Learn to sail, make new friends and maybe even find your soul mate with Single Mariners of Marina del Rey

By Paul M. J. Suchecki

Paul Suchecki is joined by Sarah Ordover, left, and Michiko Yajima on a Single Mariners outing

Paul Suchecki is joined by Sarah Ordover, left, and Michiko Yajima on a Single Mariners outing

The wind tickles your hair and the sun caresses your back as you taste the sea. If you’ve watched sailboats glide past the beach and have yearned to be on board, you’re in luck — if you’re single.

Single Mariners of Marina del Rey is a grassroots active singles club that matches boat owners and aspiring sailors for low-pressure mix-and-mingle outings on the water. Newcomers to the sport can sail for practically nothing compared to owning a boat, and skippers get to relax and delegate the winching, halyard hauling and steering.

The club meets for cocktails at 7 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of each month at the ultra-supportive Pacific Mariners Yacht Club. Drinks, which typically run under $5 at the PMYC’s full bar, precede a healthy dinner prepared by chef Nilou Kashfi, whose paying gig is cooking at the AMC Dine-in Theaters Marina 6. The meal is a bargain at just $7.

The weeknight gatherings are an opportunity for skippers and crew to get to know each other and sign up for day sails held on the Saturday after the first Thursday meeting of the month and the Sunday after the second meeting.

For 22 years Single Mariners was the pet project of PMYC Fleet Capt. Alan Gornick, skipper of Windwalker, a 53-foot ketch. Now other PMYC members are filling in as Thursday meeting hosts.

Single Mariners Commodore Rick BeauChemin strives for a consistent experience on the water, so if you’re a first-timer you’ll be invited to sail on his Columbia 34 sloop, Luv, where he can share guidelines about what to do at sea.

“On my boat, you can do as much or as little as you want,” he said.

Much of the joy of gliding on the water comes from mastering that balance point between the forces of wind, water and current. The long down-time between physical activity and the quiet without engine noise also make for a great opportunity to socialize.

“It seems that we can ask each other anything — and get straight answers,” BeauChemin said.

Once back at the dock, it’s time for a waterside picnic, with sailors bringing food and wine to share. After one recent Single Mariners’ sail, sailor Hans Kosten regaled us with a guitar sing-along.

Another great thing about the club is that PMYC members often invite Single Mariners to the parent club’s events — cruises to Catalina, holiday parties, opening day, and the annual comedy night. It’s as if the Single Mariners are the PMYC’s junior varsity squad. Many Single Mariners, including Kosten, go on to become Pacific Mariners. In fact, PMYC Vice Commodore Alan Rock met wife Melissa Barbur when they were both Single Mariners.

You can’t ask for a better time of year to go sailing, but heed the following pointers to maximize your good time:

• Show up promptly for outings. Winds and tides wait for no one.

• Layer your clothing. Temperatures can change quickly at sea.

• Don’t wear street shoes on a boat. They’ll slip if the deck gets wet. Bring non-marking tennis or boating shoes that will grip fiberglass.

• Bring plenty of sunscreen and apply it often, even on cloudy days. A hat with a brim is a good idea, but remember to secure hats and sunglasses with a lanyard.

• Don’t settle for being decorative deck fluff. You’ll be more likely to get invited back if you hone your sailing skills. It’s also helpful to master some basic terms so that if a skipper says “pull in the sheet” you don’t go looking for linen. Skippers are ultimately responsible for the crew’s safety, so pay attention to them even if you think you know better.

• Remember to bring lots of water and a lunch, and make a good impression by bringing a bottle of wine and snacks to share during the after-sail picnic.

For more information about Single Mariners of Marina del Rey, visit singlemariners.com.