As we begin our sailing season, we do so with an uneasy trepidation about the waters in which we sail. Luckily for us, we sail offshore and not be inside in the bays. Nonetheless we a have a responsibility to what US Sailing calls environmental awareness and a stewardship relationship to the ocean. The stewardship principal is one of the four pillars of US Sailing's mission. We've seen how delicate our local waters are and know all too well why our national sailing organization puts such a high priority in taking responsibility for the environments we sail in.
This watch is will start with attentions focused on the sea. Last year at this time Irma was plowing into the Naples. Our coastal town was spared from the ravages of a storm bouncing up the Gulf coast as South Florida took it on the chin and the storm turned slightly towards the east. Although not left completely unscathed Venice considering the alternatives, ducked a potential disaster. This year as we monitor September’s storm season amidst the ravages of a another disaster. Our coast is besieged by a horrible, persistent toxic condition that unlike a hurricane, hasn’t blown off.
We were able to have two events this summer. In a Red TIde, the group kayaked to Midnight Pass from Black Burn Pt. The event was planned on the tide so it was behind us for each leg. Kudos to the nautical planning that went into that. We were met for lunch by more members upon returning to the Casey Key Fish House. It was a good time and was I pleased at the turn out. The second event was at Snook Haven. The event was well attended. It was a good time to keep up on the ties that bind us but the fact remained that the event was replacing the favorite VSS annual Crab Feast. The fish kills have created such a market for crabs that to meet our crab order, charges would have exceeded $1500 from a wholesaler in North Port. Last year a bushel of large males from a local restaurant cost the club $275. It wasn’t crabs but still was a good time to see the group together and excited for a new watch season.
This watch started last May on the North Jetty. with a focus on our roots as a sailing club. From that point, we’ve seen the continuation and expansion of VSS programs with a focus on our defined mission to encourage sailing, promote seamanship, foster a spirit of good sportsmanship, hold races, sponsor cruises, give instruction and sponsor entertainment for the members and their guests. We've expanded the calendar with self funding Summer events like with kayak trips, picnics and the August Crab Feast.
It is February and we are busy sailing. Sea temps are chilly but the days are getting longer as we make way into the VSS spring calendar. Club activities and programming are designed, planned and administered through the coordinated efforts of volunteers. This past weekend’s Windjammer regatta saw an example of such coordinated efforts from passionate volunteers. Sailors from multiple area SBYA sail clubs combined resources and collaborated their skills in producing a great regatta. Thanks to all the volunteers who gave of their time and expertise for this year’s sailing classic contest off Casey Key.
This year the Sailing Squadron turns 45. It’s a milestone in our club’s history that reminds us that we are part of something that’s been in Venice for longer than most of us. The simple mission to build and foster the local sailing community sets the course and provides us with the direction we still sail today.
The VSS is mandated by it’s laws to organize sailing competitions. The month of January sees the VSS as the authority for two club races, one club regatta, and one regional SBYA race - the Windjammer Regatta. The Windjammer is a classic point to point race in the Gulf from Big Pass down Casey Key to Venice with a reception at the Venice Yacht Club. The next day, the race starts off from the Venice Jetty and heads back up to Big Pass. This is one of the best events in the SBYA calendar and is part of the Boat of the Year circuit, a favorite among the local racing community.
This past Saturday night saw a great evening for the annual boat parade. A clear evening and a full moon over the water made for a spectacular sight on our local waters. The VSS’s Fleet Captain of Racing, John Lynch, kindly lent Spray for the Venice Youth Boating Association entry. With nearly twenty VYBA youth sailors and coaches on deck and two 420’s in tow, John donned his Santa suit and ho-ho-hoed from Blackburn Point down the the ICW to the judges near the Circus Bridge. The kids in return showed great spirit and were excited to be on a sailboat, albeit a motoring one. Fruition was also on the water that night to as the Venice Yacht Club’s entry. Bill Gately and his crew did a great job decorating Fruition which featured, among other things, a Santa Lou Salhany.
It was great to see so many people in attendance at this year’s blustery Steak and Sail. The venue was most welcoming in reserving the the water taxis for us and providing such a great menu for our group. In return, we filled their panoramic dinning room with gregarious sailors, a win-win for everybody. We were not alone in our campaign to fill the restaurant, we were joined by representatives from the Englewood Sailing Association, with whom we are picnicking this Saturday. It was a fantastic day out on the key and a great day for the Venice area sailing community.