Learning the art of sailing in Morro Bay

Judy Salamacha
Judy Salamacha

Safety doesn’t happen by accident. Navigating the thrills and hazards on an open bay or in the ocean is as important as driver’s education before maneuvering a vehicle. Many water safety programs are offered by a variety of Estero Bay resources.

The Morro Bay Yacht Club has conducted summer sailing lessons for members and the general public since the late 1960s, according to the club’s historian Andrea Surfleet. Coordinator Glenda Boatman encourages adults and children as young as 8 to participate.

Informative flyers are available in a bin outside the clubhouse at 541 Embarcadero. Monday through Thursday weeklong sessions or two consecutive weekend sessions are scheduled June 15 through August 27, with sailing craft provided. Instruction includes boating safety, navigation, knots, rigging, wind direction and tide conditions. Register at http://www.mbyc.net/learn-to-sail.

The instructors may be under 20 years old, but they are seasoned sailors and safety certified.

Head instructor Rory McClish grew up sailing Morro Bay and has taught in MBYC’s summer sailing program for five years. He is on summer break from UC Santa Barbara where he is a member of the sailing team.

His sister, Shannon, was certified two years ago. Joining the instructor team this year is Nathan Hensinger, who has been active in the club’s junior program for four years.

The summer sailing program is generally a prerequisite to joining the Junior Yacht Club. However, member Dave Hensinger said, “We meet twice a month, sometimes to practice racing and sometimes to just explore the bay and get some ‘tiller time.’ If you can sail to windward, tack and jibe properly, and tie a bowline and a square knot, you are ready for the junior fleet.” Contact the adviser at mbyc.jrs@gmail.com.

Morro Bay and Cayucos also offer Junior Lifeguard sessions beginning June 22 and July 20. The programs teach ocean safety, first aid, rescue techniques, surfing and paddle boarding. Teamwork and physical fitness aimed at increasing swimming skills, speed and endurance are emphasized. Qualifications and registration information for the Morro Bay program are at http://www.morro-bay.ca.us. San Luis Obispo County recreation administers the Cayucos program. Go to http://www.slocountyparks.com.

Additional vendors offer a variety of services from kayak and paddle board sales and rentals to guided tours and ocean safety instruction. Check out the following: Morro Bay’s Kayak Horizons at 551 Embarcadero (http://www.kayakhorizons.com); Sub Sea Tours & Kayaks at 699 Embarcadero (http://www.subseatours.com); Rock Kayak at 845 Embarcadero (http://www.rockkayak.com); and Cayucos’ Good Clean Fun at 136 Ocean Front Lane (http://www.goodcleanfuncalifornia.com).

Enjoy Central Coast watersports, but as they say: Better safe than sorry.