Category Archives: Life in the Club

Life at the Halifax River Yacht Club.

July Binnacle Article

Small print. I have been going to the eye doctor for years and each time I am asked the same question, “Are you able to read the small print?” Proudly I would answer “Yes”, thinking that for so long as I could read small print I would not be classified as reaching some restrictive age barrier.

I have not been to the eye doctor this year but I already know the answer to the question; “No I can’t read the small print, are you happy now?”

What does this have to do with the Yacht Club? Absolutely nothing, but I was sitting here thinking how aggravating it was and I thought commiserating with you about my eyesight would be akin to my boating escapades. Somehow this draws the bond tighter between you and I much as boating has. Does anybody have a spare set of reading glasses?

The Gulf Streamer was another race to remember this year. We made the trip to Charleston via my truck and it was pretty uneventful. Our stay was fantastic. I recall the humidity was perfect where I didn’t feel like a wet dishrag after walking outside.

Charleston Yacht Club was beautiful as were their members who graciously volunteered their time to provide us with a great dinner for the awards banquet. I enjoyed their hospitality as did many of our members who made the trip. Thank you to all of the HRYC members who showed their support of sailing and our club in Charleston.

Norm Church and his crew brought the honor to our club by finishing first overall on Obsession. Thanks to him and his crew for a fine finish.

Thanks goes out to P/C Ford for committing to chair this race. As anyone who has chaired the race knows, the GulfStreamer take about one and half to two years of planning and coordinating.  He sacrificed his opportunity to race this year to make sure it came off without a hitch. Thank you.

I want to finish up by saying that Pam and I have enjoyed three, yes three boating excursions without a major incident. I say major because our last one was met with a loud shrieking alarm as we were returning to port. Panic set in as I saw the red light; low oil.

Fortunately “low oil” means something different than “no oil” so stopping at Down the Hatch only meant we were eating lunch not calling Boat U.S. for a tow. Scallops were the item of choice and returning to HRYC was without further incident.

I hope to see you on the water and at the club. It is summertime and the Tiki Bar continues to be the pulling force for member’s young and old alike. If you have not stopped by yet, come on a Friday night for a busy party atmosphere or Sunday for a more laid back end to your week.

See you at the club…

June Binnacle Article

It is with some reservation that I mention the great weather we have had lately. Starting with the Blessing of the Fleet, the skies were clear and blue and the temperature was perfect. The flyover by Past Commodore Lynn McCoy’s friends was quite spectacular. Lynn and his wife Sue were in the biplane as it flew overhead. I am sure it was a sight to be seen. Being Fleet Captain is a thankless job but I want to go on the record and say thank you to Mark Webb for pulling it all together.

The Battle of the Yacht Clubs was another great success story. I hope you made it but if you didn’t you should really come next time. The catch was a little light this year but nonetheless HRYC remains the champions and retains the trophy for yet another year.

The seafood buffet that was served later in the evening for the participants was fantastic. Well that’s what I was told. I had ham and potatoes with fish and shrimp not being my cup of tea.

The fine weather continued for Mother’s Day. With nearly four hundred guests and members who attended one sometimes wonders how the staff manages the events and keeps most of us happy. Not only did they handle the buffet but they were able to serve the Tiki Bar with some great food. To our staff I say, “Great job!”

Our member survey went out and we are beginning to receive some great feedback on where we shine and where we could improve. Between our manager Louis and the Board of Directors I can assure you we will review all responses and make adjustments where we can. If you have not completed your survey please do so soon.

At this time I would like to warn all other boaters out there, I have cleaned and prepped my boat. You know what this means… Pam and I will be heading to disappearing island with friends and family. I am sure that somewhere along the way I will have a new adventure or should I say catastrophe to report. As of this writing all systems are a go. Another thank you goes to Tina Webb who has graciously offered to teach me how to drive my own boat.

As many of you know Les Levy and his team have been working hard on restoring our newly acquired sailboat. This sailboat will be used to teach kids and adults the fine points of sailing. Thank you to Cal and Tom, owners of Seven Seas Marina who have generously donated time and effort to haul the boat out of the water and give us a place to work on it. I say again that it’s our members who make our club the greatest club anywhere around.

See you next month!

May Binnacle Article

By now we as Floridians would have expected to have had at least two months of warm sunny weather to enjoy. Unfortunately Mother Nature has turned the tables on us and we have had cooler weather and when it seems like spring is finally here another shower brings cool weather again. However I think we may be headed for some warmer days as witnessed a few weeks ago by the Tiki Bar attendance. There are some changes to the hours that will surely please you and I will let our Vice Commodore clue you in.

