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Yachts not required for the Hudson Beach Yacht Club

It's a club with no clubhouse.

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The Hudson Beach Yacht Club doesn't have a home dock, per se, but at about 180 people, it has grown quite a bit in its 23-year history.

"Something for everyone — that's our motto," club commodore Gene Michaux said. "We have activities for anyone who comes out."

That's because some in this boat club don't own a boat. Michaux said about 60 percent are sailboats, 20 percent are powerboats and the other 20 percent are no boats.

"Some members are up in age and can't have the responsibility of owning (a boat)," Michaux said. "Some people just enjoy the socials of boating or being on or near the water, and those will get a ride. I mean, they're all great people that just like to boat, but don't have one."

Vice commodore Paul Kendrick says accommodating any type of boater is a priority, but also believes the name of the club leads to misconceptions. This isn't a place for the Thurston J. Howell IIIs.

"I joined a year and a half ago, just because they put together boating activities," Kendrick said. "This is not a highbrow activity because when people think of yacht, they think super-expensive. It's for normal boaters."

The club tries to host at least one race a month, and Michaux says that "It's really nothing like America's Cup in any way, shape or form." Really, says Michaux, who owns a 35-foot sailboat and has been boating for more than 20 years, the races are just about having fun on the water, with no real competition at all.

Kendrick, who owns a 19-foot fishing boat, works on the races, setting up markers in the gulf and on different courses on the committee boat, which goes out and coordinates the course.

However, the club will also just cruise. Many members will get together and send out e-mail invitations to a trip they have planned. Some may be just a few days on the weekend, others a week long, but they get together as a group and head someplace fun.

"We've gone down to Caladesi Island, and others have gone as far as the Bahamas," Michaux said. "Cruising is a good social activity and then we stop and picnic and have a good time.

"That is all very relaxing, obviously."

When the group started in 1985, it stood for basically what it stands for now: friends wanting to go out boating together. And now, it's grown so much that there are members from as far away as Spring Hill, Gulf Harbors and even Ocala.

The group also tries to educate, Michaux said. It started Women at the Helm, which is a group of women who trained and took courses on steering, sailing and how to operate a boat. Then, one day, they set sail and only the women could man the boats.

"Some of the husbands in the club — not all of them, though — pretend they are the know-it-alls with sailing," said Women at the Helm participant Mary Del Mar. "It was nice to know that the decisions were up to us, and the guys were pretty good about it all."

As odd as it may seem that a boat club has members who don't own a boat, it's really not about the status symbol of a yacht. It's just about being with friends on the water.

"It's just a club, you know?" Kendrick said. "Though if you can share it with a group of people, it makes it a lot more enjoyable. We're flexible with (boating) and people can do as much as they want, and you don't even have to own a boat. It lets everyone have fun."

Community Sports Editor Mike Camunas can be reached at mcamunas@sptimes.com or (352) 544-1771.

>>Fast facts

Hudson Beach Yacht Club

When: Meetings vary from month to month, but the group likes to hold at least one race per month.

Cost: Annual dues are $40, with an initiation fee of $40.

For more information: Call Gene Michaux at (727) 862 7799 or visit www.

myhbyc.com.

Yachts not required for the Hudson Beach Yacht Club 10/06/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 9, 2008 3:39pm]
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