A memorandum of understanding has been drawn up between two longstanding yacht clubs in Marina del Rey that sets the wheels in motion for the inevitability of the two clubs uniting.
Commodores from the Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club and the Pacific Mariners Yacht Club have signed the document as a showing of agreement and affiliation for years to come.
“It’s been my own personal view for a long time that the two clubs would get together by design or natural selection,” said Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club’s Commodore Harlan Holmes, smiling. “Design is far more preferable and that’s what we’re doing.”
The document provides a basic outline wherein the two clubs can begin to build a game plan with each other and forge a new club that will provide for the values and interests of the current memberships.
The document speaks of “Working together toward the establishment of a new yacht club that will offer a superior yacht club experience for its members at an affordable price.”
It’s a natural fit for the two organizations, since both are falling victim to the carnage caused by the redevelopment of Marina del Rey.
About three years ago each club found out that, in all likelihood, they wouldn’t be able to renew their respective leases of the clubhouses where they currently reside.
Both attempted to work out their individual predicaments while the membership waited and worried about their unstable future. All along, SMWYC and PMYC knew the similarities of each other’s situations and at some point began to speak informally about pooling the memberships, thereby giving them more finances and bargaining power to obtain a common goal.
“The leaderships of the clubs got together and decided that in order to have a landed yacht club in Marina del Rey we need more membership than either club alone has,” said Holmes. “So, it’s in everybody’s best interest if we put the membership’s together to form a new club.”
“We can’t survive without each other and if our interest is to survive, we have to look into becoming a bigger, stronger, more financially stable club.” said Pacific Mariner’s Yacht Club commodore Barrie Harnett.
The new club expects its membership numbers to weigh in at approximately 400 members, while still less than the two other larger clubs in town — Del Rey Yacht Club with about 650 and California Yacht Club with nearly 1,200 — it will still be a substantial entity, capable of generating the capital for securing a waterfront building and creating a quality organization.
“The purpose of us moving forward right now is to put us in a stronger position both financially and politically,” said Harnett, “because we’re fighting for our survival.”
Boards from each of the clubs voted unanimously to approve the memorandum of understanding and now the clubs will be searching for a location to set up shop. They are looking for a place where they will have slip access, a launch and headquarters from which to run boating-related events and fundraisers for charities in the surrounding community, which both clubs do every year.
“We’re looking to make it happen sooner than later and to make it a situation that works for everybody, including the county,” said Holmes. “What we’d really like is to have a dedicated clubhouse on the water with some control over some slips.”
Dave Lumian, this year’s standing vice commodore and incoming commodore of Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club for the yachting season of 2007, summed things up:
“I think it’s really exciting that two clubs with such deep and rich histories are coming together to launch a new club that will provide its membership with an enhanced yacht club experience.”