I want to say a word about some of our members who have given blood, sweat and tears to building our new docks. We must have had over the last few years about 50 different members who contributed to the refurbishing of our docks saving the club hundreds of thousands of dollars. If not for them we would not enjoy such clean and well built facilities when it comes to boating. Thank you to everyone that has contributed their time to make this happen.

Financially the club is doing quite well considering the economy. As a matter of fact our Treasurer Jim Richards will surely fill you in on the details. Working with his finance committee and our controller Frank Amendolia we now have a working set of financials that everyone can understand. If anyone has any questions about the financials feel free to speak to Jim.

Don’t forget May is the month for the Gulfstreamer. The race to Charleston is a grueling trip for our sailors therefore my mode of travel will be by truck. Seriously I have completed the race twice and have now learned to stop opening my mouth when I am asked, “Wanna go?” There will be a FREE rum party to kick things off and I know you wont want to miss it.

I have to send a big thank you to Les Levy who installed a head (toilet for people like me and you) on my boat. It’s not quite what Pam had in mind but it surely has become a conversation piece. Funny thing was a friend of mine had joined his brother at the club for Easter Sunday and as he was telling me how great everything was he laughed and started to mention that somebody’s boat had a head on the bow. He thought that was the funniest thing… Then I told him it was my boat which made it even funnier.

Somebody hung a little fish from my top of my bimini. Some would say it’s about the size of the last fish I caught. I thought so too so I could not argue the point. Pam had pictures to prove it. Pictures don’t lie.

As for the boat, I went down to check things out. I have two batteries installed. I found battery one is dead. So starts the misadventures of my next boating season… Anybody want to buy a boat? I would like to enjoy the second happiest day of a boat owner’s life.

March Binnacle Article

I want to start off by thanking Mike and Pat Alekson along with their committee members, Ash Dovel, Don and Clarissa Chester, V/C Bill and Grace Masters, Larry and Suzie Robinson, R/C Wayne and Eloise Stewart, and Dave and Sherry Winkler. Thanks to them the Super Bowl party was quite a hit topping out at 165 members in attendance. No matter whom you were rooting for I am sure you had fun. I would be remiss if I were not to thank staff for all of their hard work. As usual staff members made the evening enjoyable for all attending to everyone’s needs. The kitchen staff outdid themselves with the tailgate snacks and foods. Thank Mike and his staff for another fine meal the next time you see him at the club.

The weather has been somewhat less than cooperative lately but it doesn’t seem to stop the Tiki Bar crowd. With propane heaters going and the shades pulled low members continue to enjoy one of the finest features of our club. I have to say you sometimes have to be careful for what you ask. Each year I lament about how warm it is and this year I had hoped for a longer season of cooler weather. I can honestly say that I am pretty much over it. It seems like every time I plan to work on the boat its 40 degrees with 30 knot winds. If it’s not windy it’s raining. It’s hard to have boat stories to tell when you can’t even work on the boat. I do make sure each time I visit the club to check to make sure the boat is still floating. It is and that’s a good sign.

Pam and I attended Bingo night at the club last month. I had the honor of calling the numbers and we had quite a good time. The next time we have Bingo night you better get your reservations in early. The word is spreading and I fear there won’t be much room left.

The St. Patrick’s Day Party is almost always a sell out and does require you get in an early reservation. Our kitchen staff serves some of the best corned beef to be had in this area and will be a hit with those in attendance. Pam and I look forward to seeing you there.

So far this year most parties have been to capacity and even Grillin’ and Chillin’ has had record number turnouts. Try to remember to let staff know if you plan on attending Grillin’ and Chillin’ or the Seafood Buffet. It really helps kitchen staff plan accordingly ensuring everyone has a pleasant experience.

Thank you to all of our members for supporting the best yacht club on the east coast. Till next month…

February Binnacle Article

I was reminded by one of our previous Commodores Chris Brown that we need to thank our sponsors for our 2009 Boat Parade. Without our sponsors the boat parade would not be what it has become. So to that end I would like to thank (Put sponsors names here)

Our Change of Watch was quite historical as was our weather. The weather being so cold required the ceremony to be held inside and our boat parade… well we had to reverse the process, setting off on Mark and Tina Webb’s boat “St. Somewhere” Past Commodore Lynn McCoy and I reviewed the boats by cruising past the members who braved the cold.

