Let’s see. For $60, you can enjoy a mouth-watering steak dinner with all the trimmings. Or, you can take in a couple of movies, complete with a double-butter colossal popcorn and goliath-size drink duo and have enough left for a delicious side of Jujyfruits. Or, for $60 you can join the Lake Conroe Sailing Association and enjoy a season’s worth of activities and events offered by the club. The $60 fee covers an individual or a family, and boat ownership is not a requirement. Those not owning boats may sign up as crew members during certain events such as the Thursday night races.
For the past 30 years, Seven Coves Marina on beautiful Lake Conroe has supplied the setting for this family-friendly pastime, an activity that brings memories, new friendships and fun times, as well as opportunities for new challenges and the learning of new skills. As Commodore Gene Russo shared, “The purpose of this association is to provide sailing and social activities for its members in a manner conducive to water safety and responsible personal safety, and to introduce youth to the sport of sailing. We also seek to promote sailing on Lake Conroe.” As Vice Commodore Nici Esch states, “Lake Conroe is thought of as a recreational lake, not a sailing lake. We want to change that mindset.”
The sailing season is April through October, with races every Thursday night, weather-permitting. Race Committee Chair Jim Hall keeps members informed on a timely basis as to current weather conditions and the status of the night’s racing event. A member who does not own a boat may sign up on the website in advance to serve as a crew member, then show up on the dock on race night. Dock 4 at Seven Coves Marina is the gathering place for races, and Point Aquarius serves as “party central” for most of the social events. The racing schedule and all events are shown on the LCSA website and Facebook page. This year’s calendared events are listed below. Check the LCSA website for the time and place of each event.
The “Blessing of the Fleet” in February and the “Kick Off Party” in March were well-attended. The Blessing of the Fleet was administered by Dick Morton, a Lt. Colonel and former air force pilot, as well as a former sailing instructor at the Pentagon Sailing Club and U.S. Naval Academy. The Kick Off Party included a ceremony to present flags to both retiring officers and those being installed for the 2018 season. Officers include:
Sailing provides several good benefits which can help to develop a young person, or a person of any age, into a responsible individual, one who is keen to his own welfare and that of others. The members of the Lake Conroe Sailing Association are always ready to lend a helping hand to assist with maintenance and other needs of fellow sailors. And, “community” is big with this group. To encourage the love of sailing in others is always a pleasurable priority! Thursday night races bear this out. As said, no boat is needed to join, so any member without one may show up on the dock on race night and will be welcomed to take part as a crew member on another’s boat. Fun is the key word, and winning the race is just extra icing on the cake. As a member remarked, “Racing on Thursdays is just an excuse to take the boat out!” Racing is a thrill even if you don’t cross that finish line first. Members of LCSA love to encourage sailing, and skills can be acquired during Thursday night races. After a race, it is time to motor back to the dock and enjoy beverages, pizza, and laughter as the racing stories unfold!
For those wanting more formalized instruction, the club occasionally offers free lessons, which include classroom instruction followed by practical application on the water. The classroom portion is taught by Dick Morton using a radio-controlled sailboat and a fan to help the new sailor understand how the boat reacts to wind. Hands-on teaching is also graciously provided by several of the members upon request.
As Nici says, “Sailing is a beautiful art, and it is not a spectator sport!” As anyone can guess, wind and weather play the all-important role, and weather conditions can change quickly. Constantly watching the wind strength and direction and using these current conditions to maximize the speed and ability of the boat promotes efficiency and drives competition within one’s self. Learning the skills needed to be safe on the water is vital. This knowledge includes, among other things, how to tack, how much sail to let out, and the wisdom on when to drop sails and motor back home. Lake Conroe can be challenging to sail on and a sailor must always err on the side of safety.
On the flip side, there are times when the winds are quiet. What to do if you aren’t ready to head back? Throw out some tubes, floats and life jackets, and enjoy the coolness of the gently lapping waters. Then, when the clock or sun says, “head home,” get towed on your float. Ahhhh! Relaxing for sure!
Seven Coves Marina has been a gracious host to the LCSA over the years. It is a well-maintained marina, with floating docks and security gates to give boat owners peace of mind. During Hurricane Harvey, the lake level rose 5 feet, with the floating docks doing the same. This feature provides a generous level of safety for the boats as they can rise with the water, preventing them major damage. And when the water level went down 9 feet on another occasion, the sailboats were able to operate due to the great depth of the marina. An additional benefit offered by the marina is a discount for LCSA members. Slip fees are reasonable, and with the additional savings and the low fee that membership in LCSA brings, it’s a whale of a deal!
Majestic. Peaceful. Ethereal. Exciting. Rewarding. These descriptive words came to mind from LCSA members when asked to describe the pleasures of sailing. The gentle wind in your face, the challenge of learning new skills, and the beauty of a glorious sunset rounded out the conversation. All of this and more for a mere $60 a year for you and your entire family. Again, another whale of a deal!
For information on the Lake Conroe Sailing Association, go to their website at www.lakeconroesailing.com. Time to get out and make some memories with a membership in LCSA!