The Morro Bay Yacht Club is renowned for its welcoming attitude. Crafts navigated by sailors on worldwide tours or Pacific coastline junkets often port in Morro Bay for a visit or respite from stormy seas. They find smiles, showers and folks with common interests — all volunteers taking turns at operations assignments for the membership-based club since 1956.
In the early days before Morro Bay was an incorporated city, members helped organize the Morro Bay Harbor District and held races and boat parades. In 1960, a docked houseboat became the clubhouse until the 1964 Alaska earthquake triggered a tidal wave that demolished it.
Undaunted, the members rented and in 1966 purchased their current clubhouse at 541 Embarcadero. The Cal Poly Sailing Club supported efforts to acquire two adjoining lease sites that serve as rigging and launch areas. The club also leases a boat storage yard across from the clubhouse.
As the membership outgrew its space, club members remodeled in 1979. Volunteerism has allowed for an affordable dues structure.
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This year, ahead of the start of sailing season on Sunday, new paint and a gangway in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act was added.
Sunday’s “blue blazer day” will begin with a social and recognition of new leadership, this year chaired by Commodore Dawn Huntsinger. An official color guard flag raising and canon salute will announce a boat parade and first bay race.
Although opening day is invitation only, the Yacht Club has always collaborated with the community on events such as the Morro Bay Harbor Festival and Lighted Boat Parade.
Open to the public, summer sailing programs have generated an active Morro Bay Junior Yacht Club.
Past Commodore Dana McClish said some junior members have enlisted in maritime academies.
“Active youth membership often leads to a summer job as instructor for the program open to adults and youth,” McClish said. “Next March, look for the eighth annual Big Rock Regatta to be hosted by the juniors. Our kids sailed with 60 visiting teams from Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Ventura, San Pedro, King Harbor and Marina del Rey. The parents love a weekend in Morro Bay, so the event grows each year.”
McClish reported the club now has a foundation to support youth sailing in the county, including scholarships for young people interested in training but unable to afford the cost.
“When kids are focused on the skills it takes to sail and (get) a 3.0 grade average , they have no idle time,” he said. “We have 10 boats for them to train and race regularly and many activities throughout the year.”
Club members and guests enjoy Friday night happy hour and summertime hamburger nights along with bay and ocean racing all season. For more information, visit www.mbyc .net or call 772-3981.
Judy Salamacha’s column is special to The Tribune. Reach her at 801-1422.