Did I mention cold? For those of you who have managed to get through some of my previous boating stories Change of Watch and how it played out for the day was only natural for me. Let’s face it. Who else could get 30 degree weather when it required your new Commodore to be part of that favorite past time called “boating”. Nonetheless I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Pam and I want to thank each and every one of you that attended the Change of Watch. Your support was overwhelming especially considering the weather. Dinner was well attended with over 180 people attending. If you missed it you missed a fine meal and an opportunity to make more friends.

Pam and I followed Change of Watch up with Birthday and Anniversary night for January birthdays and anniversaries, again well attended with over 150 people the party atmosphere bred hope for a new year. The Commodears had a good night with a 50/50 payout to the winner of $167.00. Check out the Commodears column to see who the lucky winner was.

Vice Commodore Bill Masters has some new ideas for your menu and is working with the kitchen to offer you some new items.

Rear Commodore Wayne Stewart already has a good grasp on the docks steering his committee towards the final phase our docks rehab with the north dock.

Our Treasurer Jim Richards has been working with our accountant to ensure the finances of our club are “accounted” for. Its looks like we have a great year ahead for our club.

The Halifax River Yacht Club is in good hands. I look forward to our First Ladies Ball when we honor our ladies who have supported their Commodores through their year. The First Ladies Ball is a traditional event that you sure do not want to miss. The menu is sure to appeal to everyone’s appetite.

Pam and I look forward to seeing you at the club.

January Binnacle Article

Wow, its 2010. I remember doing a project in school and was asked to imagine what it would be like in 2010. Unfortunately my imagination outpaced reality. I am not seeing any flying saucers carrying people around like they did on the Jetson’s cartoon show.

Nonetheless it is a great time to be a member of the Halifax River Yacht Club. The effects of the economy may still drive some our financial decisions but our club continues to hold its own with the fantastic support of is members. I would however be remiss if I didn’t say “Use it more!”.

Pam and I would like to thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Commodore and First Lady. I want to say thank you to Pam for making one of my wishes come true. It truly is an honor to serve as Commodore. If my previous 5 or 6 years serving on boards and various committees is any indication of what this year will be like then I know I am in for a real treat. I enjoy every minute of it and so does Pam. This year she is serving as the Chairman of the Commodears. As you well know the Commodears is an organization for the ladies of the club. It serves the club in many capacities mostly ensuring the club has the niceties it so deserves.

Hopefully you have already noticed a big change in the format of the Binnacle. I figured it was time to step away from our old black and white version and introduce some color to our newsletter. Karen Mowrey has been quite instrumental in ensuring this Binnacle article got to press. If you see her give her a big thank you for all the hard work she has put into our new newsletter. I did promise her though that I would try this year to keep my articles short saving room for my other officers. Vice Commodore Bill Masters, Rear Commodore Wayne Stewart and Treasurer Jim Richards will need all the room they can get to keep you up to date on what is happening at the club.

As in the past I look forward to seeing each of you and swapping boat stories. I enjoy finding out just how many of you also “almost” sank your boat. Till next month…

December Binnacle Article

By the time you have read this article the House Committee has met for its last time under my watch as Vice Commodore. At this meeting we should be sampling some new dishes that will appear on the menu in January. As usual our direction to Louis was to let the staff be creative and surprise us. While I write this article in advance I know I will be surprised and pleased with what the kitchen staff prepares for our committee. As a side note I hope many of you who have joined us for the various parties noticed that many of our desserts were homemade this year.

I don’t think I could have had a better kitchen staff for my year as Vice Commodore. I leave our kitchen staff in capable hands as Vice Commodore elect Bill Masters takes over the reins. I know Bill has some ideas of his own and I also know Bill will do a great job next year with the House side of things.

I want to thank everyone who made my year as Vice Commodore so great. I would list everyone here but I have had enough ribbing about the length of my articles so I will sum it by saying, “Thank you to all of our members!” A special thank you goes to my committee members. Without them my job would have been much harder.

Christmas time is upon us. The other day at work a lady said “forty-six more days”. She said this without further explanation. We all assumed she meant “until Christmas”. Curiosity did get the better of me and I had to ask “46 more days until what?” She replied, “Until Christmas is over”. We all laughed but it struck a chord in me. I remember as a child the goals I had; I could not wait until I was thirteen so I was a “teenager” then I couldn’t wait until I was 15 so I could drive. Follow that with being 18 so I could drink. Well I mean drink “legally”. Never once did I rush in the “day after Christmas”. That day could always be held off by some supernatural force for all I cared. For me Christmas wasn’t just about the gifts or a religion it was about what it did to the people around me. It made everyone a little bit more patient, a little more giving and much happier than any other time of year. It brought families closer together and most of all it made people realize what was important. Christmas was a closure to the year. It prepared us for the upcoming year and allowed us to reflect back on what we did and how lucky we were. As an adult I still do not look forward to the day after Christmas. I love going to the mall and watching the people rush about. It is magical after all. You witness thousands of people making children’s dreams come true. Quite amazing I think and hopefully you do too.

