The Harbor Report: Sailing into the sunset always good

While traveling around the harbor this week I came upon a place that gave me relief from my troubling situations. No, I am not referring to the Balboa Yacht Club's bar, but rather one particular Hunter 326 sailing in the harbor most every day of the week. I then came to lean about the Oasis Sailing Club (OSC).

The OSC has been around for some 34 years and is a part of "Friends of the Oasis," which is a senior center owned and operated by the city of Newport Beach. If you do not know about the Newport Beach's Senior Center, Google "Friends of the Oasis."

Now here is the best part: The OSC has two sailboats at the city's Basin Marina. Members can sign up for day and evening sails and the occasional overnight sail aboard a 2003 Hunter 326 or the 2007 Catalina 34. The cost of an evening sail is $10, a day sail, $15. An overnight sail — split between the crew and the cost of the boat — runs $90.

So you might ask me what is the "ketch?" No, there are no ketches (a commonly used sailing term, for those who didn't, um, catch the play on words). The cost of joining the "Friends of the Oasis" is $10 a year. To join the OCS, add another $25. So for $35 a year you can sail off into the sunset. Ask your accountant if it's tax-deductible. My understanding is that the only prerequisite is that you must be 55 years or older to join the Friends of the Oasis.

While talking to the vice commodore of the OSC, Malcolm Read, I asked if members need to find a skipper and then form a party to go sailing. He replied, "They don't need to form a party ... we do it for them!"

Generally speaking, our boats need a certified (by OSC) skipper and a mate (or two skippers) to sail. The sailing schedule for the following month is posted at the OSC monthly meeting. Skippers sign up first, because without a skipper the boat won't sail. Then the calendar is made available to all OSC members who, on a take-a-number basis, sign up for dates they want to sail.

The skipper has the right to limit the number of crewmembers to six, some take eight or more. So, when people sign up they can see who the skipper will be and who else has signed up to sail. Some choose their sailing by date, others by friends or skippers with whom they prefer to sail.

I then asked Malcolm about some of the other social events the club schedules each year. He referred to the following social events: summer picnic, Oktoberfest, Christmas party, St. Patrick's Day Party, Opening Day.

I then wondered if the OSC offered any seamanship lessons.

"We're not a sailing school and often refer members who have no sailing experience to OCC for initial training," Malcolm said. "For those who have some sailing experience, we have a mate candidates training program, where they can enhance their sailing and seamanship skills to eventually become an OSC mate, and in some cases, a skipper.

"We also offer seamanship training sessions on anchoring, boat systems, docking/undocking, man overboard and maneuvers, such as heaving to and figure 8s."

Another challenge I noticed, while reading the OSC website, was the "Eva Challenge Series" for the OSC member to take one of the club boats out and around the oil platform "Eva," then back to the harbor entrance. The record stands at three hours and 34 minutes, but I would have to think with the 2007 Catalina 34 added to the fleet this record will fall soon.

I asked if the OSC would fill up and limit its membership. At this point that has not been a concern. I also should point out that any member of Friends of the Oasis and the OSC can sign up for a sail. You do not have to know how to sail, although I would recommend starting with a sunset sail.

This deal ranks up there with Newport Aquatic Center as being one of our harbor's best kept secrets. I cannot think of a better way than spending an afternoon sailing around our harbor with your friends, and it would be safe to assume the club will be more than willing to have volunteers come down and help with the maintenance on the boats.

Another thing for our local yacht clubs to consider is giving reciprocal privileges to the OSC members and for some of our local marine industry members to show this group some love. Next week, I will be reporting on this weekend's Long Point race and with this week's big south swell. Mooring and beach landing will be exciting.

Sea ya!

LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.

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