Behind the gates of a quiet residential community on an island off Georgias emerald coast, sailing has found a stronghold on a budget and fun has found a home.
Recreational sailing has captured the imagination of millions of people over the years. The ability to glide quietly across the water, whether in a small dinghy or blue-water yacht, offers the promise of peace and solitude and restoration of spirit. For those who seek more excitement, competition with other similar boats gets the heart pumping more rapidly and offers the chance to test your skills and daring and boast (or laugh) about both back at the dock afterwards.
But ahh, the cost! Purchase of a boat is just the beginning. It simply entitles you to pay for storage, scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, upgrades and repairs, insurance and other expenses. If you start adding up the annual expense and dividing by the number of times you actually sail, it can detract mightily from that promise of peace and solitude and restoration of spirit mentioned earlier.
Is there no happy medium?
At The Landings on Skidaway Island in Savannah, Georgia, the sailors of Rhodes 19 Sailing Club have found the perfect solution, and it has enabled them to enjoy both recreational and competitive sailing with minimal expense for over six years. Their story offers encouragement to all who would seek that balance.
Lets start at the beginning. In the fall of 2002, Mike Rouzee, a Landings resident and long-time sailor, was serving as the Commodore of The Landings Yacht Club. He saw the pent up demand for inexpensive sailing and he put together a proposal and presented it to the communitys governing body, The Landings Association. If they would purchase the boats he was sure that a number of residents would pay a monthly fee to use them, and that the monies collected would be sufficient to repay The Association. He estimated that 11 members would be the break-even point.
The Association agreed, and appropriated $25,000 to purchase the boats. Mike had selected the keel model Rhodes 19 because of its stability, sail plan, and availability. Although the design is over 50 years old, the boats are still in new production and there is a lively used boat and equipment market. By the summer of 2003 The Landings Rhodes 19 Sailing Club had acquired seven boats, keeping within the budget, and had approximately 30 dues paying members. The dues structure was critical, with five separate categories ranging from Student (at $20/month) to Resident (at $55/month). A seasonal rate was also initiated for those who summer elsewhere, and a Single Head of Household rate for those in that situation. Every effort was made to lower the barriers to participation. Today there are still about 30 members, contributing almost $20,000 in annual dues. Even with the $9,000 annual expense budget, The Landings Association sees an excellent return on their investment.
And what about the sailing? Well, its been great! The Club organizes regularly scheduled races every weekend year round, alternating Saturdays and Sundays. Members indicate if they plan on participating that weekend and the coordinator assigns them to a crew and a hull for the day. Each week you are likely to see changes. The races are run according to the Racing Rules of Sailing, but the protests are likely to be heard on the dock afterwards, beers in hand, amid loud clarifications of the rules. Good sailing and good comradeship. In addition, there is a recreational sail each Thursday for those who wish to practice their skills outside of competition, or who simply want to enjoy an outing on the water. Members are also invited to use the boats at any other time.
Membership in the Club is open to all residents of The Landings. You can get a better idea of the program by viewing the YouTube video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIB657ROd8U or by going to the Landings Rhodes 19 website at http://home.comcast.net/~dhealy917/site/?/home/.
Or better yet, come join us in the community and sail with us! See you at the dock!
Located just 12 miles from historic Savannah on a 6,500-acre barrier island off Georgias emerald coast, The Landings on Skidaway Island is the recipient of the Urban Land Institutes coveted Award for Excellence. Its extensive list of amenities includes two full-service marinas, six championship golf courses designed by masters like Arnold Palmer, Tom Fazio, Arthur Hills and Willard Byrd, four swimming pools, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and 40 miles of walking and biking trails.
For more information, call The Landings toll free at 800-841-7011 or visit "www.thelandings.com.