November Binnacle Article

It should go without saying that boating is a favorite past time for many people. Let’s face it boating is the very foundation upon which our club was built. It is the common thread that binds many of us to the Halifax River Yacht Club.

With that said however one must not overlook the obvious. That being the friendship we all enjoy amongst the members of our club. While boating may have brought us together, the bonds we have forged over the years are worth their weight in gold. Personally I can truly say that I have not had so many friends over the years as I do now. I have met people from all walks of life, listened to war stories and have garnered life lessons from many of you.

Recently Pam and I had the pleasure of joining the boaters in October for their trip to Eau Gallie yacht club. Mind you Pam and I drove. Based upon my boating stories many a boater was happy to hear that my method of transportation involved wheels and not props.

We arrived later in the afternoon on a chilly day. We immediately headed towards the docks. Even I know that’s where they keep the boats. We were met by a bunch of our friends who invited us to sit and swap stories. I sat there as I often do and listened. ‘Tis better to listen than try to offer advice on boating. For some reason I have not gained enough respect for that yet. After a while we headed to the Tiki Bar to what the ever exciting Florida Gators play Arizona. It was a nail biter to the very end but Florida did pull it off. There at the bar again we were surrounded by friends. Mark Webb and his wife Tina were there to great us. Mark was the one responsible for putting the trip together. We were son joined by Rear Commodore Bill Masters and his wife Gracie, Dave Winkler and his wife Sherri, Mike Alekson and his wife Pat, Ash Dovel, Jack Hand and his wife, Dave and Tonia Klokow and their daughter Cheyenne.

That evening Mark and Tina invited us to sit at their table along with Rufus, Amy, Vicki and Tony. Also in attendance were all the aforementioned with Chet Brummett, his wife Linda as well as Wes Diaz and his wife Nicky.

I am afraid that Mark and I commandeered the conversation as we discussed ratings, sailing strategy and the future of the sailing program at HRYC. Pam leaned over to Tina at one point and mentioned the fact that she should not have sat between Mark and I. Nonetheless it was a great evening. We laughed, ate and drank our way back to the bar for a night cap before we said our goodbyes. Everyone was to get an early start the next morning myself included.

My trip home the next day left me contemplating the meaning of friendship. I discovered that it matters not the circumstances nor the geography but the people with whom you are with. Given any situation I know that we all have friends at the yacht club and that is all that matters.

As we draw near the end of another fabulous year please remember to tell your family AND your friends what they mean to you. Reflect upon all the good memories you made this past year and carry them forward in your heart.

October Binnacle Article

Summer is technically over, snowbirds are preparing their flight plans and permanent residents are reminiscing about the previous summer with friends and family. While Summer may be “technically” over for boaters we can look forward to a few more months of warm weather that presents additional opportunity to craft memories.

I have a few house keeping items to mention. The first is to remind you that making reservations on overly busy nights like Friday night is encouraged. Reservations help staff plan accordingly to ensure your experience is the best it can be. The second item is for you to remember that our staff is very accommodating when you make requests. If you don’t see something on the menu just ask. Chances are you will be able to have something prepared just the way you want.

My boating experience has continued with the painting of the bottom of my boat. Yes, I did actually perform the physical labor of this task. Pam did help me, making the experience less painful. Nonetheless it was a challenge. We took our boat to Seven Seas Marina where my vessel was removed from its trailer and placed upon jacks. I commenced to cleaning and sanding the bottom to ensure a proper foundation for what was surely the world’s most expensive paint.

Let me stop here and tell you that when you are new to boating there is no shortage of boaters willing to offer you advice. An honorable mention goes to Mike and Judy Clower who convinced Pam and me over drinks at the Tiki Bar that painting the boat ourselves was “easy”. “They do it every year”. I discovered one should be sober when accepting advice.

My thanks go to two of our newest members and owners of Seven Seas Marina, Tom and Calvin. Calvin taught me more about painting boats than any one man should know. Both Tom and Calvin were very helpful to a novice such as me. Calvin even took the time to come out and help me adjust my tape lines so they were straight. His many years of experience must have triggered his “novice” alarm as he periodically walked by my area inspecting my progress.

