If you were to picture someone who belongs to a sailing club, you might think of a couple like Thurston or Lovey Howell, or an oil tycoon with a sweatercape on his giant yacht. Fair or not, wealthy and elite seems to be the common connotation.
The Gig Harbor Sailing Clubs & School doesn’t think it has to be that way.
For a monthly and one-time initiation fee, the club offers the opportunity to explore the harbor on a variety of different ships, as well as a plethora of different classes that range from advanced sailers to the most novice boatsmen.
For beginners, the classes operate similar to a normal school schedule, starting with basic keelboat instructions and advancing to coastal navigation and bareboat cruising. When sailors complete courses and get U.S. Sailing certification, it allows them to take command of boats up to 43 feet long.
In addition to those classes, GHSCS also offers personal lessons for those 15 and older, ranging $49 to $59 an hour, depending on membership, and various courses for members that range from racing and learning to anchor, to learning how to read charts.
“I learned a ton,” said Don Roofand, who took private lessons from the club last year. “I went into this without a single lick of experience, and I was intimidated when I first started. But they did such a good job of making me feel comfortable, and they do a great job of making sure you’re in control, but not at the point where they are babying you, either.”
What separates the Gig Harbor Sailing Club from some others in the area i is the fleet. The club has seven boats that range from a 10-foot Walker Bay to a 38-foot Catalina yacht. Members get to use the Walker Bay for free, and the 22- and 27-foot Catalinas are available without an additional cost on a limited basis.
“It’s an awesome leet,” Roofand said. “All of their ships are well-maintained and fully equipped, and there is a great variety for any type of sailor. I don’t think there’s a better fleet of boats in the entire harbor.”
But the club isn’t the only option in town.
The Gig Harbor Youth Sailing Club also offers classes and events for sailors 9-18, ranging from learning-how-to-sail courses, to introduction-to-racing advanced classes.
“I’ve loved it for a long time,” said Mike Davis, a former GHYC member. “It’s where I first learned how to sail, and I’m pretty sure that anyone who tries it will love it, too.”
Roofand said many are still intimidated by the process, but he believes anyone who tries the club or the sport will quickly change their mind.
“You can’t help but have an impression in your head about what the sport is like,” Roofand said. “As much as you want to be open-minded, there are preconceived notions about everything, I think. But once you get out on the water and feel the wind at your back and see that beautiful sunset? Those preconceived notions go away pretty quickly. It’s just about the love of the sea and the boat then.”
For more information about the Gig Harbor Sailing School & Club, call 253-858-3626 or visit www.gigharborsailing.com. To learn more about the Gig Harbor Yacht Club junior sailing program, call 253-614-2131 or go to www.ghycjuniorsail.com.