, enjoy their favorite beverage and talk on the beach around the picnic tables and in beach chairs. Yes, we would be missing the full service dining and staffed bar, and, most of all, an outstation at Whites landing in Catalina. But the thought of that simple club still entices me with a true type of Corinthian spirit attached to it.
Is this sailing nirvana still possible in Newport Harbor? Well, let's just say I would have more chance of transferring a mooring permit for what I paid for it. This does not keep me from looking around town at possible locations. I looked at the Newport Aquatic center, which has lots of room on land but no water. Then I looked at Newport Dunes, in the lagoon, which has the perfect format and would be the ideal arena for team racing. I am not sure if there is enough water or wind there, and you still need a way past the bridge.
This led me to the Castaways beach but, still, the bridge is in the way and I hope that area turns in to a commercial area someday. I looked up and recognized where the Reuben E. Lee once was, but that is now Irvine property. By the way, I never knew that the Irvine Co. financed BYC when it first built its club. Hmmm, maybe?
The place I keep looking at is the Windward Sailing Club. The building is perfect, that part of the bay has been a favorite of mine since I proposed to my wife at Z mark. Would it work? Always difficult to say, but that little bit of the harbor sure brings a smile to my face.
Just then I snapped out of my reverie as a friend entered the BYC library.
He asked, "Hey, Len what's going on with the moorings?"
"Well, I have as about as much chance of ever getting a mooring in the size and location in the harbor that works for me as I do having the Southland Sailing Club return," I replied.
"OK," my friend said, as he gave me a blank look and left in a hurry.
Everyone please remember that on Tuesday evening the city of Newport Beach is going to discriminate against the simple sailors and wipe away a big part of our history away. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, so I can give all the information I have on the tideland issue we are now facing.
LEN BOSE is a yacht broker, boating columnist and an experienced boater.