It took two days to paint the bottom. Except for the pencil thin mustache Pam managed to acquire on her face, the inevitable smears of paint on her arms and small specks on her glasses most of the paint actually ended up on the boat.

We painted the boat over the Labor Day weekend so by Monday we were excited to get the boat back in the water. We had loaded all of our boating supplies and equipment into the truck that morning. Arriving at Seven Seas around 8:30 or so the crew launched my boat back into the water. Pam brought most of the stuff from the truck to the boat as I prepared to start the boat.

Finding the keys, priming the gas I turned her over. She started without hesitation then died. Twice more I did this and on the fourth try, nothing. It was as if the batteries completely died. Suspecting a fuse or breaker I search high and low, check all fuses and breakers and determined that this was not the cause of our delay.

One of the marina crew came over to help. We both thought that maybe it was dead batteries even though both batteries were brand new and I did have lights, pumps, etc. He brought over one of those portable jumpers and we tried again without success. Stumped I looked at the motor as if it would be intimidated into starting. That did not work either. The guy from the marina brought over one of those heavy duty chargers and told me to connect it and wait two minutes. I did as instructed, tried to start the motor. It started then died. Waiting another few minutes I tried and it did nothing. Waiting even longer made no difference in the outcome.

About to admit defeat I told Pam we were going to have to trailer it home. Using logic which apparently had left me that morning she suggested purchasing a new battery to see if that was the problem. I agreed, purchased the battery and spent about 20 minutes trying to get the cables off the old batteries. Finally cabling the new battery I told Pam try and start it. The darn motor did not turn over.

It did not make sense. I then tried to use the switches to raise and lower the motor and it did nothing. At this point I removed the motor cover looking for an obvious culprit but found nothing. I pushed and tugged and nothing. Then I tried the motor trim switch again and it worked. Aha! Ghost in the machine! Told Pam to try and start the motor and it started then died. “Try again”, I said. The motor didn’t even try to run over but I did hear a click this time. The removal of the cover must have made this discovery of a clue possible.

My keenly honed troubleshooting skills now in full force told me, “loose wire”. Again I pushed tugged and even disconnected cables and put them back. Pushing the trim switch caused the motor to rise. I tried starting the motor. This time it started and stayed started. Wishing to try my luck I turned it off and tried it again. It started! Again! Yahoo!

Fearing our getting stuck at Disappearing Island with no tow insurance we opted to take the boat back to the club. I spent some more time that day spending more money at West Marine cleaning connections.

Goes to show you just how fragile boating can be. Again we chalk this up to earning our boating badge. I went with everyone’s advice and purchased my tow insurance, “just in case”.

Hope you have a wonderful October!

September Binnacle Article

For those long time resents of our area you may have noticed something familiar about the weather lately; afternoon thunderstorms. I remember when I was a kid every day during the summer it seemed to storm for a while and then clear away allowing me and my playmates to enjoy the hot humid Florida sunshine.

Like the weather our kitchen and service staff have gone through some “climate” changes and have certainly cleared the way for our members to enjoy the highest quality food and service available.

Recently the House Committee has asked our manager to offer two soups for lunch and dinner. As usual Louis and the kitchen staff accommodated our request and Friday night I was able to enjoy a nice sausage and kale cream soup while my friends enjoyed the clear broth type of Italian wedding soup. I want to commend Mike again for his soups. He is clearly one of the best soup makers I have come to know.

One other issue the House Committee has to contend with is the Binnacle. We recently met to discuss layout and quality and hope to have some changes ahead for our newsletter that I think all of you will enjoy. Finally with regard to advertising we are adding an additional 48 spots for advertising. We will move all advertising to the back of the Binnacle. With the additional advertising we will finally have the Binnacle in a “cost neutral” situation. If you want to advertise in next years Binnacle please send your information to Karen in the office. In addition to advertising in the Binnacle we will be producing “yellow pages” for the membership directory. Once we have finalized everything and the Board of Directors have approved of the changes we will send out notices with your statement.

Again I want to thank everyone for their kind comments on my previous articles. My goal was to have our members look forward to the next Binnacle and I have clearly succeeded.

Fortunately for me I have not had any more boating disasters and in fact have really begun to sink money into my new hobby. I believe that is how one determines ones love of boating. It’s a simple formula that I won’t take credit for but will put here for your reference: Money multiplied by time spent equals love for boating

Until next month Bon appétit!