On Sunday, January 16th the Lake Ontario Club Cruising Association (LOCCA) held its fifth annual AGM at Ashbridge’s Bay Yacht Club (ABYC). The 47 representatives from 21 Clubs, out of a total club membership of 43, met to discuss how to encourage more active cruising on Lake Ontario and to work together to book cruises between Clubs. A typical Club cruise can have anywhere from 10 to 70 boats travelling to another Club on the lake to enjoy both the journey and hospitality at the other end.
In addition to assisting Club Cruising Fleet Captains plan their cruises, individual sailors can access the LOCCA web site to chart their course around the Lake more readily by way of a search engine. The information posted on the site by each Club includes the availability of club slips,the Club’s reciprocal policies and special events such as regattas which may fill all the Club’s slips. A search engine generates slip availabilities for any given destination.
Each member Club has the opportunity to enter and update events at their club, provide information as to club house hours, picnic areas, surrounding services and other facilities. Visitors to the LOCCA site can also link to the web site of the Clubs they are interested in.
Bruce Hannah, President of LOCCA and a member of ABYC, outlined the vision and mission of LOCCA. 'Most Clubs today are at capacity with their membership and available docks are at a premium for visitors' said Hannah. 'We are here to help Clubs encourage their members to get their boats off the docks and visit other Clubs.'
Reciprocal rights, a 100 year old yachting tradition, allows a member of one Yacht Club to visit another Yacht Club a no or low cost. This is a cornerstone to encourage members to visit other Clubs and a key difference between Yacht Clubs and marinas. During a discussion on reciprocal policies it was observed that even though all Yacht Clubs offer some form of reciprocal privilege, this can vary Club to Club, making it confusing for members to sort out.
ABYC presented a compilation of the reciprocal policies of Yacht Clubs around Lake Ontario and it showed a variance from first night free to three nights free, with number of visits per year and overall length of stay as additional variables. While the Clubs in attendance saw a value in consistency, they also recognized the right of individual Clubs to set their own policy.
'This has been a great discussion on a sensitive topic', said Hannah. 'I think the consensus is clear that LOCCA’s position, which we will present to the Council of Commodores, is that LOCCA recognizes that setting reciprocal rights is the responsibility of each Club. LOCCA’s role is to encourage harmonization of reciprocal privileges and to promote developing a standard approach among member Clubs. LOCCA encourages Clubs to consider offering at least one free night to visitors from other Clubs with a reasonable charge for a longer stay.'
Other news from the meeting is the date of the First Annual LOCCA Rendezvous. Helmut Trupke, the Cruise Director from Port Credit Yacht Club, confirmed PCYC’s invitation to host the Rendezvous September 10th and 11th, 2011. Specific activities will be organized by LOCCA volunteers and the weekend aligns with the popular Jazz Festival in Port Credit, adding extra entertainment for participants.
Hannah commented that his vision of a virtual organization dedicated to promoting safe cruising on Lake Ontario took a giant tack forward this year with the first opportunity for virtual attendance allowing members to see and hear from a remote location.
'I couldn't make the meeting but I have been watching it on line' said Floyd Dempster, Cruise Director at Highland Yacht Club.' The meeting was good and I could hear everything.'
In closing, Hannah said 'I believe LOCCA has demonstrated that it is maturing as an organization with our ability to address sensitive subjects like reciprocal rights, to facilitate more efficient booking of cruises between Clubs and to harness the passion and dedication of the member Clubs to move things forward. This is good news for all boaters on Lake Ontario'.
To find out more about LOCCA visit www.locca.org or talk to the Cruising Fleet Captain at your Yacht Club.