Late this afternoon I jumped on my sunfish and pushed off into the glittering lake. After listening to the hoots and hollers of excited crews passing by the finish boat over the past two days of the regatta I had to get out and feel the pull of a sail myself. The west wind was strong enough that I was convinced the sunfish was leaping out of the water with the gusts. I got my hoots and hollers in.
The air was crystal clear, having been swept clean by the storm that brought our 67th regatta to a dramatic conclusion earlier in the day. That storm highlighted a couple of things about MYC. The first is we love to sail so much we are always trying to squeeze in a little more time on the water, perhaps to our peril at times. But more importantly is the way the club reacted after the storm knocked over part of the fleet that was hurrying for shelter. The 4 motor boats we had on the water immediately knew what to do and urgently, but calmly went into rescue mode. The boats quickly got the people from the overturned boats out of the water and safely ashore. Other club members who had been on shore jumped into dinghy’s and rowed out to boats that had flipped nearby to check on the crews and see what they could do to lend a hand. The competence and teamwork was clear in the radio communications between everyone involved in the rescues to make sure the crews were accounted for and the recovery was focusing on the most urgent situations first. In short order all the racers and overturned boats were back at the dock, a few with seaweed at the mast head, or fish swimming in the bilge, but otherwise the damage was limited.
But the effort made by so many members throughout every aspect of this successful 57 boat, 100+ attendee regatta is not unusual. Just look at the Flying Scot NACs MYC ran down in Newport earlier in the summer. There were so many MYC volunteers at the event doing so many things to make that regatta a success that the people attending from other clubs kept commenting over and over what a great club this is.
But of course we all know that. Do we disagree and argue at times? Sure, but that is just a sign of how much everyone cares about this club. Do some people contribute more to the club than others? Of course, but this is still a club where everyone chips in when it is needed most, and so many people do things behind the scenes in unsung ways. Again, a sign of how much members care about this club.
At some point I reluctantly turned my sunfish back to the beach. I think we all feel a bit reluctant to head to shore this time of year, when we have to admit the summer will be ending quickly and we will be turning to more landlocked activities (except the frost biters, but they are crazy). The hot, sunny summer of 2016 has been a gift for those of us who love being on the water. It’s been a pleasure to share such a great summer with all of you.
One of my favorite rites of spring is the MYC work party. When we arrive at the club the morning of the work party the place is a wreck. Fallen branches and a ratty carpet of dead leaves make the property look abandoned. The lake is empty with the dock segments stacked in big piles on the beach, the moorings rusting in corners under the trees and the rock markers guarding nothing but pavement.
But then the magic happens. Club members drift in and the place comes to life. It always amazes me how little management the members of this club need. People know what needs to be done and do it. There are committee leaders who provide expertise, direction and are ultimately responsible for certain specific tasks, like putting together the docks, launching the moorings, taking care of the landscaping or getting the plumbing going. But everyone chips in wherever help is needed. Somehow, what seems like it should be chaos happens smoothly and for the most part efficiently.
Maybe it’s the free donuts, but in the course of just a couple of hours the club is transformed into the beautiful facility that we enjoy so much all summer. It makes you realize how much a community can accomplish when they work together for a common purpose (if anyone wants to contrast that to the current political climate so be it!).
A big thank you to everyone who contributed to the spring launching of the club. I hope you feel as inspired as I do about what this group of people can accomplish. And I know you feel as excited as I am that another great sailing season now officially underway!
On a regular basis throughout the year I drive past Lake Massapaoag on my way to one place or another, and the lake never fails to give me a small sense of peace and inspiration. Every day the light on the water is a little different, or the wind has given the surface of the lake a different personality. All of us who are members of MYC know the different moods of the lake because we are lucky enough to be a part of it. How many times have each of us sat on the dock or in our boats in awe as a sunset colors the quiet around us. How many times have we stood on the beach out of respect because the water is too angry to venture into. And how many more times have we been exhilarated by the surge of our boats as the wind propels us around the lake (not always in the direction we had originally intended!). I always get a sense of excitement when I turn down MYC’s driveway because you never completely know what to expect from the lake, but you know it will be fun. And you know you will be sharing whatever the lake has in store with a group of people who appreciate the resource and the experience it provides as much as you do. Nice people who are always willing to lend a hand around the club, whether it is maintaining the club property or helping out each other. It has always struck me how much conversation there is during and after races, with members who are fiercely competing in those races offering each other advice to help their fellow sailors improve their skills. It is impossible to put up your mast on the launch ramp without multiple people rushing over to lend you a hand. We describe ourselves as a “self-help” club because everything about the club is done by members, but we could say we are a “help-others” club as well. That term fits because of the way we all help each other and help the broader community by doing things like increasing safety on the lake, monitoring the quality of the water, and supporting other community organizations who use the lake. There is a reason the club has been in existence for 70 years! MYC is a very special place made up of a very special group of people, and I am honored to be the Commodore for the 2016 season. Thank you all for giving me the opportunity to play that role for such a great organization.