Different people have different ideas on how they approach sailing. Some want to share it with others, while some like being alone without others around. Are you a group type person or a soloist? Those who like groups are more likely to join a yacht club. The whole idea is to share the maritime traditions in a club.
There's a wide range of philosophies in Yacht Clubs around Chicago and you should explore what the right fit is for you. Some are upper crust, full service with many employees and, as a result, costly. Some have a combination of employee and volunteer maintenance, and others are run and operated completely by volunteers with no employees. These volunteer clubs have fees and dues that not heavy and are extremely affordable.
Others have no facilities, they meet at restaurants, bars, firehouses, or homes. Some are a group of people focused on a particular manufacturer of boats, or a specific model of boat. Commonly you join these clubs for under $100 a year.
And PLEASE, the perceptions of yacht clubs has been highly distorted. It is nothing like Al Czervik's (Rodney Dangerfield) powerboat damaging Judge Smails (Ted Knight) sailboat and saying, "You scratched my anchor!" Clubs really are filled with professionals, teachers, plumbers, school teachers, fire persons, police persons and all walks of working society.
What club's look for are people who either are, or about to become involved in the nautical arts. They would prefer new members be boaters, vs. poofters who are wannabees or social members who wish to "brag" that they are a member of a yacht club.
It is important to understand that you should shoulder some of the elbow grease in keeping the clubhouse shipshape in volunteer clubs or join a committee or committees in clubs with paid staff. It builds friendships, relationships, and keeps the costs down for all involved.
Some offer food and liquor, others just food, others no food or liquor service. Chicago has a little unknown secret, we have the most African-American Yacht Club in the country. And there's no intention to be secret, it just has been modest in its accomplishment that isn't bragged about.
This is the only time of the year that the clubs meet with the public and invite them in at Strictly Sail Chicago, January 18-24, 2016 at McCormick Place, Chicago. You're only other option is to know a member of a club, and ask them to facilitate your introduction to a club. You'll meet club members, learn what they have to offer, and get an invitation to the club if it sounds like a right fit for you. Some offer discounts on initiation fees, dues or both to entice you during the sailboat show.
Walk around, ask lots of questions, let them get to know you and your boating interests, and make the connection so you can go through the membership nominating process and become a member before sailing season begins (the processes are a bit archaic in some clubs, there's no secret handshakes or initiation paddles though).
There is paperwork, meet-ups so others get to know you, your name is posted to current members for those 6-degrees of separation to verify you are a good person, and your check to seal the deal. Then there is commonly a luncheon or dinner for you to attend to welcome your entrance as a member.
Which is the right style club for you?
Burnham Park Yacht Club
1500 S. Linn White Dr
Chicago, IL 60605
Chicago Corinthian Yacht Club
601 W. Montrose
Chicago, IL 60613
Chicago Yacht Club Chicago Yacht Club
400 East Monroe 300 West Belmont
Chicago, IL 60603 Chicago, IL 60657
Columbia Yacht Club
111 N. Lakeshore Dr.
Chicago, IL 60601
Great Lakes Cruising Club
405 Water Street
Chicago IL 60616
Great Lakes Singlehanded Society
1246 Spruce St
Winnetka IL 60093
Jackson Park Yacht Club
6400 S. Promontory Dr
Chicago, IL 60649
Kenosha Yacht Club
5130 4th Avenue
Kenosha, WI 53140
Midwest Open Racing Fleet
P.O. Box 3429
Lisle, IL 60532
Northwest Sailing Association
P.O. Box 921
Arlington Heights, IL 60006
Racine Yacht Club
1 Barker St.
Racine, WI 53402
Go see them all, and make introductions to a whole new group of sailing friends. They are there to facilitate introductions.
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