Mike Brown was introduced to the Marco Bay Yacht Club (MBYC) in 1992 by another member, and he and his wife, Cindy, quickly became members themselves.
It’s a decision the Marco Island resident hasn’t regretted. Over the years, he held a variety of offices in the club, including serving as cruise captain, the person responsible for organizing its many boating excursions during the year.
“We enjoy it,” said Mike Brown. “It’s a lot of fun. It’s a good group of people and there’s a lot of camaraderie.”
The MBYC is currently hoping to attract other boating enthusiasts, like the Browns, who enjoy sharing the experience with other boaters and regular fun gatherings on land.
Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, the nonprofit organization, which bills itself as the island’s first and oldest boating club, is seeking to boost membership beyond the roughly 100 people already on its roles.
“Like many of the organizations on Marco Island, we have an age issue,” said Larry Sacher, currently the MBYC’s rear commodore, who’ll be rising to vice-commodore for 2019 at January’s Commodore’s Ball. “We have a number of long-term members who are just getting to an age where they prefer not to or can’t operate a vessel. With all the growth that Marco is experiencing, there aren’t too many people who buy a single-family home on the water who don’t intend to have a boat.”
The MBYC is a “virtual” boat club because it doesn’t have a club house, but instead meets at various facilities and meets monthly at CJ’s on the Bay in the Esplanade Shoppes. It’s comprised of powerboat owners whose vessels are a minimum of 20 feet long and are berthed on Marco or at Goodland or the Isles of Capri.
Frequent boating excursions and non-boating social activities are a club hallmark and help to set it apart from the other boating groups on Marco.
“We refer to ourselves as the fun club because as a virtual club, people join the Marco Bay Yacht Club who are looking to combine boating activities with social activities,” said Sacher.
The roster of activities includes:
- Monthly long-range cruises for those with sleep-aboard vessels that travel to various marinas on both coasts, as well as traveling throughout the state via the Caloosahatchee canal system. The jaunts typically five days or more, with activities scheduled from daytime through dinner.
- For “day-boaters,” those whose vessels aren’t suitable for long-range cruises, there are activities such as poker runs and scavenger hunts, trips to waterside restaurants for luncheons to easily accessible islands like Keewaydin.
- Monthly summer “Dine-a-Rounds” at local restaurants.
- On an annual basis, there are the Commodore’s Ball, the Holiday Party, a new members “Welcome Aboard” and a “Welcome Back” for seasonal members.
- There’s also a very active First Mates group that does such things as attend plays and cooking demonstrations, take shopping trips, visit museums and more.
Sacher said the club also provides this education to familiarize members with navigating the sometimes challenging local waters. He said travel can at times be treacherous because the sandy bottom tends to shift with the tides and at the island’s south end, through Caxambas Pass, the many clam and oyster shells left over from the old Doxy Clam Company can present a hazard.
“If you don’t know your way, even though there are markers there, it’s very easy to run aground. It can do quite a bit of damage because of the clam and oyster shells,” he added.
A member for 10 years, Sacher believes that the reasons for the club’s vitality and longevity are quite simple.
“It’s the ability to boat 12 months a year,” he said. “People want to boat, they want to share the experience with others, plus have the luxury of the social element. If you have a boat down here, you can boat all that you want. But sometimes it’s fun to share that with other people. That’s why Marco Bay offers more social boating than any of the other boating organizations in the area.”
For more information, visit marcobayyachtclub.com. To join, there is a $200 initiation fee and $150 annual dues. To learn more, people can attend one of the MBYC’s monthly “Monday Madness” events at CJ’s on the Bay. Or you can contact: Membership Chair Dianne Kernan at 389-0314 (firstname.lastname@example.org), current vice commodore Sally Orth (email@example.com), rear commodore Larry Sacher (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the current commodore, Rudi Landwaard (email@example.com).