By Morgan Owen
Skip Korsgaard gathers everyone in the cockpit of his 36-foot Catalina mach II Dream Weaver. They all sit patiently as Korsgaard takes their names for the log and explains how to stay safe aboard the boat before they depart Marina del Rey.
“Until I get to know you, please stay up in the cockpit,” Korsgaard says to the group, explaining that below deck can be dangerous for new sailors if they are unsupervised. “Everyone should have three points of contact on the boat at all times,” he says.
“And your butt makes an excellent point of contact,” Mike McCollough adds, laughing.
Korsgaard and McCollough are skippers with the Marina Sunday Sailing Club. They own and operate two of the sailboats the Marina Sunday Sailing Club uses every second and fourth Sunday of the month during their bimonthly sails off the coast. On the boat, the skipper’s word is law. It’s their responsibility to keep everyone safe and having a good time.
The relationship between skipper and sailor at the Marina Sunday Sailing Club is symbiotic. The skipper gets a crew to help take their boat out for a weekend sail, and the club members can learn and have fun aboard a sailboat without breaking the bank.
“Sailing doesn’t have to be expensive,” says Heidi Mylo, the Marina Sunday Sailing Club’s treasurer. Compared to other yacht clubs in the area, Mylo says the Sunday Sailors are the best deal around. Members pay $100 annually, and guests are asked to pay a $15 fee for the entire Sunday experience, which includes a light brunch, an afternoon sail and dock party. Four to eight times a year, the group also sails to Catalina Island.
The group is a great way to socialize, Mylo says. Even though everyone has different interests and lifestyles, they are brought together by a common love of sailing. The club was started in 1976 by three experienced sailors who wanted to bring together boat owners and single sailors looking to get out on the water but who didn’t have a boat.
By 1981, the club had become so popular that it could no longer be run by a select few, and they decided to elect officers and collect dues to run the operation. In 1984, they were incorporated into California as a nonprofit, calling themselves the Marina Single Sailing Club.
“They all got married, so ‘single’ didn’t really work anymore,” McCullough says. In 2008, the group changed their name to the Marina Sunday Sailing Club.
Today, the club persists as a way for boat owners and crew to meet up, get to know each other and learn about best safety practices. In addition to the Sunday sails, the group also hosts monthly safety classes and selects one boat owner a month to help perform regular maintenance.
Sailors and boat owners of all experience levels are welcome to join. To become a skipper, a boat owner must go through an examination process with one of the club’s existing members to ensure they know what they are doing and have safe practices. To become a member, no previous sailing experience is required; they only ask that new members have the enthusiasm and determination to learn and continue improving their sailing skills.
Unfortunately, Mylo says that during COVID-19 the group lost three of their skippers. The loss has been tough, and the club is looking for more boat owners to help revitalize the group.
“There are a lot of older people with boats, and they can’t manage anymore. If we put our experienced sailing crew with them, they can enjoy a sail and they can enjoy the social life and everything else that follows,” she says.
To join the Marina Sunday Sailing Club, they can be found every second and fourth Sunday of the month at the clubhouse in Burton Chase Park. Once everyone arrives, an experienced club member gives new members a boat assignment with an experienced skipper. The club meets year-round, and the sails are only ever canceled for inclement weather or Coast Guard warnings.
The marine layer had just broken as the group on the Dream Weaver departed the slip. As they waved goodbye, McCollough stood on the bow and Korsgaard at the helm, ready to take on another Sunday sail in the Santa Monica Bay.
Marina Sunday Sailing Club
WHERE: 13650 Mindanao Way,
Marina del Rey
WHEN: Second and fourth Sunday, monthly
COST: $100 annually or $15 daily