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Special to The Lancaster News
Jimmy Wood knows what he loves about sailing.
“The sound of the waves, the feel of the wind and the smile on my wife’s face.”
And Wood – the acting commodore of Lake Wateree Sail Club – wants other people to experience those things and understand why the Lake Wateree Sail Club is a great place to share experiences.
“I love the facilities, I love the comradeship and I love being able to keep my boat in a secure location where I can just go sailing any time,” Wood said.
The club was formed in 1961 by Helen Hanley. At the time of its formation, the club had about 130 families, according to Wood. Now Wood says the club has dwindled down to only 25 families with an active membership.
“Sailing, for some reason, doesn’t seem to be as popular as it used to be and quite honestly I don’t understand why,” Wood said. “I think sailing’s about the most fun I’ve ever did.”
Members now have the option to cruise across Lake Wateree in power boats as well as sail boats. Wood says power boaters interested in keeping their boats in a family club will benefit from this new service.
“The purpose is to promote the sport of sailing, but we do allow powerboats,” Wood added. “We have members who have jet skies, which is fine, we also have members who just want to use the launch ramp. We have a separate, less expensive membership for that, also.”
Being a member of the Lake Wateree Sail Club comes with a variety of benefits.
In addition to other features, members have access to the clubhouse with bathroom facilities, a swimming area, a picnic area with grills, a pump-out station and sailing privileges.
“We have a clubhouse with a pavilion, which is perfect for having a party or a family reunion, and all of this is private so it’s not like you have to compete with anyone like you would if you showed up at a park,” Wood said. “There are also several restaurants within sailing distance. Most of the time there’s not a huge amount of boat traffic on it.”
Boat slips and boat storage are also available at the sail club.
But one of the bigger benefits, according to Wood, is how protected your boat is from strong winds.
“We can have some pretty strong storms up there, and the boats that stay in the slips are pretty well protected,” Wood said. “I’ve never had any damages to my boat while it was in the slip because it’s so well-protected from storms.”
Cookouts, boat trips and meeting other sailors are all fun experiences that Wood can recall.
“Part of what I love about it, is the memories of learning to sail as a kid,” Wood said. “My wife and I have taken the boat out and spent the night on the boat.”
One experience he fondly remembers happened just last summer.
“Probably the most fun was last summer when we had the water gun fight,” Wood said. “We all sailed up to the state park, and we’d sail past each other and squirt each other and that was loads of fun.”
In April, the club hosted a regatta of the Eastern Multihull Sailing Association. In a regatta, a series of boat races occurs.
“We had people for North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia who came and raced at our club,” Wood said. “You talk about serious racers? They have real life rules they go by, and they take this thing very seriously.”
Four types of memberships are available at the club: social member, social and launch ramp member, fleet member and fleet member with slip.
“We are a nonprofit organization made up strictly of members,” Wood said. “Everyone who has to do with the leadership is all volunteer; no pay at all.”
“People talk about how expensive sailing can be and I don’t get it really,” Wood said. “Once you’ve bought a boat, it’s really quite affordable.”